Animation Spotlight: My Dad

 No this isn't specifically about MY dad (although most of my work can be traced back to him), this is My Dad by Marcus Armitage. It's one of my favorite films I've seen in recent memory.

My Dad is a mixed media graduate animation by Marcus about a young boy and his relationship to his father and his father's beliefs. Using magazine cut outs, pencil, and (I think) pastels it tells a loose narrative about a young British boy and the relationship to his racist father.

Dealing with the idea of a dad protecting his son and his son's idolization of him contrasted against his hateful view of the world it creates a riveting piece of animation that not only impressed me visually, but viscerally as well.

What stands out to me visually about the film is it's structure, the little bits of narration of the child explaining bits about his father and him as we get a somewhat disjointed look at their world, it builds and builds to create a tension that you feel in your gut that something is not quite right here.

The main commentary of the film, racism and xenophobia, is introduced subtly with the father pointing to a news paper and little snippets starting to seep into the child's narration. Before building to a climax where the animation starts to literally tear itself apart to reveal the real world behind the images Marcus has created.

An incredible ending revealing a real photograph and the angry father and a terrified son leaves you feeling punched in the gut in the most visceral of ways.

It doesn't hit you over the head with it's message, it takes you on an organic journey through the eyes of a child being brought to an event or protest lead by racist ideology. The boy is confused and disoriented, much like the viewer, until it all becomes clear that something is not right.

I first saw this film at the Ottawa International Animation Festival a few years back and it immediately captured me and was my stand out favorite of that year.

The way it paints it's world with such adept ability without feeling too heavy handed or out right "HERE IS THE MESSAGE!" really impressed me.

The idea of a child being raised by racists, and having those ideas past down to them is one that hits the heart of the viewer, racism isn't inherent in human beings, it's taught. The film tackles the idea that the most trust worthy person in your life, in this case the boy's father, may not be the best influence on creating a good person.

It's disjointed narration and pacing reminds me a lot of the work of one of my favorite film makers Harmony Korine, especially his film Gummo. Showing glimpses and snippets into someone's life almost as if you're flipping through a photo album of strangers you don't know, you end up starting to piece together a narrative even if it's not the most clear throughout the film.

I think My Dad is especially appropriate in the political climate we find ourselves in today, with such polarizing issues in both the political race in the United States as well as the social environment it seems ever more apt to think about how these feelings get embodied and how they affect the people are them.

It's not the boys fault that he is being introduced to this world, and literally dragged through it.

He is an unwilling passenger along for the ride, and that ride is one that is going to shape the rest of his life and the view he has for the world and the people in it. It's a sobering film, but one that is done with such a tender hand that it doesn't come across feeling nihilistic or overly negative, it's a reflection on the real world and what happens in it and who people are, and for that, I absolutely love it.

You should check out Marcus' other work on his Vimeo page here, as well as his website here. My Dad is absolutely one of the best films I've seen in years, and I hope you can appreciate it as much as I have.

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Your Citation
Chew, Johnny. "Animation Spotlight: My Dad." ThoughtCo, Sep. 30, 2016, Chew, Johnny. (2016, September 30). Animation Spotlight: My Dad. Retrieved from Chew, Johnny. "Animation Spotlight: My Dad." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 22, 2017).