Hot Docs 2023 Review: Caiti Blues

by Andrew Parker

The life of a talented, but struggling artist is rendered in tender, aching detail in Quebec based filmmaker Justine Harbonnier’s documentary Caiti Blues.

Harbonnier travels to the small southwestern town of Madrid, New Mexico (approximate population: 200). A former mining town turned unlikely artist hub, Madrid is traditionally known as place people are merely passing through en route to bigger places like Albuquerque, Santa Fe, or the west coast. 29 year old singer-songwriter from New York City Caiti Lord thought she was going to be one of those who were just passing through on her way to San Francisco. She ended up becoming one of those people who didn’t get further than Madrid. Now, she tends bar at the local watering hole, hosts a weekly public radio show, occasionally performs on stage, and keeps honing her craft while struggling her way through life on low wages and mounting debts.

Caiti Blues is the type of relaxed, but emotionally resonant drama that some fictional filmmakers spend their entire lives trying to achieve, but Harbonnier has lucked into it naturally. Caiti’s experiences with creditors, creative blocks, loneliness, body image, job searches, and lack of opportunities sums up many experiences of young artists in a nutshell. Caiti’s story is an easy one to relate to and empathize with, especially when Harbonnier puts Lord’s current life into comparison with home movie footage of her as a young, show tune loving kid. It’s clear that young Caiti and older Caiti are the same eager and creative person, but that her self-awareness and talents have developed a darker, world weary edge.

In addition to Caiti Blues following a wonderfully candid subject, Harbonnier’s film has some exceptional editing that helps to enhance the documentary’s lived in feeling. Harbonnier’s observational instincts are spot on, and Lord is such an expressive person that she can convey a world of emotions without saying a single word. It’s pleasantly low key and truly authentic.

Friday, May 5, 2023 – 12:00 pm – Scotiabank Theatre 7

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get weekly updates on our latest contests, interviews, and reviews.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

You may also like

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. Accept Read More