Ruby & Roach – an animated short film from Johannesburg has won the ‘Best Animation Film’ award at the recently concluded Golden Bee International Children’s Film Festival (GBICFF) in India. The film is about two sale toys “cruelly rejected by the buying public because they are different… plan a daring escape and end up somewhere unexpected… and quite wonderful.”
The eight minute fourty-eight second film is directed by Erentia Bedeker, a writer, animator and artist from Damaraland, Namibia, and written by Dorette Nel. Ruby & Roach is Erentia’s first commissioned animated short film that she has directed and animated. She works in various forms of stop-motion animation from paper cut-out to carved wooden puppets.
“It’s a story laden with metaphor about prejudice in society, as well as the generic, mass manufactured nature of the things we desire – told from the point of view of the imperfect and unconventional reject pile,” the director’s statement said.
“Using cut-out animation has its own set of challenges and I had to let the medium show me what I can do with it. In the same way, each of the characters and their construction dictated what they can and what they cannot do. The emotion was especially difficult to portray, more so because there was no dialogue. Ruby and Roach came to life on their own, with me just being the assistant,” the statement further elaborates.
The soundscape and music play a very important role in the film to clarify and communicate mood and emotions. The music fills in for dialogue between the two main characters but also between the visuals and the audience and was composed beat for beat to full fill this role splendidly.
In an airport, where a flood of anonymous faces hurry by, and airport stores’ shelves are stacked with dozens of identical products, lives Ruby and Roach, two SALE toys. Discarded to the top shelf because they are different, they seem fated to stay behind as all the other toys find their forever homes. Sometimes they get lucky and someone picks them up for closer inspection. But they’re soon put back. Ruby because of her stained ear and Roach… well… He’s a cockroach!
One day, Ruby, tired of her dreary life, decides to take action and jumps into an open bag onto someone’s trolley. Roach, in a moment of sheer panic, closes his eyes and jumps after her. But before the duo can climb out of the bag, someone zips the bag closed, trapping them.
After a short trip in complete darkness, the bag goes through airport security scanner. On screen Roach’s feelers resemble wires of a bomb and… bam! They trigger a bomb scare.
The bomb squad arrives, decides Ruby and Roach are harmless, and tosses them into a dustbin. Freedom at last! Until a dark shadow is cast over the bin…
Soon Ruby & Roach find themselves on a rubbish dump with many other items discarded by society. All seems lost till a little girl who lives on the dump, discovers them…