‘And like the spores from a dandelion… I would leave my body.’ (Dandelions Transcript 2011.)
Part of a doctorate via Griffith University, this brave and gritty film is set to powerfully impact the global epidemic of child abuse.
'Dandelions' is a rare Autobiographical Documentary Feature geared to show the truth about what it is really like for adult survivors of Child abuse, neglect & abandonment [foster homes].
Through one family’s story, it aims to trigger serious discussion into the long-term realities faced by often ‘silenced’ survivors, its effect upon families and thus society as a whole. Highly creatively it exposes what it's like to survive, forget and then face intrafamilial trauma. All expressed from the heart with her own artwork/graphics/semi-animation weaved throughout and balanced with a dollop of dark humour.
SYNOPSIS: On the surface, I seemed to have it together. Many saw me as a woman who had simply chosen to pursue a career (scriptwriting) over marriage and children. But it was a façade, a lie. I'd spent my whole life avoiding facing the demons within me, demons that kept me in fear and shame about my past. ‘I will never have children, although I adore them. But it is like someone has stolen the batteries out of my biological clock.’ Dandelions Transcript 2011. Dandelions’ is the vehicle through which I’ve made a conscious decision to stop hiding. To do this has meant allowing the audience into the confusing haze that was my childhood memory loss… ‘To go back there, to try to remember… is like fumbling about for a light switch in a dark room, that you know is only full of horrors.’ Dandelions Transcript 2011. And intimately into the battle that I had with my body/self-worth, killing my confidence and ending a promising career as a covers rock singer in 2000. It all began when I found my older brother Kevin on Facebook in 2010 after 24 years of separation. Our reunion triggered repressed memories and led to a cathartic five-year odyssey which I was encouraged to document. Armed with only a borrowed old camera, I returned home to do what I had been putting off for far too long: to talk to and question my estranged parents [& close family] about what really happened. What I hoped would bring some closure only ended up opening a Pandora’s box. Shocking secrets emerge along with sad, dark and painful revelations [causing flashbacks] during astonishing reunions with quirky family members [such as my colourful & musical father] all in the midst of tragic events of new child abuse stories hitting the news headlines - rubbing further salt into the wounds. I then try any means to heal [holistic to traditional] bringing to attention: Complex Trauma. hypervigilance, hypersexuality and much more...
This film is for my older sister Sharee (who has been irrevocably damaged the most)
and all others with no voice.
For the first time in documentary form we are uniquely led into the private world of what it is truly like to live as an adult survivor of child abuse and neglect. This film offers never before seen insights into its long-term effects and realities. How it frighteningly passes through an entire lineage until addressed.
‘I am beginning to believe that when it comes to abuse left untreated, we will do one of two things. Abuse others in some shape or form, or ourselves.’ Dandelions Transcript – 2011.
I have to do this RIGHT or not at all, for I feel my story represents so many. There are so many survivors out there still wandering around silent and in pain as I had been. My goal, my craft, my job, has been to attempt to honestly represent my experience through creative storytelling, heart and a measure of dark humour for balance. I believe that child abuse and neglect is an inadequately addressed socially rife problem around the world. Perhaps ‘Dandelions’ can obtain more accessibility by privately entering people's homes, minds and hearts – opening closed doors - to reach both closeted survivors who can not reach out and also provide insight for family members around them. I am grateful to all involved, especially my family… who have done this for me, trusting me to take our story and hopefully turn it into something beautiful as well as a tool/resource for positive social awareness, understanding and change.
'I was a pest, nothing but a weed. When the darkness found me, like the spurs of a dandelion, I would leave my body...' Dandelions, Animation Transcript 2012.
Aims & Objectives
I had the privilege to meet International Editor Mary Stephen, here on cultural exchange via the University. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0826932/Mary had heard of my project and asked to view the current rough cut.
‘Imagine my surprise as I was drawn into the 1st person narrative quite naturally, with its tone of just the right touch of neutrality mixed with slight self-deprecating humour, never sinking into pathos, never undermining the terrible reality of what is being told but never, never milking the tears either. The tears well by themselves anyway, when we watch Ginene revisit her “long-lost” father and both break spontaneously into song (father and daughter, without knowing about each other, are both musicians), until he breaks down in tears suddenly and begs her for forgiveness. The catharsis and the redemption all beautifully, simply and powerfully expressed in this impromptu scene. The personality of the main character with the self-image issues, Ginene herself: on camera and on the soundtrack, comes through as a warm and softly intelligent, talented person (without throwing neither intellect nor talent in your face), a character who has lived with the worst in human nature, yet tells it without an ounce of self-pity. That, is what attaches us to her story, makes us smile and cry, makes a tear at a corner of our hearts but points out where the bandage is, with her simple, warm, immediate laugh. I hope sincerely that Ginene obtains what she needs to complete “Dandelions” and would do everything in my modest capacity to help it be seen and heard around the world. To complete what I said earlier, about this “type” of subject having been handled many times before in many ways, here is one that is likely to be accessible, heart-wrenching and heart-warming, thought-provoking, and therefore very important on a pedagogical and communication level on a taboo subject.’
Mary Stephen June 13th 2013
Through my doctorate I am required to complete my film and also specifics, such as: A published paper, public screenings and critical review. I intend to release it internationally via festivals, approaching broadcasters, and suitable educational bodies.
"I have a Masters Honours (1st Class) in Fine Art [Film] and am completing my final semester of a Doctorate of Visual Arts [DVA] at the Griffith University Film School. First port of call will be International Film Circuits.
DEBBRA SCHEMBRI [Holistic Educator and Healer] https://www.facebook.com/debbra.schembri