“Where does the sun go? Can girls be robots? Why are some people pink and not all black? Why don’t worms have faces?” A little girl wants to know. Watch Video
For over a decade I was a television producer who made independent autobiographical films on the side, but after my second child was born in 2007 with severe disabilities it was impossible to go back to TV work; the hours were too long and I needed to be there for him. However, when he was 3 I went back to school for an M.F.A. in film production and to make a documentary about our family’s experience of having a child with special needs. It’s called “Softening”; a short version of it titled “My Brother, Teddy” became an Op-Doc. The experience renewed my interest in making work about family; at least, it affirmed the value of it.
Having children has transformed my creative life in ways that constantly surprise me. Sometimes I wish I could approach the world from a less personal perspective, but I can’t. Instead I try to make work that captures the poetry of the everyday and finds universal themes through my family’s experiences. Since “Softening,” I’ve been slowly working on a film about my daughters: Emma, 13, and my youngest child, Willow, who is 5.
Over the years I’ve kept a record of my conversations with them, which range from funny observations to huge meaning-of-life type questions. This short film comes from that project but focuses specifically on the questions that Willow has asked me. Some questions she has asked only once. For example, one day she was in her car seat watching a crowd of pedestrians cross the street and said, as if noticing the outside world for the first time, “Why are there so many people who don’t know me?” Or out of the blue she’ll ask things like, “What does ‘kind’ mean?” or “Why do trees just stand there?” Other questions are a daily occurrence. Questions like, “Mom, what were you like when you were small?” and “When will it be my birthday?”