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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

MixedUp ****

Director: Howard J Davis

Country: Canada

In recent years, the world has become more polarised. Warring factions have sought to label themselves diametrically opposed: conservative vs. liberal, Brexit vs. EU, cancel culture vs. anything that offends them. But, as director and performance artist Howard J Davis (aka. Haui) explores in this arthouse docu-missal, the reality is that society and its individuals exist somewhere in between.

Haui is mixed race. Living in Canada, he was born in England to a Caucasian mother and a father who’s a POC. He and his sisters vary in which of their parents they resemble most, meaning that while one sister grew up being seen as “black”, the other grew up being seen as “white”. The film revolves around this grey area in the middle, where Haui often finds himself “too white to be black and too black to be white”. He gives own testimonial as a LGBT+ POC, but also interviews countless others, who share their experiences, finding commonality in the way that an increasingly polarised world is treating them.

Through poetic and thematic narration and striking visual realisations, Haui creates an artistic interpretation of his thesis on screen. The film is a dressed-up mouthpiece for a broadly political agenda, which is beautifully executed, but does come across sermon-like. It’s not a film that will change many others’ minds, but to the choir he’s preaching to, it makes quite its affirming statement in a stunningly poetic way.

Haui describes this piece as an “artfilm” instead of a documentary and it’s hard to argue with that. With its arresting imagery and inventive storytelling, this is unabashedly political and has no qualms with its own bias. Bold, brassy and beautiful, this is a film about middle grounds that it decidedly doesn’t take, but with quite an explosive effect.

UK Release: 2nd April 2021 on demand on Froot


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