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Sometimes they grow up too fast.

A mother reckons with feelings of jealousy and longing when her free-spirited daughter returns home for the summer with a new boyfriend.

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OFFICIAL SELECTION - Castle Rock Film Festival - 2023 (1).png
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A message from award winning

writer and director Sawyer Macres

It’s perhaps old news but nevertheless important to remind oneself after the completion of every project—whether it’s a film, a short story, etc.—that we are condemned to write only for ourselves. Writing or filmmaking for other people happens only by accident. We might at the end of the day wish that our artwork was responding to some substantial exteriority or pressing issue—that a work in the domain of art could truly be made for something else. I fear this is what some documentarians believe, and so I also fear that I am doomed to eternally misunderstand them. The artist either clings to the idea that the world needs him, or in the act of creating, does not think much about the world at all. It is the former response, which generates a fiction (the world needs my art) which sustains the very act of creation. The latter merely moves in a fictional world. 

But, to return to the first idea: where the artist comes to the idea that the world needs him. What emerges forth is the belief that there is something to say that has not yet been said—some ‘thing’ is excluded. At this moment of clarity the noise stops and so does the world. To call it clarity, however, is a misnomer, as it is merely the clarity of an absence—something is obscured, hidden, in need of articulation. Here, the artist has found the shape of an absence of what it is that they are writing about: the excluded thing or the injustice of an exclusion. Something isn’t here which ought to be, a space in which the artist acts in an embrace of the world via a rejection of it. Art becomes both a rejection and an embrace. With art the artist cedes a cry or a plea. A more optimistic onlooker might see the artist ceding an illuminating thought or some profound insight, or some previously-unknown connection to better explain the world or decompose it. However, once the ceding art/act occurs the artist might soon become perplexed by what he meant to say, or to what it was he was responding. 

When I say that creating art is founded on fiction I do not mean to be cynical of art. The world indeed needs art—that seems clear enough. What is unclear of course is the point of entry, which is the question as to the matter of whose art the world needs as well as why the world needs it, and so on. This is where the risk begins—when we begin to type, to press record, to slate our next scene. We maintain the confidence that there is indeed some reason for this, but then comes simultaneously that creeping question: what is my foundation? It’s perhaps better not to know, or to whole-heartedly assume or assert. It’s perhaps better to imagine art as a compulsion or an expulsion rather than, I don’t know, this other thing: a necessity, a duty to speak what has not yet been spoken, etc. Expulsions are also eruptions, however, which are bound to happen from time to time. Vesuvius. Etna. Whakaari. We might as well call expulsions necessary—at the very least surefire.


There’s of course something narcissistic and grandiose about comparing one’s art to a volcano. What I mean more is that the act itself—as irrational—finds refuge sometimes only in the most high-flown metaphors. What I speak of here is merely the act itself. The product is a whole other story. 

Reflecting back on the film, I get the feeling that Her Mother’s Eyes is no longer relevant, that it no longer speaks to something I thought was there. At the very least it deserves a more timely, more relevant sequel—which would posture a more pressing thesis. But first, a recap: HME follows the story of a mother who, following the return of her free-spirited daughter from graduate school, lobotomizes her. At the time of writing I was thinking about Rosemary Kennedy and the film Shutter Island among other things lobotomy-related, reveling in the profound imagery of what this sort of cure symbolizes: a closure, a cut, a reduction, a violence. The lobotomy renders the unpredictable predictable. The mother who lobotomizes her daughter seizes agency—it is a return to the womb, so to speak. The lobotomy strips the victim of their agency and independent faculties, their ability to make decisions. At the time of writing the film I had thought it was a commentary on the relationship between individual and society. I was nesting this critique in the relationship between the daughter and the mother. Someone who worked on the film described it as, “something’s not right in suburbia.” That sounded fitting and I wish I coined it. What I wanted to capture was something about a social structure—the family, maybe—and the way structures homogenize, to conform things back into a harmonious whole—which was a violent act: a lobotomy. There are, of course, various other avenues for interpreting the film. Even now as I write these words I feel that I’m betraying the Lynchian maxim where the filmmaker must refrain from providing his own interpretation. Let it speak! To this I’d say that the film to me is also foreign, even though I wrote and directed it. I did not, of course, shoot it, light it, direct it, score it, or act in it. The foreign sum overwhelms me. Perhaps more filmmakers should interpret their own work, insofar as so much of it is not theirs. The Lynchians, by their own refusal to comment, preserve that very fantasy of ‘the interpretation’ via a refrain from commenting. Everyone has their own interpretation, so I shall not share mine! It’s a great trick; it really is.

So, to return to the question: why is the film no longer relevant? And furthermore what would be the sequel? I had the feeling, after watching the film several times—sitting in the audience at festivals, listening to the moments where the crowd would react—that the film really enjoys lobotomy—perhaps too much. I had thought in lieu of this that perhaps a reversal of the film’s central thesis ought to be revisited. It goes like this: instead of a plot following the mother (society) who comes to lobotomize her child, the film should have in countermeasure why a child might want to be lobotomized. This is perhaps even more absurd than a mother lobotomizing her own daughter. Of course, on the surface the film does not leave much room for this interpretation except on the level of form: we follow the mother’s point of view, her loss, her gazing into the mirror—furthermore, the release which occurs at the moment of the needle’s impact on the frontal lobe resembles almost an orgasm, a culminating point one unity, a  little death. Here, we encounter some desire of the mother, wanting her daughter back by way of rendering her once more a dependent child, docile and dependent. Of course, the reverse should be considered: why, perhaps the daughter might want to be lobotomized?

This I think is question is a worthy adversary, in which we have to ask, why we make such continual returns to closure when the door might be open?

My next film project will explore a semblance of this question. It will not, however, be a sequel. It will resemble a sequel only in theme, not in content, story, character, or anything else of the sort.

Anyway, if you’ve read this far you’ve really indulged me. I’m grateful for everyone who gave this film their attention and for the collaborators who worked on it.

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