JULY 18, 2023
Warmth is a short-length animated film by Nathania Zaini, an exceptionally talented artist who showcases their skills and knowledge in the most sophisticated technique – stop motion animation. Brought to quintessence, Warmth is an earnest story narrated by a young woman who encounters a homeless old man right across from her home. The woman says hello to him, wondering about the pivotal life events that brought the old man there, on the corner of an uncleaned street. His only companion is a rat, and as she would learn later, his favourite food is baked potato. However, one day, the old man disappears without saying goodbye; the world won’t remember him except for the young woman who draws a warm portrait of him.
The film doesn't hesitate to begin. Time is invaluable in stop motion, and every second counts, therefore Zaini decides to introduce the title and instigate the narration right away. The narrator's pleasant and gratifying voice slowly undresses the protagonist; the camera follows the voice-over and emphasizes the old man's physiognomy in exact places. Thus, at the midpoint twist, the artist executes an impressive transition from stop motion to hand drawing, delving into a metaphysical world in which the narrator indulges in dilemmas and daydreams about the old man's earliest childhood memories, firmly holding onto the motif of the home. The tale's final act is brief, aiming to provide catharsis for the characters – the young woman brings the homeless man a warm plate of his favourite food. The concept made tangible in a screenplay is the film's driving force.
The narration reads like a lyrical poem, subtly moving the plot forward while letting the visual grammar come fully in essence. Nathania and Randolf Zaini are erudite creators who sense the unique fields of energy for every word or syntax. Therefore, the narrator describes the old man as a street pilgrim; the writers enhance rhythmic verses and break the rhythm to provide dynamics and use the narrative lines to introduce a new situation, such as the narrator's statement that they've gone ahead of themselves. More excitingly, the voice uses past tense when drawing the existentialist portrait of the homeless man, but in contrast, it uses direct speech when he disappears.
In addition, the film language in Warmth is inviting. As a creative auteur and perfectionist, Nathania Zaini values the pre-production process. That being said, we assume that they’ve spent quality time building the set, crafting the props ensemble and creating the puppet together with trying the choices for costume design using a combination of materials including clay and silicone. The shots are timely, and the overall composition is rich with details, which would describe Warmth as 'every frame a painting' film. The filmmaker uses every element inside the frame; a different segment is moving purposefully at every moment, such as the protagonist’s eyebrow, the rat or the poster, culminating with the hand drawing sequence on a monochromatic backdrop. The materials are vivid, giving the impression that we can touch and feel the texture of the improvised bed, the old man’s weathered face and his patinized clothes. Additionally, Gabe Burch's sound design and score asset this experience significantly.
In conclusion, Warmth breathes imagination and creativity. It talks in its own language, thus materializing an idea that defines a broader array of meanings and purposes. Nathania Zaini masters the stop motion animation and feels comfortable with other techniques, combining them to break narrative conventions and remain authentic. Warmth is an enjoyable and thought-provoking film that requests to be watched at least several times. As the film's impression will be long-lasting, we enthusiastically anticipate Zaini’s next project.
Review written by Dimitar D.