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SHORT FOCUS 2022: So What Did We Learn Today, Georgina? [Franco Volpi, UK, 2022]

England, 1992. It’s a day like any other when the chirpy Georgina, still in her grey and dark blue uniform, returns home from school to find her mother in the kitchen preparing dinner. The two follow what appears to be a familiar routine, as the 10-year-old girl glides around the room snatching food off the chopping board whilst loquaciously sharing facts she has learned in class that day. This blissful, well-rehearsed dance between mother and daughter is interrupted by a sudden question laden with innocent curiosity; a question dreaded and encountered universally by every parent of a young child.

Whilst we witness the hilarious and shrewdly navigated response from this 1990s mum to her daughter’s ‘birds and bees’ inquisition, it is impossible not to feel a kind of warm nostalgia for a time before smartphones, social media, and household internet access; a world in which a pupil might overhear friends giggling and whispering about sex, before accidentally stumbling upon a widely circulated, well-worn porn magazine or VHS; a world where one couldn’t just Google a word like ‘blowjob’, but instead had to ask a parent or a worldly classmate—something that seems crazy right now but was just about the norm 30 years ago.


With the aid of some convenient domestic props and silent gestures, Georgina’s mother – whilst not doing the most convincing job as an educator – desperately manages to preserve her little girl’s innocence for one more day, a privilege that many parents in this so-called Information Age simply do not have. The unusual sex-ed talk in the film is something that (hopefully) could be confined to the 90s, a time when parents were generally poorly equipped to explore this topic with their children. Franco Volpi really works this in his favour, directing a performance from Claire Winsper that is as unexpected and baffling as it is charming and funny.


The chemistry between the two actors is evident in their comfortable and relatable interactions, but the film’s real power and poignancy is delivered in a rare moment with the characters offscreen, where we might imagine how their relationship is to evolve throughout Georgina’s burgeoning adolescence, as the camera lingers on the school shoes that she has stepped out of with careless abandon.


So What Did We Learn Today, Georgina? moves gently between comedy and coming-of-age nostalgia, with the film declaring an impeccable aesthetic quality and producing an authentic world within this cosy domestic setting. As an adult watching this film, it is easy to feel close to both characters – to Georgina’s slightly bewildered response as she watches her mother scramble for an answer, and to her mother’s melancholic realisation that her daughter is growing up.

 

So What Did We Learn Today, Georgina? was part of the Official Selection at Short Focus Film Festival 2022. You can view the trailer here.

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