Sunflower: A Short Film on Aging & Memories

By Premlata Venkataraman


The day after Black Friday saw the Pittsburgh screening of Sunflower, a 15-minute short film with our own Juginder Luthra debuting in films in his semi-retirement. The film, directed by 23-year old Peter Ferris Rosati, was screened at the Row House Theater in Lawrenceville.

luthra_stillA sensitive film about the elderly selectively nurturing their memories — and haunted by them — is the theme of this short film. The sunflower with its many pods is an allegory for the elderly selectively recalling events retained in their memories. Each pod is a sachet of memory retained.

The only character in the film, a 70-plus year old man, is living all by himself in a dingy and grimy apartment; he remains nameless and utters not a single word of dialog.

He cherishes the sunflower plant in his backyard he has carefullyluthrasunflowerpose kept alive, the same way he cherishes his memories. But the ravages of time, allegorically portrayed by a large made-up bird that looks like a raven, repeatedly seeks to destroy the flower — eventually succeeding in doing so — in spite of the best efforts of the elderly man to keep it alive. How it affects the old man is the grand finale.

Luthra, without the benefit of spoken words, brings out the intense anguish of the character waging a losing battle against time. He portrays anger, fear, self-pity, and helplessness as he tends to the plant, with occasional flashbacks of memories haunting him.

Talking to me after the screening,  Luthra told me, the 15-min film was chiseled out of nearly seven hours of videotape footage.

The young director Peter Ferris Rosati — he is still in his early 20s — shows maturity in sensitively bringing out from Luthra’s nameless character how the elderly hold on to their memories, when life around them already has fallen apart.    ♣

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