Rocks In My Pockets


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Rocks In My Pockets
"It is funny and serious by turns... full of striking and humorous images."

To use animation to tell a highly personal story about your own family’s breakdowns and mental illness, as well as looking at the conditions of life in Latvia under both Soviet and German occupations would look to be a daunting challenge from any view.

Director, writer and voice narrator Signe Baumane, who lives in New York, just about pulls it off with one of the rare animated contenders in the Competition at Karlovy Vary.

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Using a combination of papier-maché, stop-motion and traditional hand-drawn techniques, she employs the abstract qualities of animation to bring lightness and irony to the table.

It is funny and serious by turns. Baumane has described it as almost like “a detective story” in which she investigates her family secrets which were never openly discussed.

Five women in her family have struggled with depression and mental illness, including herself, and she charts the generations beginning with grandmother in 1920s Latvia.

The grandmother is Anna, a pretty and educated young woman who falls in love with an adventurous entrepreneur 30 years her senior. But with marriage comes jealousy, and the entrepreneur hides Anna away in the forest where she bears him eight children. Years later, Signe, a young artist, asks her father how her grandmother died and that is the starting point for the exploration.

Baumane shows how depression can affect people’s lives from one generation to the next – but she does so in a way that is accessible and sensitive.

With such a personal foray the Latvian-born film-maker fields an ambitious feature which was four years in the making after a string of shorts. It is full of striking and humorous images which might have not been possible within a traditional narrative format.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2014
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An animated film exploring living with illness.

Director: Signe Baumane

Writer: Signe Baumane

Starring: Signe Baumane

Year: 2014

Runtime: 88 minutes

Country: US, Latvia

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