Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Daughter (Dcera)
"The expression in Daria Kashcheeva's puppets is remarkable."

Daughter is a film that is all about texture. Told entirely through the actions of papier maché puppets, with a evocative score but no dialogue, it's a film full of rough edges, lined skin, coarsely woven fabrics, grainy wood and raised seams. This focus on texture speaks to the importance of touch - most pertinently, the longing to hold a loved one who is no longer there.

Waiting by her faded father's bedside as we hear the beep, beep of an unseen machine, the daughter in this tale is absorbed in thoughts that are rudely interrupted when something crashes against the window behind her. It's a small bird, dark and stiffly folded, and as she cradles it in her hand she slips into a reverie, recalling events long past. Another injured bird. A doting father's mistakes. His attempts to reach beyond it, to comfort and console. How impossibly big he looked when she was just a tiny thing lying crumpled on the ground like that bird, perhaps fallen from a tree. In one scene where she sits in that childhood home, twigs coil around her, as if she were wrapped up in a nest.

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There's a mask, then - a symbol of identification with the bird. Strangers wear masks to carnival, laughing loudly to conceal themselves. The daughter's mask is doing something different. It shows us another aspect of the same face - and, perhaps, a shadow for her father to cling to when she's gone. The expression in Daria Kashcheeva's puppets is remarkable. Her painstaking stop motion animation is weighted with the love at the heart of this project, something that is redolent in every frame.

Multi-layered and exquisitely detailed, this is a film that will make you want to hold your loved ones closer. It's a beautiful example of craft placed at the service of story, of technical brilliance made part and parcel of a compelling idea.

Reviewed on: 21 Jan 2020
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Daughter packshot
A dad and daughter try to reach a mutual understanding.

Director: Daria Kashcheeva

Writer: Daria Kashcheeva

Year: 2019

Runtime: 19 minutes

Country: Czech Republic

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