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Bright White Light is a short animated documentary exploring near-death experiences through five culturally diverse narratives, using real audio recordings.

Through experimental visuals, it guides viewers on a transcendent voyage beyond mortality, unveiling how these experiences profoundly impact the essence of life, blurring the boundaries between existence and the mysteries of the afterlife.

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Directors

Henna Välkky is a Helsinki based director with a forte in dark cinematic and stylized narratives. She holds degrees in Cinematography, Sound Design, and is currently completing her master's in Screenwriting. Over the past ten years she has directed short films, music videos and commercials, screened in international Film Festivals around the globe including acclaimed Cinequest, Leuven, Tampere and Atlanta. At the moment she is writing her debut feature fiction film.
 

Eesu Lehtola is an animator, graphic designer, and illustrator with a strong expertise in working with moving images and sound. His debut direction and animation We Are in a Dream premiered in 2018 at Tampere Film Festival's national competition, touring and competing in 16 different festivals both in Finland and abroad. Lehtola collaborates with major advertising agencies and production companies in Finland, crafting visual identities, concepts, illustrations, and executing moving image projects for domestic and international endeavors. Lehtola is a co-founder and partner at Visual Kult Oy design agency, founder and artistic director of Fire1984 skate and apparel brand, and a partner at Silent Paprika Films. Additionally, he serves as a member of the Grafia board.

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Director Statement

Throughout time, the fear of death has raised questions about the finite nature of life: What happens after we die, and what is death? In many cultures, religion steps back to make way for more relatable personal stories grounded in modern life, such as the near-death experience. For most people, it's a positive and empowering encounter that alleviates the fear of death, resulting in a new perspective toward life and mortality.

 

The near-death experience is widely recognized as a phenomenon but is often met with reservation or even condemnation. Research indicates that memories of near-death experiences are even more vivid than actual events, dreams, or thoughts. This is what makes the subject intriguing and cinematic: an irrational, visual, and personal experience that has a life-changing effect but is difficult for people to openly disclose. It's a narrative that allows the viewer to confront their fear of death through someone else's story.

 

We're not examining this phenomenon through the lens of science, religion, or any other explanation, but rather as a personal experience - from a human point of view. The experiences recounted in the film share familiar details like the light at the end of a tunnel or an overwhelming sense of universal love. These story details, rich with emotion, make these cliched elements tangible in a new, raw manner: how the light manifests itself for different individuals, what an out-of-body experience feels like, or how people still remember their loved ones even after their heart has stopped beating. Typically, the experience leaves individuals with an inexplicable feeling—a mix of gratitude and confusion. Our intention is to engage viewers in this mysterious and confounding journey, inviting them to explore alongside the subjects as they unravel the illogical and incomprehensible experiences depicted in the film.

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"Called near-death experience, but for those who have experienced it, there’s absolutely nothing near about it."

- Joseph B. Geraci  Ph.D.

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