The word masterpiece is thrown around as an easy superlative, often overused and seldom applicable. Yet, there is that occasional film that lives into the word masterpiece and that demands to be seen. Amy Bench's 14-minute short film More Than I Remember is such a film. Set for a screening at Indy Shorts from July 19-24, 2022, More Than I Remember is one of 2022's most powerful and beautifully rendered animated shorts. The film has already picked up multiple prizes including wins at Tribeca Film Festival (Best Animated Short), Cleveland International Film Festival (Best Doc Short), and SXSW (SXSW Film Design Award - Excellence in Poster Design).
Narrated with eloquent and tender simplicity by its subject, 14-year-old Mugeni Ornella, More Than I Remember exquisitely brings to life the night Mugeni's Eastern Congo village is devastated by bombs and her entire family flees to the forest in an effort to save themselves. Finding herself completely alone, Mugeni sets out on a remarkable solo journey across the globe determined to reunite with her lost loved ones and lift up the Banyamulenge people.
More Than I Remember is the type of film that Indy Shorts audiences will love, a film grounded within tragic experiences yet brimming with perseverance, hope, and the power of the human spirit. It is, without a doubt, the true definition of what it means to be a Heartland film.
Mugeni's vocals are devoid of histrionics. Speaking occasionally hesitant English, Mugeni brings to life her story alongside remarkable animation work that practically immerses us in Mugeni's world and journey. The original music by Curtis Health is poignant and understated, a perfect companion to the unfolding story.
In 14 minutes, Bench infuses More Than I Remember with such immense humanity without ever exploiting her subject - a 14-year-old girl who has already experienced a great deal more than many of us will experience in a lifetime.
Destined to be remembered come awards season, More Than I Remember is an animated short that lingers in the heart and the mind long after the closing credits have rolled. It's the kind of film that simply cannot and will not be forgotten.
Weaving together elements of tragedy, resilience, and the relentless perseverance of refugees, More Than I Remember is one of the 2022 Indy Shorts International Film Festival's highlights and simply must be considered in the running for one of the Academy Award qualifying fest's top prizes.
For more information on Indy Shorts, visit the Indy Shorts website.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic