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Saturday, 22 March 2008

Meghana Bisineer "What's Fufu? " & "The Accident"

Two Channel 4 movies today, both narrated and both having in common the animator Meghana Bisineer, a genuine talent in UK animation, destined I am sure to make a big name for herself. Today's two movies are actually not directed by Meghana though she worked on the animation. What's Fufu?, written and narrated by sixteen year old Yemmi Akingbade, explores the problems experienced by a black girl brought up in a white family and her not unnatural desire to know about her African ancestry. The animation is professionally rendered and quite conventional in the depiction of the characters though I personally prefer the more figurative scenes - the hard hitting opening as the baby is born, her umbilical cord cut; the shadow of the girl's past glued to her feet like sticky chewing gum; peering from her high level apartment window and the room and world swirling around her; or most dramatically, the girl searching for a face and identity. What's Fufu? won a nationwide competition to allow talented youngsters to make a movie in the project, RAW CUTS, a joint initiative between Channel 4's 4Talent and the NSPCC. Meghana worked with fellow Royal College of Art graduates Christoph Steger and Ed Suckling. If I had a favourite of the two however it would be Sara Nesteruk's The Accident. It was animated by Meghana and Cath Elliot. Stephen spends his time at the house of Sara's grandma, writing letters for jobs he never obtains. Stephen had never been the same since his car accident. He writes letters with an old fashioned dip pen and is fondly, if not always strictly accurately, remembered by his niece. The animation style chosen is in the form of a scratchy fountain pen , a mirror of the letters laboured over in the family kitchen, complete with ink blotches. Scene transitions are easily dealt with - a scribble of the nib and the scene is erased. Memories of the man are not entirely fresh, certainly in relationship to the visual details. The result is a touching sense of reality rather than a carefully crafted movie - though of course it is. It was shown on Channel Four in the acclaimed and often innovative Mesh programme that sadly ends in this its seventh year. The narration by Sara Baxendale is so natural I felt sure she was the writer and person concerned. This sense of freshness and reality applied to the whole piece. In consequence the film moved me in a way What's Fufu failed to do, almost despite the subject, and the expert drawing and sometimes striking images.

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