Premiering at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival, Bibi is a film by Christopher Beatty which uses many visual techniques such as color, symbolism and the mise-en-scène to communicate its dark and tragic story of loss, grief, and a chance at acceptance.
The film follows Vivian Ashwood, a mother struggling to raise her daughter Bibi due to a tragic loss, using alcohol and medication to cope with her loss. Once a strange man shows up and begins to stalk her, she seeks Bibi’s help to separate reality from fantasy. However, Bibi not truly forgiving Vivian over the loss of her sister, leads Vivian down an even further path of mystery and uncertainty. As the film progresses, we see Vivian’s descent into an unrecognizable state, and we wonder if she will ever be the same again as it is slowly revealed just how deep her rabbit hole goes.
The main strength of Bibi is its use of color to convey both emotion and symbolism in scenes, this can especially be seen with Vivian, Bibi, and the strange man. Vivian tends to wear yellow often, symbolizing how she wears a happy, normal life on the outside (in this case, her clothes) but on the inside she has a much darker predicament than she lets on. In addition, whenever Vivian is out or talking to someone who is not Bibi, she is almost always talking about or consuming prescription drugs or alcohol, in order to mask her insecurity and fear around others, such as when she meets with her friend Nancy. One specific time this is not the case is when Nancy confronts Vivian about her lifestyle, showing that she is no longer able to hide from reality via any substance. Another way alcohol plays a role in the story is at the dinner scene, where Vivian is shown drinking wine while her former husband drinks hard liquor, symbolizing their view towards their children and their subsequent parenting styles. While Vivian is shown in yellow, Bibi is almost always shown in white, symbolizing her somewhat magical demeanor and her ghostly appearance. On the other hand, the stalker wears black to symbolize his connection with death, Bibi saying he is here for Vivian shows how Bibi knows Vivian’s trauma, knowing the stalker seeks to overwhelm and destroy Vivian next.
The stalker acts as the embodiment of death, while Bibi acts like a passed-on spirit guiding Vivian to accept the light and go with the stalker. The film also employs good lighting technique in many scenes, such as the darker and more gloomy lighting that comes with the dream sequence at the beginning, showing that not only is it a dream, but it represents the conflict and sorrow in Vivian’s head. The most important aspect of symbolism the film presents is the merry go round toy, it is seen multiple times with Vivian and Bibi and Vivian even has a nightmare on a merry go round as well. The toy is used to invoke the feeling of repetition, the fact that Vivian is stuck in the same cycle and accepting reality is the only way to change this, her alcohol and drug consumption strictly keeping her on the circular path. The small carousel is also used as a way to interact with Vivian’s mind and psyche, whenever it is used or shown we always take a deep dive into her head, where her fears and trauma are further exacerbated. These events all lead us to the end of the film, where we are still stuck wondering what truly was real, and what was all just the work of Vivian’s mind.
Bibi screens at the 2023 New Jersey International Film Festival on Saturday, June 3. The film will be Online for 24 Hours and In-Person at 7 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets are available for purchase here.