Foreign Parts (2010) MIFF Film Review


Foreign Parts is set in a small section of Queens in New York. This area is like a dump where the residents pull apart and repair cars to make a living. There is the occasional mention of a proposed development which would see this area knocked down and replaced by a series of apartment buildings, shopping centres and leisure activities, but it is not clear if this is a real threat to their way of life or not.

This documentary is in the style that I feel like I have complained about several times during this festival. The camera lingers on long shots of events in the everyday life of the people in the film. The shots seem barely edited and present little information to the audience, just an overall ambience. The problem I find with this style is that I am left wanting more, and I have little sympathy or empathy with the people who are the subjects of the film. Foreign Parts begins with long shots of some of the work being done in the junkyard. A car being moved with a crane, or a man trying to chop out an engine. Each shot lasts what seems like a minute; certainly a very long time on-screen. As the film progresses, we get interviews with various people who live in the area which may shed a little information on their lives, but nothing overall. And then, it is over.

Are these people working illegally? Are they making a living? Do they enjoy their lives? What options are there for them if or when the development occurs? Where will they go? Will they be able to make a life somewhere else? I really want some answers.

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