I am always incredibly impressed by stop motion – the time-consuming nature of the work, the exquisite detail in the models, the ability to make rich on-screen worlds using mostly play-doh. Just thinking about the enormous patience of the animators blows me away. You might think, then, that Lima, a fifteen-minute short directed by Afshin Roshanbakht and Vahid Jafari, would have a low bar to clear, and maybe you would be right. But even amongst one of my favourite genres of animation, Lima is a true gem.
The story is a simple one – the eponymous Lima’s father has passed away, and as he grieves he reminisces on his happy memories – as he does so he, too, grows older. In the grand tradition of great animation – think of children’s classic ‘The Snowman’ – an almost entirely wordless film manages to convey something truly profound.
It is, first and foremost, a visual delight – a colour scheme of rich blacks, blues and purples feels reminiscent of stop-motion great Coraline, though here giving the effect of warm twilight as opposed to gothic horror. The sets, too, have a fairy-tale quality – intricate moss houses and gnarled trees, tiny, handmade clay bowls of fruit and fake pot plants give the film a charming, earthy feel. Stein Thor’s twinkly, piano-led score is quietly beautiful, unobtrusive, allowing the story to unfold and softly aiding it on its way.
What is most important about this film, however, is how simply yet effectively it deals with grief. It was shown as part of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, and while it does not deal directly with a specific mental illness, it is one of the most succinct and touching portraits of the grieving process that I have ever seen.
This is the first film from the Iranian Halachin studios, and I cannot wait to see where they go next. This subtle, touching, intricately-detailed film is a true diamond, and I highly encourage you too seek it out.
[Clare Patterson – @clarepattrsn]
Lima will be screening in Edinburgh on the 29th of October, as part of a selection of short films, Good Grief, curated by Theresa Moerman Ib for the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.
Image – mhfestival.com