Belly: A Heart-Wrenching Tale of Childhood Love and Loss

Belly: A Heart-Wrenching Tale of Childhood Love and Loss

Belly is an acclaimed animated short film by filmmaker Julia Pott, created in 2011 for her thesis at London’s Royal College of Art. The film had a long and successful run on the festival circuit, including screenings at Sundance, Animafest Zagreb, SXSW, the Holland Animation Film Festival and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival (among many others). Belly has recently been nominated for Best Animated Short Film in the 2013 Short of the Week Awards, with winners to be announced beginning February 4, 2013.

Belly is a strange and beautiful coming-of-age tale that explores the bittersweet childhood transitional state of having to leave things behind. Oscar and his aggressive older brother Alex go the beach. Alex works very hard to put Oscar in his place, telling him that he isn’t old enough yet to go for a swim with him. Oscar, however, has a companion of his own, a “monster” who loves him and remains at his side. When Alex gets in trouble, it is up to Oscar and his monster to rescue him, but what Oscar gains from the experience in terms of maturity and Alex’s respect, is offset by the sadness of loss.

Belly: A Heart-Wrenching Tale of Childhood Love and Loss

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The Dancer: The Resilience of a Young Orphan in India

The Dancer: The Resilience of a Young Orphan in India

What good is dancing,
If you have no music,
Or if you have no one to dance with?

The Dancer is a very touching narrative documentary short film directed by Seth Stark, which explores the life of a young orphan in India.  The film is a moving testimony to the resilience of children who are forced to cope with extremely difficult living situations, as well as to the potential contributions of benign, compassionate forms of group care for children.

The Dancer: The Resilience of a Young Orphan in India

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George Washington: The Loss of All Things

George Washington: The Loss of All Things

George Washington is David Gordon Green’s acclaimed impressionistic Southern Gothic debut film, which one reviewer described as “within a heart-shot of William Faulkner.”  Green won the Best First Film prize from the New York Film Critics, the Discovery Award at Toronto and the Best Director Prize at The Newport film Festival.

David Gordon Green’s feature debut is a seamless blend of subjectivity, pseudo-documentary, evocation of childhood and mythopoeia.  In an impoverished small town in North Carolina, various misfit and poor children converse.  “Look at this place,” one boy says to another. “It looks like two tornadoes came through here.”  The town is dilapidated; one of the “tornadoes” may have been the Great Depression.  Shots of railroad tracks suggest dreams of getting out.  But during the course of the film, death hovers: a boy dies; as a result, another boy feels that God’s judgment is close; another boy almost dies; a boy’s dog dies.  The underlying theme of George Washington is clearly “the loss of all things.”

The videos presented here include the hypnotic opening sequence of David Gordon Green’s auspicious debut film George Washington, another video from the film described as an influential scene in modern cinema and an interview with Charlie Rose, where Green talks about his film George Washington.

George Washington: The Loss of All Things

George Washington: An Influential Scene in Modern Cinema

Charlie Rose: David Gordon Green Talks About “George Washington”

(Charlie Rose Interview: March 8, 2001)

A detailed review of George Washington can be read in The New York Times here.

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Left Unsaid: The Tyranny of Eternal Silence

Left Unsaid: The Tyranny of Eternal Silence

The Twenty 120 Project: Left Unsaid

Left Unsaid is an experimental film that was created by Rob Chiu, who is an acclaimed English graphic arts designer and a producer of conceptual short-films. He created this particular live action film as one of twenty film directors invited to create short films of 120 seconds duration for The Twenty 120 Project. Left Unsaid addresses the general concept of “Change” and the particular theme of “Truth and Deception.”

Left Unsaid: A Tragic View of Childhood Loss

Left Unsaid centers upon the issue of loss, in particular Chiu’s personal interpretation of the feelings of loss experienced by the child upon his/her first major encounter with the self-limitations of the external world. At that point, the past quickly shades into memories of the past, which soon take on an unreal, dreamlike quality. Thus torn away from the past, the child loses connections with feelings for both home and loved ones. Looking toward the future offers no solace. The truth of the future, of a tomorrow, is a hollow and empty one, promising only existential doubt and loneliness. Ultimately, Chiu’s interpretation of the child’s conscious entry into external reality is a fatalistic and tragic one.

Living in the Present: Embracing Ambiguity and Uncertainty

The beauty of Chiu’s film calls out like the mythological Sirens of the sea, seducing the viewer into the tragic world of isolation and enternal silence. But it need not be. For example, if we look to the past for meaning, can we really gain such an understanding by tracing the little, seemingly trivial things in the particular chain of events in our lives back to our earliest years? Or, on the other hand, is existence and the course of our lives simply a matter of coincidence.

There is, of course, an alternative perspective about attempting to achieve some understanding about the meaning and course of our lives. If we focus on the present, rather than upon the past, we are faced with having to acknowledge that human choice always involves choosing one particular course of action while abandoning others, some of which may have turned out to be in some respects equally, or even more preferable. Furthermore, our choice of a particular course of action is always complicated by the unknowingness or ultimate uncertainty about where the path or paths not taken actually might have led.

While life’s ambiguity ultimately is irreducible, learning to embrace the ambiguous and uncertain nature of our lives can vitalize and enrich our experiences of surprise. In other words, focusing upon the present can expand our capacities to become engaged in depth with the ongoing, day-to-day events in our lives. This in turn calls for us learn how to become prepared to be unprepared for new experiences.

Left Unsaid: The Tyranny of Eternal Silence

A short-film by Rob Chiu

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