Jaime Lee Loy of Trinidad and Tobago, director of the film Bury Your Mother
Experimental films aren’t easy viewing. Unlike most films, experimental (or avant garde) films don’t set out to do what conventional films do. Experimental films play with form, deliberately seeking to puzzle, confuse, perhaps even frustrate. And in their content they can disturb, offend, outrage. Needless to say, experimental films aren’t for everyone. But for those looking for more from their film-going experience than the usual, who don’t mind (or even desire) being asked to actively engage with what’s on the screen rather than just sitting back and being entertained, there are filmmakers out there working at the margins, who continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in the art of film.
Jaime Lee Loy of Trinidad and Tobago is one such filmmaker, and her film Bury Your Mother, which premiered yesterday at the trinidad+tobago film festival, is a wonderful example of how a film can do more than just passively entertain. It is a challenging, thought-provoking work, a brave exploration of the troubled, stymied relationship between a mother and daughter; two women trapped in a house, trapped in memories, they can’t or won’t escape.
The film is also admirably well-made. Jaime–who is also an artist–did much of the work herself, from the haunting cinematography to the potent sound to the bravura editing. She admitted to me in the Q&A; after the screening that the process of making the film was essentially organic; that she was trying things as she went along and going with what worked. (I found this a little surprising, as this is not Jaime’s first film. In any case, her cinematic choices were for the most part extremely effective.) The film also benefited from the performances given by Alicia Guevara (the Mother) and Sabrina Charran (the Daughter); the former a work colleague of Jaime’s, the latter an artist who worked with Jaime on her previous film.
The screening of Bury Your Mother was not exactly a sold-out one. Experimental films, event at film festivals, don’t normally get huge crowds. But the people who do turn out for them are usually committed to the experience that they provide. And that was the case with Bury Your Mother, with members of the audience expressing just how moved they were by it. And you really can’t ask more of a film than that, experimental or not.
Bury Your Mother screens again on 25 September at the Institute for Critical Thinking at the University of the West Indies St. Augustine, and on 28th September at MovieTowne.