– Spanish director Laura García Pérez presents a moving and beautiful documentary in which she reconstructs her memories to reflect on the relationship between past and present
“I threw a lot of photos away. But I don’t regret throwing them away at all, it’s normal, people get rid of memories that don’t do them any good. What’s more, I think I should have thrown them away sooner. It’s been at least 15 years, as if it were a family”. So begins I’m My Mother’s Daughter, the documentary by Laura García Pérez (in which the director also stars), winner of the Award for Best Feature Documentary at the Alcances 2023 Festival and Special Mention in the Òrbites section of Cinema Jove, and which is now being presented in the National Official Selection at L’Alternativa – Barcelona Independent Film Festival. While passing around photos from the director’s childhood, she asks her mother to admit that she threw some of them away when she told her that she was preparing a documentary about her father, whom she has not seen for more than ten years.
Laura García Pérez’s mother started filming her at an early age. Many of these family videos where the director appears as a child or teenager singing, dancing, waving to the camera or telling her everyday life stories were addressed to her father, who spent most of year working abroad. It was a way for her mother to show him his child growing up over the years that they were together, before they divorced and he disappeared from their lives forever. Now, some time later, together with her mother and grandmother (who also appear in those videos), the director reconstructs those memories to reflect on her own identity, to understand who she is through this past. Through the revelation of this intimacy, the documentary tackles interesting issues such as the influence of heritage in forming your identity, the meaning of family, the bonds that make it up and the mysteries it holds, the weight of the past on the present, the passing of time and what it does to us, how some absences can take a hold more than some presences, how we come to become the people we are.
The director’s story-telling is direct, simple and delicate, through crossing over between material from the past (the photos and videos of her childhood and teenage years) and current recordings where the protagonists ask themselves about that past in close-up. It succeeds in achieving the desired tone, to explore this intimacy with sincerity and tenderness, to reflect or try to unravel the emotions and feelings that lie behind these images and the faces that appear in them. It is also interesting how this form is used to get to the heart of the matter, how, through this subjective reconstruction of memories, a whole space of sentimental memory is created. In this way, the documentary also becomes a lucid reflection on its own essence and meaning, on the capacity of cinema to capture this memory, to retain the images that time will erase in order to be able to return to them.
In I’m My Mother’s Daughter, Laura García Pérez achieves what she sets out to, an honest and emotional exploration into one’s own sentimental memory, whose beauty comes from that sincerity with the narrative. The documentary ends up being an interesting and beautiful reflection on the relationship between past and present, on the wounds that mark us and that we carry throughout our lives and how this past can help us to reconcile with our present.
I’m My Mother’s Daughter is a production by Tarannà Films.
(Translated from Spanish by Vicky York)