Japan Media Arts Festival  

Animation Division

Excellence Award

Negative Space

Animated short film

KUWAHATA Ru / Max PORTER [Japan / United States]

© 2017 IKKI Films / Manuel Cam Studio Photo: 2017 IKKI Films / Manuel Cam Studio


The story is about the interactions through bags between a father who travels frequently and his son. The puzzle of how ef ciently belongings can be packed into the small space of a suitcase becomes an intimate form of communication between a father and son who are often separated by distances. The young boy becomes an adult and recalls these memories. KUWAHATA Ru and Max PORTER work together as “Tiny Inventions” with bases in America and Europe. This stop-motion work using puppets was produced together with Ikki Films, a French production company, and Manuel Cam Studio. Adapted from a prose poem by Ron Koertge, an American poet and novelist, the work is also based on KUWAHATA’s own memories of her father, who traveled frequently due to his work as a pilot. This resulted in a story full of a resonance and lyricism that will touch viewers of all ages and draw out memories of one’s own relationships with parents and children. 


The panoramic view of the contents of the suitcase shown at the start of the film draws the viewer into the work. Good films have striking cuts, but this one cut demonstrates this film’s quality and the directors’ skill. Other scenes depict shirts, shoes, and belts tting themselves into the suitcase with a dynamism seen in living creatures. The spark created when an inanimate object is given life, which is the reason that this kind of animation is so appealing, is expressed on screen, making the viewer laugh naturally. The design is also excellent, and the characters’ expressions, the gentle forms of the plastic models, and distorted cars and buildings all reflect the good taste of the directors. The story is a simple one, but the various ideas used in the transitions create a flow that makes the viewer sit up straight. The soft coloring overall is beautiful, resulting in a quiet mood. After watching this film, I was left with a feeling of warmth as well as the happiness one feels when coming across a high-quality film. The directors who created this film really did an amazing job. (MORINO Kazuma) 

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