Berlin Feminist Film Week 2017 Review: Fragility (Skörheten)

Hidden and repressed childhood memories are traumatic. Swedish-Iranian writer-director Ahang Bashi digs deep into her past – migrating as a refugee from Iran as a young child – in her haunting and intimate documentary Fragility (Skörheten). Her film begins with footage from an upbeat and cheerful birthday celebration with Bashi’s family members and friends surrounding her. From there, the mood takes a darker turn and Bashi’s emotionless reflection is seen in the window of a moving train. She reveals her devastating struggles as she deals with panic attacks and anxiety that hit her with little to no warning.

Providing an in-depth look into her therapy sessions, both group and one-on-one, is eye-openings for those who have never been in the presence of such open discussions. As of 2013, Sweden’s most common cause of death among people aged 15-24 is suicide. There is clearly something wrong when society’s youth finds that taking one’s life is the only answer to one’s problems.

Although Bashi’s father never earnestly attempts to understand her depression – in the way her mother and older sisters do – his uplifting and positive attitude brings a lightness to this serious documentary. He chooses to ignore the abandonment issues and anxiety that she carries with her, ever since she and the family fled Iran as refugees. It’s interesting to see his side of things, however misguided they may be. His perspective is one that is all too common, focusing only on positive thoughts and disregarding any necessity for professional support.

The images of Bashi dancing at a party, with the colors changing in a slow-motion effect highlights her state of mind, dizzying out of her control. Oscar Àlvarez’s sound design is quite effective, especially when Bashi’s panicked voiceover is paired with close-up images of her lying on the floor in a fetal position and in the shower with water rushing down her face. The score – most notably a soft piano and what sounds like a contrabass – composed by Jakob Lindhagen is subtle and expresses a melancholy tone.

It comes as no surprise that Ahang Bashi won best newcomer at the 2017 Guldbagge Awards for directing Fragility. She is a filmmaker with a unique voice whose career hopefully inspires others. The way societies deal with issues relating to mental health should be openly discussed, and Fragility is a good starting point for opening such a dialogue.

Stars: 4 out of 5 
Genre: Documentary
Cast: Ahang Bashi 
Director & Writer: Ahang Bashi
Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 73 Minutes
Languages: Swedish and Farsi 
Country: Sweden
Production Company: Momento Film

by Lindsay Bellinger 
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