Blue Bag Life
In Blue Bag Life, artist Lisa Selby explores her complex relationship with her estranged mother, who left her with a babysitter when she was ten months old and never came back, eventually reconciling with her daughter before dying of cancer. Selby uses the documentary to examine her feelings about love, loss and family, as well as shine a light on the struggles that people with addictions go through in her depictions of both her mother and her partner Elliot’s experiences with heroin addiction.
The documentary tackles several complicated topics head-on, and this complexity is reflected in the cinematography and structure. Visually, it incorporates shaky phone footage, photography, art and home videos, along with more conventional shots, to reflect the multi-faceted and often chaotic trajectory of Selby’s life in an engaging way. Structurally, the piece is decidedly non-linear, moving backwards and forwards across time in a way that manages to effectively represent the ways that trauma can dislodge people from reality, while still telling a coherent and compelling story.
Selby’s narration over the film is the one constant in its storytelling, maintaining a sense of order amidst the visual chaos with her frank and often poetic commentary. Her tale, and those of her mother and partner, are marked with tragedy, neglect and grief, but Blue Bag Life refuses to give in to its own troubled narrative. Throughout the feature, the filmmaker untangles the messy parts of her life and fights her way towards a hopeful ending – if not a happy one – working to understand the cycles of trauma in her family history to end them once and for all.
Overall, Blue Bag Life is an uncompromisingly honest look at the darker parts of human life, of death and abuse and addiction, but it’s also a story of love, hope and recovery. It’s often a harrowing watch, but it never sinks completely into melancholy, representing oft-ignored social issues openly and frankly, always with the promise of healing and new life from the ashes of the old.
Blue Bag Life is released in select cinemas on 7th April 2023.
Watch the trailer for Blue Bag Life here: