Tekst (smal)

Annecy 2023: The Miracle

Short Films in Competition Official

The Miracle resort and complex offers everything you could ever want, the perfect place for a nice get away. But for Irma it is far from paradise. Dutch animator Nienke Deutz discusses her new film selected for competition at Annecy, five years after her Bloeistraat 11 won the Cristal for Best Short Film in the same competition (as well as 30 other festival prizes aside). SEE NL interview by Nick Cunningham.

The Miracle by Nienke Deutz

When Irma checks in late one evening to the Miracle resort and complex, everything seems groovy, but next morning she really gets to see what she has signed up for. The place offers just everything you could ever want, unless you’re single and on your own. There are couples nights and there are ante-natal classes for soon-to-be mums, but nothing on offer for the solo holidaymaker.

It’s not that the staff and other guests are mean or unfriendly, it’s just they think Irma must be a bit odd to be there on her own. And of course that can affect your behaviour, arguably for the better. What’s more, Irma can also see stuff that other people can’t see...

Director Nienke Deutz’s initial idea was to examine the feeling she sensed that childless women are rarely portrayed in popular culture, and soon realised that it is as much sole women who are seldom represented. They will have a male (or female) partner in tow, or a best friend or indeed kids. But solo is very rare.

In telling this  story of a woman who prefers her own company, Deutz had to overcome narrative problems. There had to be an antagonist, but without a human to perform that role the resort itself had to take centre stage, a place that was impersonal and bland when occupied by couples and families, but potentially exciting and mysterious when everybody else was tucked up in bed.

The animation is fascinating in that the characters are hand-drawn, fragile and translucent against the sharply rendered background of the resort. It was a technique that Deutz first developed for her Bloeistraat 11 which won the Cristal at Annecy for Best Short Film in 2018. “It's even slower than normal animation because you basically animate twice. First you draw everything in 2D, then everything is cut out and painted, and then you build sets and then they have to be reanimated, which is quite an intricate process,” says Deutz.

I thought there was an opportunity also to use this transparency in a narrative way, especially like showing the foetuses inside of the female's body, but also showing Irma inside another female's body. I thought it could be an interesting play, and suitable for this film.”

The core thing that I find important in telling human stories is that I find it really interesting how to create empathy with an animated character. That's always a question for me, to have an animated character feel very lifelike,” Deutz adds of her approach to the craft of animation and the business of generating emotional responses from audiences. “In animation you have to work much harder. If you have an actor, you just see a face and we immediately have ideas or feelings when we see it. With an animated character, it's a representation of a person that you are working with.”

Deutz will be grappling with this conundrum while soaring skyward in her next animated documentary. In This Is Your Captain Speaking* she will ask her neighbours in Rotterdam what they would do if they could fly for a day.

The Miracle is produced by Lunanime and Keplerfilm. Sales are handled by Miyu Distribution. It is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund.

*Film is supported by the Netherlands Film Fund

Director: Nienke Deutz
Festival: Annecy