Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
Austin Alternative Screen Scene
In short stories, every word is precious.
In the best short stories, each sentence advances the narrative, and most pull double duty—characterizing, foreshadowing, commenting thematically, all while moving the plot intractably forward. The best short films, then, apply the same approach to the conventions of the medium; no shot is wasted, no line of dialogue extraneous, and if possible, this economy of runtime can even extend the story beyond the bounds of beginning and end. Escape Velocity demonstrates a superb command of this principle.
The film takes us alongside a treacherous journey through a lava lamp landscape for one interplanetary explorer, as he is pursued by a vicious creature. With ample intrigue as an adventure tale, it carries us to a satisfying end as our hero escapes danger, before ripping the rug out from under our emotions. The denouement recontextualizes the entire film, revealing that this was not an aborted mission, nor was that any mere creature. Instead, we learn that our protagonist and the creature once enjoyed the sacred bond of pet and parent, and the weight of sadness we feel alongside our astronaut’s hits us right in the gut as we slowly replay the film in our minds. What once was a harrowing adventure now reads as a pained attempt at reconciliation, and the abject heartbreak at its failure.
Hungarian writer/director Tamás Rebák describes himself as being “obsessed with sadness and melancholy,” and while that shines through in his writing, his artwork deserves equal mention. The visual style of Escape Velocity stands out among its AniFab peers, wildly imaginative and conceptually sound. Coupling this with his very own “The Tale of Iroh” rug pull makes for an incredibly effective short film. And further still, this dynamic which requires reimagining the story anew comments on the challenging relationship between man and nature which so many fellow festival submissions choose for their primary theme. For these merits and more, the film was recognized for Outstanding Achievement for Animation, Short at the AniFab awards ceremony. It’s a wonderful, economical short film with broad appeal, while also aligning with the environmental ethos of its contemporaries. Double duty, indeed.