Artists know this story well: an opportunity opens for an exhibition or a festival and in goes the application, but all that comes back is a rejection letter. While one or two letters of this kind might be easy to dismiss, they weigh heavily on one’s mind if they start to pile up. Animator Anna Samo taps into the unique emotional and mental fatigue endured by creatives who keep hitting roadblocks. In her stop-motion film “Conversations with a Whale,” she turns the prospect of a “no” into a fresh perspective on growth.
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Created directly under the camera lens using a variety of analog filming techniques, the short follows a filmmaker who grapples with one rejection letter after another. Samo wrote in a director’s note that the piece “grew out of the necessity to reinvent my own creative process. It is based on my experience of rejection and failure. Why do I make films? Is it the success I long for and depend on? Does anyone need what I am doing? And if no one needs it, do I still have the right to do it?” While navigating the ups and downs of the creative process, the protagonist plumbs the depths of dreams and ideas for a concept that finally blossoms and bears fruit. Samo continues, “If you are a fig tree, you have to bear fruits. If your are an artist, you have to make art.”