Main photo: Possibly taken by my Bigdaddy (grandfather). The photo is of Timothy Charles Lee a man hanged from a tree at Concord BART 1986.
Written and directed by M / Maria Judice
A woman witnesses a murder and suffers from a prolonged mental breakdown that renders her incapable of leaving her apartment.
Long-form Film/Feature Film
San Francisco, CA, USA, Earth
ELEPHANT is a *long-form film exploring the body, space, and mental health of those witnessing and undergoing oppression, assault, trauma, and loss. A woman witnesses the murder of a young boy. Subsequently, she suffers a mental breakdown questioning all humanity while embracing her fear. Incapable of leaving her apartment for a prolonged period of time she explores her space in reference to her body, her body in reference to inanimate objects, time in reference to the time it takes for her to build back resilience and once again engage in life. She explores death and murder in the present, in a historical context, and within her existential paralysis obsessing over her own impending death. She demands time out of her success-driven life to process not just the trauma she's witnessed but the generational impact violence on a community. She confronts the violence by naming it and standing visibly shaken to her community. She leans for support. She talks with a therapist. She pushes against the pressures to "put it out of her mind." She finds a way through the darkness and back to life on her own time, in her own way and with her own understanding of the rising apathy towards it all.
*Long Form Film: Something close and quite possibly a feature film length but that is inconsequential. The story will dictate the length.
🐘 A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR
ELEPHANT is a meditation for those in a terrorized community. The film demands space for processing the horrors of today and finding the pathways back to the most radical revolution possible living the grace of life, feeling love, and experiencing joy.
Why call it ELEPHANT?
ELEPHANT began as a collection of clips after a number of murders and violence around the U.S and frankly the world. My city was standing against constant assault while also in constant protest. I felt myself no longer finding any recourse to demanding justice. "Violence" became a deep sea that I could not find a way to chart. I was becoming more and more recluse — not leaving my apartment and obsessing on news headlines and white papers concerning violence in America. It was a creatively impotent time for me. It probably lasted years. A therapist helped but it was capturing my pain on camera that allowed me to reflect my inner fears. Turning on the camera was my first action. Standing in front of the camera was another action. Then exploring became the thing I was making. While I discovered and examined, the violent endemic continued. The hate stepped out of the closet and the apathy went viral. I began to see the elephant. We were all talking about the imbalance of justice and punishment as a community. We were not talking about the collective wounds, the grief, death, pain, generational loss, murder, trauma and most importantly how to navigate our own mental health. There was this evil driving my life into hiding – pulling me into the shadows with it. I tried to not look at this 1-ton weight – that I carried around – fear, hate, violence, death. It's hard to heal trauma when you feel constantly under assault. The more I looked it dead in the eye and the more I named the elephant – irreparable loss – the more I was able to stand.
I knew films in the canon like Alan Clarke’s ELEPHANT and Gus Van Sant’s ELEPHANT. In those films, violence is saturated, viral, and connected without resolution. My character feels a swelling of apathy around her. She feels embedded not removed from the wave of murders. Her space is no longer safe. She is hyper-aware of her own impending murder. She engages with life at its lowest possible requirement in a visible depression putting her young successful career on a shelf. Work, pay bills, eat, sleep, and process. Love – the love exchanged with her community keeps her strong and working and processing, and not accepting violence as merely a state of man and nature.
ELEPHANT is a holistic cinematic exercise in the personal as political.
“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” - Audre Lorde
🐘 USE OF FUNDS
Elephant has begun production. We have shot about 30% of the film. We continue to shoot weekdays and weekends until the film is completed. With the support of collaborators, we shoot on a small budget to make a film without the belaboring of committee approval and the long institutional timetable. Your support will go towards the crew and cast support, travel, set design and home cooked meals.
Cast Set Design
$1 – High Vibrations Sent into the Ether in Your Name
$5 – Special Thanks on Website
$10 – Downloadable Meditation on Fear
$15 – Special Edition Elephant 3pack Postcard Elephant Prints with a Handwritten Thank You Note and Personal #CreativeMeditation Included
$20 – Elephant Button
$25 – Digital Film Bundle$50 – Signed Elephant Poem (used in the film)
$100 – Special Mention in credits of film
$500 Race is a Construct Print (used in the film)
$1000 Associate Producer Credit
🐘 PROJECT COLLABORATORS
Risks and challenges
Articulation of the story was the most difficult part of the process. I wanted the expression of the experience of collective trauma. That was my goal. To discover this film I needed to do it without a committee and in a trusted feedback loop. My goal was something cathartic that could not be explained in a grant application. It is an experiment in how to be whole again. Self-funding allows me the time to discover. It also allows me to connect the narrative to the body and the heart and the universe in a feedback loop. This film is using accessible space, materials, and equipment. I’ve shot what I could on my own, now it's time to bring collaborators on board. I need support to pay and feed crew members along on the journey. My challenge is to be unapologetic and trust myself and continue my interest in extending the landscape of cinema as an autonomous filmmaker. Making films for over 10 years it's my desire now to make films with heartbeats. It’s important and motivating for me to have the support of friends and fans of my work. I appreciate you taking the ride with me.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (33 days)