WXFF 2020 – Using Mixed Media to Tell a Painful Story in ‘For the Woman On The Floor’

This short was presented by Women X as part of the Selfhood Stories collection, a section focusing on films that ‘explore the strength of individual human beings as they respond to difficulties and hardships.’ For the Woman On The Floor is a powerful film that covers the aftermath of a sexual assault and the personal ways of dealing with this trauma. It is the inventive combination of animation and live action that makes this short so unique and enables it to deal with the painful subject matter in such a sensitive way.

Rianne Pictures

Rather than choosing to focus on ‘him’ and what ‘he’ did, Livia Ihinosen Ohihoin, the director and co-writer focuses on the healing process by creating the animated character Ms. Yarn. She is a visual representation of the trauma, the part of the woman that was affected by the assault, and what came directly from it (in the powerful bathroom scene Ms. Yarn falls out of the woman’s mouth as she screams in a heart-breaking expression of emotional pain). Ms. Yarn is coloured blue just like the bathroom where the breakdown happens, and the colour of underwear that triggers the woman’s memories. Ms. Yarn silently watches over her, protecting her from harm and comforting her when she needs it, Ihinosen Ohihoin notes that Ms. Yarn was made as “’someone’ to guide her and push her and be the part of her she wasn’t allowing”. She is a coping mechanism that enables the woman to detach the trauma from herself in order to address it objectively, as we see in the beautiful end scene when they face each other and embrace. By allowing the woman to be her own support, and guiding herself to overcome her pain, Ms. Yarn empowers her, placing the control that ‘he’ took back into her hands.

Aside from the character of Ms. Yarn, another significant technique used in this short is the lack of dialogue. Livia Ihinosen Ohihoin told Women X in an interview that the decision to omit speech came from the fact that “no words seemed appropriate for [the] pain”, a choice that is a testament to Erin Lustria’s acting abilities. The fact that so muchemotion is portrayed through visuals and acting ability alone is what makes For The Woman On the Floor feel both powerful and delicate at the same time. This is a great short film that really uses mixed media to its advantage in order to tell a difficult story so eloquently. 

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