3 Mar 2022
Grandma’s Heritage is a deeply personal account of director Anna Vasylioglo’s relationship with her late grandmother.
This short was made under the supervision of Johanna Bernhardson and Karin Ekberg as an exercise clip for a workshop entitled ‘Documentary Storytelling with a Personal Voice’. The film is certainly loyal to this rubric. It is composed of various still photographs of Anna with her grandmother, shots of Anna more recently, and home video footage of the mementos her grandmother left behind (such as an ermine fur hat). These shots are paired with an emotional narration that gives some insight into each person’s personality, the attributes they share (chiefly their long black curly hair), and the warmth of their relationships.
The film is a very brief but touching dedication to her grandmother, though its broader appeal suffers by its inherent specificity. Its audience is mostly limited to immediate family and friends, although it could easily be opened up to viewers; for instance, if the commentary were removed, then a certain ambiguity would be introduced into the photographs and montage sequences, creating some room for the viewer to draw their own conclusions about the characters’ relationships and therefore begin to see themselves in the picture.
An extended version of this three-minute piece could make for an interesting project, perhaps with more time spent on some of the key moments of her grandmother’s life, intercut with more home video or interviews. With some experimental flair the film could go in the direction of Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg; or, with a more delicate treatment, could take on the melancholic style of Chantel Akerman’s News From Home. As it is though, Grandma’s Heritage is a simple sketch of the ways in which Anna has dealt with the grief of losing her grandmother, and how she continues to be influenced by that loss in her filmmaking.