A woman’s work never ends. Ana, a middle aged Serbian still living in a village in Croatia, still has to sweep the floors of what looks like a storage room in her home. She does this even if it seems like she lives alone, no longer having to attend to immediate family, as society relegates women to do. Marija is a Croatian running a therapy group for women who belong to Ana’s generation.
Marija has to take the latter to a series of group sessions in Vukovar. Vukovar is a city hiding the scars of one of the biggest battles and massacres in history. Specifically, one that took place during the War of Croatian independence. There, Ana, Katica, and a few other women, mostly Croatian, have to air out their differences. They have to get that out of their way to heal from their biggest trauma or being sexual assault survivors when those wars took place.
Bigger Than Trauma is a twenty-first century film in many ways. The first is that on the surface, the subjects in the documentary don’t seem to carry their scars. Like the events of the century preceding it didn’t happen. These are middle aged women with ignored, invisible pasts. But context is everything and the documentary lets its viewers feel every page and word of that context. It captures these women truthfully. It also shows the people of the two mainstream genders who have to be part of these older women’s healing process. Much of the therapy includes boundaries and touch and warmth. Again, men are part of this healing, the male participants knowing that they are a threatening presence and that subverting and unlearning that threat is part of that healing. This simple, raw documentary captures people who open themselves up for healing.
Find out how to watch Bigger Than Trauma as part of Hot Docs here.