—by Dr. Laura Wilhelm, LauraWil Intercultural
West Hollywood, CA (The Hollywood Times) 6/12/17 – Seek Films’ “All of Me,” a short film by director Daphne Schmon, premiered at Cannes Marché du Film 2017. The film starring British actress Chereen Buckley as a genderqueer musician named Viv was created by an all female crew. “All of Me” marks Daphne Schmon’s narrative directorial debut.
In the story, Viv faces late stage leukemia that threatens the life she’s built.
Her best hope is a bone marrow transplant from a member of her estranged family. The film was shot on location in London and Dungeness.
In “All of Me,” reconnecting means confronting a difficult past. “Many of us put up a wall to cope with difficult transitions in life. In some cases, we shut out the people we love most. It was our hope to explore this divide; to find humanity on both sides by presenting a female character who must confront her estranged family in an effort to survive,” Schmon has commented.
Daphne Schomn commented further on “All of Me” for THE HOLLYWOOD TIMES as seen below.
1) Do you think Viv’s musical talent helps to give her the courage to turn her life around in this little film?
Viv’s music certainly provides a coping mechanism and represents her most courageous self. However, I would say that her talent is more of an escape than a source of this courage.
If we look back to her childhood, she would hide with her father in the car listening to cassettes. Then after he died, the music drew her away from home to London to escape the pain.
Viv’s artistic self has always been an alter-ego, a way of denying her illness. Throughout the film, we see this denial causing Viv to progressively deteriorate; she lacks the strength for sex, she is not taking her medication, she walks away from her family almost as quickly as she walks in.
Viv spirals downward until finally hitting her breaking point — revealing to her family and simultaneously admitting to herself hat she has leukemia. For the first time, Viv faces the painful reality head on rather than escaping it.
Only in the emotional aftermath of this explosion is she able to take her medication and as she turns in the end toward her mother, we hope they will finally communicate in an honest way.
The final silhouette image of Viv on stage is subdued and candid, representing this transformation; her music is no longer an escape mechanism but rather a reflection of newfound strength.
2) Viv reunites with three generations when she returns home. Is this meant to represent historical continuity and possible hope for the future?
Viv’s home is anchored by women, but the youngest generation is actually a boy — Josh — the son of her sister. Josh plays an important role as he acts as a reminder of Viv’s father.
He is dressed in costume about to attend his ‘school play,’ an artist himself. Viv bonded with her father over art, and she immediately shares a tender moment with Josh.
In some ways, Josh provides hope that her father’s spirit lives on, though Josh also serves as a reminder of the love which Viv lacks from her mother. Viv notices photos of the boy proudly displayed and the comfort he receives from her mother. He is a symbol of the ‘boy’ within Viv, the childhood she never had.
3) I have a friend about my age who is undergoing chemo for leukemia. He sometimes speaks of this excruciatingly painful process as expiation for his past sins. Is this perception relevant to “All of Me?”
This is a very interesting perception. From the beginning, Emily Carlton (writer) and I drew a parallel between the leukemia and the emotional block within Viv.
The story is actually loosely based on a friend of ours who is estranged from his family. We noticed that he was unable to look after himself or to love himself because he hadn’t dealt with his past.
Thus it is not a stretch to think of the pain associated with the illness as a manifestation of past sins. Viv must carry a certain amount of guilt for leaving her family behind after her father passing.
When she embraces the illness at the end yelling ‘I’ve got leukemia!’, it almost feels like an apology of sorts; an admission to her family that she is suffering for her actions in the past.