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Su Friedrich Introduces Her Film "I Cannot Tell You How I Feel"

"I was diving into a new and totally bewildering experience, so I decided to bring along my camera."
Su Friedrich's I Cannot Tell You How I Feel (2016)  is playing November 11 - December 11, 2017 on MUBI in the United States.
I Cannot Tell You How I Feel
All of us are wending out way towards the inevitable, but it isn't something we want to think about when we're in our thirties or forties. Usually we don't ever choose to, but instead are forced to when a parent or grandparent starts getting towards the scary end of things.
When my brother, sister and I found ourselves in that place with our mother about three years ago, our response was to totally freak out, realize we had no idea what needed to be done, and then scramble desperately to figure out which steps to take when.
I definitely didn't think, "Oh, I should make a film about this." There was too much to do and it was too chaotic.
But since I was diving headlong into a new and totally bewildering experience, I decided to pick up my camera. I told myself it was to record information for our work, that it was a way to keep track of things like which living facilities we were visiting, what furniture we needed to move, et cetera. But I soon realized that I was doing it so that I could bear witness to the entire experience...for whatever reason, but mainly because my brain was lagging way behind my experience. It was just too much to understand, think about, process.
Only a few months after we had moved her did I start to wonder whether I had any material that could be built into a film. It was a difficult editing process because the footage hadn't been collected with any forethought, but that also made it a very lively and interesting process, and I found some real pleasure and relief in trying to figure out how to not make it maudlin or depressing, as films about the elderly risk becoming. I wanted to show the comedy as well as the fear, the frustration as well as the love.
Making this film was also an opportunity to push the boundaries of what I'd started doing in my last two films, in which I played around with different voices, or different registers of my own voice. I have often worked with text on screen in combination with written/performed voiceovers and "live sound"—people who I interviewed, conversation caught on camera, et cetera. For a long time, I've sensed the multiplicity of my own voices. I have conscious thoughts that can be written down and performed, but I also have internal dialogues and monologues, while also wanting to include facts that I've found while researching a film. More and more, I want to bring all of those into play. I want to say things, and then comment on what I've said, or make comments about what someone else has said, or just drop in phrases or thoughts which might be disarming or amusing. With the ease of editing on the computer (compared to how laborious it was when working in 16mm) I find that I can do more and more of this with each film.
And then there's music, which I love (as we all do) and which I treat not only as a fantastic rhythmic and melodic element, but also as another form of text, since the lyrics so often give an additional meaning to what one is seeing.

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