One of the many things I miss about in-person film festivals is the conversations that come after a screening, and especially the way they lead to new discoveries, as one insight into a film’s visual language spawns another, or a certain stylistic tic triggers a visual memory of another. We’ve tried to emulate that at least a bit in this year’s online GIRAF festival by offering a Discord server where film fans and filmmakers can talk about what they’ve seen — and one sign that it’s at least sort of working is the fact I’ve now seen the phenomenal My Mother’s Coat.

The recommendation came from Natalia Spychala, director of the short Marbles, after watching Vojtěch Domlátil’s Morning (both are in our Transcendental Animation pack). Spychala mentioned that the linework in Morning reminded her of My Mother’s Coat, and now I’ve spent this afternoon reveling in the film’s impeccable storytelling.

Structured around a mother telling her daughter about their struggles in post-dictatorship Athens, My Mother’s Coat is a film full of regrets, but it isn’t sour and it isn’t even exactly sad, although it isn’t happy either. The life it details is a difficult one, hollowed out by the sacrifices a parent makes in difficult times to keep their family thriving. Even as she describes the solitude of her life, the moments she regrets missing, the draining relationship that leaves little time for herself, there’s a richness of character that carries beyond the regret into hope. It reads as a portrait of strength and resilience, wistful as it is.

Oh, and to pay the suggestion forward, My Mother’s Coat couldn’t help but make me think of Heather Kai Smith’s Quickdraw-produced short A Woman Comes Into the Room, adapting Alice Notley’s poem of the same name. But that’s a whole other rabbit hole to fall into.

My Mother’s Coat

dir: Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits
syn: My Mother talks to me about post-dictatorship Athens, her struggle to adapt to the greek mentality, her memories of motherhood, and her longing to go back to her small town in Italy. 

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