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FantAsia I: Away (Latvia, 2019)

A young boy finds himself hanging from a tree by a parachute, with no idea of how he came to be there. He sees an enormous amorphous shape coming toward him and instinctively knows it means him no good; he manages to escape the creature by cutting the straps of the parachute and makes his way into a temporary refuge. There, he is kind to a baby bird, encounters a motorcycle and a knapsack with handy items like a water canteen, compass, blanket and a map. Soon, he and his bird companion must follow the map to return to humanity, while the monster follows inexorably behind him, getting closer.... The amazing thing about this animated 75-minute feature is that the entire thing was made by one single person, Gints Zilbalodis, everything from the story to the direction to the animation to the music and sound effects. Another amazing thing is that the entire film is without a word of dialogue - it's just the boy, the bird, the monster and a variety of creatures they meet along the way. I found it to be both suspenseful and beautifully gentle, a film perhaps a little intense for very small children but gorgeous and inspiring for everybody else.

And we're off to a great start at FantAsia once again!

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