Sponsor

“Shared Resources” sensitively frames family bonds and collective creativity

Image: Three white people sit at a table together, each with a set of white papers in front of them. The figure on the far left is a bald man in his 60s (Albert Lord), who reads the papers intently. The figure in the center is a person in their late 20s (Jordan Lord), who looks to a woman in her 60s with blonde hair (Deborah Lord), who holds the papers in her hands and looks back at them. A caption on the screen reads, “alternative contract together that would do the opposite of a release form.”

Emerging documentarian Jordan Lord shares insight into their multifaceted film, which is screening at the Chazen Museum Of Art on April 9 as part of the Wisconsin Film Festival.

When Jordan Lord began the process of filming their family in November of 2015, over five years before the virtual world premiere of Shared Resources (2021) at the Museum Of Modern Art, they wanted to better understand their father’s Albert’s experience in declaring chapter 13 bankruptcy and the debt that had followed the family from Louisiana to Mississippi. But in the wake of Albert’s deteriorating health, the filmmaking project continued to evolve with their lives. Shared Resources took a different shape as a newfangled deconstruction of format and standard documentary practices. In its 98-minute final cut, Lord’s work stands as a cinematic model that weaves a philosophical journey into a grounded, de-stigmatizing, and revealing course in what we all share and owe one another, bound by love and debt. The essayistic film, one of the 2022 Wisconsin Film Festival’s most intimate and thought-provoking, is screening at the Chazen Museum Of Art on Saturday, April 9, at 3:30 p.m.

Shot practically on a borrowed Sony PMW-EX1 camera primarily in Lord’s parents’ house, the film came out of “something that is repeated in the film twice, when my mom [Deborah] says, ‘you owe it to us to be successful,’ shortly after my dad got fired from his job. I found out they were going to have to declare bankruptcy,” Lord says. In the film, which features both color-coded on-screen subtitling paired with descriptive audio throughout for the widest possible accessibility, Lord frames debt as “a kind of prophecy. A logic of prophecy runs from ‘I love you’ to ‘I will always love you,’ which continuously runs back to ‘I will always owe you.'” It sounds like loaded poetry alluding to bonds forged in tragic hardship, but it’s also continuously reflected on the screen in the conversations between the extended Lord family, who both acquiesce and stand up to mammoth capitalistic systems in place that have been designed for the majority to fail.

Jordan Lord as photographed by by Chris Berntsen. Lord stands on a waterfront, smiling at the camera. They are a 31-year-old white person with short hair and a mustache, wearing a black shirt with a grommet on the chest that shows a small circle of their skin.

The roots of the film and its title run even more deeply than blood relatives, but in the act of shared study, Lord says, with a community of disabled artists who had input in Lord’s creative process. With a documentary that chronicles and frames the experience of living through debt, Lord wanted to make a film that their father could ultimately experience even with deteriorated eyesight. By prioritizing his accessibility, Lord found that it had other benefits, strengthening these shared bonds and collaborations, as well as offering other avenues into reading the film, somewhat literally. “I don’t think it’d be a very interesting film without [my mom’s] description, in particular, because she re-frames the material in a way I would never be able to,” Lord says. “It’s simultaneously this kind of poetry and care work for my dad. There are a lot of moments when she’s using it to make a space for herself when she’s being overlooked.”

Sponsor

Shared Resources always strives to be actively representative of the people on screen and their perceptions of themselves. In one of the film’s early scenes, Lord sits with their mother and father listening to responses to an early version of Lord’s film. Albert confesses, “I felt very weak, very vulnerable through most of the footage that you did. And I didn’t just dislike it, I loathe it.” This self-consciousness and feeling of being misrepresented leads Lord to renegotiate their intentions and vision with both parents, which later culminates in an extended scene involving a contract-signing and discussion of what footage can and will be used. Lord opts for an alternative contract that’s essentially the opposite of a legally binding document that would normally be signed to prevent liability. Instead, Lord, Albert, and Deborah debate truth and perception, trying to find a balance in the truth of those involved (curiously, drawing a parallel to a 2022 Wisconsin Film Festival narrative feature we recently covered). From a cinematic perspective, it rails against the idea of an auteur. But Lord’s approach is also unquestionably empathetic and original to the form.

Lord re-positions their project around this concept, as it’s impossible to ignore these dimensions of the final film. Rather than adhering to a limited and lone vision, narrative and documentary filmmakers have opportunities to embrace and traverse this ocean of possibility. “One of the reasons I think it’s so important to put it forward, not just for filmmakers who are making work around disability, but rather for all filmmakers to really think about—audio description and captioning are also really complex creative tools. Description in the film functions adjacent to a zoom or a cut,” Lord says. It also helps contextualize what’s beyond the frame and field of view. Lord cites a shot of their mother’s descriptive audio about being an “ice-chewer” as one of the more simply effective at demonstrating its efficacy. Lord continues the same train of thought with regard to closed captioning, in “drawing our attention to different elements within the soundtrack that you may not pay attention to otherwise.”

Ultimately, the title of Shared Resources is an altogether fitting, multifaceted window into the worldviews of those involved. Jordan Lord shares in the experience of debt and familial struggles in a way that transcends even the quotidian beauty of a film like Chantal Akerman’s No Home Movie (2015), the late Belgian director’s final film about her mother Natalia Akerman (in Chantal’s personal and artistic tradition), and a noted influence on Lord. Seeing work like Akerman’s as well as Ross McElwee’s and Chris Marker’s helped them gain confidence to embark on this first feature filmmaking journey, in adjoining the personal and philosophical. And while Shared Resources touches upon the gravitas at each pole on that spectrum, it also shows the many longstanding flaws in the financial and healthcare systems that currently govern our lives in America. In an oblique way, that intention recalls the ambitions of Michael Moore’s Sicko (2007), except this film exposes every behind-the-scenes moment in microcosm that could never be characterized on a stage platformed by a production company. Shared Resources shows true independence while thematically embracing the opposite in shared experience.

Help us publish more stories like this one.

This site uses cookies to provide you with a great user experience. By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies in accordance with our privacy policy.

Scroll to Top