IDFA Review: The Banality of Grief

How do you deal with grief? Everyone reacts in their own way, anywhere on the cycle from denial, anger, bargaining, depression to acceptance, at any given moment in time. There are no right or wrong answers. Whether someone withdraws into themselves or faces their loss head-on, it’s a difficult and traumatic journey. One which, despite all the help and support you might receive from friends and family, has to be taken alone.

When he lost his wife Madeleine, Danish director Jon Bang Carlsen, who now lives and works in the United States, picked up his camera to document his journey. As he starts making his new feature film, Freedom Is Another Word, he keeps a video diary of his thoughts and feelings. Charting the ups and downs of trying to pioneer a new life alone. These are spun together and captured in The Banality of Grief.

The Banality of Grief is a love latter to Carlsen’s late wife. One which allows him to say exactly what’s on his mind and remember their time together. As a eulogy it’s thoughtful and moving, but don’t expect a linear focused portrait. The Banality of Grief is a collection of emotional sparks. A fragmented process of acceptance and hope. One which will ring true with many and is quietly powerful in an organic and unfussy way.

The Banality of Grief screens at International Documentary Filmfestival Amsterdam.

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