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Tribeca 2011: “The Carrier,” Reviewed

Tribeca 2011: “The Carrier,” Reviewed (photo)

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If you were to watch “The Carrier” without subtitles, there are many points at which you’d suspect nothing is wrong and perhaps that’s the saddest statement the film makes of all. A documentary about the life of a polygamous family in Zambia where the beauty of the landscape is diametrically opposed with the tragic spread of HIV between the members of the Mweeba clan, Maggie Betts’ film often features its subjects as expressionless when discussing contraction of the disease as though it’s an accepted part of life in their community, a feeling that emerges not out of a lack of care, but years of defeat.

For the family’s patriarch Abarcon, it’s a minor inconvenience, a price he pays for sleeping around with multiple partners both within and outside of his marriage, but for his three wives Brenda, Matildah and Mutinta, it’s tantamount to a death sentence well before they’re felled by the ultimately fatal symptoms of HIV as they live in constant fear of succumbing to AIDS or passing it onto their children. While the film only chronicles what appears to be a few months in their lives, it’s obviously emblematic of a cycle that was firmly established generations before and that the marginalization of women will only continue unless they start to challenge their place in society, a realization that comes to Mutinta when she discovers she’s carrying the latest of Abarcon’s many, many children.

Even without knowing anything about the making of “The Carrier,” it wouldn’t take long to guess that Betts was involved as an AIDS activist before she got into filmmaking, a fact that while being sussed out by a little research is evident from the film’s strident portrayal of Mutinta’s gradual empowerment after she entered into a marriage with Abarcon without knowing of his other wives and likewise, Abarcon’s nonchalance about the way he’s infected the lives of others in both the literal and figurative sense. (It’s actually the casualness of Abarcon, a handsome if not particularly charming or imposing man dressed in breezy shirts with David Beckham and Guess logos, that’s one of the film’s main points of interest, as he can’t easily be demonized.) Yet even if it seems at times that the weight of Betts’ passion is focused more on making a point than telling a story, the one she finds in the small village of Monze is too powerful to be denied.

That “The Carrier” is elegantly shot by cinematographer Kathryn Westergaard and crafted to get the maximum amount of tension from whether or not the wives’ current pregnancies will result in HIV-infected babies makes it far more engaging than most like-minded documentaries, but as one that earns its ultimately hopeful and uplifting conclusion, it’s a rare film that’s rewarding not only because it’s enriching, but because it’s richly told.

“The Carrier” currently has no U.S. distribution, but will play the Tribeca Film Festival again on April 25th, 26th and 30th.

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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…