Magazine article Screen International

'A Better Man': Hot Docs Review

Magazine article Screen International

'A Better Man': Hot Docs Review

Article excerpt

Raw and honest first-person documentary about domestic abuse

Dirs. Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman. Canada, 2017, 79 mins

An extremely personal story of domestic abuse in which co-director Attiya Khan comes face-to-face with her former partner as the camera rolls, A Better Man is part-therapy, part-intervention, wholly genuine. The truth of what happened two decades ago is violent and shocking and still incomplete, but this powerful prising-open of a taboo subject has the quiet potential to terrify.

Short, at 79 minutes, A Better Man is highly suitable as an educational tool and should travel globally to events with an interest in truth and reconciliation. No society is immune to the scourge of domestic abuse, and affected audiences should welcome the open-ness with which Khan tell tells her story. Her film coincides with the release of a therapeutic book co-written by an Icelandic date-rape victim and her Australian abuser, but this is not a jointly-presented piece. It's a highly uncomfortable film in which an ashamed man who used his teenage girlfriend as a punchbag for two years offers himself up to the camera in the hope it might "help even one man not choose violence" .

"I really just want you to be ok," says the pinched, miserable Steve to the woman he has irreparably damaged. Is there hope for either?

Attiya Khan is a gentle woman carrying a huge, painful burden. She has made a very clear and personal film in which both she and Steve struggle with their memories and the painful truth that, at some point, she felt she would not survive their relationship and would die at his hands. …

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