Updated: Jan 26

"AWAY is about a boy travelling across an island on a motorcycle, trying to escape a dark spirit and get back home. Along the way he makes a series of connections with different animals and reflects on the possible ways he ended up on the island. Part dream, part reality, AWAY explores our common, universal need to find a connection.

Director, writer, producer, animator and film score creator Gints Zilbalodis worked on the film for three and a half years, writing the story, creating the beautifully animated landscapes and characters, and composing and recording the enchanting music to this stunning dialogue-free film. This single handed creation from Zilbalodis on a shoestring budget took critics by storm, gaining an 100% fresh rating on rotten tomatoes and winning the prestigious Contrechamp Award at Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019."

REVIEW BY ESTHER AUSTIN An interesting animation of depth, stillness and revelation. One that immerses one into the complex and intricate journey of life which evidently can become a journey of simplicity, depending on how you look at life and what you choose to do with your life experiences.

AWAY, is quite an apt animation, as we go through these unprecedented times and how our lives have been plunged upside down where many are experiencing loneliness and a defragmentation of who they really are. However, there is the contrast of being in lockdown - which gives a sense of solitary confinement and aloneness, where many people are having to or are being forced to reflect and re-acquaint themselves with who they truly are, because there is the time and space to do so. Yet paradoxically there is an interesting sense of unity and the grappling of needing and recognising the importance of togetherness through different modes of communication as well as now having the time to know who your neighbour is, because there is time and space for all this reflection and integration.

The Film offered me food for thought around my own interaction with myself, others and the world around me and the meanings of those connections, especially since we are presented with a world at the moment where our liberty and freedom has been restricted. Are we experiencing those relationships in different ways? Are those connections even more sacred? Has this time given us space to fully reflect on the 'reality' of those connections and can we, do we have the courage to let go of relationships that no longer serve us? How many of us have discovered that we have lived a life of obligation to others at the expense to our own self? Walking around with our dreams and desires locked away inside of us as our shadow side, consumes and feeds on us, depleting our freedom even more?

I felt this this was represented by The Boy constantly looking behind him at the Darkness that followed him. This was a representation of him not wanting to face what we all need to face at times in our lives because no matter how much we run, unless we face that man in the mirror, our shadow self never goes away and we never get to see our full reflection in the mirror of our truth.

Because this was a silent movie, this added credence to the intensity of revelation and realisation that would otherwise have been shrouded out in the distraction of sound and noise. The silence, gave the movie a sense of gently forcing us into being present. Present to the moment. Present to the past and Present to our thoughts.

Because the characters are animated, yet devoid of the physical expression of emotion, the silence was even more reflectively deafening. The actions of the characters without all the emotive nuances of physical human beings became a mechanical journey into our own worlds of emotional numbness and sometimes deference to dealing with the deeper realms of ourselves.

The Boy's connection with nature and the relationship built from those spontaneous moments of connectivity, made those connections even more profound. Because the space around them (them being the tortoise, the rabbit, the bird) was vast and empty, devoid of human or much animal interaction, so that when their connections were finally made, they became endeared to each other out of a sense of loyalty, companionship and survival from the pangs of aloneness.

The film showed the power that nature holds, a sense of lightness and optimism during the day time with the illusion that all is safe and well. (Yet The Dark Shadow still followed and pursued). There was also the vast hugeness and power of the mountains and empty expansiveness of lakes that converged upon ones senses as The Boy fled from one scene to another, searching for some inner hidden peace. Whilst other times the darkness pervaded with its sense of foreboding and doom. The Darkness could be depicted as that which constantly haunted and followed him or even the darkness of the night. Once again the battle of the Internal and the External. All depending on how you perceived life and depending upon where you are within your emotional self.

The dark shadow that constantly followed The Boy was the reminder of his shadow self. The self he didn't want to face. The shadow self that had become a powerful force within the illusion of The Boy's life, from which he had handed over so much of his power to, ratherthan facing it. However, in the end when he had time to find himself , to reflect on himself via the various experiences and escapades of his journey, he was finally able to feel the fear and face it. The animals who rode with him, in that moment, when they saw that The Boy needed help, even within their own vulnerability, decided to come together to help him face The shadow. This again shows us how that the old adage of 'United we Stand, Divided We Fall' rings true.

However, how much of ourselves can we rediscover as we go on our personal journey? And how much of ourselves can we let go of? How honest can we be with ourselves? AWAY will certainly take you to those very places!!!!

AWAY is out now on all major digital download platforms, as well as various independent cinema platforms, including Curzon Home Cinema and Modern Films.

AWARDS WINNER: Contrechamp Award (Best Emerging Talent) – Annecy 2019

WINNER: Best Feature Film – Anima Mundi Int’l Film Festival 2019

WINNER: Best Animated Feature Film – Latvian National Film Festival 2019

WINNER: Best Animated Feature – Strasburg European Fantastic Film Festival 2019 Special Jury Award for Artistic Achievement to Gints Zilbalodis – CineCina Film Festival [New York] 2019 Golden Stork co-winner (with ‘I Lost My Body’) – Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival 2019

About the Director Gints Zilbalodis (b. 1994) is a Latvian filmmaker and animator. He has made seven short films in various mediums including hand-drawn animation, 3D animation and live-action, often mixing their characteristic aesthetics. Filmography: Rush (2010, short), Aqua (2012, short), Clarity (2012, short), Priorities (2014, short), Followers (2014, short), Inaudible (2015, short), Oasis (2017, short), AWAY (2019, feature).
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