Chained by Corsets is an animated documentary by Polish director Barbara Szewcyk. The film presents the history of fashion through the story of a young girl jumping back in time in a magic wardrobe to the end of the 18th century in a quest for her own style, with the viewer following her through the last 200 years of fashion developments.
Szewcyk said that the idea for the film grew out of her interest in fashion as well as the art of the periods her film took place in. Visually her chief inspiration came less from the world of animation than from painting – from Rococo to Victorian to modern painting the backgrounds of the film contain a mass of stimulating images.
“I wanted to make a kind of educational film. The most interesting thing in the history of fashion is that everything around us influences changes in fashion. Things like politics, the industrial revolution, art styles - all create what we wear. My plan was to present those changes in fashion against the background of particular periods.”
An example of the intersection of politics and fashion that the film deals with occurred in Poland following the uprising against Russian rule in 1863. After the uprising was crushed some Polish women took to wearing black as a means of protest. The authorities soon put a stop to this practice though, only allowing women able to document that they were mourning a relative’s death to maintain the somber attire.
Chained by Corsets was recently screened at the Czech animation festival AniFest, where Szewcyk was able to participate in discussions on the production and promotion of animated shorts in Central and Eastern Europe. Szewcyk values the region’s legacy of animation, but is worried by how things are developing.
“It’s because we are facing a new reality, we are learning how the free market works and we have to learn how to look for money for a production and how to sell it afterwards. This is very difficult for countries that are not used to it,” she said.
The festival also offered a Production Forum where she and other filmmakers were able to meet and consult producers about their ongoing projects as well as a Pitching Forum where she was able to watch young filmmakers pitch their projects. “I have never participated in any pitching, but I know that I’ll have to do it, so it was a very enlightening experience.”
To see Barbara Szewcyk’s excellent website (in Polish and English) with a subtitled documentary on the making of the film go to www.barbaraszewczyk.pl