| 11 min
Selections and Awards
Two brothers entertain themselves with a joyous game of hide and seek while their parents cook dinner. As one boy counts, the other quickly hides in a small cabinet full of glasses, stubbornly determined to win. Seconds pass… then minutes… years… and decades. Every so often, the boy peeks out of the sideboard. What he sees is strange and unfamiliar. With each glance, everything and everyone he once knew changes and fades, until he is left alone.
Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Daniel Gray (t.o.m., 2006; teeth, 2015), HIDE is an emotionally stirring and surreal animated short with elements that could be described as horror. The film is about homesickness and disconnect in a world where technology has seduced us with the promise of bridging continents and bringing us closer. Yet without being physically present, without being able to share a meal, a drink or a seat on a sofa, we are no more than ghosts—peeping toms casually observing our fading memories and distant, aging loved ones.
Using a sparse soundtrack and visual design that shifts from bright and spacious simplicity to opaque fragments, HIDE tells a heartrending, prescient story about family, social anxiety and isolation in a world that is increasingly disjointed and unrecognizable.
Co-produced by La Cellule Productions (France), CUB Animation (Hungary), and the National Film Board of Canada, HIDE allegorically explores the idea of moving far from home yet remaining able to see and communicate with your loved ones.
ONE-LINER & TWO-LINER
Two brothers entertain themselves with a joyous game of hide and seek while their parents cook dinner. As one boy counts, the other quickly hides in a small cabinet full of glasses, stubbornly determined to win. Seconds pass… then minutes… years… and decades. Every so often the boy peeks out of the sideboard. What he sees is strange and unfamiliar. With each glance, everything and everyone he once knew changes and fades, until he is left alone.
Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Daniel Gray (t.o.m., 2006; teeth, 2015), HIDE is an emotionally stirring and surreal animated short with elements that could be described as horror. Using a sparse soundtrack and visual design that shifts from bright and spacious simplicity to opaque fragments, HIDE tells a prescient story about family, social anxiety and isolation in a world that is increasingly disjointed and unrecognizable.
Style and Sound Approach
Two brothers entertain themselves with a game of hide and seek. As one counts, the other hides in a small cabinet. Seconds pass… then minutes… years… and decades. HIDE is a heartrending and prescient story about family and disconnect, in a world that is increasingly fragmented and unrecognizable.
Two brothers are playing hide and seek. One of them finds the perfect hiding spot… and never comes out. Life carries on outside.
INTERVIEW WITH DIRECTOR DANIEL GRAY
Daniel Gray’s latest animated short, HIDE, is a refreshingly quiet film. In an era where animation frequently screams and shouts, HIDE mostly whispers. “It was a choice to have it quiet most of the time,” says Gray. “In the visual approach to the film, there’s a strong awareness of contrasts. Between inside and outside of the cupboard. Between different times of the day, years, states of mind. So that quietness was very useful when I wanted to introduce moments of stress and chaos; to emphasize them.”
The film’s palette also changes, shifting from bright open spaces to a more dark, fragmented and claustrophobic design. “The thing I needed to show is that this isn’t about a broken family. It’s a normal house with happy kids playing a game for the sake of being playful. So the beginning had to feel like a different film than what unfolds. Once the mechanics of the disconnection get going, the cupboard becomes an impossible space, in which I wanted to exaggerate the volumes in a way that would help show what the character was physically going through. The outside of the cupboard had to look unfamiliar but the same each time he opened the door, so different lighting and colours had to be used effectively, and the emotional state of the story outside also needed to be shown.”
You’ve mentioned HIDE being a modern twist on homesickness. Can you elaborate on that idea?
With HIDE I was trying to capture the emotional colouring of that feeling I get in my stomach when I think of home. Home is a strange place for me now; my parents are getting older, my sisters and brothers are getting older—not in the same way as when I used to live near them, but in big noticeable chunks that are present every time I visit. I wanted to get that feeling of disconnection. Homesickness used to be a very obvious emotion. You didn’t see or speak to someone, you missed them. Now it’s very different; you see and speak to ‘home’ all the time, so that feeling of missing home is refined to a very particular emotional connection that is missing.
When I first saw the film, I kept looking for signs of abuse or some family dysfunction, but it’s not really there. This is actually a happy home. Was it important that this be a seemingly functional family?
Yes, it had to be that the ‘hider’ isn’t doing this as a way of hiding from a person or situation. In my experience, removing myself from one place to another was a fun adventure. I didn’t want the hiding to be a literal act of hiding from a trauma because that makes the film about the act of hiding rather than the effect of it.
Did you have the idea of using ‘hide and seek’ from the start, or were there other games or approaches you considered?
