'Timeline' by Alvin Lee

How the film 'Timeline' by Alvin Lee has achieved so much with just a simple idea is quite breath-taking. A timeline, physically represented by a clothing line on which little diary notes are pegged, is where the story is fleshed out. A young man, with a shaven head returns home, feeling alienated and looking like he has not seen home for a quite a while. What is presented before him is this timeline of notes written by his mother that, though surreal, carried very genuine feelings and moments that touched him.

The film demonstrates the power of absence and how it makes something ironically more present. The young man learns goes on a mental journey through time with the help of these notes. Every note he picks up is accompanied with his mother’s voice reading what’s on that note. Each note is a bitter or bittersweet episode in the shared lives between him and his mother.

Interestingly, the mother’s voice is dead-pan, as if she was trying to hold back her grief or anger at various points to spare her son the drama. Yet the constricted delivery cannot mask the gravity of the situations. The words speak for themselves. And the stoicism in that is deeply affecting.

'Timeline' won the Grand Prix Award at the recent Very Short International Film Festival.

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