VIDEO ON DEMAND/IN THEATERS (SF) – “E-Team”

imageseE-Team (2014; Dir.: Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman)

GRADE: B

By Daniel Barnes

*Premiering today on Netflix Instant; opening October 31 at the Presidio Theater in San Francisco.

The solid documentary E-Team is a mix of bold, verite intentions and TV news-style slickness, a slightly too superficial telling of a complex and fascinating story.  It follows the Human Rights Watch “Emergencies Team,”  an international group of intensely dedicated individuals who often go undercover into hostile countries to investigate and document human rights abuses.  Their ultimate goal is to gather enough evidence to push the case to a mainstream media too busy checking Twitter to do their own legwork, thus creating international pressure to intervene.  They are an intelligent, courageous and diverse group, but the heart of the film is the fierce Russian investigator Anna, who crosses the Syrian border while pregnant with her second child, and her partner and husband Ole.  Some of the most memorable scenes involve Anna conducting conference calls while preparing dinner, or Ole delivering a live news feed from his hotel room – moments of domesticity and desensitization in between the stories of torture and rooms full of charred remains.