Saturday, January 14, 2017

NYJFF ’17: Home Movie (short)

8 and 16mm video was supposed to help families remember their good times together, but for Caroline Pick’s parents, it was a way to help them forget. She was there when much of the family archive was shot, but she would later see those films in a different light after eventually learning their full family chronicle. Personal history become a meditation on something greater in Pick’s short documentary, Home Movie, which screens as part of the Shorts Program at this year’s New York Jewish FilmFestival.

Originally, Pick’s parents hailed from Czechoslovakia, but she had a rather privileged upbringing in Cardiff. As the images of her nuclear family at-play unspool, Pick’s voiceover starts to describe the friends and extended family who are missing. Of course, they perished in the Holocaust, but that is hardly meant to be a surprise. Instead, Pick wonders at her parents ability to seemingly forget the past.

Granted, we have seen this sort of film before, but Pick’s editorial judgement is unusually assured. We do get a feeling of her parents’ personalities and suspect we see a flicker of sadness in their eyes. She also maybe implies their survivors’ issues manifested in odd ways, especially when we watch the footage her father shot of their mother with men suspected of being her lovers. Regardless, they certainly remained very European and cosmopolitan.

Pick’s approach in Home Movie is simple, but the effect is haunting. Recommended for viewers who appreciate a shrewd eye for “found” visuals, Home Movie screens this coming Monday (1/16) as part of the 2017 NYJFF’s Shorts Program.