By: Sara Brinkac, Peak Associate
Content Warning: Things We Feel But Do Not Say is a story based primarily on the emotional and physical process of a miscarriage.
Currently airing at the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF), Things We Feel But Do Not Say is a deeply emotional short film that deals with the silent grief surrounding loss. This short marks writer and director Lauren Grant’s first film and draws upon the personal experience of her second miscarriage.
Armed with a powerful vision, Grant worked closely with actor Gita Miller, who portrayed protagonist Genevieve, to create a deeply vulnerable performance that leaves the audience with heart in hand.
Things We Feel But Do Not Say is a striking meditation on the impact of miscarriages, not only from the female perspective but from that of the partner as well. When Grant first set out to make this film, there was very little content she felt captured the reality of a miscarriage. “It’s not all giant, big, dramatic moments. It’s suffering and having to go through a process,” she said.
Her film offers a muted, neutral gaze on the physical and emotional terms Genevieve and her partner Mark (Aaron Ashmore) must process. By taking this suffering and seeing it for the process, rather than dramatic flair, Grant uncovers the human experience that so many films try desperately to find. Although the audience may not know the pain of a miscarriage, they can relate to the heartache of loss, the frustration of disconnection, and those defeating moments when you must control immense pain in public places.
Things We Feel But Do Not Say builds understanding and connection through deep vulnerability. “I felt like I had to be quite honest in this experience,” said Miller. “It was quite terrifying for me to know that I was going to have to pull on my own personal life — that was very present.”
Through the safe, creative atmosphere Grant created on set, Miller was able to confront and draw upon her present internal struggle and translate that into a powerful onscreen performance. It can be easy to overlook how truly vulnerable and lonely acting can feel at times. To see the clear connection between actor, director, and material working together to understand themselves and their grief is deeply touching.
Grant also worked with editor Katie Chipperfield to create an incredibly captivating and well-paced film despite the lack of dialogue. This tone was carried beautifully by the original soundtrack composed by Erik Arnesen. With perfect subtlety, the music enhanced, rather than overpowered, the strong emotion on screen.
Cinematographer Gabriela Osio Vanden also carried Grant’s vision through calculated frames and camera movement that offered a wide emotional perspective. This allowed the audience to really grapple with the many aspects of this film. It is clear that everyone involved in this project came together under Grant’s creative vision and put their truest selves forward.
Often, it’s easy to forget the unique power art has to create genuine understanding. Whether it be between audience and subject or artists and themselves, art — when truly vulnerable — offers one the ability to create and share deep reflection within. Things We Feel But Do Not Say is an encouraging reminder of this power.