Film Review: North by Current

Angelo Madsen Minax

Families are complex units but words and actions, often spoken or taken in the heat of the moment, can resonate across a life. The beliefs and moral values parents impose on their children can become ingrained in their psyche. While the young might be adaptable, resilient and robust, that doesn’t mean that childhood trauma won’t blight their lives and bad memories can surface at the most ruinous moments.

Visual artist Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his rural Michigan hometown after the inconclusive death of his young niece and the wrongful prosecution of his sister and brother-in-law. He returns with thoughts of documenting this injustice and trying to discover where he belongs within the wider family unit. He ends up undertaking a very personal journey which incorporates a shared history. The result is North by Current.

North by Current is a fascinating film which keeps evolving and mutating as Minax delves deeper into a familial history of trauma, addiction and abuse. In the process he confronts his parents’ reaction to his transition and what role he plays within their support structure. It’s in many ways a sad tale but also one of redemption. There are no easy answers in North by Current but the trip is a rewarding one.

North by Current makes its US broadcast and streaming debut on PBS POV on 1 November.

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