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WATCH: Striking Trailer for Petra Costa's Doc 'Elena,' on the Haunting Disappearance of Her Sister

Photo of Beth Hanna By Beth Hanna | Thompson on Hollywood May 9, 2014 at 3:53PM

An arresting trailer has arrived for Petra Costa's stunning-looking personal documentary "Elena." The film touches on a very painful subject for Costa, who investigates the disappearance of her older sister, who made the big move to New York when the director was only seven years old, only then to disappear, as letters home became more infrequent and then eventually ceased entirely.
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Petra Costa's 'Elena'
Petra Costa's 'Elena'

An arresting trailer has arrived for Petra Costa's stunning-looking personal documentary "Elena." The film touches on a very painful subject for Costa, who investigates the disappearance of her older sister, who made the big move to New York when the director was only seven years old, only then to disappear, as letters home became more infrequent and then eventually ceased entirely.

Here's the official synopsis, which goes into more depth on the twisty story:

Elena, a young Brazilian woman, travels to New York with the same dream as her mother, to become a movie actress. She leaves behind her childhood spent in hiding during the years of the military dictatorship. She also leaves Petra, her seven year old sister. Two decades later, Petra also becomes an actress and goes to New York in search of Elena. She only has a few clues about her: home movies, newspaper clippings, a diary and letters. At any moment Petra hopes to find Elena walking in the streets in a silk blouse. Gradually, the features of the two sisters are confused; we no longer know one from the other. When Petra finally finds Elena in an unexpected place, she has to learn to let her go.

First premiering in 2012, the film has had a rich festival life -- if a slow path to distribution -- playing the international fests in Buenos Aires and Reykjavik to name a couple. It comes to New York's IFC Center on May 30, and then expands to LA and other cities across North America on June 13.

Hat tip to the Playlist, who nabbed the trailer exclusive.

This article is related to: Video, Video, Trailers, Trailers, Documentary, Documentaries


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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.