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Q&A: Signe Baumane Talks ‘Rocks in my Pocket’ and Animated Metaphors

Animation is Latvian-born filmmaker Signe Baumane’s way of openly sharing personal and family stories of both depression and hope. After having made 12 award-winning animated shorts, Baumane turned her focus to creating her first feature-length film “Rocks in my Pocket.” The animated film, which depicts the journey of her female family members and their battles with depression, premiered at the Karlovy Vary Intl. Film Festival on Monday in the Czech Republic.

What kind of impact can animation have that live-action movies and docs cannot?

Animation can represent very complex ideas. It’s such a misconception that animation is just for children. In one image you can encapsulate the whole human complexion.

What metaphor in the film sticks out to you right now?

In the film there are two spirits, one that lives in the river and one in the forest. The one that lives in the river represents the will to die and the other invites you to come to the forest and nourish yourself. The spirits fight between one another.

Why are you fascinated with using animals in your animation?

We humans are part of the animal kingdom and we use animals to help explain things about ourselves. For example, we say, “he’s as timid as a bunny.” So I use a lot of bunnies in my films, especially this one. The bunny is a symbol of innocence and an animal that does not like to confront issues.

You often draw upon your Eastern European background and family ties for you animation, what else spurs your inspiration?

I have this huge need to tell this story. I feel like “Scheherazade” from the novel “A Thousand and One Nights.” I feel like I have to tell a story or I die.

What was your biggest challenge in taking on this personal film?

My relatives are very nervous when they show the film in Latvia. Nobody talks about the subject of depression there. And now I’m very nervous because they’re nervous.

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