Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

"What marks her film out is a graceful empathy that helps us feel at least a little of what Ana is going through as well as see it."

"The past is never dead. It's not even past," says Croatian Ana Dragicevic near the start of Hrovje Mabic's patient and thoughtful documentary. It's easy to see why Ana has trouble shaking off what happened to her. A creative and happy-go-lucky sort, she realised as a teenager that she was gay but, on coming out to her parents, instead of being greeting with the understanding she expected, they sent her to a psychiatric facility to be "cured" under the pretense that she was addicted to drugs.

This was one of two stints she spent in the under the brutal regime of Dr Mirjana Vulin, as Ana faced a second parental betrayal after she lied that she had undergone a sexual conversion in order to secure her release, only to then confess her ongoing homosexuality to her parents, who, chillingly, sent her straight back to the facility.

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Now a young woman, Ana may be free from the institution but she is plagued by paranoia and post-traumatic stress as she undergoes therapy and follows a medication regime for the mental issues she has been left with by Vulin at the same time as trying to forge a future with new girlfriend Martina and sue both the doctor and her parents.

Mabic keeps our perspective with Ana, using nature and the changing seasons to reflect her emotions - the mood is somber, as the images help Ana's feelings to settle on you and soak you through to the skin like persistent autumn rain. The seasons turn but they are also cyclical and this sense of change without being able to break free of repetition mirrors the problems that Ana is facing. She wants to move on, get married, be like she was before, but she also can't stop herself from dwelling on what has happened to her, looking for a way to find resolution.

Martina has had her own demons but is much further along the road to a new life than her fiancee. Mabic doesn't judge Ana but she also takes time to consider Martina's perspective, building a rounded picture of the way that trauma such as this affects not only the person involved but everyone with whom they come into contact. What marks her film out is a graceful empathy that helps us feel at least a little of what Ana is going through as well as see it.

Reviewed on: 30 Aug 2016
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Story of a woman who was locked up in a psychiatric hospital by her parents in a bid to 'cure' her of her homosexuality.

Director: Hrvoje Mabic

Writer: Hrvoje Mabic, Hrvoje Mabic

Starring: Ana Dragicevic

Year: 2015

Runtime: 85 minutes

Country: Croatia


EIFF 2016

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