The filmmaker finds himself in frequent conflict with his son, who is no longer the delightful child the father loved, but an argumentative young adult who inhabits virtual worlds available through the internet. To the father, the son seems to be addicted to and permanently distracted by those worlds. The filmmaker undertakes a journey to St. Quay-Portrieux in Brittany where he worked for a spring as a wedding photographer’s assistant at age 24 –slightly older than his son is now. He has not been back to St. Quay since that visit, and hopes to gain some perspective on what his own life was like when he was his son’s age. He also hopes to track down his former employer, a fascinating Frenchman named Maurice, and Maud, a woman with whom he was romantically involved during that spring 38 years ago. Photographic Memory is a meditation on the passing of time, the praxis of photography and film, digital versus analog, and the fractured love of a father for his son.
Raising a teenage son is far more difficult than making a documentary film, but to attempt to do both simultaneously is madness. In Photographic Memory, I try doing both. At first, I imagined my film, shot in a French village where I had found work as a wedding photographer 38 years ago, might be a kind of Proustian meditation on lost love, the accuracy and fallacy of memory, and what it means to take a photograph. My son would have none of this. “That’s so boring, Dad!“ So I placed scenes of him throughout the film, and now it is not so boring. In fact some moments in the film are fairly outrageous. But if I may say so, it’s still stubbornly Proustian.