Capturing the true essence, innocence, and chaos of childhood in one movie seems like quite the far-reaching ambition for any filmmaker, but co-directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck rise to the occasion with their feature-length drama God Bless the Child.
5 siblings tumble across the screen, four boys and one girl, left to their own mischievous devices when their depressed mother abruptly exits the picture without a word. The movie chronicles a day or two in the life of baby Jonah, little Ezra, middle-brother Arri, and oldest boy Elias as they trail after the eldest (and only) girl Harper, exploring the dynamics of life through their young, un-jaded eyes.
Machioan and Ojeda-Beck conjure a unique blend of cinéma vérité- a sense of honesty and authenticity derived from each scene -and traditional scripted storytelling with God Bless the Child, resulting in footage that is both incredibly believable (considering the children’s ages) and captivating. I caught fellow attendee Gretchen Neidert, eagerly awaiting the film, to explain how she was “excited to see them mix genres, and make a hybrid of a documentary and narrative film.”
The movie lingers from shot to shot, unafraid of hovering over the action and watching with observant patience as the kids behave like…well, kids: curious, playful, reckless, and vulnerable. Machoian, using his own children to play the 5 motherless siblings, portrays childhood as it is, without glamour and without shame, from every stage of babyhood to teenage years.
God Bless the Child is more than just a string of random scenes, however, just as life is more than just a string of random days. It teases out the subtleties of each moment, observes the dynamic relationships from persons to person, and brings hope…whether it’s certain or not.
Stay tuned to Mxdwn to catch my exclusive interview with the directors, coming soon!