Celebrating the passing of her 80yd old Grandmother, filmmaker Gemma Green-Hope creates an evocative and powerful memoir of the lady she knew as Gan-Gan. Using objects she found in her ancestor’s house to bring to life the story of a woman who “once shot a spider”, Gan-Gan manages to be both a hugely personally, yet widely universal film.
how do you make sense of all the other things that someone leaves behind, the things nobody sees, boxes full of photographs, and bits of string?
Aiming to capture a little piece of her grandmother’s “marvellous character” in her film, in a recent conversation with Gan-Gan’s creator, director Green-Hope admitted that the production process was both demanding and rewarding – “It was difficult, but very moving and at times very funny. It felt like I was getting to know her even more through her diaries and all the little explanatory notes stuck to things! I definitely wanted the film and the task of making it to be a celebration of her life”. Adopting a fast-paced, poetic delivery for her short and employing a mix of collage and stop-motion animation techniques to document the life of her grandmother, Green-Hope’s approach comes across as personal and exceptionally well-suited for her topic and it’s to the filmmaker’s credit that she manages to fit so much into such a short duration.
Having originally declined Gan-Gan when it come through our submissions system, a recent visit from my own 90yr old grandmother brought memories of Gemma’s evocative film flooding back. For many of us, the loss of a grandparent will be our first experience of mortality and it’s an experience that often has a lasting and profound effect on how we view and approach life. Witnessing the frailty of life in my own grandparent, it was suddenly clear to me not only what a powerful film Gan-Gan was, but how important it is to celebrate the lives of those closest to us once they are gone.
With her film clocking up almost 150k views on Vimeo since it was first released, its director admitted the response to the story of her grandmother has been heart-warming – “I’ve been so moved by all the lovely responses to my film, people getting in touch to let me know that it reminded them of a friend or relative, or that it struck a chord with them in some way”. Yet there is one response Green-Hope will never know, that of the subject of her film, her Gan-Gan. So what does the director think the lady who obviously made a massive impression on her life, would make of being the focus of her film?
“That is a difficult one! She was always very proud of my artistic endeavours and I think she would have liked all the references to her favourite things, and the sentiment, but she certainly wouldn’t have watched it online – she never used a computer!”
Fans of Gan-Gan will be happy to hear that Green-Hope has more new work on the horizon, with her latest short Swansea – an animated journey through Swansea with reference to Dylan Thomas’s poems and stories – due for a release in the near future.