I thought I’d highlight Dmitry Badera’s short The Locked Door first because it piques curiosity among viewers in the modern world for at least two reasons; it’s from Ukraine, and it’s about agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia, or an irrational fear of leaving one’s home or entering open spaces, has been a lesser-explored mental health condition in the festival, though it’s probably something that’s become more common since the pandemic. Dmitry joked during our interview that there are probably not many long movies about agoraphobia; I can’t think of one right now, though I’m sure one of my movie nerd friends probably could. Yet with few actors and resources, Dmitry makes a compelling film about Igor, who is agoraphobic but must gather the courage to leave his home to meet a woman who he has been communicating with online.
Andrew, Igor’s brother, is not a monster, but someone who doesn’t understand. He adds drama to the film and sees his brother’s fear and panic as a weakness or character flaw rather than a condition of mental health. Igor himself actually realizes he has a mental health condition and is working with a therapist online to get better.
There is still stigma in the U.S. when it comes to mental health, in some places and cultures more than others. I don’t think it compares to the stigma in Ukraine, though. I know there are other festivals with the theme of mental health in America. However, I think Dmitry is a true trailblazer in Ukraine. It was incredibly brave of him to make this powerful film and to release it into the world. We applaud you.
Check out Dmitry Badera’s short film “The Locked Room” playing in Shorts Block No. 5, as well as his interview in the Interviews section, in the virtual festival at https://mentalfilmness2022.eventive.org/welcome