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Father (2008)


An autobiographical animated short film about a boy struggling to understand his ‘strange, silent’ father, who arrived in Australia as a refugee from Lithuania.

Curator’s notes

In this contemplative short film, director Sebastian Danta sifts through childhood memories of his father – an eccentric, inscrutable man. Danta doesn’t shy away from his father’s drinking, emotional distance, and departure from the family home when Danta was 15. Yet this is also a loving portrait that seeks a new understanding of the past.

Danta muses upon his father’s background as a Lithuanian refugee and the impact his experiences may have had on his later life. Yet Father doesn’t attempt to force too strong a cause and effect logic on its narrative, or to propose definitive answers to the mysteries of its central character. While it depicts a son’s changing perspective and increasing comprehension of his father, it seems also to be about accepting the parts he doesn’t understand.

Father combines animation with a first-person voice-over, performed by Joel Edgerton. Danta’s animation makes playful use of visual metaphor, often allowing the image to fill in details the voice-over skips. The narration has a dry, understated quality that belies the deeply emotional nature of the subject matter. In this respect, it is reminiscent in both style and subject of Adam Elliot’s short animations Uncle (1996), Brother (1999) and Cousin (1998) and Dik Jarman’s Dad’s Clock (2002) – also narrated reflections on family members.

Jonathan Nix and Miles Nicholas’s rich musical score provides additional emotional cues to offset the narration’s detached tone. Nix is also a director and animator, who studied with Danta at RMIT's AIM Centre in 2002 and directed the short Hello (2003).

Father won the 2008 ATOM award for best animation. It screened widely at international festivals in 2008 and 2009, including the Melbourne and Sydney International Film Festivals, Flickerfest, the Telluride Film Festival (USA), Montreal World Film Festival and Anima Mundi Animation Festival (Brazil). It screened on SBS television in February 2009. Danta’s student films Flat (2003) and Losing Face (2003) also enjoyed success at international festivals. Father, an AFC-funded short, is his first non-student film.