Review by

October 8, 2018

Thanks for the review to Linda Sloane from! It's from the Dutch Anthropology Society, highlighting the methods used. It acknowledges the triangle of film making, activism and anthropology.

"The importance of autonomy and self-determination overcoming isolation ‘in small things’ such as sharing dinner; the power of togetherness and reciprocity are vital for the people that are portrayed. One must “reclaim open structures” and “smash the fear” as the local islander Xenia puts it.

This shows a DIY-mentality, just like the documentary itself. Heinig went to Lesvos on her own account, is director as well as writer and producer, and crowdfunded the endeavour. (...) However, it is the anthropological quality of the documentary that stands out. Heinig spend a considerable amount of time ‘in the field’ as she lived two months on Lesvos. The closeness she developed to the people that are portrayed – and to the issue itself – is mirrored in the film. (...)


This is also supported by the well-chosen soundscape. By combining original sounds with the music of the band Alcalica, Heinig captures and communicates the atmosphere of a situation. For instance, during the food distribution at Moria, the viewer first hears the people. Then, a song by Alcalica gradually fades in. A slow, dark beat with electronic tones and a monotone voice saying: ‘desert, wars, weapons, earthquake, dictatorship, persecution, isolation, prison or exile’.


Heinig has a great sense of putting sound and image together. This works well for the storytelling, because it helps to make clear transitions from one topic to another. The story itself is a bit repetitive and bumpy at times. For instance, Camp Moria is introduced on several occasions, and some footage is not clearly placed on the timeline of the story. However, we can dismiss this as the charm of a DIY-project: it is beautiful in its imperfection.


Nevertheless, this documentary is a comprehensive, anthropologically inspired and aesthetically photographed description of a very complex and frustrating situation. Lesvos: Beautiful Prison is a great debut film and it will be interesting to see on which future endeavours Laura Heinig is about to embark."


Read the full review here.

Visit Alcalica's Website here. The band is based on Lesvos.



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