By Sydney Levine | Sydneys Buzz August 16, 2014 at 1:36PM
In the shadow of Robin Williams’ tragic death, this debut animated feature by Signe Baumane offers some light and solace for those suffering acute depression.
I watched this film with a growing fondness which came out of a puzzle. The mind of the filmmaker and my own mind seemed to intertwine as she told her family story in a slightly offbeat manner. Puzzled by the story rather than just curious, I could not stop listening to the tale as it unfolded. It took me many places I had not visited before and in the end brought me to a place of positive understanding for those whose depressions lead them into dark woods.
“Rocks in my Pockets” had its World Premiere at the 2014 Karlovy Vary Film Festival where it won the FIPRESCI Prize and was the first animated feature ever to take part in the Karlovy Vary International Competition.
In the animated gem “Rocks In My Pockets” Latvian-born artist and filmmaker Signe Baumane tells five fantastical tales based on the courageous women in her family and their battles with madness and suicide. With boundless imagination and a twisted sense of humor, she has created daring stories of art, romance, marriage, nature, business, and Eastern European upheaval—all in the fight for her own sanity.
Employing a unique, beautifully textured combination of papier-mâché stop-motion and classic hand-drawn animation (with inspiration from Jan Svankmajer and Bill Plympton), Baumane has produced a poignant and often hilarious tale of mystery, mental health, redemption and survival.
The idea for “Rocks In My Pockets” came from my stream of consciousness. Like most people I think about a wide variety of things, some fantastical, some mundane, but my mind keeps coming back to thoughts of “ending it all” and the ways I could go about doing it. Why? Why do I think this way? And why I am still alive despite such thoughts? I find the fragility of our minds fascinating. Life is strange, unpredictable, sometimes absurd and I try to see the humor in it all.
While I was studying at Moscow State University, I got pregnant and married the father of my future child, a Russian artist. After my son was born, I started having dark obsessive thoughts. I sought council with a local psychiatrist to whom I confessed that, at 18, I had tried to commit suicide by taking an excessive amount of Dimedrol. I was immediately sent to a Soviet mental hospital and locked away for four months. The official diagnosis was schizophrenia, but this was downgraded to the “lesser” one of manic-depression after my parents bribed medical officials.
Despite the diagnosis, I returned to the university, graduated successfully, and started my career as an animator. It turned out that I was not the only one in my extended family having dark, obsessive thoughts. In fact, I had plenty of company. Unfortunately, not all of the sufferers were able to fend their demons off.
“Rocks In My Pockets” is dedicated to my family members who did not survive, and to my surviving family, who still live in the aftermath. The film is dedicated to the hope that we sustain in our darkest moments.”
Zeitgeist Films is proud to present the U.S Theatrical release of “Rocks In My Pockets”. The film will open at the IFC Center in New York on September 3, and at Laemmle Theaters in Los Angeles on September 12. A national release will follow.
New Europe Film Sales , a young international sales agent based in Poland is representing the film for world sales. New Europe Film Sales picked up two films ahead of the 49th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival – “Rocks in my Pockets” and “ Kebab & Horoscope” by Grzegorz Jaroszuk (debut by the director of European Film Award-nominated Frozen Stories, one of the most interesting shorts I have seen in a long time!).
88 min. USA 2014 In English Not Rated