The Gift – Director’s Statement

As The Gift starts its journey to this or that festival I thought I’d put out a Director’s Statement about it.

We will also be releasing the trailer on Vimeo for you to share with friends and family. This will happen over the next couple of days and I’ll let you know when it does.

“The Gift was a labour of love. The intention was to write and direct a film the focus of which would be  childhood but whose execution would be distinctly truthful and unsentimental. At the centre of the film is love and loss and how that sense of loss spills over to touch an ordinary family. It was therefore important to have as little dialogue as possible in order that nothing might get in the way of an immediacy of emotion. It was also important that the form should reflect the content. For this reason the number of individual shots were relatively few and were carefully paced to produce an almost static quality mirroring the idea of waiting. Whilst the grandfather breathes, everyone else holds their breath, so to speak, as they wait for the inevitable end. Silence permeates the film just as the colour palette is kept purposely flat, pastel, almost washed-out, a palette only alleviated by the bright, even somewhat over-bright, burst of colour in the garden. Suddenly there is a brief promise of renewal and regeneration. But even here, in the end, it is merely the sense of waiting that is all-pervasive. A gentle breeze blows, Nature pauses, there is a quiet anticipation but nothing happens.

Meanwhile, the child is struggling to come to terms with the end of the relationship with his grandfather. In a situation like this there is nothing that anyone can do, there is simply a feeling of utter helplessness. But the child plays the violin. The bow ‘breathes’ across the strings. For a few moments the heavy silence is broken. And perhaps there is yet a gift that he can give, a demonstration of love, a kind of sharing.

Because of the delicacy of the subject matter it was important in The Gift that the acting be completely truthful, indeed that there should be nothing that might be construed as ‘acting’ at all. It was equally important that there should be no shots introduced that were surplus to requirements. Any such shots would break the formal elements that were so essential to the emotional content of the film.

For me, The Gift was a marriage of form and content, a marriage in which nothing happens but at the same time everything happens, in which simple but powerful emotions are treated with integrity and given the space and time to be truthfully expressed.”

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