HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR? was one of the documentary shorts nominated for an Oscar this past year. It was filmed by Dad, Jay Rosenblatt, of his daughter, Ella, from 2 to 18 years of age. 

Each year on Ella’s birthday, Dad would sit her on the couch and ask a bunch of thoughtful questions and then just wait for her responses. The questions helped to guide Ella to reflect on her past year, or her feelings about relationships, and her self-worth. As a young child, Ella was precocious. As she grew older, her answers were more blatant and aimed at her dad, but after a few more years, she became warm and full of gratitude. I was mesmerized by Ella’s choice of words, facial expressions, and constant finger touching her hair and eyes. This did not change even as she matured. 

The questions asked always incited a response. Ella enjoyed being on camera and performing. As a parent, I wished I had done something like this with my own children just for posterity. What an amazing keepsake. But as a documentary film, it lacked the cohesiveness to pull it together and tie it up with a bow. I really needed more from the filmmaker. 

HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR? was a sweet, thirty-minute home movie. It lacked a conclusive “hook” to put it all into perspective. Was it worth my time? Not really. It was just a parents’ thing, but not a documentary short worthy of an Oscar nomination. It is available to stream on MAX.

Esta Rosevear

Esta Rosevear has been a Theatre Arts teacher and director for 35+ years, published Children’s author of the Rebecca series, and is passionate about playing her violin, walking, gardening, and reading murder mysteries.

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