‘Mina Tannenbaum,’ writer/director Martine Dugowson (film)

Mina Tannenbaum

Ostensibly this is a film about the friendship between two women, but for me it was the family back-story of the title character which felt most essential. I’m thinking especially of the main relationship between Mina and her father, a holocaust survivor. The father says only one phrase to Mina throughout her childhood (I won’t spoil it by saying what that phrase is) nonetheless the father is a refuge, a huge comfort to his child.

Spoiler alert:

Later the father has a catastrophic and seemingly complete mental breakdown, yells the same phrase to his daughter, getting louder and more urgent, angry, as he’s restrained by nurses. Her father’s words now seem to Mina to give the lie to her first and most essential human connection. She walks away from him down a long hospital corridor, feet getting faster as her father’s words get louder, angrier and more taunting, more despairing in the room behind Mina. It’s a disturbing scene. Not least because the audience senses there is a quietly tragic misunderstanding underpinning it. After this pivotal moment, we look on as Mina rejects those closest to her, then reframes those very losses as betrayals. To her mind, lovers and friends are always stealing from her (ideas, men). Her mistrust makes her difficult and, without understanding her family back story and the fractures in Mina’s psyche, Mina would be hard to relate to at this point. An interesting film about what might happen to trust, love, friendship for the children of survivors, who themselves have been so thoroughly robbed and betrayed. We’re left gently haunted by Mina, who felt so alone when the love that was available to her was only ever just around the corner, and it might have been so different.

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Jo Ely

Described as "an intelligent, creative, imaginative, original writer" by Guardian Book of the Year author Trevor Byrne, Jo Ely has been Shortlisted for the Fish International Short Story Prize and has had a short story selected for an anthology edited by New York Times Notable Book of the Year author Sandra Tyler (Woven Tale Press, US ed. 2016). Jo has published short stories, children's books and written interviews with writers for the Woven Tale Press. She also reviews for the world's first online Empathy Library. 'Stone Seeds' is Jo's first novel, published by Urbane Publications (Amazon.co.uk).

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