School of Arts

Arts Student’s Animated Movie to Premier at International Festival

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Student animated film maker Ms Kayleigh Gemmell.
Student animated film maker Ms Kayleigh Gemmell.

The Next Few Months – an animated film by Master of Arts student Ms Kayleigh Gemmell – will premiere at the first virtual Annecy International Animation Film Festival in France later this year.

Annecy is a competition for animated films of various techniques, including animated drawings, cut-out papers, modelling clay and computer generated imagery. 

The film – among four selected from South Africa – is the practical component of Gemmell’s masters thesis in digital art and animation studies on the topic of animated documentaries and whether or not they can be considered viable forms through which to represent documentary narratives.

The film itself is a highly personal animated documentary dealing with the after-effects of terminal illness: more specifically, on Gemmell’s father, who was diagnosed with Cancer in 2018. The film documents his diagnosis and treatment from the perspectives of those closest to him, using different styles of animation to represent the results and effects of the treatments on the mind and body.

‘The biggest challenge of the film was grappling with the subject matter, which was incredibly personal. While the film was cathartic in the sense that it allowed me the space to process and deal with my father’s diagnosis, it was also very painful to relive, re-work and re-present some of the most difficult times for my father, myself and my family members,’ said Gemmell.

She sees Annecy as important for students ‘because they are sites for learning, growth and inspiration’.

Nominated in the graduation films category, Gemmell said the festival provided a platform for graduates to showcase work that often went unrecognised due to a shortage of funds, marketing or experience. ‘Ultimately it gives students access to an international network of interested and like-minded individuals willing to provide anything from support to education and job opportunities.’

Gemmell advised other filmmakers and artists to work hard and smart. ‘It is very easy to get bogged down by the process and its difficulties, and it’s just as easy to be distracted by more “interesting” ideas or whims. We have to learn to focus on the end goal but allow the process itself to occur as naturally as possible,’ she said.

‘Give yourself more credit and believe in yourself and your work. We are often unable to see the potential greatness in ourselves and that stops us from taking necessary risks and making the most of the opportunities we are presented with.’

Gemmell said she planned to travel and gain more experience within the field of teaching. ‘I am currently teaching English in Zhongshan in China; an experience that I hope will broaden my horizons and provide me with the skills to become a better teacher and lecturer.’

The film can be viewed on video platform Vimeo https://vimeo.com/368453877

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