To My Mother
To My Mother is a film project that tells the fragmented story of a missing person through the already broken memories of those who recall the uncertain specificities of disappearance. In 1986, forced disappearances weren’t unusual in Colombia. Some were product of the guerrillas, some of the paramilitary, some the military, and some of them simply a consequence of an unapologetically violent situation that left no room for suspicion. In the decades in which violence became the norm, many disappearances were left unanswered and unquestioned. In June of 2017 I set out on the journey of uncovering the story that has haunted my family since 1986, when my grandfather went missing. As I began to look for traces of my grandfather’s story in the landscape, in the city’s architecture and in my family’s words, I realized that I naively believed I could be the one to resolve the past.
To My Mother then becomes about a Monday, a Tuesday, a Saturday, in March, or January, of 1986, or 2017. The story becomes about the discrepancies in the words being used, and the discrepancies between fact, fiction, past, and present. It is told once by my grandmother, twice by my mother, three times by my aunt, and a fourth time by me. The carcass of the story remains untouched, while the ghosts that haunt it shift in the details of the way we recount what we choose to remember. The words and gestures change according to the memories the women in my family hold not only of my grandfather’s presence, but also of the physical space he no longer occupies. The attention given to the mundane facts and to details is proof of how one might reli(e)ve over and over again a moment in the collective memory of a family and of a nation.
In the closing voice over, my aunt states: “When someone goes missing and you can’t bury them, you look for them anywhere”.
To My Mother uses the scanning of 16mm film, letters and photographs, to build a family archive of memorabilia, images and voices. An archive within which exists the unseen presence of my grandfather, and the seen presence of those of us who reflect him in our image. This film plays the role of reparation and recreation of an untold story, a fragmented memory, a broken landscape and of a missing body.
Mariana Sánchez Bueno is a recent Film and Electronic Arts graduate, originally from Bogotá, Colombia. Her interests include film archiving, programming and distribution, specifically within Latin American media. Mariana hopes to work at the intersection between film preservation and education within her community while continuing to work on her own creative practice and collaborating on interdisciplinary projects that bring people together.