Rocks in My Pockets

Signe Baumane, a Latvian artist now based in New York, wrote and directed this feature-length animation about her family history of bipolar disorder, and despite its thorough treatment of the subject, it’s surprisingly lighthearted and free of self-regard. The narrative lopes freely across generations, often digressing to consider key events in Latvian history and how mental illnesses were treated (or not treated) in different eras. The animation, a mix of hand-drawn imagery and stop-motion, is similarly playful; characters morph into animals or objects, then back again, and metaphors are rendered literally. The latter device helps to convey the subjectiveness of mental illness—during one of the heroine’s depressive episodes, a balloon full of razorblades inflates inside her stomach.