From the Half Shadow by Kevin Prince Gilligan
My dad and my uncle grew up together, poor Irish brothers from Brooklyn. They lived this storybook childhood, kids playing stickball in the street. It always sounded so romantic to me.
But I didn’t hear too much about it and my own version of childhood was very much removed from theirs. They grew apart, as it were, and the less I saw my uncle in my adolescence, the more he became something like a monster to me.
After my dad died I became immensely empathetic towards the man in the shadows. I began to question the constructed idea of him in my mind as a monster, as a villain. When I finally called and I heard his voice, kind and eloquent, all those thoughts were gone. I could hear my grandma in him, I could hear my dad.
I was left struggling to balance their cinematic childhood and the reality of his current life, isolated. And of course, everything that happened in between.
The only way for me to process my emotions and understand my uncle was to visit him and record my visit. By going to Florida I was risking my relationship with my mother, whom he had threatened multiple times. Upon making the project I became physically sick as I was caught in a state of limbo unsure where my alliances lied.
Maybe this was my attempt at trying to reach out to my dad or maybe I just felt bad for my uncle and wanted to do some good.