Directed by: #StevenAdamRenkovish
Short film review by: Brian Penn
A sage once said ‘to live in the hearts of those we leave behind is not to die’. And remembrance is the driver for this unusual film by Steven Adam Renkovish. 401 Rogers Street in West Virginia was the home of family patriarch Bill Renkovish who died on 30 December 2018. The house is now a Vessel for memories of times gone by. Shot on Super 8 and VHS the film captures images of a family through three generations. It becomes a simple but effective record of a much loved grandfather and the effect he had on those closest to him.
The viewer is cleverly drawn in by heart warming views of the family at Christmas. Children diving under the tree to retrieve their presents and excitement of the big reveal. Drinks and a hearty lunch will rekindle special memories for most people. The festive period is a time for reflection and contemplation; the one time that families come together. The fact that granddad Bill died over Christmas heightens the significance of December in the Renkovish calendar. The home movie footage needs little in the way of explanation; straplines appear on VHS while a grainy quality remains on Super 8. So the timeline is apparent as shots of Bill blend with an empty armchair in a cold and lifeless room.
Rogers 401 will no doubt resonate with many, but I am troubled by the underlying message of the film. It seems the house has turned into a shrine purely because of happy times enjoyed within its walls. Our memories should never be kept in bricks and mortar. A building doesn’t live, breathe, laugh or cry. It’s only geography as we carry our memories with us wherever we go. The film becomes an outlet for the director’s grief which is of course a very personal thing. The viewer should feel privileged to eavesdrop on intimate family gatherings; but it still felt eerie staring at lingering shots of empty rooms. Nevertheless, it’s a thought provoking piece that should give us a stronger sense of our own past.