Opening 17 Apr 2008
Have you ever stood in a room full of stuff, not knowing where to begin? It can be psychologically depressing, especially if you have to clean out the house of a deceased relative. This documentary describes two brothers who are notified by the police that their mother has died and they are responsible for the clean up. The local police department hands over the keys and the film really takes off. They must hire someone special to remove the remains of the body. What did that mean exactly? As they enter the flat, they are confronted with an overwhelming smell. They find that, although the actual body has been removed, there is still bio-sewage attached to the floor since she had lain there quite a long time before being found. At this moment it is clear that her sons did not have a close relationship to their mother but through this process will get to know her better. The house is full to the brim and in such disorder that it is incredibly disturbing, not to mention the starving cats.
The word “stress” takes on new meaning as they interview several companies to remove the remains and deodorize the apartment. It was extremely difficult, but they finally found a professional and when they asked, “How many times have you done this?” the man’s reply: “It’s my first.” The process of cleaning the house took one solid month, day and night. The title is appropriate since they fill seven giant containers. The documentary is done with a black sense of humor while revealing the life that this woman had led. The two brothers were not close to her but through all the documents, photos and films learn more about her than when she was alive. They also learn about their father, their social life, the bitter divorce, their grandmother and her life during the war. The film was done in an art form, which helped them through a grieving process which forced them to look at their own history which must have been painful.
What actually struck me about this film was that it also reflects my own life. Although I am close to my parents, I see that they are collectors as well and wonder, as they age, will their collections get out of hand? Will I be faced with several large containers in front of the house? In this film the brothers determine that it is genetic, but I hope that isn’t the case because if it is, I have a lot of work cut out for me in the future. The film made such a strong impression, that, while visiting my parents, I decided to help clean out my mother’s bathroom and medicine cabinet and the kitchen and office of my father. Well see how long it stays that way. (Shelly Schoeneshoefer)