Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

"A technically accomplished portrait of aging and an individual."

It might be static, it is distortion, a haziness around the voice. In the corner an account number, a description - 98F. She, nearly a hundred, is Isabella. She is asked about the "most interesting thing you could say to someone", and she tells us.

There is a complication, a confession. "This is what happens", she says, "I forget". She tells a story of a confrontation at school, and it could be repeated here but it is her story to tell, hers to repeat. Hers to tell, and for the telling to be something special. This is what happens, as she speaks. She forgets.

Copy picture

With elements that recall ink on paper, blossoms and stems, and scans of Isabella's brain (there's a credit for a department of Glasgow's Southern General Hospital), this is a technically accomplished portrait of aging and an individual.

Isabella is animator Ross Hogg's grandmother, and he is joined behind the camera by familial documentarian Duncan Cowles. This is a work that benefits from the connections of half of the team, from the distance of the other, from close observation and deft construction, that shows what happens when we struggle to remember.

Film affords all manner of techniques for documentary, and short film all the more so because there is (perhaps paradoxically) more room to experiment. The use of sound and focus and imposition of texture and animated elements create a sense of a person, of her condition, of how one affects the other. That is what happens. We forget.

In a 2016 Glasgow Short Film Festival that included several films about loss, about lives, and about the personal connections of film-makers to their subjects, the candour and compassion and technique and talent evident in Isabella saw it win the jury prize for Scottish Short Film. These are subjects to which and to whom we can all relate, but the twinkle in her eye is one caught by up and coming stars. You should see this if you can, and tell others. This is what happens. Don't forget.

Reviewed on: 21 Mar 2016
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At 92, Isabella struggles to hold onto her memories and sense of identity.

Director: Duncan Cowles, Ross Hogg

Year: 2015

Runtime: 9 minutes

Country: UK


GSFF 2016
EIFF 2016

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