The Surrealism of Rape in ‘And Nothing Happened’

The uniquely written and inspiring short film,  And Nothing Happened follows a young girl named Naima who tries to deal with the emotions and confusion surrounding of her sexual assault. The piece, written as an autobiography, reflects director Naima Ramos-Chapman’s own personal experience as a rape survivor. Through the obscurities and insanities which fill this film we discover the inner thoughts of those like Naima.

The film starts as Naima awakes to a crumbling black hole enveloping her ceiling. This is our first look at the surrealist aspects of the film but the day continues on. She goes about her morning routine as each trivial task becomes increasingly stressful. In an effort to normalize these oddities she ignores them, but unfortunately her life will never be the same again.

Symbolically the film works on many levels to express how Naima is coping her sexual assault. From the very beginning the black hole informs us of how she is feeling as we see her reaching up towards it. Her desire to disappear is taking hold of her life. As the film plays on we are exposed to more hallowing sights. For instance, one of the most effective scenes within the film is when she is eating breakfast in the kitchen. What starts out as just her spoon feeding herself, erupts into a merry of hands forcing their way into her face. They are touching and stroking and even trying to feed her. The overwhelming sight makes the audience uncomfortable, one can only imagine what Naima must have felt, barely in control of her own body. But these surrealist shots aren’t the only eye opening moments.

Ramos-Chapman chooses to have Naima tell the story of her rape as she is getting dressed in her room. What is striking about this scene is how effortless and almost without emotion Naima delivers the story. She goes through the whole night, how she got there, what she was doing and when it happened. The most shocking part being the words of her rapist, calling her crazy and even going as far as to say she “liked it”. At first it seems she is talking to herself but we find out that she is actually reciting the occurrence for a lawyer, whom she hopes to win a legal battle with.

What the film strives to do, and in my opinion successfully does, is inform the audience of the emotional damage sustained by rape survivors. While Naima’s outer appearance couldn’t be less dramatic the thoughts running through her head are complicated and fervent. They are the hands touching her all over and the buttons which she couldn’t seem to press. Those thoughts, for many survivors, stay bound in between the walls of their minds and never are voiced. This film brings attention to the mental as well as the physical damage induced by rape and rape culture. Like Naima these women question the validity of their assaults, this film showcases those doubts.

Chani Sebazco

Chani is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she received a B.A in Writing and Theatre Arts. She is currently pursuing a career in Editing and Publishing, and is hoping to go back to school for her Master’s in Print Media. On her off days she enjoys bike riding, stalking doggos, and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy with a large bag of whole wheat Tostitos and habanero salsa. For more info follow her at @chanisebazco, and watch out for her brand new blog chanimariasebazco.blog coming soon!

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