M.Parent is a 14 minutes short-movie, based on family pictures and writings. Directed and written by Nicolas Maurice, released in 2017.
Here are reproduced excerpts of the text heard through the movie and a few of the photographs it is made of.
Here is the story of a man I have never met.
His family pictures were gathering dust in my grand-parents’ attic until I discovered them.
Then, suddenly, all the objects of my childhood started talking, telling me about his son, about his wife, about him.
The vase, the bench, the desk…
The name of his son, stamped on the flyleaf of my child’s books, inside my painting box.
When I was a kid I collected stones and shells, because they’re beautiful, discreet, hidden. They are there, offered to everyone but revealing themselves ony to those who can name them. They don’t care that you find them, that you destroy them, they contain and sum up a whole eternity of forces at work.
A whole life in a box of pictures.
The sky is dark and the wind is blowing. Soon it will rain. The poplars of the school hustle and bustle to warn me of the coming gust. They fight for me on stormy days, when the wind forgets our pact and falls upon the world.
The street is dead, the sun gone, people flown away. I offer my throat to the violent caresses of the air but nothing can console him. The birds are hiding. Sheltered, I listen to him whispering into the chimney as if to my ear.
I am a tree which refuses the fight.
I’m debating with a young boy in the garden of an hotel in Greece, the mosquitoes crackle as they grill on a blue lamp post. We both are six years old or maybe is he a bit older ? He tells me his grand-mother is in heaven/the sky. I don’t understand. In the sky there are clouds, some blue, some stars… no room for grandmas or anybody at all. The plane trip should be enough to prove it ! He insists. She’s in a graveyard, I say, under a slab of grey concrete, in a box. She’s dead and that’s where dead people go. “She’s not dead she’s in the sky !” I ask him questions about the funerals, about this grey and geometric place where you bring flowers. He won’t budge. I must ask my parents parents why. Apparently, to be in the sky, it’s what you say to kids. I haven’t been told that, I haven’t been lied to. I’m satisfied.
A stroll to the cemetery is a good way to spen the afternoon. Some walking, we wander on the gravel. My grand-mother knows someone in every row, we walk by uncles, neighbors, collegues… We straighten up the memorial slabs that the wind made fall, clean up the dead leaves, polish the portrait printed on a porcelain oval. Bébert, Josiane… On our side, the cemetery is as flat as the rest of the landscape, marble slabs and stelae. Stepping on them is sacrilegious, except during all saints’ day ! Then it’s a group expedition ! A cloth soaked in mirror for the bronze lettering, new artificial flowers to garnish the planters and replace the ones that became grey, colors absorbed by the location’s inertia, even the water jugs.
We say that someday we will go to the other cemetery, farther away, to see the rest of the family. It will be a pleasant stroll.
Maybe it’s time for me to visit his grave.