Two Balloons screens at Virgin One Media Dublin International Film Festival on 23 Feb.

 Two Balloons

Screens as part of the Fantastic Flix Shorts programme on Sat 23 Feb at Virgin One Media Dublin International Film Festival 2019

The magical stop-motion animated short film Two Balloons was produced in Portland, Oregon and premiered at the 30th Foyle Film Festival in Ireland in November 2017. Since then the film has been screened at some of the most prestigious international film festivals and won many awards. And now the filmmakers are delighted to announce that Two Balloons has been selected to play as part of at this year’s Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival as part of the Fantastic Flix Shorts Programme. The film will screen at the Lighthouse Cinema on Saturday 23rd February at 11:00am and at the Odeon Charlestown on Saturday 23rd February at 12:00pm.

Two Balloons was four years in the making and it tells the spellbinding story of two adventurous lemurs travelling the skies in their wondrous airships. One night they meet by chance and forge a bond which sees them through a calamity and cements their friendship.

Two Balloons was inspired by the music of Peter Broderick, a celebrated American composer who has collaborated with Philip Glass, Efterklang, Yann Tiersen, M. Ward and Dustin O’ Halloran amongst many others, as well as composing his own music and film scores. When director Mark Smith heard Broderick’s ‘More of a Composition’ he knew instantly that he wanted to work with him. Even though the film was inspired by an older Broderick composition, Peter recorded the score for Two Balloons from scratch, revising and expanding the music to fit each frame. The complete score plus a 9-minute electronic rework titled ‘Techno For Lemurs’ was released as an EP in November 2018, on limited edition vinyl and as a digital download.

Originally the film was envisaged as a live action short and the plan was to build two real airships, but the production ran into problems when they couldn’t secure an aircraft hangar for the required length of time. So instead Mark decided to create the film as a stop-motion animated film despite the fact that he had no prior experience of stop-motion. As he says: ‘I was obsessive about preparation because I had never produced a stop-motion project. Sometimes I saw pre-production as training for an endurance race I had never run before.’

One of the first questions asked when they made this decision was, ‘what form will the characters take?’ Mark took inspiration from Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave in which Connolly admires ring-tailed lemurs: ‘they held the secret of life to me; they were clues to an existence without thought, guilt or ugliness wherein all was grace, appetite and immediate sensation.’ And so the two curious adventurers in Two Balloons were born.

Mark and his crew spent sixteen months storyboarding and building a stage to encompass the sets of the half-scale lemur world. Only then did they begin to shoot, which was an intensely time-consuming process: shots which were only ten seconds long took two months to shoot. The result is the nine-minute long Two Balloons, a poignant and heart-warming film which was a labour of love for all involved.

Since its debut at the Foyle Film Festival in 2017, Two Balloons has shown in Ireland at Kerry Film Festival 2018, Galway Film Fleadh 2018 and Animation Dingle 2018, as well as many international film festivals including Flickerfest International Short Film Festival (Australia), Santa Barbara International Film Festival (USA), Tribeca (USA), Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival (France) Anima 2018 (Belgium), and Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia (Spain).

Two Balloons has also won numerous awards, most recently the Special Mention Jury Award at Animafest Zagreb, the longest running animation festival in the world. The crew of the film was especially delighted with this award, highly coveted as it is within the animation industry. Other awards garnered by Two Balloons include Hoka Award Best Animated Short Film (Oxford Film Festival), Adult Jury Award: Best Animated Short Film (Toronto International Film Festival, TIFF Kids), and Jury Award: Best Animated Short (Sonoma International Film Festival).

The team behind Two Balloons are grateful for the opportunity to bring the film to the Virgin Media Dublin International Film Festival, one of the most important film festivals in Europe now in its sixteenth year. Ireland is regularly one of the top nations for cinema visits in Europe (tied with France in both 2017 and 2018) and VMDIFF celebrates this important part of our culture. In November 2018 Virgin also showed Two Balloons as part of What’s On Vera on Virgin Atlantic, their monthly highlights show written and presented by film critic Jason Solomons.

Watch the trailer: Two Balloons

See awards that Two Balloons has achieved