Directed by #JoanCGratz
Film review by Nathanial Eker
In a time when we're ruled by our internet history, there seems little need for the traditional memoir. However, the simplicity and intimacy of a personal slice of life is something not to take for granted. The One Minute Memoir, a collection of eleven short films based on a collection of artist's lives in a variety of styles, is a joy to view. While some inevitably lack the context to be properly understood, each film offers something unique, something intimate, and something enjoyable.
Inevitably, some fare better than others. Diane Obomsawin's still expression of the highs and lows of childhood hits incredibly hard, in no small part due to the delightfully sombre narration, which perfectly captures the hurt of growing up with personal hardships. The poetry of the dialogue in Transatlantic is honest and touching; 'we learned all about the joy of departure, and the sadness of being apart'. Such simple words, yet they strike with ferocity when paired with the intimate details of the 'salty taste of the railings'; another exceptional detail that only the most personal account could provide.
There are a number of 'conventional narratives' that reflect on the artist's life, often culminating in their journey to becoming filmmakers. A True Story and Dreams of a Fallen Astronaut, for example, both highlight the creator's love of artistic expression, albeit with vastly different tones. Places Where I Ate demonstrates a broader look at the artist's life, albeit with a far simpler framing device that crates a film that charms as much as it informs.
Of course, there are also more surreal ventures that venture into the world of the avant-garde, like My Films Have a Spiritual Quality I Must Resist, which substitutes dialogue for moving imagery laced with commentary, both political and trivial. The River - while traditional in some senses - momentarily nosedives into a world of surrealist imagery as it channels the moment where the artist realises how crazy our world truly is. It's these deeply personal insights that makes this collection such a success; everything feels honest.
Even films that would require hours of analysis to properly understand like Substation 9 undeniably produce a unique vision, untempered by expectation or directorial restraint. It seems that the brief was as vast or tiny as each creator wanted it to be, leading to a beautifully well-varied collection of shorts. If there is one qualm, it's that the film order seems to follow little rhyme or reason. The varied approach to the subject matter makes it feel like it could've been ordered in a way that culminated in a thematic crescendo, but it ultimately just ends without much fanfare. Then again, many of these films are accounts or real life, and that's kind of how real life is.
Overall, The One-Minute Memoir is a fine collection of short films, bound by a strong thematic undercurrent and wonderfully honest testimonials of how dreadful and wonderful life can be.