British animator Julia Pott‘s ‘Belly’ is a wonderful award winning animation film. It has done the festival rounds having been to Sundance, SXSW and over 50 other festivals around the World and has won awards at many of them. The film itself tells the sad, coming of age story of Oscar who experiences the necessary evil of leaving something behind but continues to carry it, feel it in the pit of his stomach.
The animation is surreal, beautifully rendered and full of yearning and melancholy. It really is quite special, unique and is a style of animation you rarely come across . Potts had this to say to motiongrapher.com about the genesis of the film:
The starting point for “Belly” centred around the cross-over period between going to sleep in back of the car at night, then seamlessly waking up in my bed the next morning. Then I got too old and heavy and was woken up by my parents, forced to trudge upstairs, brush my teeth and put myself to bed. I remember being acutely aware that I had had things pretty good for a while, and now it was over.
Growing up with a sister five years older then me, I spent a large period of my childhood feeling generally hard done by, ostracized and left out. I was so desperate to speed through the process of being a kid that I didn’t stop to appreciate what I would be leaving behind. Once it’s been given up, it’s gone. You can remember the sensation, you can feel it in the pit of your stomach, but you cannot get back there – hence the title, “Belly.”
Once I knew I wanted to focus on childhood I indulged myself in the memories of my own. As a kid I think we more willingly immerse ourselves in the uncanny, happy to feel inexplicably weird. We consume horror, gore and casual death. I was absolutely fascinated by the idea of sinking in quicksand, being beheaded, ghosts… As I got older, I grew out of my kid-like immunity to the spooky – not so ready to feel scared, not wanting to feel it at all, in fact.
The laws of physics are also much more ambiguous. It seems feasible to walk through walls, push your hands through your skin. In this way animation became the perfect medium for the subject matter – using the physics of childhood to externalise the inner turmoil of the characters – melting into the ground when you’re yelled at, pushing through your friend’s body if it’s a quickest way to get down.
Summer became the natural setting for the film because of this sense of possibility that comes with the season. So much of my childhood memories centre on the heat of summer, playing in the ocean and feeling like you might almost drown when a wave crashes over you, and going back for more anyway.
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