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BODY OF WORK: CELIA BULLWINKEL

Meet the filmmaker chronicling in minutes a lifetime of body changes.

 

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DRMICHAELA.COM | How body image changes as we age | Celia Bullwinkel

 

“And I began to wonder: What if ALL the validation in your life came from public spaces, warts and all?”

 

When I first had the idea for a series of interviews featuring folks making creative contributions to conversations about body image and mental health, I knew I had to include Celia Bullwinkel.

I was introduced to the animator, director, and filmmaker through her short film, Sidewalk, which has garnered scores of awards and accolades since it’s 2014 debut.

Chronicling one woman’s journey from childhood into old age, Sidewalk explores the woman’s range of (internal and external) experiences as she “walks through life, confronts her changing body, and learns to love herself.”

I’m delighted to share with you the first installment of the Body of Work series:

My interview with Celia Bullwinkel.

 

Sidewalk from Celia Bullwinkel on Vimeo.

 

Celia, what was the inspiration behind Sidewalk?

The idea for Sidewalk came from a phone conversation I had with my mother many years ago. At the time, I was in my early 20s, a starving artist-type living in New York City, and becoming increasingly frustrated by the run-of-the-mill cat-calling I received.  My mother’s response was, “Enjoy it now because when you grow older, it will go away and you might miss it.”  I initially bristled at her advice, but years later, I began to understand the truth behind her statement. And I began to wonder: What if ALL the validation in your life came from public spaces, warts and all?  Sidewalk is the animated parable that attempts to convey this.

What kinds of reactions have you gotten from viewers? Any that have surprised you?

Sidewalk’s reception has been constant since it went online in 2014. It has brought viewers to tears, and it has received some angry responses. Some viewers refuse to relate to the body and age insecurities the main character faces. Others are startled by how close the film comes to convey their own thoughts and experiences.

A lot of viewers have asked me to do a male version, which I’ve chosen not to do.  I don’t feel I could tell a male version of Sidewalk and have it be as authentic as it needs to be.

Because Sidewalk has no dialogue, it has been shared all over the world.  I now filter Sidewalk’s comments through Google Translate just to keep up with the conversation!

The film offers many poignant (and funny) insights into the bodily changes many of us experience as we age– including during pregnancy…

I should disclose that I’ve never been pregnant. The film reflects my own anxiety about pregnancy as well as second-hand accounts about the experience.  From an ideological standpoint: pregnancy sounds like a great opportunity to rise above the nonsense that comes with having a “socially acceptable” body.  You’re creating a new life; what could be more important than that?

But… I hear that final trimester can be really uncomfortable! A friend once admitted to having dreams of being free from her pregnant body, and how liberating (for the moment) it was. For humor’s sake, I chose the latter reflection for Sidewalk.

Do you have a favorite “stage” of the main character’s journey?

My favorite “stage” changes. Because I animated the entire film, I tend to let the technical strengths and weaknesses color my opinion of each scene. The filmmaker can never truly enjoy their own product! That said, the final stage of the film has been my emotional favorite.

If we could sit down with the main character when she reaches the end of the sidewalk, and interview her about her life, what do you think she’d say?

She would admit that she had been lucky in life, but could have achieved more had she found her inner self-confidence earlier.

What is one piece of advice you would offer to someone who is working to improve her body image?

I would tell them that it’s never too late to start loving your body. We all age, so why not be supportive of ourselves and others as we do it? I made Sidewalk to help purge my own fears of aging and body acceptance, and I hope it helps people on their own journey.

What’s next for you? 

I’m excited to announce that I’m starting production on a new short animated film. It’s a comedy about the phenomena of “fail videos”; I plan to release it in 2018.


want some self-care inspiration?

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Celia Bullwinkel is an animator who lives and works in New York City. She has worked on feature films (Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chicago 10, Hair High), TV shows (Little Bill, MTV’s Friday, Ugly Americans, Wonder Pets), and far too many commercial projects.

“Alpha’s Bet,” her music video collaboration with visual artist Rammellzee, was exhibited in 2011 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. She is a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts animation department, and teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s MFA Illustration program. Sidewalk is her first independent film.

CONNECT WITH CELIA:

Website | Facebook | LinkedIn | Twitter

 


HI!  I’M MICHAELA. 

I help health + wellness professionals connect with their dream clients through genuine, engaging communication. After spending over a decade studying, researching, and teaching psychology + communication principles, I started this business to empower health + wellness professionals like me to “preach what you practice”. I share practical guidance so you can get clear on your unique value, communicate it with heart, attract + serve the people you love working with most… and actually have fun along the way.

6 Comments
  1. Alyssa says:

    Oh, I loved this! So much said with no dialogue! My favorite part was the realization on the main character’s face at the end. Can’t wait to see more from Celia and Body of Work series; keep it up!!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      I know, isn’t it amazing? Her expressions say it all. Thanks for following along, Alyssa! 🙂

  2. Gina says:

    I’d never seen “Sidewalk” before now, but I really enjoyed it…the interview, too! I’m going to watch Celia’s film again, knowing a bit more about how she approached the story and what the messages are she aimed to share. Really looking forward to the rest of the Body of Work series!

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      Thanks so much, Gina! Lots more interviews in the queue, so stay tuned! 😉

  3. Danielel says:

    This is such an interesting concept! I hope to hear more about this documentary in the future.

    1. Michaela @ Wild & Precious says:

      Thanks for reading! Be sure to follow Celia’s social media accounts for updates on her new projects!

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READY TO WRITE YOUR FIRST 50+ BLOG POSTS (FULL OF HEART + FREE OF STRESS)?

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