Animated worlds allow us to transcend certain boundaries of reality and by extension live action films. After all, that’s the beauty of animation; being the everlasting companion of imagination. That’s the opportunity newcomer Raymond Limantara Sutisna seized with his debut short BALANCE (2018), during which colorful Zadie and solemn Elijah engage in a territorial war of painting until they understand that only together will they be able to defeat the mess they’ve created.
Limantara Sutisna’s collaboration with Lead Animator Liao Zhibin and Art Director Tracy Quek Kai Ning brought to life a very compelling and beautiful award-worthy story. It’s no surprise then, that the short film received the award for Best Animation at Tri Rivers Film Festival 2020 and at the National Youth Film Awards 2019.
Behind this success is the compartmentalization of the talents of each individual creative: Limantara Sutisna created the story boards and focused on building the character of Zadie, while Zhibin put all her energy into Elijah and Quek Kai Ning undertook the backgrounds and effects. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t face any difficulties. Though animation is more flexible than other mediums, it still has its limits. Limantara Sutisna stated that “sometimes when you can imagine it, it doesn’t mean that you can draw it” and that was very challenging for him.
His greatest wish, however, made it into the project, as he had always wanted to draw an anime-inspired fight scene. As the two characters fight for painting space with two different color palettes – one grayscale and one as colorful as a rainbow- they form an alliance to defeat a common enemy. To survive, they help each other by sharing power and space. When the foe is defeated, Zadie and Elijah, though very different in mind and appearance, decide that they work better as a team. The message is clear: balance is the secret to happiness and success.
Considering that Zadie is so carefree and colorful and Elijah is very concise and gray, one could say that the fight between the two characters is that between a child and an adult. If one follows this path, then the message takes on added meaning as it promotes the embracing of the child within to be a content adult.
A vivid journey that will heighten the audience’s emotions, Balance is here to present the advantages of animation. Its creatives hope that people will be inspired to work with this amazing genre like they did. Limantara Sutisna, specifically, stated: “I just want to make films that make your eyes dance,” and animation is surely the right way to go. With such an outstanding debut, there’s no question that whatever follows will also be exceptional.
Ioanna Micha is a freelance copywriter based in Athens, Greece. She watches films. She reads about films. She writes about films. Generally speaking, if the word film is in the equation, she’s in.
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