Purgatory, Directed by Nadyja von Ebers (Illinois/California) - When faced with discharge, a psychiatric patient is ambivalent about returning to the real world. My goal with Purgatory is to portray the nuances of in-between stages of life—the vulnerability, restlessness, and humor that charge the liminal space we occupy just prior to entering the unknown. I’m fascinated with capturing the ambiance of “analysis paralysis” and making palpable the crippling and hopeful moments of being at a crossroad. When I first read the script, I was taken by the shades of human connection within the protagonist Claire’s personal purgatory and felt called to bring them to life. I enjoy portraying the relationships we have at life’s intersections because they’re profound, intense, but often fleeting—shepherding us into our next chapters. There are subtexts in Grace Melon’s thoughtful work I’ve hoped to give shape to. Mental health resources are a facet of privilege. Trauma lives in the body and can manifest in terror and give way to pleasure. Queer intimacy and agency are redemptive, antitodal to heteronormative violence. What does Claire decide to do at the film’s close—stay or go? I think her choice matters less than her resilience. Overall, I wanted to position Claire in a collective space allocated for recovery, a holding pen, as a way of asking if we’re ever really ready to move forward or if our survival depends on it.