What is your favourite smell? Freshly-baked bread in the morning? Leafing through the pages of a new book? The familiar scent of your lover’s skin? Now imagine you lost your sense of smell? Directed by Jacob LaMendola and made for The New York Times, Anosmia is a fascinating documentary which shines a light on the rare condition, through the use of ravishing visuals paired with candid interviews. The 9 min short is a rewarding and deeply immersive experience, which will make you think twice about taking your 5th sense for granted.
“There was enormous catharsis in listening and having this connection with strangers”
In Anosmia 10 individuals who have lost the ability to smell share their personal experiences of living with the condition, and explain how it affects their everyday lives. LaMendola does a brilliant job of getting the most personal, honest answers out of them and brings those to life through the clever use of the cutaways. The result is simply quite stunning and a real pleasure to watch..
For Jacob LaMendola, who lost his sense of smell when he was a child, Anosmia was a project close to his heart. Growing up and finally accepting his condition as part of his identity, the director felt it was time to share his story, but he wanted to do so through the voices of others like him. “There was enormous catharsis in listening and having this connection with strangers, especially after growing up thinking I was the only one who couldn’t smell. The film was a way for us to let everything out” – he explains.
There is so much to admire here. The cinematography and the sound effects awaken all your senses at once, the tactile shots cleverly chosen to trigger emotions ranging from pleasure to repulsion and everything in between. The interviewees are at perfect ease in front of the camera, their stories so revealing, fascinating and at times truly heartrending.
What I loved most about Anosmia, however, is the fact that it made me think about something I rarely think about. Smell has the incredible ability to instantly take us back to a specific moment in our past, maybe more so than any of the other senses. It also has the power to connect people in a way we can’t even understand ourselves. Therein lies the real power of the short film – in its ability to make us think, make us appreciate what we have and understand those who don’t have it.
LaMendola is working on his next documentary, 5 years in the making, which will be released this fall. He is thrilled to share it with the world and we cannot wait to see it. Today also happens to be his birthday, so from the whole S/W team, we wish you many happy returns Jacob!