Tuesday, November 17, 2020

DOC NYC Spotlight: Beautiful Something Left Behind

I’m excited to be covering DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, which presents its eleventh year, this time in a mostly online format, from November 11th-19th.

Beautiful Something Left Behind
Directed by Katrine Philip
Ticket Information

Loss is something that everyone experiences at some point in their lives. There are degrees to which that loss can be felt and the impact it may have, depending on the length of the deceased’s life and the circumstances under which it ended. An unexpected passing can be particularly devastating, and it can create a particularly large void for those who knew a person best and are now no longer able to spend time and make new memories with them. Losing a parent at a young age can be especially traumatic, in part because children relate to death in a different way than adults do.

In New Jersey, Good Grief is a counseling center that works with children who have lost a parent. They are encouraged to share how they are feeling and to talk openly about the fact that someone they loved has died. They participate in group sessions that allow them to hear each other’s experiences and find common ground in the emotions that they are feeling, and speak directly to the camera about the people they are so sorely missing. They are given the opportunity to engage in a physical way with their loss through, among other representative activities, the release of floating lanterns into the sky.

This is a film whose content will likely be completely unwatchable for some because it hits far too close to home if they have been through something similar. It is certainly difficult to watch young children talk about how their mother or father has died, but there is also something wonderful about seeing how they are able to do so freely and honestly. The innocence often assigned to those who have yet to experience some of the darker and less pure aspects of the world should theoretically have been lost due to the trauma these children have been through, but the open way in which they are working through it actually seems to help them preserve and harness it.

This documentary was of special interest to me because my wife works in the end-of-life space and is absolutely supportive of organizations like Good Grief that take a positive approach to a subject that many find taboo and don’t ever want to discuss. In spotlighting their work, this film helps takes productive steps towards normalizing the idea of difficult conversations and that talking about death can indeed have tremendous benefits. These children are the clearest example of that, sharing deep pain in a mesmerizing and very affecting way.


No comments: