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by Karen Pecota

Jay Rosenblatt, USA, 2022

This is a narrative, once seen, many parents may wish they would have had the foresight to have done what filmmaker Jay Rosenblatt did with his daughter Ella in HOW DO YOU MEASURE A YEAR?

Jay had a plan to document with purpose, on film, every birthday Ella had from age 2 through 18. He didn't just film the celebration of Ella's birthday. Jay filmed a one-on-one conversation with Ella and asked the same questions he posed to her every year. Ella, answered with heartfelt honesty, year after year to the same questions--What do you dream about? What scares you? What do you think of our relationship?, etc. Questions, not for the faint of heart!

Jay never once revisited the ritual birthday footage until just recently--20 years later.

The Broadway musical RENT performs a song asking, "How do you measure a year?" It's a look back on the year prior asking, 'What did you do with the 525,600 minutes given to you last year and what will you do to measure a new year?" The song asks one to look at life differently as it was written for the funeral of one of the main characters (Angel). Instead of talking about her death, the song focuses on how she lived her life and the moments of her years were measured--great or small.

Ella loves the musical RENT and often sings the song, "Seasons of Love", as a reflection on the questions her dad asks each year, and her ever changing responses. (KP)