A Word Away is a short documentary film that demonstrates the incredible healing power of performance poetry, directed by accomplished filmmaker Mollie Moore. Selected for the Big Sky International Film Festival 2020 in Montana, the film follows ‘Cosmo’, a South Sudanese migrant who after remaining silent for 18 years, begins to tell his story.
There are moments of pure transcendence between ‘Moon’ (Nyamuon Nguang Machar) a performance poet ‘Cosmo’ (Cosimo Donato) witnesses telling her story, through punchy, political verse on the streets of Portland, Oregon. A connection, an awakening takes place between them as he sees in her a kindred spirit, someone who will listen, someone he can trust. Inspired by the way she has used her voice and the power of poetry to tell her own migration story, ‘Cosmo’ faced with a blank sheet, puts pen to paper.
Just like that first brave fragment ‘Cosmo’ captures about how he feels that day, the substance of what has happened in the intervening years, the details, what trauma and torment, remain largely untouched, they exist fleetingly on the fringes, which gives the work a subtlety and fragility echoed in ‘Cosmo’ himself.
There is much being said in this quietly beautiful short film, reflections on the inner turmoil borne out of feeling like an outsider; the spectre of mental health impairment and hospitalisation; the monumental struggle to resolve the promise of the new world, with a fierce loyalty and longing to return to a home that no longer exists… Moore focuses her camera on Cosmo as he stands in front of an audience of his peers and reaches out to the Portland community.
Lighting, location and camera angle choices point to an acute awareness of the language of filmmaking, shooting from the ground following the farmer watering his crops with a hose, as he tends to his own little patch of Sudan, nurtured in the Oregon earth. The cold light amplifying the confusion and fear of the bedridden woman, crying forlornly about going home. After what has gone before the final scenes, bathed in sunlight, have a redemptive, joyful feel, as Cosmo takes small steps into the new dawn of the rest of his life.
Originally from London, England, Mollie Moore is an award-winning artist (Winner of Best Documentary Sioux City International Film Festival 2019) committed to her subject matter, empowering under represented communities through fictional and documentary work about the human cost of forced migration, finding stories from within the LGBTQ+ community and making work highlighting Women’s rights.
Moore’s previous work has garnered critical acclaim at DOC New York City, Camden International Film Festival (USA) Toronto, Los Angeles and Shanghai. She is an important filmmaker continuing to make high-calibre work that focuses the mind on some of the biggest global concerns, questions of agency, identity and cultural allegiance.
Far from the dramatic headline grabbing tales of exodus, provoking xenophobic fear and suspicion, A Word Away by Mollie Moore is a beautifully realised film about the nature of home, proving that reaching a country of refuge is not nearly the journey’s end.
Artist Site: https://www.mollie-moore.com/