‘Hide and seek’ was the first mechanic I used. There is a short story called “A bújócska” (“The Hideout”) that I read, by a Hungarian poet named István Kemény. It’s about a big game of hide and seek. The atmosphere of the story really matched what I was trying to do with my story. I already had the flat and the idea of being removed, maybe having a parallel flat or flats, but his story made me think about hiding inside the place you are removed from. I loved the idea of the character hiding in the room, so you can’t see his form. Yet, you know he’s there in that cupboard the whole time.
One could also read themes of social anxiety and isolation—very timely themes in this Internet/pandemic age. Were these on your mind while making HIDE?
Those things are very prevalent in your life if you live in a country [Hungary] that is very alien to your default setting. It’s easy to get trapped in a feeling of isolation when your knowledge of a language is minimal and you have no foothold to socialize in that world. I tapped into the fear of that for sure. It works in the film’s favour that the feelings I was talking about are now massively universal, when previously they were more niche, though still relatable.
Your last two films were made with Tom Brown. How did the experience of co-directing compare to now working alone? Was it easier? Did you miss the collaboration?
I miss the camaraderie of working with Tom; he’s still one of my best friends and we chat a lot. Our friendship is better, though, now that we don’t talk about work and deadlines and stuff. That became the crux of our interactions, and I’m happy that it’s gone.
I think there are future projects on which I’d love to collaborate, and there are others where I think it’s safer if I don’t. In HIDE, I’m talking about things that are very close and real to me in life, so I liked working on it as a single, focused mind.
Daniel Gray studied Fine Art at the University of Wales Cardiff. After a stint as a represented painter, Daniel started experimenting with animation. While studying animation at the University of Wales, Newport, he met Tom Brown. The duo started a creative partnership that began with their graduation short film, t.o.m. (2006). This short tale about a young boy’s rather peculiar and revealing journey to school was an instant success at international film festivals, collecting awards from Ottawa, Annecy, and Sundance, as well as at the British Animation Awards. Their next film, teeth (2015), which tells the life story of a man (voiced by Richard E. Grant) through the history of teeth, screened at more than 40 festivals and won numerous awards.
In addition to the imaginative music video Constant Growth Fails (2017), Gray has directed many commissioned works. He has also served on a film festival jury and as a visiting lecturer at universities, and has led a number of creative animation workshops.
Daniel currently lives in Hungary with his wife and daughters. His most recent film, Hide, is a co-production between La Cellule Productions, CUB Animation Studio, and the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). This is Daniel’s first collaboration with the NFB.
Producer (La Cellule Productions)
Photo : Clara Souchet
After graduating from Grenoble Ecole de Management, Marion received another specialized master’s in cultural administration, during which she organized an experimental film festival. Then she worked at the BNP Paribas Foundation, managing partnerships with contemporary dance and circus companies and festivals. In 2017, she joined La Cellule Productions as an associate producer, alongside Soyo Giaoui, and together they’ve cultivated a diverse network of auteurs from different countries and backgrounds, producing 10 shorts. Hide is the most recent short developed by La Cellule Productions and their most ambitious animated film, with an international team located in Hungary, France, Wales and Canada.
Producer (La Cellule Productions)
Photo : Shani Giaoui
Soyo graduated from Sciences Po Paris and obtained her law degree in 2014. After taking part in the shooting of a French TV show she decided to change course, and in 2015 she co-founded La Cellule Productions, which produces fiction and animated shorts. Since then, she and Marion Barré have cultivated a diverse network of auteurs from different countries and backgrounds, producing 10 shorts. HIDE is the most recent short developed by La Cellule Productions and their most ambitious animated film, with an international team located in Hungary, France, Wales and Canada.
Producer (CUB Animation Studio)
Photo : Somnium Studio Budapest
Bella Szederkényi graduated as an animation filmmaker from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME) in Budapest in 2009, after directing her multi-award-winning diploma film Orsolya. She then completed three years of her DLA studies, and in 2015 she and Bálint Farkas Gelley founded CUB Animation Studio, where she’s slowly shifted her role from directing to producing, helping young talents find opportunities to create their own films. She is also a lecturer at the ASF animation workshops and the MOME Animation department.
Bálint Farkas Gelley
Producer (CUB Animation Studio)
Photo : Somnium Studio Budapest
Bálint Farkas Gelley
Bálint Farkas Gelley graduated from the animation department of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design (MOME) in 2012. He founded CUB Animation Studio with Bella Szederkényi in 2015 and is a founding and board member of the Hungarian Animation Producers Association. Bálint is working on his first animated series as a director and on various animated projects as a producer. He is also a lecturer at the ASF animation workshop and the MOME Animation department.
