Lisette Donkersloot directs ‘Lead Balloons’.

Set in a dystopian reality we follow Abe, who decides to end his life with the help of a suicide service: a mysterious, self-driving death cab.

Words from Lisette below.

Can you share an insight into the symbology of the film?

The brief I gave myself was to create a world/place without hope. I looked at the tragedies of today’s world and asked myself what would that look like in a place without hope. The lead character voluntarily gets into a self-driving cab. No chauffeur whatsoever, driving him towards his final destination – death. Someone who never took responsibility for his own actions in life and therefore unable to take responsibility when taking his own.

To me, a world without hope is a world full of cowards. Obviously, the shopping cart with bitten apples refers to the story of Adam&Eve in which Eve bit the Apple on the garden of Eden which was the start of all doom. A story that underlines all ‘flaws’ in mankind.

In writing and preparation, what were your guiding inspirations?
I wrote this in 2016. Initially, this was supposed to be a music video for a track called ‘Lead Balloons’. Unfortunately, the track never came out, but the project had become very dear to me so I needed to get the footage out in some way. Many years, sweat, and tears later we’ve finally managed to release it independently as a short film. But the title of the song ‘Lead Balloons’ and visualising that literally was the symbol for hopelessness. So that was my only keyword when writing. And from there on the ideas and associations came automatically.
Lead Balloons 2
On the idea of “the absence of hope”, what would you like this film to leave with its audience?
I’ve always felt conflicted with this societal pressure that tells you to always look at things optimistically – often mistaken for ‘hope’. ‘Be the best version of yourself’ / ‘Make the most out of every day’. As if there shouldn’t be room for ’negative’ emotions or bad/mediocre days or weeks, because if you do, you have failed.
With people around and close to me, I’ve seen how they weren’t able to take societal pressure of constant positivity and end up falling very deep into dark places. Looking at myself, I find myself in need of just as much darkness as light.
“I tried to visualise the feelings and moments we like to hide from or don’t like to talk about. The moments where we feel stuck or lost and see no way out.”
I feel comfortable in melancholic mindsets at times and often find beauty in sadness for some reason. With this film, I tried to visualise the feelings and moments we like to hide from or don’t like to talk about. The moments where we feel stuck or lost and see no way out. Those moments are terrifying and heartbreaking, but they are there. So I guess I just wanted to create/make room for something that is considered dark, negative, or depressing.
What are you reading at the moment?
At the moment I’m reading the ‘Maddaddam Trilogy’ by Margaret Atwood.
Director of Photography
Tim Koomen
Production Company

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