[Atlanta Film Festival] Documentaries: Ingrid (2017) - Reviewed

Ingrid screened at ATLFF

Ingrid (2017), directed by Morrisa Maltz, is a character driven reality drama documenting the life of an energetic septuagenarian. It's a poignant documentary narrating the unique story of Ingrid Gipson who has made a life for herself in rural Oklahoma where she has built her house from scratch and is continually expanding on it, grows and butchers her own food, harvests rocks to include in her projects, and does her art.

Maltz creates an intimate portrait of a socially awkward but charming and eccentric woman juxtaposing her past with her present as she lives her life on her own terms. Maltz weaves together many visual elements to create a poignant documentary where the past meets the present. The documentary is beautifully crafted juxtaposing close ups and medium shots with wide angle and aerial shots, interviews of Ingrid, innovative editing techniques juxtaposing images of her past with the present (which include images of Ingrid spanning the many decades, newspaper clippings documenting her fashion career, Nazi documentation about her parents' bloodline, a photograph of her father in Nazi uniform, photographs of her children, and spouses, and of her parents), voice-over narration, out of focus images, cut aways, and super 8 footage to create a compelling film. Ingrid tells her story narrating her past, her present, her thought processes and her decisions. You feel her regrets and disappointments and see how they may have perhaps coloured her life. Scenes alternate between interviews of Ingrid juxtaposed against her life in her Garden of Eden that she has created with her own hands. Although she recognizes that her decisions have come at a cost, and even though she wishes she could share her life with a significant other, she is nevertheless following her bliss. The sound track and music complement the documentary and set the tone as does the sumptuous cinematography and the gorgeous images of nature.

The documentary poses many interesting lifestyle questions, and will definitely challenge stereotypes and preconceptions people may hold of the elderly. I had the sense that Ingrid is content living life on her own terms in her idyllic oasis in rural Oklahoma. I wondered if she had thought to try a matchmaking service, or perhaps, if she is after companionship, whether she might consider running a retreat for a select few who would jump at the opportunity to spend time with this ingenious woman. While they are pros and cons to singlehood, being single, in my opinion, should not be viewed as a problem or seen as pathological. It’s a state of mind, and like women's reproductive rights, it’s a personal choice whether someone opts to be single or not.

Ingrid is a beautifully crafted documentary and deserving of your attention. Maltz has created a beautiful visual memoir of a remarkable woman celebrating life on her own terms. Maltz has done a superb job breaking down stereotypes and reveals that age and gender should not be a barrier to following one's bliss. 

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-Stefan Chiarantano