Why do I want to tell this story? Whenever I talk to my mother and aunt, the family's backstory inevitably comes up, along with the hardships they endured and their troubled relationship with their mother. While these little horror stories may seem distant to me, I still experienced growing up in a troubled household and know what these feelings are like. One of the most relatable aspects is the constant fear, like a ticking time bomb, never knowing when things will become tough again. The same goes for my aunt/mother and my grandmother Bruna. Many households have countless issues that remain unspoken. There are stigmas that prevent us from portraying our family negatively to strangers and friends, and everyone behaves as if everything is normal. However, for my mother and especially my aunt, my grandmother Bruna was the source of chaos in the family. In my opinion, these stories need to be told to shed light on the fact that there are many horrible and troubled households around us.
The key to any good film is having a strong story to begin with. Since this film is based on a real family story, I had a good understanding of how to depict the dynamics of the characters. However, there were limitations due to the Bachelor's project. The story had to be understood within 5 minutes, so I couldn't delve into a detailed background story. I had to convey some details through the frames. Another limitation was that I wanted to create a universally understandable film, without the need for voices or texts. To reiterate, I wanted everyone to understand the story, but I also wanted to play with audience ambiguity to create a sense of tension and replicate Veronica's emotional world.
How did I depict the trauma? This film aims to bring the trauma into the realm of reality, showing its direct impact. It demonstrates that the reflections of trauma begin in the protagonist's real world, and she becomes entangled in the trauma itself. This showcases how trauma affects a person in a literal sense, and the dark inner world represents the place Veronica was left in after years of enduring trauma. These different layers flow and interact with each other; the inner world serves as a gateway to the past and the present, influencing the characters' emotions and how they handle these experiences.
And therefore, I would consider the animated style the most ideal way to convey all my aims. Animated films can exaggerate emotions and moods in a positive way, which would be awkward in a live action movie. It allows you to create this dark world where my relatives lived in which would not be possible in a live action way as a bachelors project.
There are two key components that are highly relevant in finding a style for a movie. The first question is: What am I capable of doing? What are my skills, and what do I want to learn? From there, you need to ask yourself what style best suits the story you want to tell. Is it more cartoonish or realistic, or perhaps something else entirely? Due to the time limitations and the hidden melodrama in the story, it becomes apparent from the clear personalities portrayed that there are distinct moral lines in this movie. The cartoonish style helps to exaggerate this mood and accentuate the characters. The child should appear innocent, while the mother should have a darker presence. Since I wanted to create a dark and unsettling feeling, the stark contrast between the cartoonish characters and the dark elements conveys that sensation. When I think of memories, they feel more like sketches and reflections of the associated feelings. That's why the style has a "sketchy" and "chalky" quality, aiming to capture the delicate balance between the past and the present.
I aimed to create a sense of unpleasantness throughout the film. The overall sound should not feel welcoming; it should reflect the idea that as a viewer, you are not welcome, particularly in the scenes where the young girl interacts with her mother. The sound design should evoke feelings of anxiety, depression, and being under pressure, emphasizing the emotional state of the adult Veronica.
As a result of being born a girl, she became the undesirable child, subjected to a series of slaps, beatings, and verbal abuse. Trapped within the confines of her own family, she endured years of violence and captivity, with her own mother serving as her primary tormentor. Even though her mother passed away 22 years ago, the haunting events of the past continue to plague her to this very day. Veronica possesses no pleasant recollections of her earlier years. However, when she became a mother herself, she bestowed the love she had never received upon her own children. She takes solace in knowing that her children genuinely love her and feels a sense of contentment in having avoided becoming the same monstrous figure that her mother once was.
Carla (the first born) was the obedient and more conforming one of the children, although she herself did not emerge unscathed. Her mother would always hit her, but her father never did. For 13 years, every morning, she had to go to the same church and pretend to be devout in order to avoid her mother's beatings. In these few words, my mother's youth can be described. "I did everything so that I wouldn't have to go back anymore."
Grandmother Bruna was one of 12 children and was born 9 years before World War II. As a woman in the countryside, she had no opportunities for a self-determined future and was bound by traditional gender roles. Cooking, cleaning, and bearing children were her responsibilities. As a mother, she was not a role model. She regularly beat Carla and Veronica for the smallest things. She was highly religious and went to church every morning. The most important thing for her was to maintain her reputation in the village. Being the wife of the village doctor, she had a lot of prestige and influence, which is why she regularly held feasts where she invited the village priest and other influential villagers. But behind closed doors, she was a malicious and angry dragon. Her deepest desire was for her daughters to choose academic careers, something that had been denied to her in the past.