In the spirit of using art as an escape from a dark state of mind is Heloise Magny’s animated short Keep Painting, Mom. Its use of highly contrasting black and white imagery is visually striking, and appropriately intense and moody for the subject matter of a young teenage artist coping with domestic violence and suicidal depression. Magny cites as influences German expressionism and Sin City, which is fitting given the teen protagonist is a comic book artist. She also skillfully uses 2D and 3D animation to help create mood.
All of these topics seem like they could potentially be exploitable, especially presented in a graphic format, in less capable hands. But as bold and intense as the animation is, Magny handles the subject matter itself with delicacy and care, showing shadows on the wall, the aftermath of glasses breaking, a clock, and at his lowest moments, the character’s own interior nightmare imagery.
Heloise Magny says that though it’s dark figuratively and literally, she ultimately views her film as hopeful, and I do, too. There is a hopeful resolution for the young character in how art was a constant for himself during his struggles and ended up being part of his way out of them.
What’s interesting is given the title Keep Painting, Mom, it’s only alluded to that the mother is an artist herself and not much time is spent establishing this, although we know both mother and son were able to escape their situation. It’s almost as though Heloise equates the phrase “keep painting” with “keep living,” and it was not surprising to learn in our interview that art has been passed down in her family, has been something that sustained her during tough times, and is something she actually does for a living today— something she says is extraordinarily important to her mental health. You should also watch the interview because in one of those fun spontaneous Zoom moments, the light goes off above her head, and Heloise jokes that it was intentional—to make her stand out in stark black and white like her movie. This is what the face of “keep painting” looks like.
You can watch Keep Painting, Mom in Shorts Block No. 4: https://watch.eventive.org/mentalfilmness2022/play/633f0d67e7c22000291085fc
And check our interview with director Heloise Magny here: https://mentalfilmness2022.eventive.org/films/eventive.org/mentalfilmness2022interviews