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Sundance Review: 'Who is Dayani Cristal?'

Grade: Three and one-half stars (out of four)

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The other films competing in the World Cinema Documentary Competition have a lot to live up to as the opening-night film, "Who is Dayani Cristal," is an absorbing, moving story that is innovative in how it unfolds. Half of the story focuses on how American (and international) officials use good ol' fashioned detective work and journalistic instincts to find out who a decomposing body found in the Arizona desert is. The only clue is a chest tattoo that bears the cryptic phrase "Dayani Cristal." The other half of the story follows Gael Garcia Bernal retracing the harrowing journey from the mysterious man's home in Honduras to the Mexico-Arizona border, revealing portraits of aspiring immigrants who are noble -- something we never hear about in the modern debate about American immigration policy. While the film keeps its distance from overly politicizing a contentious issue, nevertheless the documentary is a forceful indictment of the way we do business when it comes to men yearning to breathe free.

-- David Burger

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