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Work / Animation

Hanne Berkaak’s deeply moving and sensitive animation tackling self-harm

Oslo-based animator Hanne Berkaak has worked with RVTS Sør, a resource centre for psychological trauma in Norway, on a deeply moving and sensitive animation about self-harm. Using visual metaphor to depict the emotions of the young teenage sufferer, the beautifully animated short film takes an imaginative approach to a highly delicate subject.

The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again shows a teacher “who dares to go that extra mile for a teenager who needs help,” explains Hanne. “Doing research for the project, I found that children and teenagers often could remember that one person who did something out of the ordinary and made a huge difference. The film tries to encourage professional support workers to have the courage to meet traumatised children in a dignified way, not as clients, but as humans.” 

Hanne’s hand-drawn, textural style is relatable and warm, and “make the drawings feel less perfect,” she says, “which I think suits the nature of the narrative”. Though the start and end show real-life context, the rest is intentionally sparse, “relying on the economy of performance and composition”.

She also uses muted colours to help highlight the dramatic red lines of the spider web, a striking metaphor for the character’s cuts. This is preceded by a contentious segment of the film – when the character reveals his self harm. “This scene was in and out of the film many times” explains Hanne. “Should we be that literal and explicit? We decided to keep it, as the metaphor was so abstract it seemed important to show where the lines originated from, its physical manifestation.”

Hanne illustrated the entire story in full colour before working with lead animator My Eklund and a team to bring it to life. It was produced by Mikrofilm.

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again

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Hanne Berkaak: The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up Again