As we’re ramping up to GIRAF, I feel like I only have the ability to process short things before my brain becomes completely overloaded. Fortunately, a marvellous minute-and-a-half-long short popped up in Quickdraw’s Vimeo stream last week, and even though it’s a tiny student film, it’s got a whole lot to unpack.

I know next to nothing about La Poudrière, the school that produced both this short and Max Litvinov’s incredible L’Hydre D’or, but whatever they’re doing, it’s working. The tone of Iulia Voltova’s Le nuage couldn’t be more different than Litvinov’s film, but they share an incredible ability to use straightforward materials in unpredictable ways. Voltova’s film is largely made of paper cut-outs, a technique Quickdraw has had a lot of experience with over the decades. But her use of paper here is stunning, letting it curl off the page to add depth, or blurring it into pastels to allow for more complex smears, making for some truly beautiful movement. And unlike most cut-out animation, which tends to treat its canvas like a two-dimensional platform, Voltova is more than willing to push her camera angles and distort her perspectives; it makes for a much more dramatic and energetic piece of animation than paper cut-out usually allows.

All of that is even more impressive given this is a student film, not the work of someone who’s been working with the medium for years. This 1.5-minute film is remarkable enough, but I’m eager to see what happens when Voltova takes on an even more ambitious project.

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