Matthew Sunderland, Paul Glover, Camille Keenan, Marek Sumich
Certainly one of the best short films ever made on the subject of war, James Cunningham's Poppy is a deeply moving, beautifully photographed performance capture CGI film in which a soldier finds redemption during World War I.
Based on true events involving the writer's great-grandfather, Poppy is the story of two New Zealand soldiers trapped behind enemy lines on France's western front who are trying to find their way to safety. The two men find an orphaned baby under its dead parents in a ditch. One of the men wants to save the baby, the other does not.
By saving the baby's life, one man saves his own.
In a mere 10 minutes, director Cunningham and screenwriter David Coyle manage to exude more intelligence, emotion and raw energy than many of the post-9/11 feature-length films that Hollywood has offered. The vocal work by the ensemble is stellar, the performance capture CGI is uniquely sculpted yet visually captivating.
Winner of the Jury Prize at SIGGRAPH 2010, Poppy has also been an official selection at the Telluride Film Festival, SXSW and is currently playing as part of the HollyShorts Film Festival.
Too often, CGI and performance capture become toys for imaginative, undisciplined filmmakers who simply get lost in experimentation. In Poppy, however, Cunningham beautifully utilizes the advanced technology to further story and to drive home visuals that are simply unforgettable.
Easily one of the true highlights of the 2010 HollyShorts Film Festival, Poppy may very well be one of the best animated shorts of the year.