Zaire, January 1993. Rachel, an 8-year-old French girl, and her family live in Kinshasha in a house overlooking the Congo River. The day to day routines - shopping, lunching, napping - are interrupted when Zairean soldiers begin violently looting the city. She, her mother and her sister take refuge at the French Embassy and wait for the events to calm down. In spite of the surrounding turmoil, Rachel explores the gardens of the Embassy and discovers a new universe and new emotions. The looting stops and Rachel returns back to her home and her daily life.
In the discovery of bodies, of hers as of others, of life and death, of sensuality and fragility, Rachel remembers. She writes, she draws. The ghosts of Zaire resurface as she tries to tell ... and then forgets.
“Some people write to remember.
As I wrote… I began to forget.”
A sensory voyage to the heart of a traumatic childhood event, Hibiscus Season feels like a memory exercise made up of poetic reminiscences that walk the line between innocence and seriousness.
Inspired by lived experiences, the film pulls excerpts from Maisons fauves, filmmaker Éléonore Goldberg’s first novel, to investigate the very essence of memory. The refined animations, surprising in their virtuosity, serve almost as bubbles of lucidity breaking the surface of the deep lake that is memory. The rich sound design and texture of the drawings contribute to this haptic dimension of images, revealing all of the emotion and sensations of those lived, forgotten, and then retrieved moments, better than words ever could.
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Éléonore Goldberg is a French-Canadian animator, author and cartoonist. Born in France, she now lives in Quebec. After studying visual arts, she turned to animation and obtained a master's degree in arts at Concordia University. In addition to numerous publications (comics and graphic novels), she has directed animated shorts presented in numerous international festivals. In 2014, Errance was nominated at the Gala Québec Cinéma. She then directed Mon yiddish papi (2017), with Picbois Productions and the NFB, and La saison des hibiscus, with Embuscade Films, which was awarded the Iris for Best Animated Short Film at the Gala Québec Cinéma in 2021. She is currently working on a new animated short film, La marée monte, and a second graphic novel, La Fiancée. Éléonore Goldberg has also been teaching drawing, animation and illustration since 2013.