Cynara takes another look at the case of Cindy Ali, who was accused of killing her daughter, Cynara, in 2011, and asks if the ruling of the court was the right one. Through interviews with different people involved in the case, it builds a picture of what might have happened that day, as well as the aspects that cast doubt on the events that were reported. The film follows these events as they are being re-presented to the courts in order to get a retrial for Cindy. There’s a great deal of love in this film, where the Ali family sticks together through grief and pain, and their church stands by them with years of petitioning and prayer.
It’s low-key scary how influential our assumptions of others (and vice versa) can be, especially in this situation that resulted in life in jail. The first responder on the scene made up his mind about what he believed happened in the house that day, and this narrative made its way to the courts, ultimately changing Cindy’s life more than it already had. This film handles the case with care by providing backstory, context, and other perspectives, creating a better understanding of the story, and not just a snapshot to be interpreted by our own biases and lenses. This is a lesson for all of us too. You know how there’s that person you don’t like because you think they’re doing too much until you hear their story? (Just me?) This film has reminded me to hear the story out first before making a judgment.
There’s something so beautiful about people holding you up when you can’t do that for yourself. I found myself tearing up whenever the Ali family and/or their church was together. I’ve experienced that sense of community in a difficult time first hand where people get up at midnight because you have an emergency or open their homes for you to stay in as your family deals with grief. It’s an experience that taught me what church is really supposed to be, and one that makes me want to be a person that provides that sense of community for other people.
Cynara is now playing at HotDocs ’23. For more information, click here.