Are You Still Watching? is an animated short full of witty one-liners and observational lockdown comedy. The film tells Jamie’s story—a non-binary character with a vivid imagination, who discusses their experience of lockdown in Melbourne with their therapist. Reality and fantasy in Are You Still Watching are often unclear. Hallucinations and daydreaming offer Jamie an escape from boredom and isolation.
Overtly sexual, tongue-in-cheek and representing queer sexuality in a bold, playful way, the film captures a specific moment in time during the pandemic: a time when many of us were stuck in our homes, baking bread and glued to our screens. So it makes sense that references to celebrities, TV and films are prominent.
The team behind the film are directors Alex Cardy, Tali Polichtuk and Kitty Chrystal. Artists and animators worked collaboratively to create the characters, surreal cityscapes, and beautifully drawn backgrounds with splashes of neon. The visual style pays homage to comic books, using cel-shading and opting for a choppy frame rate; attention to detail is impressive throughout, from disposable masks scattered around the city to the giant, green virus molecule looming in the background and toppling skyscrapers. Yet the narrative themes are distinctly adult, taking inspiration from fan fiction. A techno soundtrack also adds a darker, modernised edge.
Sharp-witted, brilliantly executed and occasionally trippy, Are You Still Watching? combines iconic queer characters with covid-related trends. I suspect that the more immersed you are in both queer and popular culture, the more you will enjoy this film. It is a film for the Netflix generation, fluent in memes and virality. (Some of the references were lost on me at first…)
The film’s Instagram account includes a succinct description of the film: “very queer, very COVID and very horny.” To this I would add: very topical and very funny. My only criticism? It could have been longer! While the script is really fun, certain themes could have been explored further.
Are You Still Watching? was shown as part of the Iris Prize LGBT+ Film Festival 2021, held in Cardiff for its 15th year from Tue 5-Sun 10 Oct. It’s available to watch online until the end of the month. More info: here.
Dirs: Alex Cardy, Tali Polichtuk, Kitty Chrystal (no rating, 6 mins)
words ROSANNA LEWIS for BUZZ CULTURE
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