6 October 2018 | Marc_Horrickan
An Effective and Affecting Documentary About Absent Parents and the Children Left Behind
This rightly won the documentary award at this year's Raindance Film Festival. Denali Tiller is going to be a documentarian to watch out for, as with her first feature she has crafted a beautiful account of three young lives that have been irrevocably moulded by the incarceration of one, or both, of their parents. Taking a look at three very different boys, the Tre, Maison, Dassan of the title, this film documents the damage done to a child's development when their parental role models transgress the law.
Tiller is canny enough as a filmmaker to leave key information out of the film, as it would potentially prejudice our view of these children's lives, so we never find out what there parents have been jailed for. Structurally, Tiller also approaches these disparate lives in an intriguing way, checking in on the kids at important points in their growth and development. Tiller must have spent years putting together these accounts and she judiciously mixes the empathetic with the sentimental, so that when these kids do begin to demand a bit more of an insight into the flaws of their parents, it has maximum emotional effect. The gut-punch of an ending further demonstrates how alert to narrative possibilities Tiller is, as she refuses to milk this shocking turn of events for cheap sentiment.