Amanda Tasse’s “The Reality Clock,” in which a watchmaker searching for his lost clock loses himself in memory, was named Best Animated Short at this year’s San Pedro International Film Festival (SPIFFest).
“The Reality Clock” is an experimental animated portrait of an elderly watchmaker as he struggles to accept the influence of early-stage dementia on his identity and sense of time. Shot in full stereoscopic 3D, using time-lapse photography, pixelation, live action and stop-motion animation, the film immerses the viewer in the internal experience of the character, expressed through metaphors of a clock, house, and morphing landscapes.
After confusing a simple memory evaluation, The Reality Comprehension Clock Test, the character misplaces his favorite pocket watch. As he embarks on a journey for the missing watch, memories overlap with present reality, distorting his sense of time and place. As he grasps for his identity, “Reality Clock” questions who and what the raw essence of a person is when stripped bare of new memories and rational lucidity.
The inspiration for “The Reality Clock” grew out of Tasse’s conversations with elderly patients with dementia when she volunteered for a hospice organization from 2005 to 2007. Realizing that most films portray dementia from the point-of-view of the caregiver, Tasse intended to explore what the experience might feel like for the patient.
She used varying cinematic techniques to emphasize the character’s subjective reality and play with metaphors inherent in the materials — a subtly animated puppet in a dollhouse juxtaposed with stuttering photographic and live-action memories. She decided to create the film in 3D after having read an autobiographical account by an author with early-stage dementia who described some of his hallucinations and memories as having the quality of depth associated with 3D pictures. Tasse intended to experiment with how stereoscopic 3D could be used as an additional art-design element to support immersive experimental and emotional storytelling.
The inaugural San Pedro International Film Festival screened 34 films from around the world, including Switzerland, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the United States — the last being the source for “Reality Clock.”
The inaugural festival ran at the Warner Grand Theatre, Terrace Cinemas and California Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
“The community support and turnout for SPIFFest exceeded our expectations,” said executive director Ziggy Mrkich. “We were extremely proud of the extent and diversity of the program, and are looking forward to an even bigger and better SPIFFest 2013.”
“San Pedro has served as a backdrop for many major film and TV projects, and the community has always been a great partner when it comes to welcoming production to its neighborhoods,” said Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission. “It’s only fitting that San Pedro now has a film festival to call its own.”