Part animation and part documentary, Martin Ponferrada’s Award Winning Short Film EVERYTHING IS UPSTREAM, is a visually stunning piece of artistic storytelling – in only ten minutes. Ponferrada takes us into the dreams of Buddhist monks from around the world. Vivid descriptions of their dreams are captured in meticulous detail through the beauty of rotoscope.
Over the summer of 2016, Ponferrada conducted a series of interviews with Buddhist practitioners from around the world. The subject of his discussions – dreams. With over ten hours of recorded footage, Ponferrada picked five recollections of their most vivid dreams and visualized them in this animated film.
The five Buddhist monks are transferred from human form to animation through the rotoscoping animation technique where animators trace over motion picture footage, frame by frame, to produce realistic action. As they unfold their dreams to us, stunning visuals accompany to take us inside their dreams – and their mind. The use of detail in the animation is exceptional as well as pitch perfect sound (Harmik Mansourian) which captivates throughout. The color palette is a simplistic black and white – with layering of shading – that brings the audience into the dream. Scattered color throughout breaks up the palette – while keeping its beautiful simplicity. Original music (Alexandre Navarro) compliments the journey as well as special effects (Jorge Cortes Atanacio).
Boan Sunim shares with us a recurring dream he’s had since childhood. Soldiers or bandits are chasing him. He retreats to the darkness of the woods fearing capture.
Luang Po Jamnean recalls a dream from his youth – he states “though I am old – I have not forgotten.” He’s a young boy on a boat who sees a capsized boat. His boat begins to float above the water. People are drowning at sea but he – and his boat – saves them. He tells us that later on in his life, he saved lives.
Tsering Tashi descibes shooting comets in his dream that make him feel one with the universe.
Subhana Barzaghi reveals a poignancy in speaking of her dream – “so that dream is beyond what I know as an individual in my conscience waking mind.”
In our dreams we are limitless and often live in a different world than the world we know. Dreams can stay with us for a lifetime – or be forgotten upon awakening. They can be beautiful – or evil.
EVERYTHING IS UPSTREAM reminds us of the power – and mystical message – our dreams secretly hold. We can be anything and go anywhere – outside our normal existence.
Dreams are a gift that enables us to escape – our reality.