Part II: An introduction to our Watersprite 2019 nominees

With just over two weeks before Watersprite 2019 commences, we caught up with a few of the figures behind our nominated films.

Bianca Caderes, producer of ‘Living Like Heta’

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‘Living Like Heta’ tells the story of a woman, Heta, as her carefully timetabled routine begins to crumble around her. It depicts an absurd, Dr-Seuss-like world, full of curious rooms, endless corridors and Heta’s beloved pet seal. As producer Bianca Caderes tells us, these “somewhat absurd aspects” were directly influenced by features such as Disney’s Alice in Wonderland (1951) and Terry Gilliam’s Doctor Parnassus (2009) but also small, independent shorts such as Julia Potts’ Belly (2011). These shorts also influenced the “analogue” approach to animation, with a lo-fi, hand-drawn aesthetic. “Our style is somewhat minimalistic, but with lots of details, lots of colours and textures”

This approach has been met with great success at Watersprite 2019, where the film is nominated for four awards; in Animation, Editing, Production, and Sound Design categories. This variety of awards at Watersprite , where “so many different aspects of filmmaking are being honoured and appreciated”, was a big motivation in Caderas’ team submitting the film. Festivals provide one of the “few occasions where people can go see [short films] on the big screen.” “The spectrum that film festivals often allow is great, and we think that the effort should be to diversify even further!”

Katarzyna Wisniowska, director of ‘For You’

Polish short film ‘For You’ tells the story of a young woman returning to her native Poland after following her dreams in England, coming face to face with the past, and people, she left behind. Director Katarzyna Wisniowska’s own film making dreams, she tells us, began at the age of thirteen; “My after-school drama club teacher took us to the cinema to see ‘Lord of the Rings’ [2001], I was absolutely amazed.”I was so sunk in that universe”, she remembers, “ I thought that maybe it would be a great way to work when I grow up - creating worlds, characters and stories that could grab other peoples' attention in the same way.” After making her first film in high school, she has not looked back. “It's been about ten years now that I've been trying to learn how to tell stories in the best way possible.”

Film festivals such as Watersprite have a vital role in this learning process, says Wisniowska. “I am learning by watching the films, I am learning by talking to the audience and fellow filmmakers. I am learning a lot about myself and the craft in general. It's a great place to see who's out there and which stories are important in the different countries.” 

Shadi Adih, director of ‘Fuse’

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‘Fuse’ is a dark short following the twisted fate that awaits a mouse, but also its captors, after it is caught in a trap. The characters’ decisions in the film, director Shadi Adih tells us, “are not driven by senses or reason but only by emotions.” Influenced by sociological literature on ‘collective behaviour’, the film is an attempt to explore the “animalistic side” of humanity that exists in us all, recreating “real characters from real life”. For Adih, the film achieves the principle of providing an “interesting and meaningful” story, whilst never losing sight of the need to “entertain my audience.”

The actual production of ‘Fuse’ proved “very challenging”, with the ‘fish eye perspective’ that runs throughout the entire film requiring five vanishing points in every frame. The hard work paid off, with ‘Fuse’ is nominated for Best Animation at Watersprite 2019 - a chance “to find people who have the same desires as you to make [your] next film stronger.” So far Adih has worked exclusively with short films, but “if one of these stories needs to be told in a feature-length film, I will.”

Tania Cattebeke, director of ‘Raquel’

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‘Raquel’, nominated for Best Documentary, is an exploration of the life story of a Paraguayan homeless woman. As the film unfolds however, it is the relation between the woman and the filmmaker that takes centre stage. For director Tania Cattabeke, the interesting thing about ‘Raquel’ is not necessarily what takes place in the shot but what the audience can infer about “what comes before and after the action".

Although “always a story-teller” form an early age, Cattabeke originally pursued a career in psychology. After making her first short, however, she realized that filmmaking would play a “serious and important” role in her life. “From that moment I never stopped.” Despite influences from documentarians such as João Moreira Salles, Cattabeke is not wedded to the genre. “I think that I am in the right moment to explore different styles and formats… I already explored a bit of fiction and a bit of documentary, and both have their ‘charm’.” Her next film, ‘Veo veo’, is a fictional drama depicting a romance that takes place during the Paraguayan civil war of 1947. “A girl from the red party establishes a friendly relationship with a boy of the opposing party.” Due for release early next year, there is every chance we may see Cattabeke back at Waterprite 2020!