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Categories: Movie Reviews

Marlies Janssens reviews the animated short “Paradise” by Belgian director Laura Vandewynckel, which was shown at Cannes 2015 and has also been selected for this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. 


Paradise, a short film that originally served as Laura Vandewynckel’s end work for the Belgian RITS School of Arts in Brussels in 2014, was afterwards selected for the 2015 edition of Séléction Fondation at Cannes. It definitely reached beyond Laura Vandewynckel’s wildest dreams, but sometimes dreams do come true. And although she didn’t win at Cannes, she has now even been selected for the Short Cuts at the Toronto International Film Festival that takes place September 10th-20th.

Paradise (Het Paradijs) is an animated short film by the young Vandewynckel. At the young age of 29 years old, she already has her very first nomination at Cannes after winning several awards in her home country Belgium for the same project. Some of them are the SABAM-award and a wildcard from the VAF (Vlaams Audiovisueel Fonds/ Flemish Audiovisual Funding).

The title of the film refers to the exoticism people experience when going abroad. Vandewynckel’s own description of Paradise reads:

An animated short about people heading for a better place on either side of the ocean. Although at times their paths do cross, they never really seem to meet.”


She makes use of several metaphors to point attention to the strict divide between the modern western society and ‘the others’ across the ocean. The modern protagonist of the film is white, living in a white house. The use of colour stands for the opposition between the remarkably cold and sterile atmosphere of  the white society and the warm and colorful one on the other side of the ocean. The crossing of boundaries is marvelously suggested by using colorful papier-mâché for oceans, trees and deserts. Most obviously, the natives have a different skin colour, which signifies the strong contrast between the hospital land the protagonist arrives in and his own one, living in denial. Whether both worlds get to meet eventually in a less superficial and distanced way – well, one should find out for themselves.

It is a shame that people who have never watched Vandewynckel work before would not realize how much work has got into this project. If it wasn’t for Vandewynckel’s own introduction, the audience wouldn’t know she made every puppet herself, since nowadays everything is so easily created by using computers. These figures were indeed handcrafted. Also, Paradise is completely without any dialogue, but the folkloristic soundtrack, consisting of thumping rhythms, definitely fits the exotic atmosphere. The entire process took her 6 months and it must have been an intense period full of passion and devotion. The short 5’38” is the worthy result of this tireless work on stop-motion animation.

Find out more about Laura Vandewynckel’s work at lauravandewynckel.com

Marlies Janssens

After graduating with an MA in Linguistics, I am currently completing an MA in Film Studies & Visual Culture at The University of Antwerp, Belgium. I have lived in Berlin for half a year and love to travel the world and meet new people. Beyond that ,culture is my biggest passion, ranging from film to music, photography, literature and theater. I have spent my entire youth on a stage: acting and dancing. In my spare time, I am always looking for new hotspots and checking out new films!

Posted on Sep 1, 2015

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