Away was one of the many films screened at this year’s Annecy International Animation Festival. Away garnered much interest because it’s a CGI feature film created by one animator. The creator, Gints Zilbalodis, described his process as creating four short films that are strung together. He also made the pace slow with limited characters and animation to make the film manageable. Does Away work as an animated feature or is this a ‘one man show’ that will drive audiences away?
The film lacks any semblance of plot, character, or any reason why the audience should feel invested in what happens on screen. The dangers the main character faces are don’t pose any real threat. I dozed off after the first act and woke up somewhere towards the middle. The lack of excitement causes many audience members to walk out of the theater.
Away’s appeal lies not in it’s story but in its ability to induce a lucid trans-like state. I wasn’t board so much as relaxed. Even when I fell asleep it was due to the imagery being tranquil rather than dull. The minimalist art direction make the most out of the limited characters and low-polly environments. The whole film felt like a visual lullaby, dark in some places but mostly just enough story to make you fall asleep.
As a traditional film that’s intended in entertain an audience Away missed the mark. However, I can see Away being a hit with people practicing altered states of consciousness. It’s the type of film that could be used for mediation, coping with anxiety, or getting high as kite.