Monday, 27 August 2007

Sejong Park "Birthday Boy"

Sejong Park's "Birthday Boy" is special enough to been nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 2005, losing out to Chris Landreth’s Ryan - see the Comments below. It is one of the most deserving of nominations for two reasons: first Sejong was a only student in Australia when he produced it; and second, because it is such a convincing film. It grips one's interest from first frame to last. It is 1951 in Korea, a time of war. The young boy, Manuk, is playing war games and scavenging for bolts and pieces of metalwork from what turns out to be a wrecked aircraft in a war torn and seemingly empty village. He carefully places a bolt on the railway lines which promptly rolls towards the points on the line. Is he going to cause a rail tragedy? Is his life in danger? The train rumbles by full of troops and tanks. This is a war zone with aircraft and gunfire. Manuk is oblivious to the dangers or implications. He pursues his own private play, firing imaginary guns, lobbing an imaginary hand-grenade, manufacturing another toy soldier to add to his collection. This is his birthday and a package awaits him on his doorstep. Sejong creates a world of childish innocence overlaid on a war where there are real casualties and issues the young boy does not comprehend. Produced using the Maya software Sejong's detail in his portrayal of the boy's facial and body movements is extraordinary. I must also commend the sound design from Megan Wedge, Chris McKeith and James Lee - Manuk's song, the train, jangling metal, gentle, unobtrusive music all add to the detail. Working alongside Andrew Gregory, the producer and script editor, Sejong has produced a movie that is 10 minutes of animation heaven. It has been screened everywhere. You can view it on YouTube though I downloaded a high definition copy from the unbeatable No Fat Clips. You may purchase a DVD here and/or visit the official site.


Anonymous said...

It's untrue this film won an oscar, its untrue it was even nominated. It qualified for eligibility and made it as far as short listing.

Fact check!

Ian Lumsden said...

True and untrue actually. "Birthday Boy" failed to win the Oscar but it was officially nominated for the awards and Sejong Park and producer Andrew Gregory travelled to Los Angeles for the gala Oscar® presentation ceremony. The Australian Film Commission also hosted a reception in March of that year at Parliament House, Canberra, to celebrate the honour alongside the Oscar win for Cate Blanchett.

Reading the review again the mistake is largely a result of sloppy writing. What I had meant to say was that the film was special enough to have won the award (I confess it reads badly) and in the event lost out to Chris Landreth’s "Ryan", a movie I enjoyed as both movie and tribute to a remarkable man whose decline was temporarily arrested by the exposure provided by the movie. He died in February 2007. In terms of awards, "Ryan" was the more accomplished work with a ground-breaking technique. The other nominations, for the record, were "Gopher Broke",
"Guard Dog" and "Lorenzo". I preferred "Birthday Boy".

So with apologies for the slack writing and I hope the review did not unduly upset you, though the hyphenated "Fact check!" suggests otherwise. Writng a daily review makes one prone to error. I shall rewrite the opening to clear up the facts but retain your comment.