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MISSING PEOPLE (#HotDocs15 Review)



Directed by David Shapiro

MISSING PEOPLE begins like any other true crime documentary. It shows news reports of a grizzly 1978 murder before cutting to show the victim’s sister. It quickly becomes evident that the film is not a true crime film at all, but rather an intimate study of a women whose life was torn apart. After Martina Bartan’s younger brother was murdered, she never slept the same again. Fearing the nightmares that come with her slumber, Martina spends her nights building a large rectangular Lego brick, crocheting, and walking her dogs. Martina has also found herself becoming obsessed with the work of deceased New Orleans painter Roy Ferdinand. Martina travels to New Orleans to meet Ferdinand’s family, which leads her to revelations about her feelings towards her brother’s death. With a new outlook, Martina decides to hire a private investigator to find out what really happened to her brother.


Director David Shapiro’s film is intriguing from the moment it begins. Though, it is not the unsolved murder aspect that is most interesting, but rather the film’s subject herself. Martina is obviously an extremely complex and deeply troubled individual, and Shapiro does his best to gain insight into her frame of mind. Part of what makes the film so great is that the audience never gets a complete insight into Martina, allowing her to remain somewhat of a mystery. MISSING PEOPLE is a fascinating portrait of a woman with a deep internal struggle and a past that is finally about to catch up with her.

4 sheep

MISSING PEOPLE will have its World Premiere at the HotDocs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as part of the Next program, which focuses on the arts, creativity, music and pop culture. It will be preceded by the short film, MEND AND MAKE, directed by Bexie Bush.

Screening Schedule …

Friday, April 24, 7:00 PM, Scotiabank Theatre

Saturday, April 25, 11:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox

Friday, May 1, 9:15 PM, Hart House

For more information and for tickets, please visit

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