cléo recommends: Sophy Romvari’s Pumpkin Movie
Sophy Romvari’s Pumpkin Movie was conceived in light of the scariest thing the Toronto-based filmmaker could imagine: “men.”
The film, which premiered at True/False before playing Hot Docs and Sheffield, centres on two friends (played by Romvari and Leah Collins Lipsett) convening on Skype for an annual rendezvous in which they carve pumpkins and swap stories of quotidian sexism. Sitting on the floor of their respective apartments (Romvari in Vancouver, Lipsett in Halifax), the pair recap a year in gendered harassment, both their own and others’ (the real-life contributors of these stories are acknowledged in the credits). The anecdotes — which range in gravity, but are akin in their eerie familiarity — are told with the remedial laughter known to women who have little recourse but to do just that.
Writing about storytelling as a tool for feminist organizing, Moira Donegan (creator of the Shitty Media Men List — donate to her legal defence against one shitty media man here) suggests that a “useful working definition of a woman might be ‘someone who experiences misogyny.’” Though their carving knives appear softened by the hazy colouration of Skype, Romvari’s protagonists are ferocious in their sorority. Retribution may come later; in the meantime, commiseration is a purge unto itself.
Pumpkin Movie serves as a spiritual (and seasonal) companion to Romvari’s 2016 short Let Your Heart Be Light, in which two friends decorate a Christmas tree in the wake of one’s breakup. A particularly astute Letterboxd user suggested that Romvari is the millennial answer to Garry Marshall. We’re inclined to agree.