HollyShorts 2021 Day 2 (Sept 24th) Highlights + Q&A With Claire Fleming

We’re on to day 2, and with the incredible experience that was had on opening night, it’s safe to say that the second time around will be just as enjoyable an experience. With some fantastic films on the docket for today, it will be a joy to share highlights of some of the most notable from today’s schedule. We will also be continuing our “5 Questions With” series, this time with Claire Fleming, who is behind the beautiful film Lines, which takes six poems written by prisoners who share their stories, set to animation and read by some incredible talent. Look for that at the end of today’s highlights.

Lines – Fleming’s animated short features a swath of talent, including Letitia Wright, Michael Kenneth Williams, Jodie Turner-Smith, Adepero Oduye and Riz Ahmed. Telling the story of these people living their lives in confinement through their own words has a massive impact, really shining a light on what they go through as a part of their daily lives. It’s powerful, with a very unique and interesting animation style that really feels like it lends even more impact to what the poets have to say.

Operation: Cavity – A film that many people can likely identify with, this short focuses on a group of kids looking to send a message to an ages old foe: the dentist. While there are some rather shocking moments, this felt more like a heist movie than a horror film, but nonetheless the cast was fantastic, with some really interesting and powerful choices coming from director Alex Morsanutto.

Demi’s Panic – Inspired by the pandemic, this animated film follows a young Latina woman whose life goes through a huge transformation when a nightmare about a storm is realized in a sense, as suddenly when the world is brought into a new normal as an illness takes over. It’s incredibly interesting to see the ongoing pandemic through the eyes of others, and this is no different. Writer Danny Leonard and legendary animator/director Bill Plympton really bring something significant into the world with this film. It’s a special thing to see the progression of the art style, of the characters as they go through the massive ups and mostly downs of this current time, and everyone involved in this film should be proud of how they’ve expressed themselves with this piece of art.

Namoo – A deeply personal and resonant film, Namoo shows the journey of one man from beginning to end, as we watch a newborn grow, learn and experience life in front of a great tree that evolve with him, helping him grow along the way. Between director Erick Oh’s visions and the incredible talent of Baobab Studios, this is a can’t miss film that is full of heart, passion and a sense of peace.

Last Chance Moms – Having a baby is hard, and for two friends, one whose partner just left them and one who isn’t able to have children, the plan is to team up to raise the incoming child. This was a heartwarming and funny film that is sure to delight those who watch it.

And now check out the talk we had with Claire Fleming about her film, Lines:

A still from Claire Fleming’s Lines

Q: Tell us more about your film.  How did it come to be? 

This project came to me by a chance reading of an article in August 2019 about poetry written by young prisoners, who are part of a book club called Free Minds. Free Minds, based in Washington DC, is a charity that is empowering young inmates to write new chapters in their lives through the medium of poetry. Then I read some of the poems! I found them inspiring and profound. I also found myself reading them every night, staying up late to read more. 

As an advocate for the power of education and learning, and with the creative skills to do something beyond the written word, I contacted the charity for permission to use some of the poems. To create a short animation around a few of the poets’ works. With their help I wrote to six of the poets, all agreed to let me use their words. Words I feel that resonate with everyone, we can all apply our own images and thoughts to the power of their paragraphs. ‘Lines’ animates the heartbreaking and moving poems written by American prisoners, revealing their regrets, fears and hopes beyond the lines of their confinement.

Q: What was your budget?

I made this project in my spare time at first, then due to covid was able to commit full time, as the sole animator I was free, only paying for my software. All the cast were gracious enough to also donate their time and voices which I will forever be grateful for. They believed in the power of our poets’ words and bringing them to life off the page.

Q: What was the biggest takeaway from making the film?

Believing in myself and taking a chance. I didn’t know any of our cast prior to this animation, so for them to all agree to be a part of it still makes me smile in surprise, it was such a pleasure to have their voices in my head for 9 months of animating.

Q: What was the biggest challenge in making this film?

In one word Loneliness, due to covid I was confined to creating the animation from home, so there was no buzz of other creative people in a studio to bounce ideas off. I was lucky to have a great producer in Letitia who I could email or phone and send snippets too, check I was on the right track and keep me focused, I am not sure I could have finished without her support and involvement.

Q:  What is next for you?

I have just finished another short animation set in Glasgow Scotland, which is where I’m from. I am an Art Director on major motion pictures so back to the day job now while I am trying to pursue directing animation and creative producing.

Thanks to all the filmmakers for their work! You can get tickets for all of the screenings for today, as well as any other blocks for the festival through BitPix and HollyShorts.

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