Melita Zajc is a media anthropologist and philosopher, combining practice, teaching and research in the field of communication, media studies and film theory. She is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.

Rok Bicek’s documentary explores the rising expectations of the family under the pressures of liberal capitalism.

The family

Rok Bicek

Slovenia, Austria, 2017 106 m

In the very first shot of the film we see Nia, a baby girl, exiting her mother’s womb and entering the world. The newborn is warmly welcomed by her parents–the nurses press her to the mother’s breasts and the father, who encouraged the mother throughout the labour, lovingly praises the newborn’s beauty. When the film ends a year or so later, Nia is embraced by a new family. In between, the film depicts a third family, the family of Matej Nia’s 22-year-old father, who was born to parents with special needs.

Director Rok Bicek and his crew patiently filmed Matej’s life for a decade, since his mid-teens up to the moment when his daring attempts to be a good father to Nia melted in the air. The editing is nonlinear and it’s not always easy to discern the logic that guided the director’s selection of shots–close-ups and one-take shots with occasional zooms and pans. It is, however, clear that it is this family that this carefully crafted observational documentary is talking about, and, exactly because Matej’s family is extraordinary, it offers a provocative but precise metaphor for any family, caught in the discrepancies between the ideal of the family on the one hand, and lived experience of the family on the other.

The Family by Rok Bicek

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