Tampere Review: Babybox

With a huge number of short films already to her credit, Finnish born animator Katariina Lillqvist (she now resides in the Czech Republic) will return to her hometown as her latest film Babybox premieres at the Tampere Film Festival in both the International and National Competitions.

A musician plays on the street of a small East European town. But the cries of his baby drown out the music and also gain disapproving looks of passers-by. One implores him to place his child into the ‘Babybox’: a chute with a mysterious destination. But he refuses to leave his child to an unknown fate, despite living in poverty. But when he lives his child out of his sight, the baby’s grandfather disposes of the child – a move he soon regrets. Soon both go on a quest to find out what lies at the end of the ‘Babybox’ and retrieve their family member.

This has echoes of the animation work of Tim Burton as it straddles the line between light and dark with a deft touch. The model based animation is a joy to behold (and it's also a remarkable technical acheivement with some superlative work on subterranean canals), with the stylised characters that see somewhat childlike (all wide-eyes and slightly distorted torsos) fitting into a world of sharp angles and foreboding locations. IThe slightly innocent nature of the animation also works to highlight moments that aren’t afraid to step into the realm of the disturbing (the words ‘Trash’ and ‘Transplant’ have never seemed so ominous and terrifying) and it gives the short a gritty edge that makes it more satisfying. Having said that, young audiences – who often delight in thrills and scares – will most likely rejoice in the film (though there are moments in which young hands may tightly grasp that of a parent. Or will it actually be the other way round?).

After premiering at Tampere, Babybox will undoubtedly have a long and healthy life on the festival circuit (obviously with plenty of screenings at animation festivals). It may also get interest from short film distributors as its lack of dialogue and strong sense of aesthetics would seem to suggest a worldwide audience for the film

Film Details

Original Title: Babybox

Director: Katariina Lillqvist

Country: Finland / Czech Republic

Year: 2014 Run Time: 9 mins

Contact: Finnish Film Foundation, Otto Suuronen, otto.suuronen@ses.fi

05 March 2015, by Laurence Boyce