Duane Baughman and Johnny O’Hara are obvious admirers of the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, as shown in their not wholly hagiographic portrait, “Bhutto.” An epic of warring religions, economic factions and dynastic succession, their documentary offers rapid-fire insight into a region that has fed into fears of the twenty-first century, both perceived and real. Her goal as two-time prime minister of a country wracked by poverty and violence, was democracy, but along the way, history intervenes, and not only in the form of her assassination. And the directors manage to convey decades of history in lucid fashion while observing the contours of what many observe as Greek-style tragedy. There are some inexpert touches that are rife in too many contemporary documentaries, including animation. But the narration is a masterstroke: Bhutto narrates “Bhutto,” using material she had recorded for her autobiography. With Condoleezza Rice, David Frost, Kathleen Kennedy, Asif Ali Zardari, Tariq Ali, Arianna Huffington, Pervez Musharraf, Iyad Hajjaj, Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari. 114m. 35mm. (Ray Pride)
“Bhutto” opens Friday at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.