ECHO is the embodiment of the hidden world within a damaged mind.
A cinematic essay that exposes the invisible processes of trauma - visualized solely by natural phenomena, set against the snowy backdrops of Hokkaido, North Japan.
ECHO portrays a mysteriously frozen world, consisting of empty landscapes, lonely trees, mythological creatures and an abandoned home. A world which, at first glance, seems similar to the world we all share together - yet feels uncanny. There is never a human in sight. However, you can’t shake the thought that you feel a presence. It’s breathing down your neck. Shadowing you wherever you go. The laws of nature don’t apply here. There are other forces. Bigger. And they rule mercilessly.
Told in a poetic yet confronting manner, ECHO bridges the gap between ones disconnected inner- and outside world. More specifically, the inner world of the director herself. Working her cherished combination of nature and film enabled her to finally begin to open up, acknowledge, and study the very parts of herself she fought to deny for years. These reflections resulted in ECHO: a rare and vulnerable insight into her psyche. It allows the audience to take a deep dive into the overwhelmingly complex aftermath of trauma caused by sexual abuse.
The viewer experiences survival mechanisms common within the healing process of PTSD. The most prominent being the constant battle between anxiety attacks and dissociation: being overpowered by intense fear or numbing out completely. A seemingly endless struggle - feeling unsafe, feeling haunted, losing control and losing reality – while fighting not to lose yourself too. Understanding, let alone communicating, what you’re experiencing feels impossible – which is actually scientifically acknowledged by brain scans. “Without a functioning Broca’s area, you cannot put your thoughts and feelings into words. Our scans show that Broca’s area went offline whenever a flashback was triggered.” (Van der Kolk, B. (2015). The Body Keeps the Score, p53).
ECHO uses a metaphorical approach and found her language in Japanese mythology. The mythological spirits, hiding in Japan’s most rural places, are known as ‘yokai’ and believed to shapeshift themselves into natural phenomena of our world. Their unique ability to roam both the ‘hidden’ ghost- and ‘real’ outer world, bridge the communication gap and expose the hidden dimensions of trauma: through landscapes and animals. Thus creating a world tangible enough to then finally be put into words. The raw and poignant voice-over, voiced by the director herself, starts the much needed dialogue that up until now stayed suppressed and unspoken.
GENRE / DURATION
Short documentary, 7 minutes
Director & cinematography - Lieke Bezemer (NL)
Production - Elyse de Waard (NL)
Cinematography - Nick Tucker (USA)
Camera assistant - Ryan Whitfield (NZ)
Editing - Erik van der Bijl (NL)
Sound design - Tyas van den Bergh (NL)
Grading - Elf Godefroy (NL)
Translation - Tiger Shigetake (JPN)
Pre-production: September 2019 - Februari 2020
Production: March 2020 (on location in Hokkaido)
Post-production: June 2020 - November 2020 (extended due to COVID-19)