Three red sweaters

10 minutes

Do we need our memories when we can document virtually every aspect of our lives?

Grainy 8mm and 16mm film now tends to evoke nostalgia but, in the decades before digital cameras, home movies were the only immediate way to visually document the present. The US filmmaker Martha Gregory makes wonderful use of her family’s trove of home movies, shot by her grandfather Charles from the 1950s to the 1970s, to craft her short documentary Three Red Sweaters and ask what happens to memories when we document our lives. Charles’s amateur filmmaking was mostly for his own enjoyment – and occasionally a means of social avoidance – but his sharp eye yielded lovely images of daily life, family vacations and children growing up. This archive of a life of comfort and means in the San Francisco area is set to present-day conversations with Gregory’s mother and grandfather, in which she ponders whether ‘photographs and film help us remember the past or remove us from it’. 

Director: Martha Gregory

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