utka poster b.jpg

Utka

4.363635
Average: 4.4 (11 votes)
The Wish Movie
Christchurch > 08
Made by a duo team, split between Montreal and Chicago. Enjoy!

I really appreciate that this wasn't a happy wish film. It kept a good storyline from the start to the end and the overall feel of the film was cute. It had twists and underlines that worked.

Wow this got me in the feels.
Well done guys, brilliantly executed. A lot of work here- even the subtle details of the mother bobbing in the water waiting- so haunting and foreshadowing.
Just needed a mini-gun somewhere in the film to unlock the 7 star rating from me.

MistaTeas
5.04

An animated tale about a sad little duck looking for some respect from his family.

Done in the style of a child crayon drawings, this short was put together by former CHCH manager Andrew Todd and creative buddy, Johnny Hall. Nicely written, smoothly animated and richly voice acted. It delivers a nice message and hits on the key beats of a deliciously dark, children's story. My only note was that it didn't need to be as long as it was. We pretty much new the direction it was taking early on and who the real villain was so some of the "Utka gaining respect bits" were maybe unnecessary. I think you can expect to see this in the city final and it is the only animated film made in CHCH this year.

Being the only animated film in ChCh I was super keen for this one, I liked the choice of style with the crayon drawings, the murders at the end completely blindsided me but later on I realised the foreshadowing was probably a bit more obvious than I noticed at the time. Solid effort considering your location and I hope this gets recognised in the solo/duo competition.

This films only weakness is how easy they make it look.

Starts strong, setting up something pretty standard, then it just twists its way into a darker more interesting place. Very funny

Of course you don't often see an animated film, so I was interested right from the start. If the narrator didn't naturally have that Russian accent, then I must say that I am very, very impressed.

What I found was that Utka's cute crayon-drawn world was deceiving, for its visual design is impeccable. The cat especially; diamonds everywhere; thin, slippery lines. Spectacular.

The music was also a strong point, and alongside the brilliant narration, this film really had a flow that gripped me right the way through. I want to say that the animation should've been a little more ambitious, but choosing animation in the first place is ambitious enough.

A lovely story from start to finish, and a great breath of fresh air from all the live action films in the competition.

A huge achievement for a multi-country 48 hour duo animated Ultra. I don’t know if you could set yourself a greater challenge!

Searlo
7

This is an utterly delightful film that clearly deserved to win a highly polished Christchurch final.

Written in the form of a Russian Children’s morality play, Utka tells the story of a young duck (Utka), who effectively makes a pact with the devil and gets (regretfully) exactly what he wanted. This is dark - it won’t be picked up by Disney anytime soon, and is more a pre-Brothers Grimm fairy tale than anything you read as a kid.

Great choice to set the play in Russia, as while dark, Utka has a very dark humour running through it. Johnny Hall’s slightly dodgy Russian accent provides the ominous narration, while Andrew Todd’s joyfully child-like animation (I mean that as a compliment) gives the film a delightful tension. I have no idea how the animation was completed, but apparently Crayola Crayons stalk Andrews dreams - and I presume his fingers still smell like a kindergarten.

If I’m coming across as a fan-boy, well... I am. This is the type of film that gets me very excited. I’ve followed Andrew and Johnny’s filmmaking adventures for the past 11 or 12 years (check out their feature film ‘Ghost Shark 2: Urban Jaws’ you guys) - but this is my favourite of either of their back catalogues. Its a simple, brutal, dark, and surprisingly touching film. They’ve matured as filmmakers, and the final line of the film indicates that they’ve seen some things - and come through the other side as better storytellers.

Seven Stalinesque purges out of seven for me.

Alexander Jones
city manager

What can I say?

Well, a lot apparently.

I absolutely LOVE this film. Every time I watch it, I get more and more out of it. I appreciate the animation, the voice acting, the script, the music, and I still get mad shivers at some of those line deliveries.

