My brother warned me about the dangers of making a political film.
He warned me about showing it in different parts of the Middle East. I suppose I was naïve and thought I would be safe from harm after the movie’s premiere. I thought that writing a film challenging the current paradigms of hate would bring about new paradigms of love. It would appear that the bomb implanted in my car, which detonated as I turned on the ignition, would call me a fool if bombs could talk. But it didn’t say anything; it detonated with an incredibly loud sound that lasted only for a second as it seemed to fade away and I slipped into the memory dream I’m currently in.
Though I did my best to attend church on Sundays, I don’t find that I’m remembering moments with the congregation of hundreds of strangers every Sunday morning. Instead I find myself remembering when Father John asked me (since I was a recently confirmed Catholic) to deliver Tom Clarke’s final Holy Communion at the hospice on West 94th street near the music shop. I remember when he told me that he didn’t feel lonely because I was there. I don’t remember a thing about my Confirmation other than my grandfather telling me it was a day I would remember for the rest of my life. I do remember grade school, and hearing the stories about Jesus. I remember wanting to be his friend and wondering if he would want to be mine.
Though I moved from my rather monotonous hometown to Hollywood at age 23 to become a filmmaker, I don’t remember the movie premieres or the red carpets or the flashing lights that followed. I don’t remember the first time I got to work with my favorite actors. No, I don’t remember their faces at all. I do remember being 13 years old and holding Mother’s camcorder for the first time. I remember looking through the viewfinder and pointing it at her face. She was in the same curlers and yelled again. I remember feelings of control and being able to direct someone’s vision. I remember enjoying that feeling and treating the camera as if it were an extension of my own arm. I remember taking different shots of inanimate items and bringing them to life with my camera. I remember stitching those shots together on a flatbed film cutter and recording my voice over the shots, making my couch and lamp have a conversation with one another.
I remember the first time I recorded my grandfather telling a story of the old country, and how he imitated his parents. I remember laughing when he spoke in the persona of my great grandmother yelling at him, “Carl, you get those chickens out of my kitchen or I’ll make stew out of them!” I remember wanting to laugh, but keeping the camera steady so that I could dutifully and perfectly capture his every facial expression and every sound his voice made. I remember filming my mother laughing hysterically at that as well. I remember capturing that moment of pure happiness and love between the three of us, and the excitement I felt that I could keep that moment with me forever. I remember feeling gratitude towards my camera.
Now I wish someone would bring me my final Holy Communion. I wish I could find that old 8mm camera and film my grandfather one last time. I wish I could hear my mother laugh one last time, but now I just hope Jesus will want to be my friend.
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