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Preview: 'Away': The One-Man Animated Feature

One of the big winners at this year's Annecy festival was a film called Away. that had not previously been on many people's radars. The winner for the Contrechamps category, the film has one amazing thing to distinguish it. The film is entirely the work of one man- Latvian filmmaker Gints Zilbalodis.

It's not unheard of in animation. It's pretty common in shorts but very rare in features. Films like The Girl Without Hands and Path Of Blood (from Eric Power) are animated by one person. But even then they brought in others to produce music or voice acting. Zilbalodis, on the other hand, is director, writer, producer animator, editor and composer. The film appears to be dialogue-free, so there's no need for voice actors, either.

Away is Zilbalodis's first feature, but he's made a number of shorts, most recently 2017's Oasis which the new film is an expanded version of. It took three-and-a-half years to make. The director told Cineuropa that his next film will be an expanded version of his 2012 short, Aqua, called Flow.

Appropriately enough, the film itself centres on a lone figure. It features a boy (accompanied only by his pet bird travelling across a strange island- following a plane crash- to get home. It's not the set-up that makes this worth watching though- it's the visuals. Take a look at the beautiful trailers and you'll see awes inspiring sights (particularly the sight of the film's protagonist riding his bike across what looks like a body of water while birds fly overhead). It combines the familiar and the bizarre (what's with the cats riding tortoises?) to make something unique. The character animation looks fairly stark and simple but it looks appropriate.

The animation cries out to be seen on a big screen, if you get the chance. The film is set to screen at a number of upcoming festivals including The Shanghai International Film festival and Fantasia. International distribution rights were acquired by CMG out of Annecy who will shop the film around to distributors around the world. We hope it finds wide distribution soon!