The Closer We Get

Before it’s too late, a family that never really talked – starts to.
This is a powerful and bittersweet portrait of loyalty, broken dreams and redemption told by its director, reluctantly-dutiful daughter Karen, who takes you under the skin of the household she returns to for this long goodbye.
Karen’s mother Ann suffers a devastating stroke that brings her daughter back home. But Karen isn’t the only one who comes back to help care for Ann in the crisis: Her prodigal father – the endearing yet unfathomable Ian, who’s been separated from Ann for years – also reappears.
Reunited so unexpectedly, and armed with her camera, Karen seizes this last chance to go under the skin of the family story before it’s too late, to come to terms with the aftermath of the secret her father had tried – and failed – to keep from them all, and to find that Ann’s stroke has in fact thrown them all a life raft.
With candour, warmth and much unexpected humour, Karen’s role as family confidante, busybody, therapist and spy brings to life both an extraordinary story and a profound portrait of family survival.

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Director: Karen Guthrie
Director Biography

Karen was raised on the West coast of Scotland and now lives on a smallholding in the rural Lake District (North West England).

She met co-producer and Director of Photography Nina Pope whilst students at Edinburgh College of Art and they have since worked together on many creative projects and commissions, winning the first Northern Art Prize in 2007 for their films and installations.

Together they founded Somewhere in 2002 and have undertaken art commissions from the likes ofTate Modern and Cambridge University alongside their three feature documentaries: Jaywick Escapes (2012), Living with the Tudors (2007) and Bata-ville: We Are Not Afraid of the Future (2005). These films have screened at many festivals including Edinburgh International Film Festival, SXSW and Sheffield Doc Fest.

Alongside her films, Karen continues to work as an artist on diverse projects including a recent commission for Hauser & Wirth, Somerset.

The Closer We Get is Karen’s solo directorial debut.

Director Statement

“I’d wanted to make a film about my family story for a long time – but my parents were the last people on earth to imagine themselves interest- ing enough for a film! I wanted to get underneath this nonchalance, and I knew this was one of those stories that only someone as close as I was to them could – or should – tell the world. I finally got round to starting the project in 2008 by filming a wonderful interview with my Mum Ann when – just a few weeks later – she was struck down by a devastating stroke which was to change everything forever.

Several years passed, and one quiet afternoon I was looking after Mum and I reminded her about the film we were once going to make together. ‘Well, let’s get on with it’ she said, with a very mischievous smile. And so we began to film, almost weekly for several years, amassing an amazing range of material. And after her bed time, I’d go out with the camera onto the seafront at Largs and shoot some more!

Mum always looked forward to filming together – to joke, impart wisdom, or just to let off steam. And – of course – it was a chance to talk about my Dad, Ian! The immense sadness of her disability faded during these times because we were creating something new in this film, and though she sadly didn’t live to see The Closer We Get finished, she knew it was a powerful legacy to leave behind her and her trust in me made anything and everything possible.Working on such a personal project was really only viable with my longterm collaborative partner Nina Pope and my fantastic editor Alice Powell at hand to support me and guide the development of the film whilst I was still living ‘inside’ it.

The end result – as I’d always hoped it would be – is both a real page-turner’ of a story and a portrait of hope and survival – mine, as a grief-stricken daughter who found a way to recover through making this film, and of my par- ents and their extraordinary relationship”

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