Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

"Blending film and animation, this film takes a sidelong look at bodies and what it means to be bodied." | Photo: Courtesy of SQIFF

It begins with soft focus, the screen filled with a pale peach colour which, as the focus tightens, gradually becomes identifiable as skin. We are close up here, too close to make out the angles or curves which might identify a human figure. There is just the skin, textured, almost quilted, stretching out towards infinity. Across this alienated landscape, white lines run, a part of it and yet clearly artificial, signifying human activity.

Alex Anna directs, narrates and provides the film’s canvas. It will be some time before we see her face. First we must learn something of her history: that part which has not faded. She tells us that some of these scars have names. Men, women, people she has loved without return. Some carry specific memories, the cutting process itself etched in flesh and memory. Vaguer are the memories of how it all began. Not just the oft-cited management of internal pain, then. A desire to seem cool, a desire to create a new version of herself.

Cutting is often described as addictive, but here that is explicit. The release, the relief, the sense of pleasure, only later a real awareness of the damage it reflects. The ability to refrain, now, but a struggle which might well go on throughout life. This map leads to understanding; it offers guidance to those just starting out, a path indicating the way back.

Blending film and animation, this film takes a sidelong look at bodies and what it means to be bodied. It explores some of the different feelings that scars can create, addresses them as expressions of emotion which, though it has been externalised, rarely leaves altogether. All of us carry something of our histories on our skin, but there are parts ourselves we don’t talk about, even when everyone can see. Alex Anna invites us to join a conversation that might places scars in context and help those whose journeys must always involve resistance.

Scars screened at the 2021 Scottish Queer International Film Festival.

Reviewed on: 09 Oct 2021
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Scars packshot
The camera lingers over the faded white scars on a variety of body parts, then black ink animates over the top of them as a voice recounts the power and shame that comes with being a cutter.

Director: Alex Anna

Starring: Alex Anna

Year: 2020

Runtime: 10 minutes

Country: Canada, France


SQIFF 2021

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