Review: All Other Things Equal

Directed by Anya Tsyrlina, a found footage documentary in which material taken from late-Soviet propaganda films about gender equality is reconstructed to imagine a world populated entirely by women. The film depicts women performing an increasingly broad range of roles from the mundane to the extraordinary.

Straight away there’s something special to the editing work here (by Tsyrlina and Sid Iandovka), even without a traditional story, it moves in such a way that you use your imagination to fill the gaps. It builds an intriguing and almost mysterious atmosphere which draws you in. The style of the footage has a quality of observing its subjects and feeds into a very natural curiosity about how other people live their lives.

Considering that the footage was taken from the 70s and 80s and its original intent was propaganda, the visual quality is surprisingly good. It manages to hold a cinematic edge, one that is genuinely captivating. There’s a great mix of colour, as well as a huge variety of content, so that it never stays in one place for too long.

The idea of creating a world of solely women is a big part of what makes this film compelling. Combined with a use of fairly ominous music, it manages to create something that’s ever so slightly removed from reality. It almost has a quality to it that you might find in a Dario Argento film.

All Other Things Equal makes an argument for how much you can achieve without following a traditional path. It’s creatively edited and directed to create something surprisingly captivating. It’s both unusual and yet somehow familiar, playing on natural human curiosity and imagination.

Verdict: ✯✯✯✯

Showing now at Open City Documentary Festival

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