This past summer, I made a film with some friends in Berlin. My first narrative short (and my first film made outside of Baltimore), it’s my most personal and formally playful work yet. Inspired by Georges Perec’s text Species of Spaces, it imagines a character in transition, living in a foreign city for an indeterminate amount of time, trying to balance the various and distinct public and private manifestations of her personality.
A character study as well as a meditation on communication, creativity, and physical space, Take What You Can Carry is a picture of a young woman seen through the interiors she occupies and the company she keeps. A North American living abroad, Lilly (Hannah Gross) aspires to shape an intimate and private place of her own while connecting to the world around her. When she receives a letter from home, it provides the conduit she needs to fuse her transient self with the person she’s always known herself to be.
Lilly’s grandmother, the film’s other central character, is never seen, only heard through the letter Lilly receives from her and reads aloud, an actual letter written by my grandmother to me. For the supporting roles, I cast a number of actors I’ve admired from afar, including Angela Schanelec, Jean-Christophe Folly, and members of the Berlin-based theatre company Gob Squad. The excellent technical and producing team was European and the film was funded through a grant from The Wexner Center for the Arts and a fellowship from the Harvard Film Study Center. It was written and produced in a summer.
“I would like there to exist places that are stable, unmoving, intangible, untouched and almost untouchable, unchanging, deep-rooted; places that might be points of reference, of departure, of origin…
Such places don’t exist, and it’s because they don’t exist that space becomes a question, ceases to be self-evident, ceases to be incorporated, ceases to be appropriated. Space is a doubt: I have constantly to mark it, to designate it. It’s never mine, never given to me, I have to conquer it.”
- Georges Perec
Take What You Can Carry had its world premiere in competition at the 2015 Berlin International Film Festival and its North American premiere at Lincoln Center’s “Art of the Real”. Keep an eye out for it on the festival circuit throughout the year!