Knowledge They Cannot Lose, A

Rental Format(s): Super 8mm, 24 fps

The film concerns the death of my father and the ways in which I was partially able to come to terms with his loss. It is largely about my effort to construct, through memory, an impression of how his life influenced mine and the lives of other people. There is footage of my father taken over the years, images of his handwriting in the form of his journals and letters I'd received from him, scenes of myself reading from his journals and footage shot from television. The soundtrack consists of diverse material: audiotapes that were recorded in my family when I was growing up, testimonials of people who had grown close to him in the last years of his life, Yiddish folk songs. I was obliged to search for and select traces of my father's life from fragmentary evidence, never able to assemble a complete "portrait."

The film is concerned with tensions that arise around the notions of fact versus fiction, truth versus falsification, and in making it I was dealing with the grieving process by experiencing the effect of looking at images of a person who is dead. The theme of a Jewish tradition is also central to the film, as conveyed through music and storytelling, and the idea that knowledge of a cultural tradition can be passed on from one generation to the next, but must necessarily be transformed in the process.

"Her searching attitude suggests that with the loss of her father came a questioning of the role, not of a particular father, but the father figure - a refusal of authority, and an appreciation of her father's cycles of learning, teaching, learning. As Danny Kaye, playing Hans Christian Andersen, tells a group of children the story of a piece of chalk that saw itself as the source, not the transmitter of knowledge, one senses Fonoroff's sorrow at the loss inherent in the film image, and a yearning for the source of the image, not just its projection." - Kathy Geritz, Pacific Film Archive

Awards: Grand Prize, Black Maria Film and Video Festival, 1989; First Prize, SF Art Institute Film Festival, 1990. Shown on "Independent Focus," WNET-TV, NY.

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Super 8mm, 24 fps $68.00  

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