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Flui | Flow

6’ animation short film by Ana Fernandes and Joana Vieira da Costa


Three seemingly insignificant and distinct actions trigger three courses of alternate stories about the life and death of three closely intertwined characters. However, these fragmented destinies will gain a new meaning when we realize that the outcome is nothing more than a return to its initial course.


FLOW’s narrative arises from the attempt to overcome a trauma of loss through the formulation of successive recurring illusions that transport us to the field of “what if”… What if we changed an aspect of our lives… What if we had said something… And if we had a second chance… How different would the destination be?

In this escape from the linear notion of time, Flui reveals the nonconformity of not being able to go back.

Despite this theme touching us in a personal way, its ballast is greater touching all those who are uneasy about love and death. The notion of passing time brings us the need to perpetuate memories and understand what is fleeting (from the perpetuity of life to understanding the essence of others) issues that have leveraged, since time immemorial, the most varied forms of art.

We realize that this theme has, in essence, a correlation with the element of water, especially when sharing the principles of fluidity, transmutation, fleetingness and cyclicity. With this in mind, we intend to create a world where reality is transient, nothing is permanent, everything flows like water. Metamorphosis and ambiguity will guide our artistic and technical choices and the graphic treatment will mirror the film’s theme.

We decided to create a circular narrative that ends with a return to the beginning: fluid patches of water. The end appears to be the beginning of a new cycle, and it is up to the spectator to intuit the continuity. If, on the one hand, the opening scene of the film anticipates the tragedy, on the other hand, the final scene restores hope, opening, or not, a new cycle.

We want, therefore, to break the most common conceptions of linear time, building a mutable narrative time in which the elements of the story take a new course with each restart. Like flowing water, each narrative moment will continue the next, always in constant movement and mutation.

Note that the narrative is divided into three chapters that start at the same point, with the same character in the same action scene, but from a different point of view.

In the development of the narrative, reality is shaped and divergent courses are created for each of the three characters. In the first, man loses his life, in the second he also loses his identity, in the third he loses his being (the body is not rescued, but is, paradoxically, recovered by transmuting itself into the fisherman). As in a “dejá vu”, there is an allusion to the sense of disquieting strangeness in this return of the familiar that becomes strange.

With each new chapter, our emotional space moves away from the man on the bridge. With each restart, the frame becomes more distant and the narrative accentuates the anonymous character of the man. The opposite happens with the fisherman, gradually the framing is closer which brings us closer emotionally to him.

From a cinematographic point of view, we intend to bring the graphic language closer to the fluid movements of water, hence the choice of a monochromatic wash using Indian ink that will later be digitally treated.

The blackness of the inkblots and the medium that dilutes them – water – echoes in the emotional space of the characters. The lack of definition of the forms and the fluidity characteristic of the water is linked to the intended lack of definition in terms of space and diegetic time. For example, the representation of male characters leaves room for the free interpretation of their faces. In these, the line may be omitted in favor of the stain, the characters being more suggested than portrayed in detail.

In terms of animation, the technique to be used will predominantly be rotoscoping as it allows for a more effective exploration of the possibilities of the black spot that metamorphoses into the different realities presented.

It is not our intention to delve into melodramatic aspects of the action that is repeated during the film (the act of suicide) or dwell on the man’s life in detail. We believe that the raw and simple portrayal of this scene forces us to think and find similarities with our own experience and the fleetingness of life. We are interested in what is vague and even incomprehensible in the other, sometimes in ourselves. There is always something dark and veiled in the person we see before us and that we try to discover and portray. But it is a fleeting and subjective impression, an illusion. It just corresponds to our vision of the world at a precise instant. This uncertainty, fleetingness, the incessant quest to recognize ourselves in others, and the deep sense of our finitude, is what motivates us to draw and animate, capturing instants.

We hope that through this fluid, monochromatic and hypnotic portrait, we will manage to create an impressionist and sensory journey where the viewer can immerse himself.

Memorando descritivo de técnicas

In “FLow”, the intention is to graphically project the ambiguity of the characters’ mental spaces, their personality and the spatial and temporal indetermination of the narrative. The water element, which permeates the narrative, serves as a motto.

The wash, using Indian ink, is the technique that best suits the themes we are going to deal with. For practical and logistical reasons, the drawings will be created digitally, using proprietary tools (image processing and editing software). As for the animation technique itself, we opted for rotoscoping, as it will allow us to plastically and elastically explore the expressiveness of the stain, allowing for metamorphoses and the dilution and conversion of figures and shapes, sometimes even to their most abstract point.

We will shoot some scenes that will serve as a basis, together with the creation of some 3D models for more complex perspectives, to build the animated sequences that will give free course to our film.

From the art of sumi-e (where the harmony of the composition prevails over the theme) the poetic record of the essential has been removed. In another artistic form, also oriental, but visually very different — the ukiyo-e — one of its interpretations was poured: the one that associates “uki” with the Buddhist concept of “floating world”. This was the world of transient and illusory reality of life where nothing is permanent, everything is in constant mutation and metamorphosis, everything flows. Just like the water.

From the myth that tells the origin of drawing, by Pliny, the association between drawing, love and death was inherited. And, in search of the similarity between the portrait and the model, as in the myth, we question the dark side of the characters reflected in the blackness of the paint that is being diluted.

Just as the forms flow and metamorphose into each other, the narrative is also built in this fluidity, never materializing linearly, but suggesting a perpetual cycle of continuity and change. What at one moment seems like a fact, in the next moment it is transformed and confused with a different reality. Everything will be transitory like a “floating world”.

The sound dimension of the film should be characterized by predominantly natural diegetic sounds, where the sounds of water are a constant presence. Here we want to draw inspiration from the incredible soundscapes of films by Terrance Malic and Alexander Petrov whose sounds of natural scenes are exacerbated and loaded with meaning, playing their own narrative role.

The film will also be guided by original music compositions where fluid sounds predominate, which accompany the narrative without disturbing the ambient sounds and without stimulating the melodramatic aspect of the film.

We hope that the water flowing on the screen, together with the continuous sound of the water, will take the viewer on a sensorial and impressionistic journey, making him immerse himself in the film.

Budget: 95.000,00 €
Secured financing: 70.000,00 € (ICA – Instituto do Cinema e do Audiovisual)