I saw this beautifully crafted film at the Animated Realities conference in Edinburgh in 2011. The film animates a traditional sewing and textiles technique developed by the Kutch community, who are from a coastal region in Ahmedabad, India and has for a long time inspired fashion and textiles all over the world.
Here is a link to a review of the film following the latest in a long line of awards the film has received We will keep an out out for an online release of the film and if anyone knows where we can link to the film online, please do get in touch.
A whistle-blowing story, which lends itself to the animated documentary genre, mostly because of the ethical considerations in protecting peoples identity. The following synopsis is taken from the films entry on YouTube.
In August 2006, caregivers at the Sonoma Developmental Center found dark blue bruises shaped like handprints covering the breasts of a patient named Jennifer. She accused a staff member of molestation, court records show. Jennifer’s injuries appeared to be evidence of sexual abuse, indicating that someone had violently grabbed her.
The Office of Protective Services opened an investigation. But detectives took no action because the case relied heavily on the word of a woman with severe intellectual disabilities. A few months later, court records show, officials at the center had indisputable evidence that a crime had occurred.
“In Jennifer’s Room” is part of a reporting package that recently won a George Polk and an IRE award, and was named a finalist in the Pulitzer Prize’s Public Service category.
Well, I was very pleased this morning to find this review, and eager to watch the brand new trailer for the latest animated feature from the director of award winning animated documentary - Waltz with Bashir - Ari Folman.
However the trailer has already been removed for copyright reasons! So if anyone out there knows of a link to the trailer still online, please do let us know. Otherwise we will re-blog when the trailer is re – released!
In the meantime here is a short review to whet your appetite:
It is not often one comes across a CGI film with such a consistently rich sense of artistry. With his film ‘Caldera’, Evan Viera and a substantial team of supporting artists demonstrate a brilliant sense of composition, lighting design and mastery of the 3D medium.
This animated short attempts to represent a series of visual hallucinations that take place during a psychotic episode experienced by the female protagonist. Viera is not interpreting his own experiences, but rather that of his father, a long-term sufferer of schizoaffective disorder. The title refers to the self-destructive process of collapse when a volcanic crater is formed after a major eruption.
As there is no attempt by the filmmaker to claim this to be a documentary it may be unfair to criticise this short on the grounds of accuracy when depicting an unstable mental state. The psychological phenomena by its very nature is subjective, however the lack of discord present in the character’s demeanour was striking. The protagonist spends most of ‘Caldera’ looking calm and being able to concentrate in the context of the fantastical happenings she experiences. When depicting a gross thought disorder such as this it would be fair to suggest that the subject will likely be considerably less composed during such events.
Evan Viera writes that his father has “danced on the rings of Saturn, spoken with angels, and fled from his demons”. The traces of these delusions are quite literally interpreted in ‘Caldera’ yet the feeling is very much second hand in tone. Watching this glistening film gives one the impression of a challenging CGI exercise more than that of a depiction of pathological imbalance.
When viewing this film on Vimeo we are confronted in the blurb by Viera’s statement about his farther. The filmmaker wants us to be aware of the direct link between the protagonist’s vision quest and his father’s experiences of mental illness. For that reason I propose this is a documentary of sorts. Although based on second hand observations this film makes an effort to interpret a subjective experience that most of us could not ever fathom. Viera repackages it as a digestible image sequence granting the audience insight into a fascinating and difficult topic.
However the story telling is carried on the back of the film’s aesthetic. For instance the synopsis is somewhat minimal. In essence a sad looking woman decides to not comply with her medication (an extraordinarily contentious point in its own right that is not really addressed), leaves the city and goes for a swim. Within the ensuing visualisations good and evil are represented through the colours blue and red as well as by an animal sprit guide and a telekinetic daemon. Such simplistic symbols are surprisingly successful as narrative features and indicators of tonal change. The absence of dialogue inhibits our expectation for further explanation leaving the imagery to speak for its self. (Spoiler Alert) A lack of resolution is apparent at the end of the film; the screen fades to white during a slightly unjustified moment of mortality. This sequence is treated with such casual romantic vagueness one can only hope, for the protagonist’s sake, drowning is an extension of her delusion; if not then what a quizzically cynical finale.
‘Caldera’ left me nourished visually but a little under fed intellectually. A sumptuous film with an elegant air of visual poetry which sadly was not complimented by the reductive narrative.
‘Acts of Terror’ portrays the U.K Police force as an intimidating manifestation of growing state control. The 2005 Terrorism Act comes under scrutiny in this real life account of one woman’s careful navigation of the murky waters of police regulation and the U.K. legal system.
The film is commendable for the incredibly clear construction of its narrative. We are led through what must have been a complex set of legal procedures with a crisp sense of simplistic clarity. The animation follows, possibly less successfully, a similarly minimal motif. On occasion one is left with the feeling that a few extra frames were needed or wondering if the thuggery of police officers may have been better expressed than by giving them homogenised slanting closed eyes. However the court battle, where the style of an early 90’s close combat game is adopted, is where the writing, animation and sound design most successfully harmonise. This simple witty metaphor illustrates the ultimately futile struggle the protagonist felt in seeking justice.
‘Acts of Terror’ is an engaging campaign-based animated documentary that is charming and informative. It left me with the great hope that if, one day I found myself in the specific circumstances of the protagonist armed with the knowledge this film imparts, thus allowing me to personally triumph over a police officer when exercising my civil right to film them. I will just need to make sure there is no way they can suspect me of terrorism.
I first watched this film at the London Animation Club where the organiser, Martin Pickles, proudly stated the club’s role in connecting the film’s makers. Gemma Atkinson, Adam Ay and Fred Grace of Fat Rat Films gave a presentation at LAC proposing that an animator come on board. Following this they met Una Marzorati, who animated the entire film, and Tom Lowe who designed the soundtrack. Collaboration forums are exciting environments to observe and participate in. We wish the film-makers the best of success in spreading their message and hope for many more years of networking at the London Animation Club.
This animated oil-on-glass and live action documentary is centered on the campaign in Sierra Leone to get a 30% quota of women in parliament. Titles in the film explain that women took a key role in negotiating the peace process at the end of an 11 year civil war, however since then female politicians have had to deal with intimidation and misogyny as they navigate the political sidelines.
Animated Documentary reported on ‘30%’ in the early stages of production back in February 2012 and again once the film was finished and publicised by The Guardian in January 2013. And we liked it so much we felt it was worth reviewing too.
The animated sequences possess a luscious mixture of figurative and abstract imagery found most commonly in impressionism. Paint swims across the screen, smudging and slipping its sensual gloopy material around our vision with all the vibrancy of the region it refers to.
The metamorphic nature of the animated medium lends itself to turbulent tonal changes that take place in the opening sequence. The viewer zips though a busy Sierra Leone street into a viscous black void where we pass burning cars, violent gestures and feel the echoes of civil war. These melting edits are brought to great effect when combined with snappy sound design.
Following visual and audio darkness the screen literally swirls into the shape of Dr. Bernadette Lahai, one of the key political figures pushing forward the 30% quota bill. The rotoscoped image dissolves into live action. My feeling is that several of the video sequences possess considerably less flair than their animated counterparts. Such an uneven aesthetic could be said to threaten the impact of the short; but here it might be worth considering how disorientating an entirely rotoscoped 10 minute short could have been. Instead animation is reserved for storytelling and live action covers the communication of important details.
This film is fruitful both in its visuals and content. As a documentary the short conveys an under-reported theme in an engaging manor, while the animated sections are sumptuous in their appeal. At Animated Documentary we are always pleased to see such formal beauty and journalistic professionalism combined harmoniously!