'Balloon' is April's Film of the Month

24 May 2017 in Film of the Month

7 mins
'Balloon' is April's Film of the Month

We're delighted to announce that our Film of the Month winner for April 2017 is Balloon, a film made by Lili, a 17-year-old filmmaker from St John the Baptist School in Woking, Surrey.

Engaging for those aged 7+, Balloon follows the journey of a sentient, bright orange balloon over the course of its lifetime, as it discovers the highs and lows of living on planet Earth. This neatly shot film has lots of clever ideas, using voiceover to convey its themes - not least of all a timely environmental warning for us all.

Excellent, beautiful, engaging and influential. I would love to work with this gifted filmmaker. Incredible shots and camera angles.

Nicky Prestage, filmmaker and Film of the Month judge

We caught up with Lili to find out more about her and about her winning film.

What inspired you to make a film with such a clear environmental message?

I am very passionate about the conservation of the planet and I've always wanted to create a film that brings awareness to the damage currently occurring. I had the option to explore any topic I wanted in my course so I chose to do something very close to what I'm passionate about.

Do you think film is/can be important in regards to environmental activism? 

I think film and cinema as an art form is one of the most influential platforms in shaping people's perspectives. And simply due to the nature of film as an art form, it's easy to talk about taboo or controversial subjects in a creative and innovative way, and help people become aware of these issues.

How long have you been making films and what inspired you to start? 

I was inspired to make films when I realised I could channel my creativity through filmmaking. I started making films for fun around the age of 12, using Windows Movie Maker and old footage I found on YouTube and online. I then properly started making films when I was around 15, when I took Media for GCSE and could start filming my own content.

What inspired you to enter Film of the Month and how does it feel to win?

I entered for Film of the Month as I've been following the website for a while and wanted to see if my work was good enough to get featured. It feels really validating to have my work recognised by an organisation that has inspired me so much.

What advice would you give to other young people who want to start making films?

The advice I would give to young filmmakers is to make as many films as possible and to not worry if they don't turn out as planned because that's how you learn and grow in you film work. The most important thing for me in regards to filmmaking, and something I would want to share with young filmmakers, is to enjoy the craft, because there is no point in making films if you don't enjoy making them and they don't come from a place of passion.

What films would you recommend to people interested in environmentalism, or that inspired you to take an interest in these issues?

Two films i would recommend for people interested in films that explore environmental themes would be Ron Fricke's Baraka and Samsara. They don't so much explore environmental issues, but they show the magnificent natural beauty in the world in incredible 70mm. 

The film that inspired my film the most directly was Plastic Bag by Ramin Bahrani. I got the idea of a sentient object exploring the world and learning about human nature from this film. Whilst Plastic Bag explores existential themes about what it means to exist, I wanted to focus more specifically on the environment and seeing the impact though an inanimate object's eyes and perspective.

What are your favourite films, and why?

My favourite feature length films are Dan Gilroy's Nightcrawler and Matt Ross's Captain Fantastic. The first time I watched Nightcrawler, I had to re-watch it immediately because I was so amazed by the entire film. I love the beautiful cinematography and how the film takes such an unusual subject and turns it into a fascinating character study. 

Captain Fantastic is another of my favourite films because it explores how society lives in the 21st century and how you can escape that. I love how it explores this through themes of family and bereavement.

Lastly, my all time favourite short film is Thunder Road by Jim Cummings. This film astounded me because it's only 12 minutes long yet it still brings me to tears every time. It is, for me, a pure example of how filmmaking can be used to bring out raw emotion in audiences, and that is what filmmaking is all about in my opinion.

Lili's film will now be showcased to over 300,000 film club members online and on the Into Film YouTube channel, and she has also secured a £100 Amazon voucher plus an Into Film goodie bag with which to help further develop their future films. If you've been inspired by April's winner, find out more about how you can enter our ongoing Film of the Month competition.

If you liked Balloon, why not try these related films:

  • The Red Balloon (1956, U, 34mins) Engaging for 5+
    A classic of children's cinema, this mostly silent French film follows the adventures of a young boy and his toy balloon as they travel through the gorgeous streets of Paris.
  • WALL-E (2008, U, 98mins) Engaging for 5+
    It's the year 2805 and loveable robot WALL-E - left alone on Earth to clean up the mess that humans have created - is thrust into a spectacular adventure in outer space with a female robot companion called EVE.
  • March of the Penguins (2005, U, 77mins) Engaging for 5+
    Morgan Freeman narrates this captivating documentary, which captures the remarkable journey that the Emperor penguins of the South Antarctic must make each winter.
  • Pixar Short Films Collection Volume. 1 (2007, U, 52mins) Suitable for 5+
    Pixar became synonymous with creating magical characters throughout the 1990s and 2000s, and their short films are no exception, as demonstrated by this collection featuring 13 of their early shorts.

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