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Long Line of Ladies (2022)

A young girl and her family prepare for Ihuk. What’s Ihuk? It’s a coming-of-age ceremony in which, after her first period, a girl enters as just that, a girl, and she leaves a woman. While this practice has been gone for some time, this family wants to go back to their roots, celebrate the generations of the past, and have future generations understand all that used to be. This Long Line of Ladies and those closest to them have a lot to prepare for, and they are excited.

In just a short, twenty-ish minute documentary, Long Line of Ladies doesn’t appear to have enough time to set things up and execute. In the opening seconds of the film some on-screen text does its best to express the intricacies of Ihuk–and while it pulls viewers in pretty quickly, that allure dwindles just as fast.

There are a few reasons why Long Line of Ladies fails to hold viewers’ attention after the opening moments, and that starts with the inability of this crew to capture a linear story, constantly jumping from place to place and person to person. When viewers are forced to follow the bouncing ball–that ball should move in something of a straight line. When that ball moves around as if it’s inside of a pinball machine, it becomes cumbersome and far too challenging for viewers to focus on–that’s exactly what happens in Long Line of Ladies. There are too many cooks in the kitchen, and that becomes abundantly clear as the film moves forward. One minute viewers are seeing the young girls prep for the upcoming celebration, just seconds later we hone in on the older generations as they express the importance of the ceremony to them. I understand that there’s a lot of information that Directors Shaandiin Tome and Rayka Zehtabchi want to convey to viewers, but there just isn’t enough time to get it all out.

With that veritable pinball bouncing around in an incredibly unorganized fashion, viewers also never get the chance to become attached to any of the individuals on screen. Once again, there are so many cooks in the kitchen, so many pieces of this family dynamic, that viewers aren’t able to settle on one “character” and fully appreciate their story. Long Line of Ladies, much like all the information they’re trying to cram into this film, the incredibly high number of individuals who appear on screen makes the film feel hectic and overcrowded.

Long Line of Ladies is absolutely a film made out of passion, and I commend the filmmakers for this–but sometimes that’s just not enough. Their passion and their drive causes them to approach the film in a willy-nilly fashion, making it difficult to follow, and Long Line of Ladies never manages to settle in. The story is far too challenging to follow, and the overabundance of people on screen causes viewers to lose interest rather than finding someone to follow and care about. Long Line of Ladies has the best interest of the Ihuk ritual in mind–but the inability of this crew to create something accessible causes the film to fall flat, and the importance of Ihuk to fall through the cracks.

Directed by Shaandiin Tome & Rayka Zehtabchi.




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