My Family Portrait
I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at. — Maya Angelou
I am Madeline Spencer, I am twenty-one years old, and am currently a Social Anthropology student at the University of Kent.
Contemporary visual anthropology emphasises the importance of acknowledging the integral role of reflexivity in the production and critical reception of visual media. So, introducing myself and my family not only reflects this importance but provides a context for my film, which is based on my personal relationships, specifically my relationship with my brother.
(hover over the images, left to right, to begin)
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Our parents divorced in 2003, when I was just seven and Jack was nine. Jack and I had an idyllic childhood but began to grow distant from each other at a young age. Jack had a tough time growing up: bullying, isolation and not fitting in and getting into trouble throughout his school years. This was largely due to how the family (and Jack himself) struggled to understand his Asperger's and get the help and support that they needed from schools, social services, the government, etc. Our parents' divorce and other factors also added to his experiences. During his teenage years, he fell into drugs and other trouble, which created huge tensions and stress within the family and household. Throughout this time I felt distant from my brother and struggled to understand how and why, as I saw it at the time, he was causing me, and the rest of my family o much hurt. As we grew older and things began to turn around, my eighteenth birthday marks the moment for me when I decided that missing my brother all of this time was much more painful than holding on to the past.
Exploring Relationships Through Film
This film explores our relationship and serves as a way to heal the time that we missed. Thus, it is an extension of my personal exploration and negotiation of our relationship after a long period of rupture between us and a desire to understand Jack's story and perspective and the difficulties that he faced.
It also reflects the general challenges that all families face and the history of each personal relationship that people form, which are often presented as static and unflawed to the outside world. So, I hope that this film provokes a reflection about the ups and downs in human relationships and the experiences that define those bonds.