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A ‘poet of the everyday’: an animated ode to a beloved uncle with OCD

To the rest of her family, the Portuguese animator Regina Pessoa’s Uncle Thomas was ‘a nobody’, with his intricate obsessive-compulsive rituals preventing him from holding a steady job or starting a family. But to a young Pessoa, his obsessions – including hours spent daily on cleaning and grooming, and a preoccupation with numbers – were intriguing. Eventually, his talents and eccentricities would help set her on the path of becoming a celebrated animator, as he taught her how to draw the dimensions of a human body using charcoal sticks on the walls of her grandmother’s house.

Pessoa offers an artful tribute to her beloved late family member in her award-winning short film Uncle Thomas: Accounting for the Days. Working from a combination mixed media, stop-motion and hand-drawn animations, Pessoa mined memories and mementos of her uncle to construct the piece. The resulting film is touched with beauty and sadness, as it celebrates a life lived mostly in solitude, but not without love, and doesn’t downplay or romanticise the very real agonies of obsessive compulsive disorder.

15 December 2020

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