Mothers are a lot of things. Even considering the task of listing them all feels useless—so infinite are the ways moms exist. It’s probably this state of embodying nearly everything that makes our relationships to our moms so complex. Sometimes, so complicated. Days After Your Departure, a short film by Joekenneth Museau traces his journey from New York to Haiti as he comes to terms with that relationship shortly after losing his mother.
In Days After Your Departure, several stars shine.
Joekenneth himself weaves a rich tapestry of prose and poetry. It both careens and slogs through his personal grief after his mother lost her battle with cancer. He broods. He escapes. And sometimes he stares you down demanding you confront your own mental health. Like being hit again and again by powerful surf, his words and delivery repeatedly pound into your chest over the film’s brief 10-minute rumtime.
Directed by Sam Sneed, the photography takes that power and amplifies it in an anamorphic glow. Every shot pulls light through the frame. The world is vividly illuminated while Joekenneth is wrapped in shadow. And that world is achingly familiar. Living in Brooklyn, it’s easy to recognize all the locations. The Grocery, the subway station, the beach—all are places we’ve been, even if we haven’t. They’re familiar. And that familiarity envelops you.
But my favorite star is Haiti.
While Steve has had numerous trips to the “land of high mountains,” so far I’ve yet to explore Haiti. In the film those mountains tower, the tap-tap buses rush through the streets, and the magical waters off Haiti sparkle. You can almost smell the air and feel the warmth of the Haitian sun on your skin.
Seeing those visuals that highlight Joekenneth’s exploration of his mother’s essence makes me think of all the richly diverse stories Steve has shared. Bananier Beach, Tire Machèt, the artists of Noailles, stirring Sans-Souci Palace, Barbancourt’s magical fermentation formula, and the struggle of Haiti’s unbreakable Le Negre Marron—I want to leap into the screen and explore them all for myself.
Steve and I lost our mom when we were young. I was only 12 at the time. So, maybe there’s extra resonance to the film for me. If that’s the case, it’s by design. Upon the initial creation of the companion book of the same name, Joekenneth said of the work:
With ‘Days’ I am making a concerted effort to encourage those who have experienced the loss of a loved one to embrace the grieving process. And to show the nuances of loss to those who know of/support the grieving in order to encourage long-term patience and compassion.
How to see Days After Your Departure
To get a taste, watch the trailer.
Then, tell your mom you love her—wherever she is.