A snowy, windswept landscape stretches endlessly into clouds of grey, the ocean washes in and out, marred with sickly oil. These bleak and barren places were created in a garage in England by Kingston University students, George Warren and Ieuan Lewis. Both studying graphic design, their project Uki was funded by the BFI 2018 Animation Scheme and has since received attention from the BBC and stop-motion lovers everywhere.
The short film follows an Inuit struggling to survive after an oil leak plagues the waters of Alaska, attended by his faithful and wide-eyed dog. With a sparse colour palette and haunting sound effects, Uki paints a portrait of isolation and quiet despair with darkly comic moments and a poignant ending. Throughout, not a word is spoken, which reflects the soundless communication more akin to the animal kingdom than the world of humans. But here, very little humanity remains, especially when faced with starvation. The stark contrast of black and white leaves no room for grey. Despite the film’s silence, it nonetheless has ample time to make a study of isolation, pollution and our relationship with the wild and all under five minutes. Beautiful and powerful, it’s a bite-size morsel to savour and stew over.
A heartfelt thank you to all the photographers, artists, illustrators, and writers who trusted us, dived in, and brought us delight, grace, excitement, courage, wilderness, and wonder over the last five years. Their work not only reflects the bonds we share with our animal companions, it also celebrates their spirit.
None of this would be possible without our four-legged counterparts who sprinkle magic dust time and time again, and our readers, who embraced this kooky idea, rallied around us, and made this world theirs too. With friends like these, who needs nine lives?
February 5, 2019