Dominique Cabrera – Demain et encore demain, journal 1995 (1997)
Dominique Cabrera is a french film maker who was born in Algeria. After Algeria gained independence from France, the European-descended people had to leave the country. It was 1962 when Dominique was 4 or 5 years old.
Tonight, at Harvard Visual and Environmental Studies Center’s artist talk series, she started by telling this early childhood experience and how it had shaped her experience of feeling exiled all life and the feeling of a lost country. She showed clips of her movies for the audiences to get a feel.
The first clip was the start of her first feature-length film “On the other shore” – it started from scenes in the airport and the music is deeply sad, and conflicts and crisis await. She then showed a diary documentary of her own life “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”. From the “Milk of human kindness” we see a moment of a woman’s life that has suddenly changed and become unbearable and the intense fear she feels about the change. Another woman encourages her that she will manage.
I asked the film maker whether she was experiencing change while she made “Tomorrow and Tomorrow”. She said yes. “It was a time I felt how common I was as everybody else, a single woman with a son, living in the suburb, divorced without much money. I always thought I was special but also just how common.” The title of the movie came from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, [emphasis added]
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.” — Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)
When I asked her how the feeling of exile and lost country shaped her films, she answered that her films often ask the question “where is the house/home”?
Now after jotting down the notes, I know why I felt stirred after seeing clips of her films. I too lost ‘home’ when i was very young, and it seems every step I have taken I am further away from ‘home’. I am not sure being optimistic shows courage or coward to gloss over the reality.
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