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.