By Robyn MacNair, Guest Writer
Always Remember Me is a dark comedy short film about letting go of unhealthy and toxic relationships and behavior in an effort to develop healthy futures filled with possibility. Premiering at the prestigious HollyShorts Film Festival on August 10, 2018, this gripping story of being stuck in the past was made more compelling with the quality and tone of the 16 mm Kodak film on which it was shot. Excellent storytelling made through a very tight script and exceptional direction, has the viewer instantly pulled into the universally shared experience of what happens in a life built around denial. The use of comedy allows the viewer to access the dark, underlying truths in a disturbingly funny, yet poignant portrayal of pain.
Forced to relive the same birthday party year since she was seven, 27-year-old Sarah has to make some hard choices when she begins to have her own life, love and pursuit. By breaking the ritual, Sarah forces others in the fantasy to wake up from their unconsciousness to the harsh reality of loss and discomfort.
Through the use of surprise, Always Remember Me, takes a heartbreaking look at the lengths some people will go to mask their pain. In this case, pain is embodied in the inanimate replica of a 7-year-old at the annual birthday celebration of Amy, featuring year-after-year the same food, gifts, and games in a macabre ritualistic event. Everyone is stuck in 1998, and the setting of the film with its pink décor and festive party decorations, underscores the frozen time. The story features a sympathetic mother, dressed in her 1990s jeans and sweater, sporting the hairstyle of the day, who cheerfully plays along as if her only daughter was still alive, not tragically killed two decades before. And there’s a tender and caring father who doesn’t have the will or strength to break the spell of the fantasy that his daughter is still alive, barely keeping it together for himself, let alone attending to a demanding wife who will not tolerate any deviance from the play in which they are all unwillingly cast, including a whole group of family and friends who play along – until a stranger is invited into the mix.
The film forces the viewer to conduct a self-examination of all the subtle ways we keep from dealing with our grief, trapped from moving forward in life because we can’t let go of the past.