SXSW 2020 Documentary Feature: An Elephant in the Room

photos courtesy of Good Company Pictures

By: Amanda Guarragi 

An Elephant in the Room focuses on a holistic way of dealing with grief at a centre called “Good Grief” in New Jersey. In this documentary, Katrine Philp shares the stories of six children and their companions who have lost their parents. It shows many different approaches in handling grief and acts as a catharsis for everyone involved, including the viewer.

At “Good Grief”, these children are able to discover a community that has suffered a great loss, just like they have. As we all know, children ask many questions because of their curiosity, but what happens when they start asking about death? It’s hard for anyone to understand how to process death, it’s definitely harder to try and explain to a six year old child that they can never see their parents again. So how do you begin to explain or even discuss death of a loved one with an innocent child? That’s what this documentary does so well, it educates everyone involved in the process of moving forward after the death of a loved one.

There are exercises shown in this documentary that “Good Grief” executes in their classes that truly help the children. It’s also incredibly tough to watch these children express their emotions because of the circumstances. They openly speak about their emotions, even when they can’t make sense of what they’re feeling in their hearts. It’s heartbreaking to watch them go about their everyday lives, while still processing the meaning of grief.

The documentary felt like it was filmed from a child’s perspective and the frames were filled with soft colours and warm tones. It was also nice to see the children interact on a spiritual level with their parents, it was definitely the emotional center of the film. It also shows that everyone needs love and affection from their loved ones, especially those who are hurting and don’t know how to express their grief.

An Elephant in the Room will take you on an emotional journey with these young children and will make you reminisce on how you processed your own grief. “Good Grief” is an organization that deserves more recognition for what they are doing because they are giving children a safe space to express their pain. Children are affected by everything and need to be guided during difficult times.

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