Like Lixin Fan's “Last Train Home,” Mikael Wiström and Alberto Herskovits's “Familia” manages to make a universal issue—the plight of the many immigrants who leave behind their loved ones to make a living far from home—personal by focusing on one family in particular: an older Peruvian couple, their grown son and daughter, and young school-age son. The filmmakers follow both the matriarch, Nati, as she begins her new life as a maid in Spain, and those forced to fill her void back in Lima. What's most remarkable, however, is the intimate access the Swedish co-directors get, a result of their having known Nati and her kin for over 35 years. This allows not only for the family to be completely open and at ease in front of the lens, but also for black-and-white flashbacks that aren't recreations but real-life footage, giving us a contextual glimpse into the couple's hardscrabble past as pickers at a massive landfill.
To read the rest of my review visit The House Next Door at Slant Magazine.