How Do You Measure a Year? short doc about growing up

Ella Rosenblatt at age 2 with her dad Jay

How Do You Measure a Year? from director and father Jay Rosenblatt captures 16 years of growth in a short documentary. Rosenblatt interviewed his daughter Ella every year on her birthday. This film is the result.

How Do You Measure a Year? begins when Ella is two, and ends when she turns 18. Her dad asked approximately the same questions of his daughter in their birthday interview each year.

Her answers changed as she changed. Her growth was fascinating to watch as the years ticked by in a mere 28 minutes.

Ella went through childish, sassy, rebellious, sullen, open, and nearly mature phases over the years. Her dad made no effort to monitor her responses or pretty them up. You can see her intelligence, her singing talent, and her love for Hanna Montana!

I was struck by Ella’s attitude at 13 (or was it 14?) when she was in the middle of puberty, flooded with hormones and a changing body, and in a dark, miserable place. If you’ve raised children and survived that period with them you’ll recognize it. But for some reason seeing it in Ella, in such a fast time jump through the years, it made me wonder if anyone has researched what it is about puberty and hormonal changes that makes kids miserable? Ella and everyone else comes through it and grows up, of course, but is there a way to help kids while they are in the middle of it?

Rosenblatt didn’t look back at the “interview” footage until Ella reached 18 and he was ready to edit the videos into a single story. There’s never a wasted second in the short and candid documentary.

The documentary is streaming on Max. It’s a fast and interesting watch.

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