“Cleaning House” is a character-driven family drama in which high-powered, compulsive Helen and her mixed-media visual artist daughter, Julia are coming together for the first time in years after Helen's mother passes away. Obeying her grandmother's dying wishes for her to look after Helen, Julia comes home bearing photos from Helen's past, opening a Pandora’s box for which Julia is unprepared.

Produced as a final student film while attending Boston University’s Center for Digital Imaging Arts, “Cleaning House” is the first independent short by writer, producer, director Catherine Giarrusso. Shot over the course of three days in March of 2010, “Cleaning House” was lensed in 1080P on the Sony EX1 with a Letus adapter and Nikon Prime Lenses. It was filmed on location at a private home in the Ridge Club of Sandwich, Massachusetts, and in Waltham, Massachusetts at the studio of artist Robert Freeman (www.robertfreemanart.com), whose work is shown in the film. “Cleaning House”’s score was composed by Lancaster, Pennsylvania native Kyle Works.

For most of my life, I didn’t realize that my mother and father were people. To me they were my Mother and Father–capitalized. Only recently have I come to see their fallibility, and in doing so, opened the door to a new and deeper relationship with each of them. These realizations were fresh when I sat down to write “Cleaning House”, which is why I think Helen and Julia’s characters and voices were so strongly defined and speaking to me so clearly–in their own way, they were telling the story that would allow me to share this understanding with others.

“Cleaning House” is about the intergenerational inheritance of intangible things like denial and personal problems, but, beyond that, it is about acceptance. So often we see portrayed the fable of the rigid parent who–by the end of the story, film, after-school special–learns to accept their artistic and scattered child. “Cleaning House” explores the true meaning of unconditional love–the kind that goes both ways. Acceptance is a not one-sided virtue reserved for opening one’s mind to unconventional, creative types. It is just as pertinent and emotionally fulfilling a process to learn to accept people regardless of their temperament. The old adage “you can’t choose your family” touches on why these issues are magnified within the family structure. Multiple generations of individuals, sometimes with vastly varied personalities, and all with their own issues and hang-ups are thrust together and expected to be shining examples to each other of how to live. What a perfect recipe for conflict. There is no better place therefore, than right at home to practice unconditional love with no “buts”, accepting someone for exactly who they are–flaws and all.

My hope is that Helen and Julia’s journey will inspire men and women alike to reflect on their relationships and to see their loved ones in a new light.