Dear 2021: Director’s Notes
Everything we see or hear or experience in any way at all is specific to us. We create a universe by perceiving it, so everything in the universe we perceive is specific to us. It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you
see. When you watch the short film ‘Dear 2021’ you will have an experience. Here are some notes from me aimed at highlighting my thought process and nuances of the film. Hope this helps you see it in a different light.
The film starts with a flashback of the events of the year 2021. Look at the top and bottom of the frame. You’ll notice the black bars slowly increasing in size and reducing the visible frame. This is a metaphor for how we were finally out of our shells and trying to get back with our lives when the year started and then how the second wave pulled us right back in. The sequence ends with a brutal thirst of air (focus on the sound) and then a long exhale. All these elements combined symbolize the overarching theme of the year: Delight, Despair and Determination.
CHAPTER 1: DELIGHT
The narration and the sequence showcase the reinstatement of normalcy when the year started. The film talks through an intimate and personal lens of how things were for the narrator. But this phase of happiness was short-lived as the second wave struck even before we knew it. You’ll find trails of this starting from the sequence where the narrator is returning from his trip. For half a second, the strains of the virus take over the screen indicating that in hindsight, it was already on its way to affect us. This also acts as a bridge to the next chapter.
CHAPTER 2: DEspair
This section of the film talks about the hard parts of 2021. A lot of us suffered inconsolably and I’ve tried my best to draw visual metaphors to portray the feelings. Here are some of those:
Did you spot the shadow of the hand on top-left? I am sure you would have. It is a metaphor for the souls who were snatched away from us, trying to reach us, be it in fever dreams or through a chillwave at night. In the next frame, the subject faces the direction from where he thought he felt something calling and to his despair, there’s nothing. That brings me to colours.
Notice the colors used in the backdrop.
The initial colors are shades of red symbolizing anger. Immediately after the shadow of the hand reaching out goes away, it turns into a shade of red (anger) + blue (hope).
When the subject doesn’t find anything there, it turns into green, symbolizing disgust.
And then the backdrop cycles between hope and anger, finally driving home the metaphor of being angry for feeling so down. Then the subject takes charge and this bridges to the next chapter: determination, as people from around the world express how they felt but they didn’t fold.
Concentrate on the edges of the semi-circle made by colored light in the backdrop. As the sequence progresses, it keeps on expanding, symbolizing that we were slowly overcoming our despair and recovering from that trapped feeling. The edges never truly disappear because we are still moving towards being free.
CHAPTER 3: DETERMINATION and CREDITS
As a small token of thank you to all the people who have supported my art throughout the years, I created a small slide at the end with the names of all those people. The last year had its fair share of ups and downs for me as well. I felt a terrible sinking feeling and the love and support that these loved ones showered me with, kept me running.
And yes, that post-credit sequence was not scripted. I guess that’s what you get when you travel with people who have symbiotic frequencies and keep your camera running all the time.
Epilogue (Sort of)
A quintessential bittersweet cocktail of pleasure and pain, 2021, was familiar, but in an unfamiliar guise. A year whose topography of the distantly approaching metaphorical bed of roses and thorns resolved with greater and greater clarity only when we walked in the room. What started as a possible phase of experiencing lighter shades after being in grey for a long time, turned out to be characterized by enveloping darkness drizzled with moments of delight.
We were astonished by all of the sensations fighting for room in our heads. We experienced a brutal thirst for air as our minds swayed slowly back down to the ground like a falling leaf. It’s true that we experienced terrible things but what’s most gratifying is that we didn’t drop ourselves into a still-life painting of memory because life had broken our heart. We rose in the face of adversity. And Dear 2021, is a celebration of that – a celebration of people who won, a celebration of people who lost and found new reasons to live despite the odds.
Do give it a watch. I hope the film speaks to you.