Beba Movie Review



Reviewed for FilmFactual by Abe Friedtanzer

Director: Rebeca Huntt

Writer: Rebeca Huntt

Screened at: FYC screener, LA, 12/2/22

Opens: June 24th, 2022

Documentary filmmaking comes in many forms, and the person making the movie often doesn’t appear in it. They may be heard asking questions off-camera or serving as narrator, but there is typically a distance between a filmmaker and their subject. When that’s not the case, however, it provides a tremendous window into their topic, since they themselves are involved and therefore inherently more available and vulnerable to curious audiences to share their story. Beba is a remarkable example of a filmmaker being the center of her film.

Rebecca Huntt, better known by her nickname, Beba, grew up in New York City as the daughter of a Dominican father and Venezuelan mother. She is particularly interested, as an adult and as a filmmaker, to explore the many factors that have shaped her into who she is today and how she moves through the world. She recounts the course of her youth and young adulthood and has the opportunity to speak with both of her parents as participants in her documentary exploration of her past and present.

Beba is a magnetic subject, someone who is absolutely willing to go further than most and say what’s on her mind. It’s obvious from the mere fact that she made this film that she has a curiosity driven most by a desire, and even a demand, for answers. One of the key elements of her uncertainty about her identity comes from her mother’s inability to answer how she, as a Latin person from Venezuela, raised Black children, and memories of getting into a fight with a kid from Jamaica who called her black, prompting a response from young Beba of “How dare he?”

One of the things that makes Beba a forceful director, in her feature debut, is that she refuses to let people get away with statements that she doesn’t feel represent honesty or depth. She pushes both her parents to dig deeper and to reply to what she asks of them, even and especially when it makes them visibly uncomfortable. That’s what she is seeking to unmask, a true and sincere reflection on their choices and how they interact with the world, which in turn has led to her own distinct path. 

Beba also demonstrates a willingness to walk the walk, not expecting something of her subjects that she wouldn’t herself give. The scenes in which she reacts instinctively and angrily to something someone else has said are among the film’s most potent since they show who she is and what drives her, and how she doesn’t want anyone to tell her that she doesn’t have a voice. Exploding when a white person starts asking about white supremacy is one such moment, showing that she is passionate about many things, and her role in all of it doesn’t represent the full scope of her interest.

Beba runs just 79 minutes, but there is a remarkable amount of content explored within that timeframe. While there are direct interview sessions in which people speak to the camera and respond to questions, there are also scenes of everyday life. Additionally, there is an artsiness to the style and construction of the movie that involves narration and declarations of attitudes about the universe, addressing direction, time, social constructs, and so much more. Though it’s short, it still moves slowly, but there isn’t extra content that doesn’t need to be there, and it remains firmly in focus even if it isn’t always instantly riveting. Beba’s first full-length film is absolutely alluring and indicative of great talent, a filmmaker who is able to extract so much about herself that she’ll evidently be able to do even more in the future with other topics.

79 minutes

Story – B+

Technical – B+

Overall – B+

Courtesy of NEON

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s