For any sufferers of fireworks fatigue, Viktor Jakovleski’s euphoric debut Brimstone & Glory should swiftly restore a sense of childlike awe. In a lean, loaded 67 minutes, Jakovleski captures the week-long celebration of San Juan de Dios, a dazzling pyrotechnics festivity that consumes the Mexican town of Tultepec yearly. The events are dedicated to a patron saint who supposedly rescued people from a burning hospital without a single scar or burn. Now, as one town kid tells us, to receive such an injury from the explosions is considered a sacred mark from the saint himself.
Dispensing with talking heads (and deploying minimal exposition), Jakovleski opts for complete immersion, centering on the two biggest spectacles of the celebration, the Castles of Fire and the Burning of the Bulls. With fluid, kinetic camerawork that weaves us throughout the chaos, Brimstone & Glory is an utterly jaw-dropping blow-out that demands to be seen in a communal setting (and ideally on the largest screen available). — JF
“More sensory experience than structured portrait, Brimstone & Glory contains more primal, enrapturing images than any documentary since Leviathan. Jakovleski’s cameras take us right onto the street as fireworks detonate all around us, often threatening the revelers who happily put themselves in harm’s way to dance among the explosions... I can’t recall a movie that better demonstrated the thin line between danger and euphoria that’s inherent in such public revelries… Brimstone & Glory is community as catharsis, and you can’t stop staring in stupefied astonishment.” — Tim Grierson, Paste Magazine