06 August 2010

FORTY WEEKS. SIX WEEKS. FOREVER.

Donika Pemova for DokuDaily
Movie Review
Six Weeks, Poland, Marcin J. Krawczyk
International Documentary Competition
Friday, 06.08, 20:15 slot – Kino ne Kala
Screened before A Film Unfinished

The 18-minute short documentary “Six Weeks” will stay in your mind for a while after you see it. It is the story about giving up your child right after birth. Why? “Life is tough and it's not always easy.” At its essence it is also the story about being able to adopt a child, and the happiness that comes with that. Naturally tragedy is more powerful than happiness. We always focus on it more. But this beautiful film makes the good balance by showing the baby as the central character rather than the mother that gives it away or the family that adopts it.

In a sense the film is minimalistic. There is no narration and there are no on-camera interviews. We just follow the process from being born, to being given away, to being received in a new family where hopefully there lies a better future for the little baby that has no idea what is happening. This process is not a procedure in “Six Weeks” It is presented with emotion, compassion, empathy, and most importantly – with understanding.

As a viewer, you will not feel that the film is judging anybody. You will feel sorry for the poor mother that is forced to give away her child because she does not have the financial means to take care of it. But then you will feel happy for that family that is finally able to hold a baby in their arms after, probably, a long adoption process. That's life, after all, isn't it? One person's tragedy can become another person's salvation.

This is a documentary with no names, no titles. Even the soundtrack appears like it is solely taken from the atmosphere sound – it is in complete harmony with the photography. This is the anonymous story of the truth that thousands of babies, families, and mothers worldwide face. While it shows us directly how a mother feels and what she does when she gives her child away, most importantly, through suggestive and symbolic camera and editing, this film always brings our attention back to the baby.

This new life and what future awaits it is more important than the sorrow of the mother that lived with it for nine months and will never see it again. It is more important than the happiness of the parents that will raise it. This new life is the most important thing of all. “Six Weeks” manages to show this higher importance, to make us feel it – instead of didactically and moralistically telling it to the viewer. It is difficult to implement this kind of approach in documentary filmmaking. To make a good documentary based on empathy and understanding rather than information and fact is not easy. When it happens, however, the result is beautiful.

And why six weeks? That is how much it takes for a mother in Poland to voluntarily decide that she gives her child away. Forty weeks? That is how much a pregnancy lasts. Forever? That is being a parent.

Rating: 8.5/10

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