It starts with a gorgeous nightmarish dream that unfolds as a parable of life, plunging next into a world of wonder through a chain of carefully crafted sequences with reminiscence of Miyazaki and Dudok de Wit (The Red Turtle).

In Gints Zilbalodis delightful Latvian animated film, Away (2019), his first feature after a string of praised shorts, a boy (and his feather friend) goes through a series of obstacles, taking the shape of gates guarded by giants, in order to reach a safe port.

Away is designed in 3D but with this 2D feel to it. The displayed highly inspired creativity builds on compelling dramatic effects without the use of dialogues or violence making it family friendly without being a so called family film. It allegorically tackles serious issues: life struggles, loss, death.  While your grown up brain will be stimulated accordingly, with a few explanation along the way, your kid should be safe and sound.

The overall metaphor conveys thematic reminiscence of classic live action works like Hiroshi Teshigahara’s Woman in the Dunes (1964) with its entomologist in despair, or Kaneto Shindo’s Naked Island (1960) for its near claustrophobic déjà Vu.

One of the great feature of Zibalodi’s film, among others, is the director’s great sense for light, depths and movements (sound department being also pitch perfect). He goes as far as creating a very subtle illusion of camera moves that could be possible, once again, in a live-action film. Handheld steadycam, crane and tracking shots.

Deliciously deceptive, ingenious and extremely clever.

Zibalodi’s ‘world’ is simple, but it is full of rich details. All scenes are a thing of beauty populated with various animal characters in odd situations, the dreaming cats sequence, out of Jodorowsky’s trade, being one of many dazzling examples.

Gints Zilbalodis’ Away is a refine work of art in which we get everything that makes an animation film a classic. It stays with you upon leaving the theater. Don’t miss it.

Fantasia Screening: Saturday July 13th, 2PM & Monday July 15th at Noon. – J.A De Sève Cinema (Concordia University)