Stella is an animated short film that explores the very essence of human identity and self-continuity. For this reason, the movie focuses on some of the most vulnerable of us, refugees. Their life allegorically is portrayed through a navigation of their internal journey and identity construction and loss.
Stella and her mother are refugees from a war. Having escaped, they take shelter in a strange, empty sealed room. Exhausted and puzzled they observe running colour stains on its walls. Eventually they realise that by painting themselves with the pigment they can transition forward through rooms in the pursuit of an incrementally better life. Stella is more adaptable to the new conditions and colours but her mother has difficulty painting herself brightly and thereby divesting herself of previously held cultural values. As they progress through increasingly better but more demanding rooms, their relationship deteriorates to the point that the mother refuses to paint herself anymore and turns back wanting to regain what she sees as her diminishing identity. However, in forsaking the painting process in bright colours she gets lost as she transitions back through rooms she has previously entered. She finds herself unable to remember facets of her identity. Conversely, Stella adapts quickly to increasingly changing conditions and finally enters a new world that appears beautiful but entirely painted. Although she achieves a pleasant life here, it is fraught with bitter memories of losing her mother. She marries another refugee in this new world, but her child is born with a health issues and she eventually loses her ephemeral contentment. Finally, she decides to find her way back home where she hopes to reconnect with her mother. Negotiating her way back on the boat and through the same sea that is not rough anymore she gradually loses colour and becomes more and more real. In this process she sees that her child’s health issue also begins to disappear. When she eventually returns to the war zone, the battle is over and she locates her mother who has happily regained her identity.