Through the interwoven media of 16mm film and video, "I am you" by nathalie shapiro is a documentary poem which tells the story of Michelle Moeller, Anna Jennings, and Ann Jennings; three generations of women deeply impacted by sexual abuse, mental illness, and suicide. Anna Jennings was a painter who was sexually abused as a child, diagnosed with schizophrenia in her teen years and lived in mental hospitals for the duration of her young and adult life. She took her life at 32. Anna's story is told in the film by her daughter Michelle, who never met Anna, and by her mother Ann, who works as a psychologist and activist. As a daughter and a mother, both Michelle and Ann carry Anna's story of torment, pain and suffering within them. And yet they both work in their own lives to find the freedom from suffering that Anna herself could never experience.
As we grow and discover ourselves, how connected are we to the past? Not only to our own past, but to the past contained in the lives of our parents and grandparents? As we meet and learn about Michelle, Anna, and Ann, the film explores the intimate connections between past, present, and future as lived through these three generations of women.
Through its poetic narrative, the film meditates on Michelle's and Ann's relationship to each other and to Anna. The film also navigates the space between darkness and light, illuminating the joy that arises from tragedy and the constant interplay between suffering and freedom. For the beauty, intelligence, wisdom, and strength embodied by Michelle and Ann exist in perpetual relation to the tragic and painful life story of Anna. The relationship as expressed in the film between the lives of Michelle, Anna, and Ann compose an interwoven dance between joy and pain.