Petra Costa’s intensely personal first film is a haunting attempt to commune with her older sister Elena, who died at age 20, when Petra was only seven. Following in her sister’s footsteps, Petra journeys from Brazil to New York, where the vibrant but troubled Elena unsuccessfully pursued a career as an actress. With a fragmented, lyrical style that evokes Resnais and Malick, the filmmaker time-travels through home movies, audio recordings, interviews, and reenactments (with herself as Elena), immersing herself in her sister’s identity in the hope of finding her own.
Curator Maria-Christina Villaseñor interviewed director Petra Costa in Remezcla.
Playlist calls Elena one of the best documentaries of 2014.