Hot Docs 2024: 'Seguridad' Considers the Heartache of Family Secrets

Directed by Tamara Segura

Photo courtesy of the National Film Board of Canada

BY Rachel HoPublished Apr 24, 2024


The nuances of art, humanity and allegiance show themselves throughout Seguridad in its visuals and narrative. The film by Newfoundland-based Tamara Segura explores the damage created by her father in her childhood that continues to reverberate a decade after his unexpected passing. Seguridad is a personal essay by its very definition, but its ability to connect with families of all stripes offers a universality for audiences to understand their own familial wounds.

After immigrating to Canada in 2010, Segura returned to her homeland of Cuba a few years later to reconnect with her family. Five days into this visit, Segura's father, Jorge, suffered a stroke and passed away. Some documents and photographs were bequeathed to Segura that unearthed a part of her family's history that hadn't previously been discussed. More importantly, though, what remained after Jorge was laid to rest were complicated feelings towards a man who doted on her and yet caused a great amount of pain.

In Seguridad, Segura brings the camera into her family's home to witness her and three generations of women reconcile who Jorge was and who he became. Her mother, Claribel, appears the most reserved — not an unwilling participant by any means, but certainly a woman who would rather keep those memories in the past. It's understandable, considering Jorge's ire would have mostly been directed towards her.

Segura's paternal grandmother, Yolanda, and her younger sister, Mayte, from Jorge's second marriage, are the two figures in Seguridad who present the most intriguing portraits. As a mother disappointed in her son, Yolanda's no-nonsense bewilderment as to how that sweet boy who excelled in mathematics could become an abuser is heartfelt and earnest. For Mayte, hers is a story of absence above all else; too young to recall the good times or the bad, Mayte's tears feel overwhelmed and even frustrated.

Weaving together these perspectives is Segura, the young girl who was the apple of her father's eye. Segura shares anecdotes of storytime with Jorge, describing them as his oasis in otherwise troubled times for the young father. The most compelling part of Seguridad is the uncomfortable navigation a daughter makes of a person whose warmth and intentions betray the terror delivered by his hand.

In the film, Segura recalls looking through her father's old photographs, noting how overexposure caused many of his pictures to combine two photographs into one with one overlaid atop the other. Segura and her director of photography, Deymi D'Atri, adopt this imagery into the film itself, creating the perfect marriage between subject and medium.

Seguridad asks audiences to consider the nuances of humanity through Jorge and through the evolving politics of Cuba, when public sentiment slowly began to turn against the Revolution. The film presents themes and questions surrounding the conditionality of love, forgiveness and loyalty. At what point should the tides turn? If ever.

By being such a specific and deeply personal story, Segura reveals far-reaching implications that transcend borders, culture and language. Seguridad holds up a mirror to all of our familial flaws and faults with a message of patience for others and for ourselves — the understanding that a person can be more than their actions, but without excusing their actions.

Hot Docs 2024 takes place from Apr 25 to May 5 in Toronto. Find details, including information about tickets, at the festival's website.

(National Film Board of Canada)

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