Earlier this week, I attended private inaugural Serpentine Film Committee Screening of the short animation, Footsteps on the Wind, at the Serpentine outdoor gallery in Hyde Park, along with the higher echelons of London's art scene. I was not one of them, and I honestly thought the crowd would be the usual film press, you know, overweight forty-to-fifty-year-old men, in T-shirts and jeans. Into which I blend seamlessly. On arrival, that was clearly not the vibe at all; this was London arts glamour, thankfully I had stuffed a dress shirt in my bag for the colder later night cycle home, so I quickly stripped to the waist in the park, changed tops, and rocked up to an event for which I was clearly out of my depth. But, to be fair, that makes up plenty of my London adventures over the decades; you never know what the city will throw at you.
Footsteps On The Wind is a short 7-8 minute animation directed by Maya Sanbar with ambition. It is a fantasy parable for the plight of child refugees; the world is interpreted through their perception, which informs the animation style. The film is free of dialogue or narration but uses the song Inshallah by Sting, who celebrated his seventieth birthday yesterday. Sting couldn't make it, but he did send an introduction for the attendees, running at the end of this article.
The film is reminiscent of Raymond Briggs' The Snowman in its use of what appears to be hand-drawn animation that preserves the feel of the linework and pen and ink shading, with an animation style that is jerky rather than smooth, it evokes the idea of the children's own drawings. While the harsh world of a child refugee being transformed into giant sea monsters, gigantic earthquakes, and other outlandish threats, in a similar fashion to Terry Gilliam's Tideland. all the time, whole dandelion spores float by, echoing the title. It also feels ripe for someone to turn this into a comic book, directly from the screen, far more so than other modern animations could.
With an introduction from Lady Helena Foster and Kristin Ólafsdóttir, the Serpentine film committee chair Nina Fialkow interviewed Maya Sanbar, also the video below, as well as a look around the venue. Footsteps In The Wind will be playing at international film festivals, is eligible for Oscar, Golden Globe, and BAFTA nominations, and will be streaming on Netflix later in the year, and from those involved, making an awareness-raising movie is just the start. They look for the footsteps of Footsteps In The Wind to extend further into digital offerings and the NFT marketplace to directly benefit international refugees with funding on an individual as well as a collective basis, including identity certification across borders in a world where such certainty is often stripped away. The trailer to the film can be watched here. Sting's introduction is below.
The interview runs here.
And you can get a look around here, accompanied by my own weirding out at the whole thing.