Sunday, June 20, 2021

Tribeca with Abe: The Death of My Two Fathers

I’ve had the pleasure this year of screening a number of selections virtually from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, which runs June 9th-20th.

The Death of My Two Fathers
Directed by Sol Guy
Viewpoints – Screening Information

It isn’t always possible to get to know someone after they’re gone. Children of any age are often left with unanswered questions when they lose a parent, whether it’s something of extreme consequence that they never knew or only later learned, or something far less significant, like a subject of preference they didn’t think to discuss. In rare cases, there is an archive available that allows for the living to establish a new connection with the deceased, hearing directly from them in a way that will likely speak much louder and more emphatically upon review than it would have at the time of its creation.

Sol Guy is a father of two who lost his own father to kidney cancer two decades ago. He knows that his father, William, recorded six VHS tapes recounting the many experiences he had in his own life so that his children would know who he was. Twenty years later, Sol is finally ready to watch them, and to do so with his own family, which leads to the examination of his own life. Along the way, he also explores how he relates to his mother, his stepfather, and the family members he either fell out of touch with or didn’t even know existed.

This is a highly contemplative film, one that invites audiences along for a trip inspired by curiosity and tinged with pain and longing. As he addresses the camera, William is straightforward and open, but there’s no opportunity for Sol to talk to him and ask him follow-up questions, or comment on how something he says makes him feel. Instead, that’s saved for his reflections to a new camera that are part of this film, a deeply meaningful and heartwarming process of documenting how he responds to what his father did, creating a new version of that as he does so.

This film is reminiscent in many ways of last year’s “Time” in part because of the format on which much of it is filmed, but also in the nostalgia for a different path that serves as the catalyst for its compilation. Sol knows that he cannot control or change the events that happened which resulted in his father making the tapes and no longer being in his life when he was fifteen, and this is his best and only hope of getting to know him now and transmitting his legacy to his grandchildren. It’s an extraordinary and personal journey, one that speaks to the universality of loss and the individuality of this one man.


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