All Its Name Implies documentary review

★★★★★

Directed by: #EvDurán

Written by: #EvDurán

Film Review by: Darren Tilby



It never ceases to amaze me how – even when faced with unimaginable tragedy; unimaginable loss – people can come back from the brink stronger and even more determined than ever to make life better, not only for themselves but also for those around them. The 2018 California wildfires (the Camp Fire) were devastating, destroying around 14,000 homes and claiming 85 lives. I remember watching on the news as the fires took hold, bringing ruination to everything on its path, and just thinking to myself: how can you possibly rebuild your life after something like that? Filmmaker Ev Durán, who grew up in Paradise, California – one of the towns devastated by the Camp Fire – focuses on the resilient residents of his former hometown, as he asks the very same question I had asked almost two years ago.


The first act of the film, which lasts around 30-minutes, delves into the history of Paradise and details life before the fire. Durán interviews several residents (including a few family members) about their personal history with the town. When did they arrive? Why did they come to the town? What was their favourite place there? And it’s delightful to hear the residents talking about the love they have for their town. No-one has a bad word to say, and the passion for their community is a beautiful thing.


The second act deals with the Camp Fire itself, and to say it’s intense is an understatement. The interviewees give detailed, minute-by-minute accounts of their miraculous escape stories, which Durán intersperses with actual footage of the blaze shot by the residents. The whole ordeal is terrifying to behold and utterly heartbreaking to hear. Listening to the residents; hearing in their voices how fresh, even over a year on, the whole thing is, is about as harrowing as it’s possible to get.


The third act shows the full extent of the damage and examines life after the blaze, or rather, the act of rebuilding it. Even now, there’s considerable uncertainty, and many are still homeless. And even those “lucky” enough to yet have a home are either unable to live in it, fighting insurance companies for help paying for the damage, or having to live in a shell of a town without many essential services (schools, hospitals, etc.) As Durán himself says, “there are no winners here”.


All-in-all, All Its Name Implies (which is the town’s motto) is a well-put-together movie. The video and audio quality is superb, interviews are handled earnestly and with sensitivity, and it’s incredibly informative. I loved that we got a rundown of the science behind the blaze. I loved that this was made by a Paradisian filmmaker, someone with intimate knowledge of the town and its people. It’s also great to hear about the relief efforts that have been pouring into Paradise over the years. Moreover, it’s magnificent to see just how many people are still determined to rebuild their lives in Paradise, even after surviving such a traumatic event. All Its Name Implies is a superb documentary; a stunning testament to human tenacity. More importantly, it aims to raise money for residents to rebuild their lives after suffering such terrible loss and tragedy. Please help if you can.