Three Daughters, Three Quests, Three Legacies
Three daughters go in search of hidden pieces of their parents’ pasts, each on a quest to fill in gaps in their parent’s life story.
Feel Memory weaves together three stories of daughters who each go on a quest to uncover their parents’ mysterious past. Each story speaks to the universal and elusive nature of remembering and forgetting. Feel Memory explores our intimate relationship to memory and how we we reframe our memories to understand who we are.
Karen believes her alcoholic father, a World War II veteran with PTSD, never loved her. When he dies and she has to write for his memorial; “Every thought I had, every memory I had of my Dad was painful and disappointment.” She decides to investigate his past. In researching the pieces of his early life, she connects his experience on the battlefield "at age 17 fighting for his life," with her own on a football field in Michigan at age 17, "fighting for his love."
The earth shatters for Victoria when she is 4 years old and her father comes home on Mother’s Day and reveals that he is gay and HIV positive. He kills himself 2 days before her 11th birthday. At 23, her confusion about who he was compels her to revisit the past for answers. She goes on a journey to reexamine her memories: “I had been carrying my father around throughout my childhood and my adolescence and my early adulthood. And I couldn't bear that weight for the rest of my life.”
In 5th grade, Rebekah inadvertently stumbles upon the fact that her mother lived through the Holocaust. She realizes “I had opened the door to this room that I wasn't supposed to enter.” Ten years later her mother is dying of cancer. In her final days she reveals heartbreaking stories about her childhood in Poland. Rebekah searches for clues to her mother’s past in an attempt to reconcile the strong maternal figure she grew up with, with her mother’s horrifying childhood. “There’s a sense of unreality that this person who had a certain kind of a life in New York City married to my father, with her three kids and with her coffee cup in the morning could also have lived through such traumatic circumstances. Most of the people that she loved died in terrifying circumstances. I just couldn't wrap my mind around it.”
Feel Memory combines live action, archival recordings and interviews with each daughter whose memories are portrayed in magical realist hand-painted animation, with colors that drip, layer and bleed into each other. The moving paintings are a visual metaphor for the act of remembering. The animation gives a vivid and visceral experience of what it is to remember and to be haunted as well as enriched by our memories.
Memory is the story we tell of how we become who we are. Scientific research shows that we can use the dynamic nature of memory to unshackle ourselves from our pasts. When we reshape our memories, we can change who we are and open ourselves up to wider possibilities of who we might become.
Can Victoria, Karen and Rebekah build fuller pictures of who their parents were, reshape their memories of them and in doing so, summon the hope and courage to envision their own futures?