written and directed by Sophy Romvari
EVERY DAY'S LIKE THIS
starring Kacey Rohl, Daniel Kash, Francis Melling, Krystina Bojanowski
written and directed by Lev Lewis
by Angelo Muredda Canadian filmmaker Sophy Romvari mourns and preserves the past in her wrenching new nonfiction short, Still Processing, whose title puns on the intricate work of processing photographic images along with the spectral traces of those they depict. Evoking a tradition of poetic but philosophically robust memorial essay films and literary texts about engaging with the material record of the dead, from Chris Marker's Sans Soleil to W.G. Sebald's Austerlitz, the film is nevertheless shot through with Romvari's modest sensibility. Though Romvari herself is front and centre throughout, the film is a quiet affair, shot in the loneliness of archives, darkrooms, and bedrooms, frequently lit by faint glowing lights and punctuated by a running subtitle track that elucidates the filmmaker's emotional state. A compelling marriage of form and theme, the film is also gorgeously photographed. Particularly striking is a sequence that finds Romvari working solo among the cold brutalist architecture of York University, taking old photos of her deceased brothers David and Jonathan out of the humble archive of the box they've been housed in for the first time. She delicately arranges their faces on a nondescript table that soon becomes a kind of installation, effectively massaging her siblings back to life through her hands in real-time, as if gesturing to the labour and art of processing grief that only filmmaking can accomplish.
Where Romvari physically engages with the departed through their photographic remnants, Lev Lewis reanimates a deep personal loss via a different sort of sensory snapshot in the formally rigorous and sharply observed Every Day's Like This. Lewis captures the palpable sensations, down to the soft yellow lighting of a home where it always seems to be late on a Sunday night, of one of many such evenings in a family's pre-mourning ritual for a sick matriarch who's planning her own physician-assisted death. The mother is never seen except through a framed photo hanging above a staircase, which is only briefly lingered over as the camera passes it. But she's present in conversations about everything from her impulsive late-night Amazon purchases, which stack up in the kitchen in a great bit of dashed-off set direction, to her potential death date. "The 16th is the Oscars," patriarch Adam (Daniel Kash) muses amidst a charmingly bleak debate with his daughter, Michelle (Kacey Rohl), positioning their respective partner and mother as a structuring absence even before her death. It's a painful yet curiously vivacious short, attuned to the sad rhythms and unique gallows humour that become second nature among those waiting to be left behind. Programme: Short Cuts