Confronting Birth, Death, and Growth: Speaking With Director Amy Jenkins

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Filmmaker and artist Amy Jenkins. (Submitted)

Instructions On Parting is a sprawling example of cinéma vérité as told from behind the camera of director Amy Jenkins over the course of a 10-year period. The film is a pragmatic yet elegiac ode to the essential and achingly human conundrum of death and birth, and their powerful capacity to put into motion necessary transformation. The film documents the birth of Jenkin’s first child, as well as the cancer diagnoses that her mother, sister, and brother all received within months of the child’s birth.

The film was put together over the course of many years, with some of the earliest footage dating back to around 2000, when Jenkins met the man she would eventually marry. Although Jenkins did not work with the footage for quite a while following the events that it documents, she found herself with a box full of those tapes while she was staying at the Yaddo artist community in Saratoga Springs, New York. She decided that she needed to work with them, and over the course of the following years, she did just that, premiering the film at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in February 2018.

WOUB’s Emily Votaw spoke with Jenkins about the making of the film, her personal confrontation of some pretty stark human fears, and what film can do as a medium to preserve memory.

‘Instructions on Parting’ will be screened at the Athena Cinema (20 South Court Street, Athens) as a part of the Athens International Film and Video Festival on Thursday, April 12 at 5:30 p.m. 

(Amy Jenkins)