In Her Boots
Oscillating between interior and exterior perspectives, imagination and reality, joie de vivre and fear of loss, Kathrin Steinbacher’s empathic-humorous animated film enters the perceptual world of an elderly woman with dementia. A bizarre hike through unstable terrain, which visualizes how it feels to be in Hedi’s shoes. (Diagonale 2020, Michelle Koch)
Sometimes an object as old as the hills is associated not only with a long history but also an affective relationship. When it comes to a pair of tried and true boots worn on innumerable trails, such a possession can also provide a familiar foothold. And so it is for the aged protagonist Hedi in Kathrin Steinbacher's BAFTA-nominated animation film when it comes her old worn out hiking boots.
To the public eye Hedi also appears to be afflicted by a form of decline, albeit tragic in nature. She suffers from dementia. Hedi may for instance join her granddaughter for breakfast wearing no clothes, perceive herself to be spoken to by a sunny side up egg, or affectionately caress the vacuum cleaner.
In Her Boots is drawn with flat, voluminous shapes and grounded by a quirky humor paired with a regional sensibility. In the wake of her bleak The Woman Who Turns Into A Castle (2018), it is already the second work by the filmmaker that views sickness from the inside out. In contrast to her former film concerned with a woman afflicted by Encephalitis Lethargica, here suffering fades into the background. In this autobiographically inspired film, Steinbacher instead mobilizes the redemptive and thoroughly creative potential of cognitive displacement: the significantly "red shoes" here play a literally leading role. Hedi continually rediscovers herself in the mountains as a young woman bursting with energy, climbing the highest peaks with ease, her boots ever serving as a loyal companion. When a neighbor at one point alerts Hedi to her worn out old boots and thereby incidentally signals the precarious proximity of welfare and social control, it is no coincidence that a view of the village opens through the eyelets of Hedi's hiking boots. (Esther Buss)
In Her Boots
United Kingdom, Austria