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Hot Docs 2016 Review: Zach’s Ceremony

Aaron Petersen’s film Zach’s Ceremony feels a little bit like an Aboriginal Boyhood (or perhaps Boyhood feels like an American Zach’s Ceremony).

This film is more rich than Linklater’s for a few reasons: for starters, it’s a true story, spotlighting Zach’s back and forth attitude towards his father, with elements of a culture clash, and some pretty intense boxing sequences.

The film focuses upon Zach from the ages of 9 to 15, and his growth spurt and maturation are pretty amazing to witness, (he is much more formidable than Ellar Coltrane, for example). Another fascinating element of the film is the extended sequence towards the end that reveals elements of the actual ceremony, which is both incredibly invasive and also quite fascinating. The ceremony feels like peeking behind the curtain into this society, and perhaps having a better understanding of Zach’s dual identities.

Had the film presented the story a little more objectively, it would resonate more. But because it feels perhaps too outsider-ish and not insider-ish, Zach and his culture seem too lavishly captured. Music choices don’t help either. Zach’s Ceremony aspires to be both grand and intimate at the same time.

[star v=3]