Family Affair, director Chico Colvard’s achingly personal debut, mines his family’s troubled past. When he was 10, Chico accidentally shot his sister in the leg, an event that exposed his father’s prolonged physical and sexual abuse of his three sisters and led to the unraveling of his family. The film focuses on the different lives led by these three girls, all of whom have since reconciled with their abusive parent, as well as on Colvard’s attempts to unpack his own prejudices in light of his sisters’ forgiveness. Aside from one diverting visit to a trauma specialist, the filmmaker avoids expert testimony, instead allowing his own confusion and frustration to come to the fore. Basic information regarding the family and the sequence of events is never revealed, making the film a series of intimate moments that are suffocatingly insular—and increasingly unflattering. As the documentary-as-therapy approach continues, Family Affair reaches a point at which the audience’s engagement shifts into voyeurism. Whenever Colvard reaches out to his estranged mother or enters his father’s hospital room, one can’t help but wonder how the tenor of those conversations might have changed had the camera stayed in the car.
At 11:30 a.m. at AFI Silver Theater 2; also on Thursday, June 24, at 7:45 p.m. at the Discovery HD Theater.