Elena, a young Brazilian woman, moves to New York with the same dream as her mother: to become a movie actress. She leaves behind her childhood spent in hiding during the years of the military dictatorship. She also leaves Petra, her seven-year-old sister. Two decades later, Petra also becomes an actress and heads to New York. At first in search of her destiny, but increasingly, in search of Elena, Petra has only a few clues: home movies, newspaper clippings, a diary and some letters.
Gradually, the features of the two sisters are confused; we no longer know one from the other. When Petra finally finds Elena in an unexpected place, she has to learn to let her go. ELENA is a film about the persistence of those memories, the irreversibility of that loss, and the impact the absence of her sister had on the seven-year-old girl.
From executive producers Tim Robbins and Fernando Meirelles, one of the most successful documentaries of all time in Brazil now comes to GuideDoc. Intimate in style, ELENA delves into the abyss of one family's drama, revealing at once the inspiration that can be born from tragedy.
Elena, an artistic piece in the form of a documentary
At first glance, “Elena” is the tale of a family tragedy caused by the impossibility of creating art; the impact of the “frustrated dream” concept in three generations.
The first generation is a Brazilian mother who couldn’t fulfill her acting dreams by considering them naive in the face of her country’s political situation.
The second generation — and the main focus of this documentary — is Elena, the eldest daughter. Determined to fulfill her dream of creating art as an actress, she tries her luck in New York. The chaotic city, full of dreamers massively trying the few opportunities available, proves to be a frustrating experience. Elena’s melancholic soul, in a deep and constant relationship with sadness, suffers to the point of no return.
Petra Costa, the youngest sister and the documentary’s director, represents the third generation. “Elena” is her intimate exercise that besides being incredibly therapeutic, is a beautiful artistic tale about depression.
“Elena” treats death romantically, but never with naivety. Petra seemed determined to thoroughly search the ghost of her sister, in order to merge with it, becoming a single entity, and then exorcise the undesirable aspects of her memories.
Her mother will accompany her in the journey, but with several well-founded fears. At times, Petra follows her sister’s steps with a chilling premeditation. They share the same diaspora, creative impulses, dark humor, deep eyes and the smug half smile.
But above all things, “Elena” is the ultimate, deserved gift from Petra Costa to her sister. Elena is the absolute protagonist of an artistic piece in the form of a documentary. A fantastic and unique artistic collaboration between two sisters, transforming tragedy into beauty in the process.