19th Animation Division Excellence Award
Animated short film
NGUYEN Phuong Mai [France]
The story begins with the appearance of a mysterious man with the head of a bird, who comes to live with Hugo, a seven-year-old boy, and his mother in their house in the country. Hugo feels puzzlement at the unfamiliar behavior and habits of this birdman who suddenly encroaches on a world shared only by him and his mother, his anxiety and resentment growing at his mother’s indifference. Driven by an inquisitive nature to learn more about this birdman, Hugo comes to witness the gap between realism and dream, human and animal nature, leading him to take a step from childhood to the world of adults. The film is based on Hugo’s unique point of view, we see things through his eyes. We identify with him and follow him through this sudden upheaval. Taking a unique viewpoint between sourness and poetry, and making use of familiar images and feelings, the film portrays the restructuring of a family. In addition, the story is told in silence, without use of any dialog.
Reason for Award
It is a surprise to see human sadness so simply expressed with such images and ideas. Rendered in sepia tones, the story unfolds in a matter-of-fact manner. It might be a surprise, however, that the most outstanding thing about this animated work is its sexiness. The white shirt-wearing bird and the masculine sex appeal represented by its broad shoulders, glimpses of the casual tenderness of the mother’s physical body, and the boy’s occasional displays of dependence on her… All express the inevitability of human life. Each scene conveys the futility of reality when the boy discovers that his mother’s heart – which he had thought was solely his – belongs to another, and the mother learns that the boy won’t allow it, and the bird learns that it is only a bird. Eventually, all will become the past, and the sadness that accompanies such reflections appears to be expressed in the sepia tones. (TAKAHASHI Ryosuke)