“Still Processing is a tender portrait of empathy.”
Some families capture their memories on home video, dusting off the old VHS player to watch times gone by each Christmas. Others keep photographs in albums, to be sifted through at family gatherings. In Still Processing (2020), photography functions as memory. The Romvari family has kept their mementos in a box, an archive unseen for decades. As Sophy Romvari goes through each of her own childhood photographs for the first time on camera, she gives a stunning portrait of joy, grief and trauma of lost memories.
As Still Processing opens, Romvari questions whether her film is truly done. To look at these photographs is to confront her grief, always present after losing two of her elder brothers, David and Jonathan. The pain of losing a loved one never fully goes away, but Romvari easily manages to capture closure while accepting that grief is forever ongoing. The film’s dialogue comes from white on-screen captions superimposed against the dark scenes, while we also hear Sophy’s own voice as she digs through the box. She displays a mix of grief and joy as each memory comes flooding back to her, heard in her verbal exclamations and her text ruminations. She also isn’t alone on her journey, her brother Ben joins her, making it easier because they are together. Cinematographer and Colourist Devan Scott adds to the hauntingly beautiful scenes, giving the film an abstract and artistic look while still remaining accessible. The darkroom scenes are especially well lit, imposing as Romvari reveals new photographs from the negatives. The choice to film this scene works incredibly well with Still Processing’s theme: as Romvari reveals the negatives she unveils more and more memories.
Sophy Romvari shows brave filmmaking with her willingness to document her grief on screen. She holds nothing back, telling the viewers about the love she has for her lost brothers and even going so far as to capture one of her panic attacks. Still Processing is a tender portrait of empathy; Romvari grieves forces the audience to grieve along with her. As she visits each photograph and memory she is giving herself permission to heal. Vulnerability is one of the greatest strengths an artist can have and with a film like Still Processing, vulnerability is necessary.
Dir: Sophy Romvari
Cast: Sophy Romvari, Ben Romvari
Premiere Date: 11 September 2020
Available on: The film streamed at TIFF 2020 as part of Short Cuts Programme 01