Mixed Media Doc 'Places Other People Have Lived' Explores the Relationship Between Memory and Place

Home may not always be where the heart is, but it is the place where we -- and the strangers who came before us -- live out our lives, building some of our most abiding memories in the process. Los Angeles based director Laura Yilmaz mixes a whole host of animation techniques (stop motion, hand drawn, pixelation, rotoscoping) with family interviews in Places Other People Have Lived to deconstruct the relationships which play out in the various rooms of the house her family called home for over 25 years.

When we leave I wonder what it is we'll leave behind?

For a documentary so focussed on the concepts of recollection and reflection, Yilmaz's mixed media technique is a well judged approach to the subject matter. Panoramic images of the various rooms build randomly, fragment by fragment, echoing the patchwork quality of recalled memories and the manner in which they trigger each other to eventually form a subjective whole. Notable scenes from the family's life are played out with brown paper, projector slides and doll furniture, whilst the rich soundtrack (the only major production role Yilmaz shares on the film - she even narrates) of overlapping voices and mixed diegetic and non-diegetic sounds, evokes the discussed spaces and could easily stand side by side with the most accomplished of sound sculptures or an episode of Radiolab.

It's always heartening to find documentary work which pushes the form beyond the usual talking heads, archive and reenactments setup into something more challenging. In fact tellingly, Places Other People Have Lived has made it to the Vimeo Festival shortlist in the animation and not documentary category.

What non-conventional techniques have you used to tell a story?

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Your Comment



May 10, 2012 at 9:53AM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Less a "learning experience," per your typical documentary fare, more just an "experience." I love that.

May 10, 2012 at 12:27PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


My brother and I are thirteen months apart...Depression babies....slept in the same bed for eighteen years. Many wars. Love your piece. Brings back a flood of memories. Thanx!

May 10, 2012 at 5:21PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


Wow. Stunning. Definitely an "experience", like dv said. I wouldn't say this is documentary, maybe more of an auteur piece? Not exactly sure how to define it, but maybe that's why it captures the imagination.

May 12, 2012 at 12:38PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM


I don't think it needs any defining or labeling whatsoever.

A nice film, and it brings back memories of my own recollections of "home" and family...etc...etc...

May 16, 2012 at 2:10PM, Edited September 4, 7:54AM

Daniel Mimura