The winner of Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs last year merges an artistic style to political advocacy.
As the film starts, a narration about God and sublime images of nature take us directly to a feeling of Malick’s Tree Of Life while we watch the opening credits. As the film narration starts, the slow traveling camera exploring an empty house reminds us of the treatment of Resnais’ documentary Night and Fog, showing what can’t be seen. While the film maintains moments of nature sublimation and reflection on the impossibility of showing throughout, the documentary by Todd Wider and Jedd Wider quickly becomes more traditional to tell the story of Linda, a troubled women who has documented in a journal her last months of life isolated in a property for sale.
Through a mix of interviews, voice over reenactment of her diaries, found footage and a great deal of symbolic constructions involving the house and its surroundings, God Knows Where I Am presents a complex plot concerned with giving away vital information in a slow pace. The first thing we learn is where the events happened, a house in Concord, New Hampshire, to which the film attempts to highlight with a plot of its own. For the first half of the film, we are told what happened, who it happened with, and finally how it happened. Then, the film’s main focus becomes to answer (or, rather, to withhold for the longest duration) the reasons why it happened, as we continue to learn more in depth about the life of Linda and the facts narrated by her in her diary.
With a captivating and classic soundtrack, the audience will surely be taken by the beauty of the imagery, the originality of the photographic compositions and, especially, by the beautiful architecture-oriented shots of the house, which study the environment thoroughly with a camera that revisits each room multiple times with a subtle but varying perspective. God Knows Where I Am, however, might be troublingly one sided in its argument, for it includes no contrasting viewpoints for the film’s opinion regarding the state ruling on mental patients. Also, at times the film could be accused of using the images to illustrate quite literally what the interviewees or the voice over narration is saying.
With a Special Jury Prize at Hot Docs last year, God Knows Where I Am, that premieres March 31st at Lincoln Plaza NYC, has the potential to mesmerize its audience by the refined aesthetic construction while stimulating an always needed debate about public policy on mentally disabled individuals. It is worth seeing this documentary piece.