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Who by Fire

2h 35m Drama 2024

Egos clash in this tense coming-of-age tale set in an isolated cabin in the Canadian wilderness, which won the Berlinale Generation 14plus Grand Prix.

Seventeen-year-old aspiring filmmaker Jeff accompanies his friend Max, Max’s sister Aliocha and their father Albert on a wilderness getaway at the lodge of Albert’s old ‘friend’. The owner is acclaimed director Blake, whose passive-aggressive exchanges with Albert reveal the pair’s reciprocal resentment. For Jeff, the possibilities of the holiday are twofold: he wants to impress the host almost as much as he does Aliocha, on whom he has a crush. But a simple weeklong trip turns sizzling as hot-headed male egos clash and the illusions masked by youth are slowly chipped away.

Quebecois director Philippe Lesage’s third narrative feature is another penetrating story of youth and growth, sharing the singular edges that defined his previous films Genesis and The Demons (MIFF 2016). In Who by Fire, an ensemble cast who convincingly portray overlapping paths and agendas drive the drama, while long, unbroken takes during moments of tension – whether at the dining table or in the woods – build to a taut and potent piece of slow-burning, sustained arthouse cinema.

“Underlines [Lesage’s] ability to carve a semblance of a horror movie from everyday domestic drama – confirming him as a filmmaker of considerable grace and daring … A beautiful, unusual coming-of-age story.” – Variety

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