The news that Australia won't be welcoming any guests from abroad before end 2021 kept turning in my head last night. We were preparing a trip to New Zealand around Anzac Day in April but had to cancel it due to the pandemy. With trips impossible and most film festivals cancelled, I've been devoting myself to two other projects since then : a novel (Full Time Dead) and a comic strip (Comme un seul homme).
In August, things started a bit back, with two more festival selections for Waka Huia. But a trip to the Uttermost Ends of the World now seems so far away I'm just doubting it's worth contacting museums like Te Papa to see if they're interested in the short, given that it has not even been screened yet in New Zealand. Maybe it's time to turn the Waka Huia page and to fully devote myself to "Full Time Dead" and "Comme un seul homme". The short may have the potential to be reborn shortly after those projects, like a phenix. And to finally fly to Charlie and to Paraire's lands.
Gibril, a young "observation intern", landed in my studio after his mother Nadia, who used to study business management with me in Louvain-la-Neuve quite a few years ago, contacted me from Paris where they are now living. Gibril spent a week with me at Sandro's, in the art library where I work and in my little office, drawing, sketching, animating and observing... I was amazed how quickly he integrated general principles and traditional tools to make the best out of them in the digital world he's more used to.
Here is a short animation he made at home during his internship : https://flipanim.com/anim=4NARHAyn
A few more screenings of the short are planned, including in Manchester and Namur, you can follow them in the "Festivals" section : https://wakahuia.be/festivals
Waka Huia is now recorded in IMDb : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10623826/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2
The real Charlie is no more. He died from a heart attack in a plane between New Zealand and Australia, where he used to live. It is very strange to be affected by the death of someone you only really met once but who was in your mind day after day for more than five years through fiction.
The good thing is I am now in touch with his sister Ngahuia, who lives in the North of New Zealand. She's telling me more about Charles, their grandfather, who fought and died in Flanders Fields. She and her whanau (maori for family) were affected in two ways by the short, which reminded them both of Charles and of Charlie. After a few emails I realize I have a picture of Charles' grave on my computer. It was taken by Philippe during our second visit to Mud Corner Cemetery. Isn't life strange but beautiful ?
In the meantime, Mathias has finished his internship and Mathieu and I are working on a trailer for the short. The work of Nadia and Thierry, who keep sending the film to festivals is starting to pay off, with a selection at Ko:sh Film Festival.
When a movie meets an audience... Dumbo Film Festival has granted the short the "Best animation" certificate for March 2019. Waka Huia will be screened in New York City's district of Dumbo, next October 2019. This is the very first festival selection for the short;)-
Check their website : https://www.dumbofilmfestival.com/
Last Monday, I met Mathias, a student in "Arts numériques" from ESA Saint-Luc Brussels. He'll be making an internship on the promotion of the short in the coming weeks.
And on Monday and Wednesday, I gave an introduction to animation and animated a workshop on optical games during the "Ateliers transversaux" week at EPS Saint-Luc, where I studied more than 20 years ago. It was fun meeting my former teachers again and sharing my enthousiasm with their present students. Especially since it was a mix from scenography, stylism and visual arts students. Thanks for the welcome, Jean-Charles, Montse and Delphine!
Yesterday afternoon, we were invited to show "Waka Huia" to the last year animation students at La Cambre, where Mathieu studied before animating on the short. It was good to have their constructive feedback on the film. The production has been quite tense, so it was like getting the confirmation the short is ok and was worth all those efforts... It also allowed Mathieu to round up his studies and finally get to think about an animation project of his own.
Thank you Théo and Vincent !
I've planted some poppy seeds in the garden... From Belgium with love !
Seeing this makes me love NZ even more : https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=40&v=7FXr2_2_MuI
It's late in the evening. I jump into cab to rush to studio l'Equipe for the Mastering of the short. This is the very final step of the movie. I've just finished working in the library and l'Equipe is on the opposite side of the city, close to the buildings of RTBF and RTL (French speaking televisions), an area crowded with sound and image studios.
The cab driver asks me if I am an artist. I say I work in a library but am finishing a short film and start talking about Waka Huia. The driver - a guy from Congo, a former Belgian colony - gets really enthusiastic about the topic and the short and asks several questions. He talks about his brother who plays music. About his having no passion, no hobby. He encourages me to keep on dreaming, telling stories and to make everything for the short to be shown. I hand him a visiting card, he swears he'll get in touch and is looking forward to a Première. I'll never get his message.