Not all feature filmmakers get invited to the fancy industry roundtables, but don’t be quick to discount their work. Some of the independent and foreign productions merit a closer look, like Signe Baumane’s micro-budget American/Latvian co-production Rocks in My Pockets, which qualifies as the gutsiest animated story of this Oscar season.

For her story about depression, she used events from her personal life and the lives of those around her as inspiration, including the death of a grandmother “under mysterious circumstances,” suicides of three cousins, and her own attempted suicide as a teenager. She’s also probably the only filmmaker who managed to offend her own relatives with the animation she created, as she recounted to Vice:

“They were upset—I’m actually pretty sure they still are. When the film premiered in Latvia in August, 600 people came to the premiere and 60 of them were my relatives. The younger generation were like, Oh my God we finally understand ourselves. The rest of them weren’t as impressed with me outing our family’s dirty laundry. On the other hand, everyone else who was at the premiere and did not share my genes came and said to me, ‘It’s like you are telling my story—that’s my family.’ Every single family has been through cases of mental illness.”

RocksPockets_Promo_100912See Also: Film Review: Rocks in My Pockets

In that same interview Baumane explains why she chooses animation to tell her stories over live-action:

Telling that amount of history in a live action film is nearly impossible. Showing how a person feels from inside, how depression works from inside, is also nearly impossible in live action. Do you remember that film A Beautiful Mind about the mathematician who went crazy? To depict his state of mind, they used blurry spinning images. This is all the language you have in live action. In animation it’s different; you can just walk into a person’s mind and you can show everything going on in there. In animation you’re free to do anything you want.

And what really bums me out is that animation is misunderstood as a medium for children; this makes me really upset. Animation has been around for ages, it was the first moving images. Then sometime around the 1920s, it was hijacked by children.

The entire Vice interview is worth reading and a valuable reminder that there are plenty of diverse films contending for an Oscar nomination this year.

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.

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