Caldera (2012) is a story about a young girl who goes off her medication and leaves a bleak metropolis to immerse herself in a vibrant oceanic cove. Ultimately, the story is about the young girl’s impossible predicament, where she can not live in either the fantastical and haunting world of psychosis or in the marginalizing society that mandates her medication. It is created in conjunction with Bit Films, the computer animation incubator program at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. From traditional stop-motion photography and paper cutouts to entire worlds created within the computer, work in the areas of animation and digital art at Hampshire College is as varied as the school itself. Hampshire uses a distinctive approach that combines individualized training with interdisciplinary collaboration between studio artists, animators, filmmakers, composers, and computer scientists.
Although the meaning of the short was reasonably clear by virtue of the woman clearly going off her meds at the start, it did help my understanding afterwards to read about how director Viera was inspired to make this film due to his father's schizoaffective disorder, which would see him disappear into delusions but then also have to be dragged back to a much more sedated reality by his required medication. To look after someone in this condition must be hugely challenging and accordingly in Caldera, Viera offers no answers but rather just presents the woman' battle between the two worlds. It is a winner of Prix Ars Electronica – Award of Distinction (Computer Animation), Seattle International Film Festival - Award of Innovation and Rome Independent Film Festival - Best Short Animation in 2012. As a narrative it is difficult and ultimately will probably work best if you understand where Viera is coming from and what he has to deal with. I am foruntate enough not to be able to relate and as a result I found that some of the film didn't move me quite as much – specifically as the film went on and went away from the more obvious stages of the conflict. It still worked enough for me to understand enough to go with it though.