By Muniyra Douglas
Unfinished Sentences screened at the CaribbeanTales Film Festival in celebration of Women of Colour Creators. Director and Filmmaker Mariel Brown weaves together a deeply personal, and strikingly honest story, about her tumultuous relationship with her father.
The film touches on racial identity, art, poetry, personal and family failures, grief, success and celebrates love. Her father was a poet whose timeless work was expertly scattered throughout the film’s production.
Mariel Brown hails from Trinidad and Tobago and is an award-winning director and founder of Savant, a creative and production company. She has written for several Caribbean magazines and is no stranger to festival platforms. Her debut documentary film, The Insatiable Season was awarded at the Trinidad and Tobago Film Festival for the Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary. Priding herself as a woman of colour, Mariel is determined to tell stories that encompass all aspects of Caribbean culture.
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Unfinished Sentences is a work of art that captures Mariel’s grief at losing her dynamic father and learning to live without him. It is a raw look at her emotions and painful realizations. We witness his adoration for Mariel through his own works of poetry, and her resilience in the wake of his passing. Throughout the film his personal letters and artistic work is recited as a voice over. We are given a glimpse into his genius and creative imaginations. This really speaks to how important the creation of this film was to Mariel. It is a dialogue with her father, existing beyond time and space, and the audience gets to witness this merge of generations.
The film clocks in at 95 minutes and most of it is used establishing the ups and downs of their father-daughter relations. They become relatable figures and begin to mirror their own relationships. Their story and attitudes towards each other is not alien, and that’s what resonates with the audience. It’s an international film about an undying love between a child for her father, and that is universal. It’s evident that the telling of this story has been therapeutic for the director. From the structure of the film, to its content – the story is told in a very specific way, akin to a friend telling you a deeply personal story. The focus is not on the structured elements of cinematic filmmaking, but instead on the emotional art form of storytelling.
Unfinished Sentences is the exploration of time, space and storytelling. It expresses the longing for missed opportunities within relationships. The audience is left to recognize the importance of spending time with loved ones and acknowledging their existence whenever possible. And despite the hardships and grief from the death of her father, Mariel relives their bond through this film.