What first made me want to come along to the Map of Mexican Dreams short film night was this last short film. Exile is a stop motion animation.

It depicts a woman, painting alone in her home, each one a self-portrait with her back to the viewer. Ignored in another room is a suitcase. It looms prominent, despite how it is studiously avoided, and it belches forth bursts of dust or sand or earth.

It reminds me of how in Ziyara, the guy who has created an exhibit display of the exodus of his Jewish neighbours, he says he put a suitcase there, because suitcases always mean sorrow, mean parting. In Exile, the suitcase seems to contains the soil of home, the sand and dust of miles travelled. In the memories that accompany the dirt, we see her with another figure, a father, there is a separation there, a grief.

Over and over she paints herself, but only with the back of her head towards the viewer. It is an inward-looking exercise, but without a confrontation, it speaks to her insular emotional state, which lacks the resolution of genuine insight. The journey she has made with the suitcase must always be going forward, to look back towards the viewer is to look back towards the past, and in doing, see herself. To do so would mean uniting who she is with who she was, to make a bridge to that place which has been ruptured in trauma. Whereas if she faces only forward, it remains forever behind her. Unhealed, but the fear is understandable.

Finally a storm comes, and blows open the window of her home. In facing the storm, in engaging with the intrusion of the outside world, in acknowledging the tempestuous state she finds herself in, the portraits all turn to face her.

Without dialogue, relying on imagery and score to tell an emotional journey, Exile conveys vulnerability and loss. Really liked it.

If you like this…