DIRECTED by: Anna Weltner
This short film, written, read, and sung by autistic writer Joni Renee is an elegy for her deceased father. The poem interprets grief and loss through the lens of the autistic experience, highlighting the sensory and tangible details of memory.
What was a unique challenge you faced in making this film?
Visualizing the emotional weight of the chair and the poem without making it feel too “on the nose” was a challenge for us. We wanted to include elements of the poem itself without making any one aspect feel redundant or contrived.
Where did the inspiration for this film come from?
The green chair of the poem is a mnemonic object, and it inspired director/editor Anna Weltner to imagine the chair as a green screen onto which memory is projected. The poem interprets grief and loss through the lens of the autistic experience and is inspired by the sensory and tangible details of memory.
Who are your top influences?
Producer Sean Cumming counts Werner Herzog, Ken Loach, and Sergei Eisenstein among his influences.
Director Anna Weltner is inspired and influenced by Miranda July, Gus Van Sant, and Naomi Uman.
Author Joni Renee Whitworth studied under Marina Abramovic and is influenced by her notions of starkness and impermanence. She is also influenced by choreographer Stacy Dawson Stearns, writer Maggie Nelson, and poet Patricia Lockwood.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
We hope viewers will find measures of peace and healing in this film. We want them to consider the small moments and objects of their everyday lives and understand how those things can become charged with meaning. Lastly, we hope they will consider the notion of neurodivergence in loss, how healing is nonlinear, and how best they might honor nature and the body.
What’s your personal takeaway from this production?
Artistic collaboration is possible! The film is a true collaboration between the poet, producer, and director. Each of the three artists contributed ideas to the filming and post-production process to bring the poem to the screen. We each brought our perspectives to the elements of the mise-en-scène and are excited to collaborate on future projects.
Producer Sean Cumming is a poet and musician living in the Pacific Northwest.
Director Anna Weltner is a student of film and art history at Portland State University.
Author Joni Renee Whitworth is an artist and writer from rural Oregon. See more of her work at jonirenee.co.