The Art of Healing

Curators: Filma collective
Text: geo
Illustration: Maryna Demkovych

We as survivors invite you to look at your wounds to acknowledge whatever it is that needs to be acknowledged so we can not only survive on this planet but live lives full of joy and pleasure.
Dan Dansen, Survivor Manifesto

In 2021, Filma introduced its first program formed through an open call. Along with the films in the program, we wanted to imagine cinema and communities (and maybe even a utopian future) based on love as a political practice. However, the beginning of the new year was - and every day since then has been - a vexing reminder that our lives are riddled with violence and trauma, from the injustices we experience in our daily lives to the systems of oppression (imperialism, capitalism, patriarchy, and others) shaping this world. This is especially acute for people belonging to oppressed minorities, whose lives remain in a state of precarity.

Therefore, we decided to dedicate this program to processing traumatic experiences from a queer feminist perspective that does not fetishize or aestheticize pain and suffering. We want to move towards reflections on the importance of collective and individual healing, on gaining strength, and on the transformative potential of working with trauma, both for survivors and for society as a whole. We have selected five films, where the authors share their pain or the pain of their loved ones, and at the same time, give strength, support, and hope for a free future.

Elena Chirila's story shaped the video poem Tell Me a Poem, which she created together with the director Ana Gurdiș. The author's memoirs reveal how patriarchal violence accompanies girls and women throughout their lives in various forms. The moment the protagonist decisively breaks the cycle of domestic violence becomes a turning point in the film. Thus, she regains her agency and finds the strength to heal, no matter how long and difficult the process is.

Filmmaker Mia Ma has turned the recordings of her conversations with her friend Julie into an insightful documentary, Julie On Line. Here, Julie opens up about her mental disorder, the abuse she suffered as a child, her life, her resistance to medicalization, and her plans for the future. Every shot and plot twist conveys a feeling of embracing care and friendship. Julie On Line depicts the protagonist's extraordinary strength, nurtured by self-care and a support network of family and friends.

Botanical Documentation of Existence. is another creative collaboration growing out of mutual support. Darya and Victoriya Tsymbalyuk recorded the experiences and realities of a large-scale war in their correspondence. Amid duct-taped windows, air raid alarms and shelters, a defamiliarized spring gives hope for recovery.

The experimental Mast-del by Iranian filmmaker Maryam Tafakori reveals the vitality of queer sensuality in a space dominated by forced heterosexuality, reproductive pressure and the threat of violence; despite everything, a community of love, consolation, and help still exists in this space.

Survivor Manifesto - The Art of Making Kin, created by Dan Dansen, brings together the stories of those who have survived violence into a powerful political, artivist statement about the need to collectively work with trauma to co-create a queer future for the world.

important Note

Mast-del is the only film in the program which is available only offline. The screening schedule can be found here.

This year, haven’t suggested a viewing order for the program, but we recommend finishing with Survivor Manifesto - The Art of Making Kin.

Botanical Documentation of Existence
Director: Darya Tsymbalyuk
Ukraine, 5 minutes, 2023, video essay
A video essay about conversations with mum during the war.
Director: Maryam Tafakory
Iran, UK, 17 minutes, 2023, experimental documentary
A love song that would never pass through the censors, Mast-del is about forbidden bodies and desires, both inside and outside post-revolution Iranian cinema.
Tell Me A Poem
Authors: Elena Chirila, Ana Gurdiș
Romania, 11 minutes, 2023, experimental
A woman’s journey towards liberation and healing through the recollections of her younger self.
Julie On Line
Director: Mia Ma
France, 78 minutes, 2021, documentary
One day, Julie heard voices threatening her. Doctors gave her electroshocks, marabouts tried to exorcise her, she ingested many medicines, drank a lot of potions, spent days in the hospital and long hours locked up at home trying to forget the past and imagine the future.
Survivor Manifesto - The Art of Making Kin
Director: Dan Dansen
Germany, 11 minutes, 2022, experimental
What if we lived in a society in which people who harmed and people who were harmed could heal simultaneously?