Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief
ATX Screen Scene
Most every person who has devoted their life and career to the environment can speak to a moment of inspiration.
Often from their youth, they describe a fateful encounter with the fabric of life on this planet that inspired them to explore and protect their area of interest—the forests, the grasslands, the sea, the sky. One such encounter forms the basis of Spark Bird. A birdwatcher’s first ever journey. The animated short from Italian filmmaker Laura Pauselli chronicles one girl’s discovery of nature’s wonder.
On a droll, cloudy day, our protagonist Emma is enticed to go exploring in pursuit of an abstract light, leading her into a fantastical world she never realized was all around her. After unlocking her interest in birdwatching, she’s finally able to track down the darting orange glow at the town’s highest point, the Fortress, where she discovers it’s no abstract form at all, but rather a bird—her first of many in her nascent birdwatching passion.
Pauselli demonstrates instinctive control of light and contrast, and shades well while framing efficiently, as a one-person animated project would already be time-intensive without the added caveat of being only a year into the craft. There’s a Ghibliesque quality about the experience, as she captures the pure innocence of her protagonist’s arc while building a semi-fantastical world contiguous with her own. Her pre-animation background as a character designer, too, is on full display, with amply creative designs for Emma and her feathered friends.
While it bears some markers of inexperience (the scale of execution is understandably limited, and a couple beats here and there don’t quite join together smoothly), there’s a lot of impressive instincts on display in Spark Bird. A birdwatcher’s first ever journey. Pauselli has stated her ambitions to continue animating, possibly collaborating in a studio environment. If this film is anything, it’s evidence of her readiness for that jump.