Moon Child (2017) [Oceanside International Film Festival 2017]

A family survives through love and support as they all come from one form of abuse or another.  From the grandmother’s childhood physical and sexual abuse, to her kids’ drug abuse, the film demonstrates how people survive and love through the hardest of events.

Director James Mill takes a hard, direct look at his family through interviews with his grandmother Vina, his mother Tammy, and his relative Alana.  The three women show different levels of having been abused or mistreated and how drug use and abuse has influenced their lives one way or another.  They all show strength through adversities and love against all odds.  Mill’s camera films their interviews in a way that is unflinching, unapologetic, and loving in his own way.  His interviews them and never cuts away from the difficult subjects and parts of his family history.

These interviews are edited by Edgar Sardarian who keeps the images on the subjects just long enough to make a point but not too long as to not overstay their welcome.  The way he mixes these interviews with family videos and other images creates a dynamic that keeps the viewer watching even as the stories become hard to stomach.  His worked paired with Mill’s helps create a view that faces the subjects head on and shows them in the truest light possible, even when this light is not necessarily positive.

This work is supported by original music by Timothy Schmalz who does good work in adding to what is on the screen without overpowering it or making is cheesy.  His work supports the interviewees and adds to their emotions without dictating what those should be for the viewer.

From its opening’s soothing images to the end where everything loops back to in a nice bow, Moon Child takes a hard look at a family, their history, their struggles, and how they dealt with this while still loving and supporting one another.  It’s a story of abuse, of hardship, but also of love made by someone who saw it happening from the inside and now has chosen to look at it from an outsider’s standpoint.  What makes this short documentary successful even though it’s from just one point of view, one side of the story, is how the ladies interviews are given a lot of freedom and allowed to tell their stories as they saw them happening, from their own point of view.  The film works because of this and because of the love put into it.