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The story of a breakup, an unplanned pregnancy and a childhood – told in 100 texts

In 2003, when flip phones still ruled the world, the UK director and artist Victoria Mapplebeck found herself on the verge of a promising relationship with a man she had matched with through a dating agency. But just a few weeks later, her life was forever altered by an abrupt breakup and the subsequent news of an unplanned pregnancy. A decade later, she was inspired to revisit the painful story after charging up an old Nokia phone and recovering the text messages she and the man had sent one another over the course of three years. Mappelbeck’s resulting short documentary, 160 Characters, uses 100 texts to tell the story of how the two met, split up and lost touch, leaving her to raise their son Jim without a father in his life. As emotionally resonant as it is cleverly assembled, the film is a powerful meditation on the stories, secrets and heartbreaks stored by our devices. For more from Mappelbeck, watch The Waiting Room, a spiritual sequel to 160 Characters, in which she chronicles her life in the months following a cancer diagnosis.

6 February 2020

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