Mihaela Slabe’s Tides is a film layered in darkness. Opening on a woman in a bathtub, her face full of anguish, it proceeds to show her taking off her facade, letting her darkness run into the water, and sinking into it. The impression is immediate and visceral; this is someone embracing their inner turmoil, wallowing in the darkness that’s hidden behind the face they show to the world.
That darkness is echoed in the film’s design. Washes of ink give the film its texture, from the grays of the bathroom to the near-pitch of the film’s middle third. But a strange thing happens as the blackness envelops the frame. At a certain point, it stops seeming sinister, and starts to feel almost serene.
It’s at that point that Tides becomes something unique and complex, refusing to fall into a simplistic dualism. As the imagery becomes increasingly visceral, the roles of light and darkness become more and more ambiguous, nurturing, consuming and reshaping each other into something new. The process is in turns painful, comforting, and unsettling, but also necessary—as Slabe says in the film’s synopsis, sometimes we need to give into our darker tendencies in order to survive.
dir: Mihaela Slabe
syn: Tides is a film about the relationship between light and dark within us all. It is about the person behind the smile, the exhaustion of pretending, and how it is sometimes needed to give in to our darker tendencies in order to survive. ‘Tides’ plays with the relationship between cycles of the moon and cycles of being. In the end, a new phase emerges.
Mihaela Slabe received the Chris J Melnychuk Memorial Scholarship and Residency from the Quickdraw Animation Society in 2016. Through this scholarship she received 3 free classes, production resources, was paired with animation greats Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, all to support her in creating her first animated short film.