Let me just say as well, to anyone reading this review that isn't from Poutine Wolf, I almost wish (lol) this film wasn't as incredible as it was, because as my first year as city manager I felt like a total ass kisser giving the big award to my immediate predecessor. There are a lot of whispers about biases in 48hours (mostly unfounded but still) and here I am, wanting to make my mark as a grassroots man in charge, contributing fully to that bias.

But the thing is, if anything, I was biased against it. You really have no idea how good a film made by someone in Andrew's position is going to be, coaches don't play after all, and before watching it for the first time I did think to myself "Lol this could potentially be really bad, wouldn't that be embarrassing", but... well... NOPE! Instead Andrew has proven how much he has truly learnt about 48hour films by creating what genuinely might be my favourite one of all time. Man oh man do I love this film, and man oh man do I feel like a brown noser.

Of course, it wasn't just Andrew doing all the work here. Both he and Johnny wrote a script SO tight that there was almost no deliberation from the judges on this one. Some of these lines are absolute word porn guys, they're simple when they need to be, they're sad when they need to be, they're epic when they need to be and they're terrifying when they need to be.

Every single element of this story is there, working at full capacity. A lesser film would have featured Utka's brothers and sisters dying at the hand of some other animal or of exposure, but here we see it was that damn evil cat who granted the wish in the first place. This is all to say it's very satisfying to see a film fold in on itself and fire a chekhov's gun you didn't know still needed to be fired. This is a film made by a team who knows what they're doing when it comes to narrative.

I also love Johnny's voice over here. The choice to go Russian was inspired and wonderful (and combined with the Spanish lover from summer co's "in the woods" this year, I'm starting to think that giving your film a foreign flair might be a growing trend we see in the future of 48Hours). The line delivery here is so damn good. In particular, the line that always gets me is "My wish came true. Did yours?"-- the way the evil and despicable reality comes to light with Johnny's pitch shifting for the "did yours?" is fucking terrifying, and demonstrates super effective vocal control on Johnny's part. Theatrical, terrifying, effective.

While you didn't take the award home, I loved the adherence to genre for "Utka". While other nominees like "An Appointment with a Poo" and "The Stile" both got nominated for subverting what we expected for their genres, "Utka" and the film that actually won the genre award "Cushy: A Pull Story" are both excellent examples of the old nail your genre game. "Utka" truly nails the Wish genre, with a "be careful what you wish for message" wonderfully suiting the simple nature of this Russian crayon storybook.

I think it's really interesting to view "Utka" in the context of the top 3 Christchurch films as well- while "PC High" is a rich comedy, and "Hero" is a hard hitting drama, "Utka" comes out on top as being the best of both worlds here as kind of a mix of the two. A complete package: It's humorous in that it's a story about a duck becoming a dictator, but it's also a sorrowful tragedy that leaves you feeling as alone as the character himself. And he is alone.

As for your title, "Utka". Of course. What else would you call it? It's a fun word to say.

ProfessorM
6.02

A worthy wearer of the Christchurch City crown, and fantastic re-entry into the competition from our Outgoing Fearless Leader. I was thoroughly impressed by this film. The timing was as impeccable as the Narrator's accent, which made it feel little like a 48Hours entry, and more what I imagine a traditional Slavic folk-tale would look like when shown on whatever stereotypically grim version of PlaySchool exists in the Motherland. I look forward to seeing how the rest of the country receives this wee story at the Grand Finals (said expectantly). Haroshaya rabota!

So very very good. Be careful what you wish for indeed...

I know that George Miller was a clear and obvious inspiration but boy oh boy did this deliver. Honestly the closest comparison I could think of was the writing of Gregoire Solotareff because this was most definitely its own morality tale and an absolute beast of a film, pun intended. Framing was captivating, pacing like a leisurely journey across an ocean paradise and an ability to emotionally resonate like few 48Hours films ever have. The only minor minute squibble I had was the voiceover not quite being technically perfect sound-wise however the performance was so great in terms of guiding us lucky viewers that this is most definitely still getting full marks from me.

Oh and that music using strings to pull on my heart strings? YESSS.

Poor little Utka...

ps Robbed of top 3 at nationals.

I flipping loved this film! A moving story that feels just like reading a children's fable.
Really wonderful work guys.