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Ross McElwee and son look back

By BRETT MICHEL  |  November 16, 2012

Now that you’ve undertaken this exploration of your past, do you see more of yourself in your son, or less? ’m not trying to hedge, but I think I both see more of myself in him, and less. He’s becoming his own person — which of course is what I want him to do.

Do you feel a sense of closure on the chapter of your life surrounding your first job as a photographer, and are you at peace with the notion that you may never quite solve the question of why that first job so abruptly ended? I have accepted the idea that I will never know for sure, but I certainly think my memory, in this particular incident, turned out to be accurate — that my employer lost some of his photo negatives of nude women, and in a kind of rage, fired me — even though I knew nothing about them. The story is certainly born out by what his ex-wife tells me in the film.

You’ve dedicated the film to Adrian. What does he think of it? What do you hope he might take from it? Adrian is a little embarrassed by some of the things he says in the film, but he also sees the humor in those little clashes with me, and besides he can always say that that’s how he behaved years ago, when I actually shot the footage. At any rate, he has traveled extensively with me to present the film — he and I did a press conference at the Venice Film Festival together after the premiere there in 2011. And we’ve taken our father-son show on the road to other European festivals as well. And of course he’s also traveled with me to screenings in the US and taken questions from the audiences. He’s confided that it’s surreal for him. It’s surreal for me as well. But then I am used to it, having put my life into my films for 30 years now.
I guess the main thing I hope he takes from the film is the fact that I love him, and if I worry about him, it’s only because of that love.

READ BRETT MICHEL'S REVIEW OF PHOTOGRAPHIC MEMORY 

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