Donigan Cumming

After Brenda

The Latham Memorial Award (Dallas Video Festival, 1998)

1997 - Colour, Stereo: 41:00 min.

An alcoholic and potbellied fifty-year old, Pierre Lamarche has lost everything: accused of rape by Brenda, the woman he loves, he finds himself in the street after a spell in prison. Obsessed by his ex-lover, he suspects her of sleeping with the neighbours and taking up prostitution.

Confiding his misfortunes to the camera in the same way as he would submit himself to therapy, Pierre considers himself rather like the producer of a film on his life. A real ham actor, he gets into his stride and lavishes his tale with exaggerations and spicy details. For his part, Cumming directs his makeshift actors, sets the scene and provokes encounters as the master of ceremonies of what he himself describes as a lowbrow novel. Using a complex narrative technique, he juxtaposes on Pierre's tale his own remarks as well as a second, more morbid story, quite distinct from the first and told by a character who a priori has no connection with the principal drama. Here the documentary flirts clearly with fiction: each character plays his own role, including the film-maker: shrewdly, he collects the scattered fragments of this affair rather in the same way as a detective, enters apartments and leaves after recording on the video tape miscellaneous exhibits - Brenda's knickers... - and pieces of indecent evidence. In its sordid yet humorous dimension, After Brenda reveals an elliptical and explicitly manipulated reality. Disconcerting at first sight, this film is nevertheless a mirror image of Pierre's life: an ordinary mixture of established and fantasized facts.

Sophie Guyot, Visions du réel, 2002

After Brenda Characters
Pierre: Pierre Lamarche, a man in his fifties
Donigan: Donigan Cumming, a forty-nine-year-old man with a camcorder
Brenda: Brenda Jardine, a woman in her forties
Mina: Mina Putugu, a woman in her forties
Nelson: Nelson Coombs, a man in his seventies
Gilles: Gilles Lacroix, a man in his fifties
Colin: Colin Kane, a man in his fifties