REVIEW - Mary & Myself by Sam DeCoste

Mary & Myself is an insightful look at two woman working through issues of their cultural past via the lens of an animated documentary. The serendipitous narrative is juxtaposed with visual references to water in the form of rain, tears, and tea. These images help evoke a feeling of cleansing during the film when we're given short glimpses into the government sanctioned sexual abuse women suffered at Japanese "comfort stations" during the Second World War.

The film has a very tightly woven narrative style that uses two timelines to illustrate the experiences of "comfort women" and how their stories have impacted the woman connected to them. The interweaving of the timelines also allows for Mary & Myself to effectively interject the everyday humour from Jia and Mary's experience portraying these women for The Vagina Monologues into what would otherwise be entirely grim subject matter. 

For me, I think the greatest achievement of this animated film was with how the subject matter was handled. No graphic language or images were used - and yet, as a viewer, the emotional impact of the story was still very strong. Sam DeCoste has relied on visual creativity and a very select juxtaposition of words, images, and music to create empathy without losing the emotional impact - or the audience. For an emerging animator/filmmaker that's a very solid accomplishment.

-Grayden Laing

P.S. Sam will be in attendance for the upcoming world premiere of Mary & Myself at Hot Docs and doing a Q&A after the film. This is Sam's first work with the NFB.

Screening times and dates are below.
Sat, Apr 27 8:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3  
Mon, Apr 29 11:00 AM
Isabel Bader Theatre 
Sat, May 4 1:00 PM
TIFF Bell Lightbox 3
For more info on the Hot Docs screenings and to buy tickets click here.

Click here to visit the official NFB page for Mary & Myself

NFB Press Release

Mary & Myself is a story within a story, a meta-narrative about two Chinese Canadian women making their theatrical debut playing "comfort woman" in The Vagina Monologues.

Fusing activism and performance, this short animated documentary honours the thousands of girls and women from Korea, China, Japan and the Philippines who were forced into sexual slavery - into providing "comfort" to soldiers in the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy during the 1930s and '40s.

Jia Tsu Thompson and Mary Mohammed spend long hours rehearsing at Mu Lan Teahouse in Halifax, where they read their lines over and over, sip tea, and recount buried stories of war. As they diligently practise together and a home, they come to have their own personal catharses.

While Mary can't stop crying, Jia Tsu boils over in anger. In this imaginative animated world, the two good friends spin in circles of sadness, humour, and forgiveness in a gigantic teacup, and eventually ace their big night.

Running time 6:35
Written, Directed, and Animated: Sam DeCoste
Producer: Annette Clarke
Narration: Jia Tsu Thompson
Original Music and Sound Design: Judith Gruber-Stitzer
Sound Recordist: Alec Salter
Sound Editor Tom Elliot
Executive Producer: Ravida Din & Kent Martin

Copyright 2013 The National Film Board