There’s a certain duality that underpins Shannon Walsh’s visually arresting documentary Illusions of Control. From the icy embrace of Yellowknife’s tundra to the post-nuclear fallout of Fukushima, Walsh weaves together five independent stories that illustrate disasters on personal and pandemic scales — and the determination with which people contend with the consequences.
Illusions is a topical, touching film, and visually stunning from its outset, boasting beautifully-shot vistas that capture every corner of the globe. But stunning visuals are just the tip of Illusions’ proverbial iceberg. As Walsh travels the world, weaving together the stories of her five central women, she provides a candid glimpse into lives marred by contemporary crises. These crises are as varied as the subjects they hold in their grasp — varying from encroaching ecological disasters, to corrupt authoritarian forces. From Japan to Chicago to Northern Mexico, Illusions begins to paint a broad picture of crises across the globe, highlighting the women at their centres and the common struggles that each face.
And so, as the stories of the women at the heart of Illusions unfold, Walsh’s documentary burgeons into this broader portrait of life in the face of disaster, with each narrative offering an insight into societal struggles. As one of the film’s central figures puts it, “you can never know whom you’re going to be in a crisis.” Turning her lens toward crises outside of our typical news sphere, Walsh captures the moments in which five women discover precisely who they are during moments of crisis, as they attempt to wrestle back more than just the illusion of control over their lives.
This post was originally published at forestcityfilmfest.ca and written by Will Sharpe.