Apologies, another Video from the Gut

This past year was hectic to say the least. So when it was finally winding down and I had a bit of breathing room, I took the big hard drive out of storage, and opened up the giant Final Cut Project containing the last four years of our lives, with the intention of beginning the masterpiece documentary series I had put off.

It was anticlimactic. More accurately, it was a plunge into an abyss after a long climb that was meant to lead to a stunning view. There was so much footage, and I didn’t know how to begin editing, how to begin crystalizing the stuff of life into the stuff of ideas. I fell into a deep funk for a few days, where trivial frustrations could bring me to tears. I worked through it a little bit, by continuing the categorisation of the endless clips, and by jotting down little editing ideas that came to mind.

I decided the first short video I’d tackle was an idea I’d already harbored for a while. It goes like this: when Shmaaya was two years old and a bit and Shalva was about six months, I filmed them lounging on my bed. I let things take their course with hardly any intervention and what ended up happening was a senseless show of cruelty by the bigger child on the baby. That video disturbed me at once, and I know I would do something (maybe many things) with it. After about one year I filmed Shmaaya watching himself in that video. He was uncomfortable and evasive. Now, as I was sitting down to edit again an additional year later, I decided to shoot Shmaaya watching it again, and compare his reactions as he was growing up.

But before I had a chance to execute this “shoot”, I came across another clip I had shot soon after the bedroom cruelty one. In it, it is springtime. The camera is placed on a tripod and overlooks the playground on our property, and beyond that, the mulberry tree. I had intended to depict a quaint and typical activity: myself picking mulberries with the children. Shmaaya brought a hula-hoop with him to the mulberry tree, intending to throw it in the air. As we walk on frame I tell him to go far far away with it, lest it should fall on Shalva and me. He good naturedly complies, and as I pick mulberries and tend to Shalva, he repeatedly tries to get my attention and approval, both for how far he went and for how high he throws the hoop. But I am completely distracted, uninterested, and critical towards him in the little attention I do give him.

The irony is potent: though I set up the shot, I betray my own coldness with complete lack of self-awareness.

Watching this video, two years later, I was almost brought to tears, but not of trivial frustration: of regret for my failure to appreciate Shmaaya’s loving charm in real time, for distancing him from myself,  of fear that I had already shaped him with my coldness, and that I in fact continue to behave this way today.

I knew that, in confronting Shmaaya with his own cruelty for the sake of my next short video, I’d have to also confront myself with my own cruelty.  And thus “Apologies” was born.


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