Canadian Nisha Platzer has crafted a moving documentary about the suicide of her brother Josh that occurring in Vancouver when Josh was 15 and Nisha 11. Josh was suffering from clinical depression at the time of his suicide. Nisha has dim memories of the death of Josh and convenes both family and friends to give her context as to his life and death. Both mentally and physically she must go “back home” to further her understanding. Certain fragments of the documentary are filmed on Super 8 and 16 mm and manually altered to create a haunting visual imagery primarily of the scenery Josh enjoyed most and where he requested his ashes be spread.
On a personal note the documentary took me back home to Montreal years ago when at 9 I lost my father. Sadly I never had the opportunity to go back home to gain some sense of it all worsened by the fact in those days many children simply were not permitted to attend funerals for fear of trauma and to hell about delayed trauma about never saying good-bye as I think Nisha finally did as at 11 how could she understand the death of her 15 year old brother. So yes this was a personal journey for me watching Nisha weave together fragments of the past.
The film was very well assembled so there are no gushing conclusions or didactic finger wagging. As we know reality, or what we think about reality, may converge upon us many years after the event. Happily, for Nisha Platzer I think reality did finally flash apparently with both sadness, relief and joy. It felt like a very long journey but worth the effort for all of us.
“back home” screens as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival’s “Home Truths” on April 14/15.
Directed by Nisha Platzer. You can see the trailer here https://vimeo.com/752788800
RKS 2023 Film Rating 91/100.