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HOLY EMY (2021, GREECE) – 7/10

Greek filmmaker Araceli Lemos won the best debut award at the festival in Locarno, Switzerland, for the script and direction of this slow-burning psychological, mystical drama. “Holy Emy” takes us into the world of the Filipino immigrant community in Piraeus, a microcosm that one might not even imagine exists. Emy is a Filipino adolescent who lives with her slightly older sister, Teresa. The rest of the sisters live in Greece, although their mother, with whom they occasionally speak via Skype, was forced to leave Piraeus after a conflict with an old Greek woman she worked for. It can also be inferred that the mother had some healing properties and that the old Greek woman used it, and it seems that the young Emy also inherited this gift from her mother. Or a curse.

And it is obvious that all these Filipinos arrived in Greece in order to find a better quality of life and earn money, but we see that it comes down to making a living and doing small-paying jobs. While Teresa is in a relationship with a slightly older local fishmonger, Emy is distrustful of him. Teresa is also part of some sort of Filipino Christian community, and Emy is suspicious of them as well. Just like her mother, Emy apparently has some supernatural powers that allow her to heal, and instead of tears, she cries blood. Soon she will also start working for old Christina and will slowly get to know and better control her supernatural power and will use it more and more not only for healing the sick, but also for something else.

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She filmed Lemos, a mystical, mysterious drama about a girl who seems to be stuck between two worlds. While Emy has to find her way and survive in a foreign country, in an environment where practically everyone sees her and her sister as an inferior race, her spirit seems to still be in the Philippines, which she may not even remember, but the spirits from the ancient beliefs there as if they had settled in it. Although Emy is the younger sister, she seems much more responsible and cautious than Teresa, who is a year, two, at most three years older, who wants with all her might to adapt, fit in and please the guy whom Emy is convinced will use and reject her gullible sister.

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“Holy Amy” was filmed with a lot of style and finesse. Lemos combines typical naturalism with some magical realism, surrealism, and Abigael Loma, a young Filipina who lives in Greece, is great in the lead role. Every time we have a girl with some supernatural powers in a movie, of course, the first association is De Palma’s cult “Carrie”, but since we follow the story of the Filipino community here, it all seems even more exotic. This film can also be seen as an allegory, a dark story located exactly halfway between a realistic drama about the lives of girls left to fend for themselves in a foreign world and the mystical fantasy of a girl with healing powers who still has to figure out how to use that gift.

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