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In a Different Light

Thursday, March 9, 1995
Thank You and Good Night
Jan Oxenberg U.S., 1991

"Was Grandma's life really rotten or did she just make herself miserable? Why didn't she teach my mother to cook? Who gets to keep her color television? Why do people have to die anyway?" - the filmmaker at age five. Combining documentary footage shot over a ten-year period with dramatic re-enactments featuring a cardboard cut-out figure of director Jan Oxenberg as a skeptical five-year-old girl, Thank You and Good Night explores the mysteries of life and death. The adult Jan searches her memory, outer space, the after-life, the psychiatrist's couch, and an old movie palace, trying to ponder the imponderable. The tone of the film is remarkable. The combination of pathos and humor, brutal emotional realism and philosophical quest, adult memory and child's imagination characterizes this complex and affecting treatment of the remembrance of a grandparent.

—Kay Armatage, Toronto Festival of Festivals

• Written by Oxenberg. Photographed by John Hazard. With Mae Joffe, Helen Oxenberg, Richard Oxenberg, Daniel Oxenberg, Julie Oxenberg. 84 mins, Color, 16mm, From the artist)