Private Project


Fearless is an abstract hand-painted animation and music video that follows a woman’s tumultuous inner journey from isolation and despair to explosive self-expression and freedom. At the beginning of Fearless, the protagonist is paralyzed in an emotional cocoon, imprisoned by her own forlorn and anxious thoughts. Time is elastic, moving too slow and fast all at once. Trapped in a city, she sees herself as a small ant amid the grand and neverending chaos of urban life. And while she tries to run away from her sorrows, the monsters in her mind always find her. Finally, when all hope feels lost and the mind’s shadows threaten to swallow her whole, a renewed fire for life flickers inside of her. Slowly but surely, she discovers the strength to break free from her mental prison, find gratitude again, and appreciate small tender moments of joy.

  • Saraswathi 'Vani' Balgam
  • Saraswathi 'Vani' Balgam
  • Saraswathi 'Vani' Balgam
  • Dee MC
  • Saraswathi "Vani" Balgam
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Experimental, Music Video, Short
  • Genres:
    Social, women, psychological
  • Runtime:
    2 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 22, 2021
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
    January 1, 2022
    Official selection
Director Biography - Saraswathi 'Vani' Balgam

Saraswathi Vani Balgam, an award-winning filmmaker and producer, is a lover of visual storytelling. Her compelling journey of filmmaking began at the young age of 16. A South East Asian Indian born in South India and an avid world traveller, Vani uses these invaluable experiences to translate her characters' unique journeys and common humanity into compelling visual poetic stories. Through her films, she attempts to impact people. Her passion for both watching cinema and making it earned her 2018 documentary, Sisya, the Audience Award at the Stuttgart 2018 Indian Film Festival. Some of her award winning short film works include Baba, Rinn, Arising, and Bhauvra.

In 2013, Vani founded Dancing Atoms, a Los Angeles based content and creative development driven motion pictures production company. Previously in her illustrious career, she was the founding director of Rhythm & Hues Studios, Asia - an Academy Award® winning VFX and Animation studio. She also served as the Head of Creative Management and Training at DreamWorks Animation's studio in Shanghai, where she championed and mentored Chinese creatives.

She actively promotes community building all over the world. She is currently the president of Asifa India, an organization dedicated to the art of animation. She also has been the president of Women in Animation - India for over 10 years. In the last two years, Vani was selected to participate in the prestigious Unreal Fellowship for Virtual Production hosted by Epic Games. Furthermore, Vani also served as an official Mentor for several Unreal Fellowships and has helped talented artists and creators from all over the world produce over 40 films using Unreal Engine. She also assisted Karen Dufilho with organizing the Writing in Unreal program that was conducted in collaboration with Tribeca in Nov 2021.

Apart from this, Vani along with Asifa India partnered with Epic Games to launch the Women Creators Program in India. The Women Creators Program has since taken to new heights and the format is going to be launched for the South East Asian countries in 2022.

Vani was also a mentor for Sony Talent League by THU where she creatively & emotionally mentored the Sony talent league team members to structure their stories and make their dreams come true.

Saraswathi is currently developing and pitching several original animated preschool TV shows. One show is currently being co-produced with a leading Asian animation studio, and a second show is being co-developed with a prominent Canadian company.

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Director Statement

For many years I used to paint just for myself. Painting gave me a way to sift through my feeling and private hauntings. My sketchbooks were keyholes into my conscience – a kaleidoscope of desires, fears, colors, and unfamiliar faces. But I didn't want my art to only express how I perceive the world; I wanted to explore how the world perceives me.

The more I explored this idea, the more I became aware of my own sense of alienation. My nightmares revealed to me my deepest fears. I was convinced everyone in the world was looking at me as if there were a million versions of myself, splitting and duplicating right in front of them. Which version of me was my true self? I wasn't sure. After some research, I came across an idea I had never heard of before – Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter syndrome describes the psychological pattern that doubts themselves and their abilities. Those with imposter syndrome often question their abilities, feel like frauds to the public world, and are consumed by anxiety, stress, and fear. I knew exactly what they were describing. I had imposter syndrome. This realization crystallized what I had been exploring and working through in my painting. I decided to animate a mixed-media film using paintings and sketches I'd been making over the years. I created a fictional female character to embody my journey from isolation to self-expression. Throughout the film, she strives for perfection; she runs from her emotions; she self-soothes from her anxieties; she suffocates with fear. Only by letting all of these emotions go and becoming one with the present moment does she come back to her natural self. I was inspired by the Hindu philosophy of impermanence and how to release ourselves from the suffering created by attachment. When the protagonist releases control and embraces the uneasy beautiful world around her, she finds true peace and joy.

As I was editing and animating the project, I approached a friend and talented musician, Dee MC, with the film's concept. Dee MC is India’s one of the prominent independent hip-hop artists from Mumbai India. We had previously collaborated on the music video I did for my Unreal Fellowship at Tribeca. After I described the idea of the animation and the protagonists' struggle, she was eager to work with me on rendering the music. Dee MC brings a whole new layer to the film's artistic vision. The strength that comes through her voice and music emphasizes the film's core themes – courageous conviction, boundless self-expression, and deep self-acceptance.

In these uncertain times, I find myself yearning to be brave in a world that seems full of trepidation. So many of us are haunted by the tragedies of the past, we can't live in the present, and we can't help but dread the future. So many of us find ourselves imprisoned by our own thoughts. I made this film as a way to fight back, to embrace the unknown, to cherish the present moment, to be a little bit more fearless. I have lost a lot but have gained so much in the process. I hope it does the same for you.