Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie - BFI Flare
Mar 22, 2023
Nicole Bazuin, Kitoko Mai, Andrea Werhun
Morgan Bargont, Mylene Carino, Myfanwy Charlesworth
“On good days I’m not just surviving, I’m thriving.”
First shown at Sundance Film Festival and now a part of BFI Flare, Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie is a thrilling creative exploration of Dissociative Identity Disorder based on the real lived experiences of Kitoko Mai. This is a truly aesthetically pleasing film that plays around with bold colour grading, beautiful set design and an extraordinary visual representation of mental health. Different alters (a term for people with DID to describe their alternate personalities) are introduced throughout the film and each scene explores how they interact with the world and with each other. This is a very informative short film that shares an individual life experience, but is also incredibly vibrant and colourful.
Kitoko’s alters contrast heavily to each other in age, gender and ethnicity. The film flirts with different definitions of gender, asexuality/sexuality and positively affirms experiences of trauma and sex work. Each character representing an alter explores different parts of who Kitoko is based on the experiences that they have had as a Black, nonbinary, disabled artist and former sex worker. They speak to surviving the hardships of capitalism by working to survive, speaking positively about sex work. It is refreshing to have such clear authentic representations of marginalised identities, particularly with asexuality which is seldom recognised on screen. All of these alters must work together with Kitoko by communicating with each other and this is the process that is explored visually on screen in a way that is truly understandable.
This is a film with fabulous production, as the camera pans through each scenario to follow every alter character on their journey. The colour grading throughout the film is wildly bold and striking and with loud block images working to create a very artistic style. As a result, the gorgeous lighting and colours adds plenty of flair to otherwise a more serious topic, which one could argue does make the film not just deeply enjoyable, but very accessible too. We are given incredible insight into who Kitoko Mai is as a person, as well as their original creativity and style. This, along with cleverly creative cartoon animation and wild fashion, compels the viewer to never take their eyes away from the screen.
Ultimately, Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie is a brief and beautiful short that does not romanticise mental illness, but rather speaks on it in a way that educates and informs a wide audience. It follows a journey towards self-acceptance and empowerment as Kitoko Mai recognises that she is a survivor and embraces all their alters to work with their condition rather than against it. This is a fabulously enjoyable film with a real truth behind it.