She and I

She and I tells the story of my paternal grandmother, whom I never knew, and whose name I share. It speaks specifically of my grandmother’s life and mine, our connections, describes the city of Winnipeg where she lived and my relationship to it, the history of my family there, and addresses general stories of women’s lives. Events are imagined, remembered, and embellished, against a backdrop of Winnipeg as it is now, on the prairies and downtown, as well as the neighborhoods of the north end. Value is given to previously unrecorded events, and women’s lives are acknowledged.

After the opening titles, elements of women’s lives are related in three formats and interwoven segments. A grandmother’s story unfolds as vertically scrolling text through images of water and land, and a brief glimpse of an older and younger woman talking together. A voice-over, alternating between she and I, relates memories and anecdotes. Another voice-over presents a Yiddish poem, untranslated, for its lilting rhythm and related images of gravestones and obituaries. A young daughter impersonates past and present, neighborhoods are explored, and a long sequence of washing dishes conveys the repetition of housework. The triumph of cleanliness, order over chaos, ends the story.