slight detour to Hong Kong

Joshua Wong, one of the unexpected leaders of the Umbrella Movement

After ENO’s selection of directors, I chose to work for Jodi. I really love her style, and I’m really happy to be working with such a talented lady!

However, things didn’t initially go as planned..

When we presented the storyboard to Chris and Natasha, their review was quite negative and filled with criticism. Their suggestion: go back and rethink the whole thing.

This came as a shock to us since we had no idea what were the reasons they picked the film proposals they did. But after that meeting, it became pretty obvious that they had chosen Jodi for her lovely visual style – not for her story.

We had to go back to the drawing board and help Jodi developing a new storyline that would please Chris and Natasha..

So we had a brainstorm, developed 2 different storylines and sent them for feedback(/Chris and Natasha to pick their favourite). The first version was a very literal narrative about Gandhi’s life and the second version wanted to draw a parallelism between Gandhi’s movement and subsequent civil disobedience movements, like the Hong Kong’s umbrella revolution. This second option was particularly interesting since Jodi is a Hong Kong citizen and is watching her state lose the democratic rights it had while it was colonised by the British.

Personally, I find the idea of recounting a story that has been told so many times (read Gandhi’s story) – and that focuses on something that happened years and years ago – to be as boring as it is conservative.

I understand that maybe the youth doesn’t know Gandhi’s story that well (if that is even the target audience we’re doing these films for..), and I also understand the importance of looking into the past to act for the future. However, it feels to me that looking into the present and referring to the past as an inspiration, would serve as a much inspirational piece for social action on whatever issue we need/should be working on. Especially in the umbrella revolution situation, where its leaders are in jail – just like Gandhi was in jail. This storyline could’ve provided a little beam of hope to the Hong Kong situation, since Gandhi’s perseverance – as much as Joshua Wong’s – produced the needed social changes.

As expected, this was Chris and Natasha’s least preferred version so we ploughed through with Gandhi’s story for the animation. Nevertheless, I did some research on the Hong Kong Situation which I had no idea it was this bad.

I find the UK’s ‘loving’ political behaviour towards China shameful, considering the world knows they are not following the agreement to preserve HK’s democracy. Anyway… Here’s some of the articles I read and a really nice doc (available on netflix) about Joshua Wong.

‘out of truth (and love)’ – pitch

Here’s my (very much) failed proposal for the ENO project:

The music excerpt I have chosen refers to an Indian mythological story about a prince called Arjuna. Arjuna is getting ready for a battle when he discovers some of his relatives and friends are getting ready to fight for the opposite side. This makes Arjuna doubt himself and not want to fight. Krishna, his chariot driver – and also ironically the god of compassion and love – makes him understand that sometimes we need to devote ourselves to causes that might reveal hard to endure personally but will benefit the greater good.

moral of this story? think globally not individually, for a better way to live.

I’d like to focus on an uncomfortable truth, that should be making us all question our current lifestyle. It’s an urgent matter that needs to be put in the forefront of our concerns and we need to quickly start acting seriously on it!

My film opens with an image of planet earth, that quickly zooms out to show it was a reflection on the eyes of a human. This human then falls back into a dark background, a sea maybe. A metaphor to falling into a sea of truth.

When she disappears in the water what comes up is a starving polar bear, struggling to keep afloat and swimming to the smallest block of ice. The image then zooms out to show a vast ocean, depleted of ice. The polar bear is doomed.

From this opening sequence on, the film will slowly but surely increase its rhythm always synchronized to the music – in the style of a video clip – showing an array of imagery illustrating our economic system as the main driver for climate change.

The featured imagery will be decided by the people working on this film but I can give you a list of never-ending examples, such as: the bleaching of the coral reefs, all types of natural catastrophes, the mass production of animals, the proliferation of plastics – especially in the oceans, deforestation and its effect on the adjacent fauna, bombs, oil, etc, etc, etc..

The animation will use the loopy nature of Glass’s work to build its complexity and frenzy into an unbearable level – then there will be again a big zoom out to show that all of these images form out planet. We start and we end with planet earth, but if in the beginning we saw our planet with its natural colours of green and blue, in the end we see it in toxic/unnatural hues of orange purple and pink.