Gravity is one of those things. It always keeps us on the ground, even when we're going through the roof inside or sinking into the deepest of thoughts. The urge to always be "on top of things," but never mentally taking off. The compulsion to stay grounded.
GRAVEDAD, the multi-award winning short film by Matisse Gonzalez, is all of that. A native of Bolivia, Matisse came to Germany to study at Animationsinstitut and received her diploma in 2019; GRAVEDAD was her graduation project. After receiving lots of praise all over the world, the film is now finally available!
At first glance, the upside-down cows and lolling tuba players may surprise some. However, Matisse's following personal insights reveal the scope of GRAVEDAD - from the inner hole to the stars!
It was not an overnight discovery. It took me some time to notice my passion not only for animation in general, but also for writing and directing animated films.
First of all, in a country like Bolivia, it is very difficult to grasp that there are professions like the one of the animator. It was not until I turned 18 and attended an animation workshop that I found my love for this art. For a long time, I wanted to draw storyboards, but little by little, as I found out who I am and what I like, I realized that I wanted to write and direct my own stories: goodbye to my dream of only drawing storyboards, hello to my dream of becoming an independent film director.
It was pretty curious. I applied to several German universities. After the acceptance letters arrived, I really realized how lucky I was to end up studying at one of the best animation schools in Europe. With my admission to Animationsinstitut, I was also able to apply for a scholarship.
Without getting too personal, GRAVEDAD is based on an existential crisis I had at the end of 2016. I felt like there was nothing in the world that balanced me out and kept me "grounded." I looked at the rest of the world and wondered how everyone was so happy.
At the time, I was reading a book by Kurt Vonnegut called "Slapstick," in which gravity changes randomly. I thought that was the perfect metaphor to describe what was going on in my life. It then took me almost two years to perfect the story, find an ending, and make this personal film accessible to a wide audience. It is very hard to use filmmaking as therapy—and yet, I continue to do so.
“The style [of GRAVEDAD] reflects the heart of the audience rather than dictating it.”Matisse Gonzalez, Alumna Animationsinstitut
In the beginning, I aimed for a realistic style. I wanted to portray the characters' feelings in as much detail as possible. Gradually, though, I realized that, firstly, I am very bad at realism, and secondly, the more abstract and minimalist the drawing, the easier it is to express strong emotions. Humans can identify much better with two dots and a line because those do not limit our imagination. The style reflects the heart of the audience rather than dictating it.
There are easy days and there are hard days. Gravity represents the ups and downs we all experience in life. Some people can handle them better than others can. Further, people like Rosa, the protagonist, learn to respect them and see them as an advantage.
The milkman had to hold on to something. What is better than a couple of udders to keep himself grounded?
After GRAVEDAD, I was able to make a pilot for my own series on Cartoon Network Latinoamerica. The pilot is called ERA SOLO UNA ROCA QUE SE PARECIA A ALGUIEN (It was just a rock that looked like someone) and is about two astronauts who go crazy and start hallucinating. You can see the film here.
Right now, I am developing a feature film called CONDENADITOS (Cursed Children) about a Bolivian family and the effects that the past has on the present.