Created by Jake Falconer, The Pitch 2022

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MISSING follows a woman who tries a radical hypnotherapy to restore happiness in her family life – but faces a terrible price. K. leads a comfortable life in Manhattan. But lately a sickness has taken hold, leaving her alienated and fearful of her own child. Over dinner, she tries to confide in her husband — but his good intentions only make her feel more alone. On his advice, she returns to her GP. Alluding to a history of survivor’s guilt, the GP reluctantly agrees to reduce her dose. But K only feels worse. The next day, she calls in sick, and instead wanders downtown, where a neon sign flickers: Hypnosis. Later, at dinner, she lies about her day. Her family life is increasingly strained. Feeling trapped, K goes to hypnotherapist – who promises to heal her by returning to childhood in her mind. Over time, K finds her family life improving. Before the final session, the therapist warns that some patients can experience side-effects. Afterwards, K. recalls only one thing: she saw her dead brother. Returning home, she showers, sits down to dinner with her husband, who remarks on her cheerful mood. But here, K suddenly finds her life has changed forever. And we, in turn, re-evaluate everything.

Biblical Connection

MISSING dramatises a warning from Isaiah 8:19-21 and Leviticus 20:6. ‘Whoever turns to mediums or spiritists to prostitute himself with them, I will set my face against him and cut him off from his people.’ This brief, bitter passage already suggests an implicit story: (i) someone in the throes of grief, (ii) a temptation to seek out the dead, (iii) a fearful price to pay. This is exactly the story of our protagonist, K. Only, the film is re-situated in the contemporary world, in that colossal symbol of modernity, New York City. And fear of necromancy is replaced with contemporary concerns of survivor’s guilt, traumatic repression and repetition. In fact, in some accounts, hypnosis has created false memories which have torn families apart – or ‘cut them off from their people’. There’s a timelessness to this story –an atavistic human urge to see those we’ve lost– as well as a fairy-tale caution. 'Playing with fire…' 'Careful what you wish for…' To me, it’s also a metaphor. How the past can overwhelm the present. How grief can threaten everything. In this way, the story is deeply personal to me. For K., whether it’s God or something else, the cost of her desire is no less real.