“The Happy Version of Eden” is a short film produced by Samuel Restucci’s production company The Forest Man. The short was selected for the 2021 Annecy Film Festival, as part of the official selection in the Perspectives category, from among 2700 other films from almost 100 countries.
For 10 months, a cinematographic team specialized in animation, with 2 directors and 3 illustrators, worked in a cabin in the region of La Araucanía, having to confront the project with a global pandemic. The result of this experience is this 6-minute animated film that stands out for its aesthetic, technique and the message it conveys.
Production took place close to the Caburgua Lake, near the town of Paillaco (located in the region of La Araucanía, in the south of Chile) 8 kilometers from Huerquehue National Park, in a beautiful place surrounded by forests. “It’s a beautiful place, but very isolated. What was an already complex production under normal circumstances, became even more aggravated because of the pandemic. But, at the same time, this location made the rhythm of production easier, because we had to re-design a residence-style work plan, restricting travel for part of the team,” explains Restucci, co-director and producer of the short.
The Happy Version of Eden” is a traditional frame-by-frame animation, made with 3,000 drawings hand-drawn with graphite pencils, wax and ink on white paper. In this case, the technique has the particularity of animating the subject and the background on the same shot, which requires 12 original illustrations for every second of the film. The backgrounds and the characters are animated on the same paper, achieving a vibrant aesthetic and fluent camera movements: animated sequence shot. Every drawing was captured via scanner in medium quality to review the result of the animated sequences; once approved, they were photographed on 4K digital cinema quality, on a set with a digital cinema camera and 2 led panel lights for illumination.
The soundtrack was made based on excerpts of documentary audios from September 11, 1973 and the Social Outbreak from 2019 (in Santiago, Chile,) original effects, foley and music. The result is a visual and documentary journey about the last day in the life of Salvador Allende, the 1973 coup and Human Rights.
“We present a visit to the last day in the life of Salvador Allende, where we show some details of his intimate life, his suicide and the consequences of that terrible moment in our national history, with the idea to create an animated document that aims to leave an archive for the new generations, open debates about suicide and remind them of what must not be forgotten,” explains Restucci.
The Happy Version of Eden” is a traditional frame-by-frame animation, made with 3,000 drawings hand-drawn with graphite pencils, wax and ink on white paper.
Why do you think you were selected for Annecy?
“The Happy Version of Eden” is a movie that has this artisanal process that includes several stages in which the 3000 final drawings are part of the work done during a complex pandemic context. So, these drawings have an emotional weight, full of digital fingerprints printed on carbon and ink, a complex and rewarding experience. Complex on a human level, because of the isolation and to either adapt to it or die. Rewarding, because even though the project is a white elephant, we managed to finish the drawings by hand in a titanic mission against time, and somehow it managed to make it to the eyes and ears of the people evaluating projects and who selected us to premiere at Annecy 2021. An honour that brings us happiness and pride, an engine to continue working.”
The Forest Man originated in 2018, in La Araucanía. Founded by Samuel Restucci, the production company was created to produce quality film projects in the region of La Araucanía, with artists from the region. They worked with traditional and digital 2D animation and with virtual reality, focusing on interactive projects for the dissemination of science and culture.
Who participated in making the short?
“It started with two people at first, Emilio Romero and I. From Emilio’s original idea, we developed a script and designed the cinematography to apply to the Regional Audiovisual Fund, in La Araucanía, which we used to sponsor the short. A national team of artists from la Araucanía was proposed which included, illustrator Patricio Montecinos from Temuco; post-sound producer Daniel Lencina from Villarrica; illustrator Beatriz Arze, Alejandra García Lira, the director of photography Jeremy Hatcher from Pucón, and me, I live in Caburga, where my studio is. We also included other regions. From Puerto Montt, our associated producer and image post-producer Amanda Puga Salman; and from Santiago, the co-director and scriptwriter Emilio Romero; musician and composer Marcelo Córdova; actor Daniel Muñoz, who did Allende’s voice for one scene, and actress Cassandra Day, who did the voice of Gloria Gaitán. The post-sound production was done by Marcos Salazar and the DCP masters were done by Hernán Saavedra from Kitral Producciones. The documentary audios from the Social Outbreak were made by Balarama Muñoz and the Museum of Memory and Human Rights provided us with audiovisual archives, which we used to create the soundtrack. Pupa Studio Creativo provided audiovisual accessibility for the film.”
“A few years ago, we worked on a commissioned job with Emilio, when we lived in Barcelona. A video clip called ‘Tiempo de Soleá’ for Ojos de Brujo, a hip-hop flamenco band. In the video we showed an alley through the story of the 20th and 21st century with posters on the walls. One of those posters made reference to the 1973 coup in Chile. We always wanted to expand that alley, to take a tour through some of our history. Based on that idea, we started to create the short, delving into the last day in the life of Salvador Allende and his suicide. ‘The Happy Version of Eden’ is born from that first impulse, amplified by the 2020 Regional Audiovisual Fund, and today it arrives in the 2021 version of Annecy, where it will premiere in the category of Perspectives.”