Maral Mohammadian is a producer at the renowned National Film Board of Canada’s Animation Studio in Montreal. Her award-winning auteur films include Shannon Amen by Chris Dainty, Freaks of Nurture by Alexandra Lemay, The Weatherman and the Shadowboxer by Randall Okita and Deyzangeroo by Ehsan Gharib. Maral has helped to develop some of Canada’s top rising talents through the NFB’s internationally recognized Hothouse apprenticeship program, which has spawned a series of one-minute hits. In addition to films, she produces interactive projects with a distinct artistic edge, such as Paloma Dawkins’ stunning multi-award-winning VR joyride Museum of Symmetry. Prior to joining the NFB, she worked at the Ottawa International Animation Festival and various artist-run and non-profit film organizations, where she made and supported alternative cinema.
Executive Producer (NFB)
Photo : David Fine
Michael Fukushima is executive producer of the NFB’s world-renowned English Animation Studio. After briefly freelancing following college, Fukushima joined the NFB Animation Studio in 1990 as a filmmaker, then became a producer, and is now studio head, with over 200 films (and some nice awards) under his belt. Fukushima produces one or two films per year, recently by Oscar® winners Alison Snowden, David Fine, and Torill Kove, and in 2014 he became a member of the AMPAS® Academy. When not overseeing the studio, he skis all winter and cycles all year; rain, sun, sub-zero, and snow.
A film by
Mihály Áron Zima
Amir Sám Nakhjavani
Bálint Farkas Gelley
Péter Benjámin Lukács
Rosalina Di Sario
Dr. Gergely Kalocsay
Rubini & Associés
Olivier Catherin, Pascal Simonpietri, Louis Jacobée, Tiffany Fontaine, Alice Delalande, Alexandra Cola, Géraldine Baché, Charline Thenot, Elsa Tournier, Anne Le Normand, Hervé Regignano, Eric Réginaud, Simon Legueré, Mathieu Carré, Lionel Dos Santos, Sophie Hahne, Marion Martinot, Elodie Jacob-Juin, Audrey Granet, Dany Chabot, Agnès Paratte, Alain Rousset, Louise Lebecq, Céline Hautier, Stéphanie Arnold-Simonpietri, Olivier Baussaron, Emmanuel-Alain Reynal, Philippine Gelberger, Judith Abitbol, Igor Auzepy, Benoit Martin, Antoine Plouzen-Morvan, Clara Achache, Stéphane Demoustier, Michel and Claude Demoustier, Arnaud Reguillet
A Special Thanks To
Marion Barré, Soyo Giaoui (La Cellule Productions)
Bella Szederkényi, Bálint Farkas Gelley (Cub Animation)
György Czutor (Official Films)
Maral Mohammadian (NFB)
Michael Fukushima (NFB)
With the support of Le Centre national du cinema et de l’image animée – Fonds d’aide à l’innovation
With the support of Ciclic – Centre-Val de Loire Region in partnership with the CNC
With the support of Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region in partnership with the CNC
As part of Pôle Image Magelis with the support of the department of Charente in partnership with the CNC
Official selection MIFA pitches 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival
This project benefited from the NEF animation writing residency in Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, odyssée program – ACCR, with the support of the French Ministry of Culture, the French National Center for Cinema and the Moving Image (CNC) and the French Region Pays de la Loire.
With support from the Patronage Program of The Hungarian Media Board
La Cellule Productions
The National Film Board of Canada
© 2020 La Cellule Productions, CUB Animation, The National Film Board of Canada
About La Cellule Productions
La Cellule Productions is a Paris-based production company that develops fiction and animation projects. Soyo Giaoui and Marion Barré, the company’s associate producers, maintain an eclectic and daring editorial line. Both are self-taught producers who like the idea of working and “growing up” together by supporting diverse artists who share similar creative ambitions. They’ve recently embarked on international co-productions and are also experimenting with other formats such as web series.
About Cub Animation Studio
CUB Animation Studio was founded by Bálint Farkas Gelley and Bella Szederkényi in 2015, guided by a shared obsession with telling stories using the unique tools of animation and the power of young talent. CUB Animation Studio’s favourite things are creating kids’ content with distinctive Central European flair and producing outstanding animated shorts. CUB often takes part in various projects at international pitch events like CEE, Cartoon Springboard and Annecy MIFA. CUB also collaborates on diploma films from MOME university in Budapest; their latest pride and joy is Flóra Anna Buda’s Entropia, which won the Teddy Award at the Berlinale in 2019.
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a leader in exploring animation as an artform, a storytelling medium and innovative content for emerging platforms. It produces trailblazing animated works both in its Montreal studios and across the country, and it works with many of the world’s leading creators on international co-productions. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including seven Oscars for NFB animation and seven grand prizes at the Annecy festival. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.