‘Knit’s Island,’ Cinema And Video Games Become One And Clash

‘Knit’s Island,’ Cinema And Video Games Become One And Clash

This film comes to life out of a fascinating artistic exercise that three directors have set themselves. Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L’helgoualc’h have discovered that there is an internet community where you simulate a survivalist fiction. Thus, they decided to use the animated technique to show how a film crew enters this place, under the disguise of avatars, and makes contact with players. The meta-fiction dimension, where boundaries between gaming and storytelling blend, is the springboard for Knit’s Island.

The film coalesces animation and documentary, as we follow these avatar explorers interacting with a community of players and discovering their stories, fears, and aspirations. Through the last decade we have witnessed the incredible potential provided by virtual reality, and this film ventures into the first steps of the virtualisation of our lives. It questions the future of our world, by taking spectators on a journey through an undefinable island named after a fictional adventurer.

This approach is the hallmark of the three film directors, who met at the School of Fine Arts of Montpellier and went on to form a research group that questions the relationship between reality and online video games. In fact, their previous film (Marlowe Drive), was shot in the online game called Grand Theft Auto: V, whereas their latest oeuvre takes place in DayZ, that is completely based on survival techniques. The appeal of this setting— that fascinated the directors — is how avatars can talk directly to one another with spatialised sound. For the cinematic experience this enhances the reality immersion. The survival simulation was a way to lead viewers into an apocalyptic scenario that could unleash the most primordial instincts of humans.

The filmmaking trio has taken on multiple roles in the making of Knit’s Island, not only as directors but also as reporters, and technician. The procedure was to first reach out to players through the platform Discord, and then enter the game and begin the otherworldly reportage mission. Their presence within this realm becomes the driving force in the film. Role-playing gradually leaves room for players to unveil their true nature, at least when it comes to some intimate revelations. This crossover enables more authentic interactions to occur. Thus, contemplation takes over the competitive drive to win the game.

The idea and approach is definitely groundbreaking and visually it is effectively rendered. It doesn’t surprise that Knit’s Island is part of the First Look, the annual festival at the Museum of The Moving Image dedicated to showcasing adventurous new cinema, now in its 13th edition. However, the outcome of this ambitious experimental work is not as compelling as it promises. The narrative pace is traipse and the interaction between avatars does not stir the same empathy of the cinematic language. This hybrid realm does not have the participative element that may attract video game lovers, nor the enthralling characteristics of film that allows spectators to identify with the characters. The movie lingers between two worlds, and ends up being neither meat nor fowl. Nevertheless Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse, and Quentin L’helgoualc’h are worthy of praise for their audacious attempt.

Final Grade: C

Check out more of Chiara’s articles.

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