In Focus: ‘Creative Block’ – a short bilingual film about art and mental illness, by Nicola Rose

 

‘WMF In Focus’ features films made by a woman, or one that has a predominant female crew. Have you made a film that fits this bill? Holler us at contactwmfindia@gmail.com – we would love to showcase you and your work with WMF’s wonderful worldwide community. (Films/web series/music videos/animation can be of any length, genre or type)

(c) Arnaud Galy

“Creative Block is a short bilingual (English-French) film weaving magical realism into everyday life,” shares Nicola, the Director, Producer and the Actor of this wonderful 16 minute film (If you haven’t read her hilarious article on imposter syndrome published in WMF journal recently, you must absolutely check it out). This short surreal film with an all woman crew has shot in both New York as well as France. It follows Claire, a young artist and puppet-maker in New York. On a dreadfully low day, she suffers a rupture in her creativity, which leads to depression. She becomes convinced though, that the only cure for one’s own mental block, is the art of another. So she diligently pursues Thibaut, a figure skater in Paris. Fixated on the artistry of this athlete she only knows from TV, Claire impulsively goes to Paris herself. There, she discovers the unexpected: Thibaut, who she has fondly idolised and hoped would help her cope from her block, is himself suffering from the same. So what would Claire do now to find the road back to her own creativity: a road strewn with disappointments, revelations and colorful uplifting balloons, will she cope?

Mild spoilers ahead…

(c) Arnaud Galy

Traversing metaphors and realities

The film, with its thoughtful props traverse on and off to a world between metaphors and realities. To actually give a physical and literal form to an ice block as if it were a mental block that needs to be moulded and made into something creative, is admirable. And the suggestion of ‘help’ in the form of colorful balloons that provides the support (and color) one requires to cope with such a block is again, a repetitive and clever trope throughout the film.

Claire is shown wandering about the city spending her time trying to catch the sight of some ‘color’ to jump start, perceived as a metaphorical wandering while we are trying to focus, and our minds simply would not let us. The artistic usage of traffic lights asking us to ‘stop’ and ‘go’ at whim, and roads taken routinely also aids in such transposition.

What’s interesting is the gender swap of attributes associated with the age of an artist. Age, and youth as it may, is a ticking bomb for women and not as much for men – I found myself chuckling in parts where such stereotype was affixed to a man – perhaps this wasn’t intentional, but a welcome change nonetheless.

It was also endearing that Claire would ‘take a train to Paris’ with her colors because she can’t have Thibaut go through the same misery and in the process make her lose her inspiration.

Whether we manage to turn the literal block into a creative puppet or do we let it dissolve into a blob of lost inspiration is an ongoing battle we plays with our minds. And Nicola, through Claire has succinctly played the very metaphor so elegantly.

(c) Arnaud Galy

Coping with mental block and illness

Often we forget that in mental illness, and the films that claim to address it, dwell on the premise that depression is a phase, and that one should ‘distract’ themselves to focus on the task at hand, or worse, that it cannot repeat. This aspect of coping with depression with temporary reprise every now and then is captured very well in Creative Block.

A word on the technique

The film is shot very well and has captured the essence of the minds of a lonely artist by optimum usage of space, lights and angle. Her life with color is so vivacious that the one devoid it gives the audience reasons to grieve too. To portray loneliness in Paris is a talent in itself. Hat tip to both the cinematographers, Véronique N. Doumbé and Tine DiLucia.

(c) Elizabeth R. Mealey

“I wanted to tell a story about creativity: what happens when we have it, what happens when we lose it, and how — if — we get it back again. In the depths of a creative depression, our protagonist Claire meets someone who deeply inspires her. She then faces the question: can someone else give you back your lost creativity, or is it something you can only retrieve for yourself?” says Nicola.

Screenings and details about the film

The film is now being screened in New York City. You can get in touch with Nicola via her event page if you would like to host a screening. Website: link | Social media: facebook, twitter

Here’s the trailer of the film:

‘WMF In Focus’ features films made by a woman, or one that has a predominant female crew. Have you made a film that fits this bill? Holler us at contactwmfindia@gmail.com – we would love to showcase you and your work with WMF’s wonderful worldwide community. (Films/web series/music videos/animation can be of any length, genre or type)