Short Film Review: Art as Catharsis


Aside from Oscar-winners and Hollywood blockbusters, we at The Indiependent are all about supporting promising, hard-working and talented creatives that are aiming to carve their own career path in film. In this instance, we have Amber Bardell, a London/Surrey-based artist and filmmaker, who has created a 30-minute documentary entitled Art as Catharsis. As the title suggests, this is a film that explores how several people channel their creativity in order to find release from repressed or powerful emotions, all brought together by the film’s endearing message that champions the positive impact of the passion and love found in each subjects’ respective crafts.

Finding success in documentary filmmaking is unique to each individual film and what it’s aiming to do, which in the case of Art as Catharsis, is to acknowledge and appreciate the unique ways in which channelling our creative sides can help us combat interior battles that we find hard to address directly. As someone who uses writing in order to address a host of unspoken internal issues, this film was impossibly easy to relate to and really helped to further my own understanding of how my own creative process works. Though this may not be the same for those from non-creative backgrounds, the success of this film is apparent in the sense that its diverse set of interviews, all woven together seamlessly, allows the audience to make their own connections and establish their own of understanding of how art can provide catharsis in such unique and powerful ways. Bardell interviews each subject with a delicate grace, consistently asking the right questions and really absorbing every answer, that evidently fuel her impassioned individual introductions to the subjects, which are combined with rich, lush visuals that offer wonderful snippets of her own artistic flair and vision.

What is apparent throughout the whole of the film’s runtime is the overwhelming love that Bardell and her subjects have for what they do and the ability to connect with that from an audience perspective is a crucial success of this film. True passion is hard to come by for many, so the fact it is presented so articulately throughout Art as Catharsis is impossible to ignore, whilst it goes that one step further in being able to confidently wield several forms of emotional subject matter that further adds to the way in which any audience would find themselves effortlessly respecting and empathising with it. Art is not shoehorned into one tiny box in this film, as it lets its subjects convey what their artforms mean to them and how they each utilise it to provide the catharsis they need. The diversity on display is equally a positive indicator that Bardell is aiming to use her filmmaking platform to tell stories from all walks of life, exactly how it should be.

Whilst this film is a documentary, the technical prowess on display in Art as Catharsis is nothing short of stunning. The aforementioned visuals between each interview are just gorgeous, with the colour grading, lighting, art, set and production design beautifully complementing the astounding cinematography by Levi Aluede, whilst the smoothly edited sound of Bardell’s voice narrates. The opening animation is jaw-dropping, so expertly crafted and edited that it would make an excellent short within itself. It’s great to see documentaries transcend their own medium to be imbued with that cinematic feel, with Bardell clearly displaying an obvious talent for intimately creating strong visuals in various forms.

The Verdict

In short, this is a phenomenal debut from Amber Bardell. Art as Catharsis is drenched in care, passion and emotion as it stylishly and intimately navigates how we can creatively re-establish personal trauma as a means to find release. Through the retelling of her own experiences being caught in a 2017 terror attack on Paris and to each unique subject she interviews and their powerful stories, Bardell has created a wholly personal film that speaks to its audience on a number of moving levels whilst demonstrating a true flair for the medium of filmmaking.

Check out her exciting creative collective site !Gwak here:(

Words by Elliott Jones


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