A SHORT FILM BY CELESTE CHANEY
Convinced her dead father is visiting her infant son, a sleep-deprived new mother struggles to keep her sanity.
Cradle Song follows Mira, a woman in her early 30s, as she struggles to find her way through new motherhood. Battling severe sleep deprivation, the onset of postpartum anxiety, and an unshakeable fear that she will become like her parents, Mira begins to have strange hallucinations and nightmares. Doors she thought she closed are found wide open. Lights that were switched off, remain on.
Her paranoia deepens after her mother, Joy, visits and bestows upon her the family album, and in it, photos of Mira’s deceased father Roger, who was schizophrenic. Joy is an ecstatic, if not overbearing grandmother, quick to correct Mira’s mothering and marvel in the blue eyes she believes her grandson Elijah inherited from Roger. “Nothing from your father is recessive,” Joy tells her. Mira can’t help but think of his mental illness.
Mira’s concerned, however ignorant husband, Andy, doesn’t know how to help his wife, and grows increasingly frustrated as her fragile mental state spirals out of control. At his wit’s end, he encourages her to go to bed early one night, promising to take care of the dishes and watch the baby monitor, but he, too, is exhausted and falls asleep on the couch.
When Mira wakes, it isn’t Andy she thinks she sees in the nursery, but Roger. Later, Andy finds the door to the nursery locked. He calls for Mira, who stands over the crib watching her son, her eyes now wild. Manic. Blue. Just like her father’s.
William Blake’s Cradle Song serves as a narrative device that blurs the line between Mira’s dreams, hallucinations and waking reality. This once sweet poem takes on a sinister tone as Roger whispers it throughout, and yet it is Mira, who fears becoming her father more than anything, whom we find whispering it to Elijah at the end, signaling that the transformation is complete.
Download the full lookbook.
The film will employ cinematic techniques such as underexposure, tight framing, and nonlinear sounds (the piercing wails of an infant) to ratchet up the tension and effectively recreate for the audience the same sleep-deprived haze that has taken hold of Mira. Though the film’s subject dabbles in the surreal, the style will lean toward realism, so that even the scenes from Mira’s most terrifying nightmares feel probable.
Water/liquid (a dripping faucet, Elijah’s bath, soaked sheets) will serve as a symbolic device throughout the film, linking the horror of an incident during Mira’s own childhood with her present nightmares and fears about becoming her parents, namely, her father.
Brahm’s “Cradle Song” lullaby (in the form of tinkling music from a crib mobile) and a whispered reading of William Blake’s poem, Cradle Song, as VO throughout will add subtle layers of complexity and unease.
Why This Story?
While many people have heard of postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety is rarely discussed, even though it afflicts almost twice as many new mothers.
Women are told that becoming a mother is the best thing that will happen to them, and yet, in those first few weeks and months of their child’s life, many women struggle with severe sleep deprivation, inexplicable heart racing, irrational fears, even memory loss. Many feel that they are losing themselves and their grip on reality.
Cradle Song will serve as a different narrative about new motherhood, one that takes Tully a step further, and raises awareness about mental health, postpartum wellness and new parenthood.
Support The Film
Cradle Song is a part of the Utah Film Center’s Fiscal Sponsorship program, meaning that 94% of your generous, 100% tax deductible donation to the Film Center, will help fund Cradle Song.
To Donate By Check
Remit to: Utah Film Center
Mailing address: 50 West Broadway, Ste 1125 Salt Lake City, Utah 84101
Memo line: Cradle Song
You can also donate via wire transfer, ACH, or stock transfer. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org