SUMMARY: An anonymous nephew’s remembrance of his uncle, told through snippets of memories and anecdotes.
WHY IT’S HERE: Australian animator Adam Elliot’s debut film ‘Uncle’ sets the tone for his brilliant subsequent work, which includes some of the best animated films of the 21st Century. A quiet, thoughtful tragi-comic depiction of a nephew’s memories of his uncle, Elliot partially based the material on his own uncles and his relationship with them. Although it is frequently amusing, ‘Uncle’ also maintains a melancholic tone throughout, incorporating details of suicide, loss, illness and depression into its episodic narrative. Elliot has always been a master of maintaining this balance between black comedy and genuine tragedy and his films capture the richness and complexity of life like few others. They are not necessarily upbeat and yet their forays into the strange bleakness of life are not depressing either. Rather, Elliot seems to see life as a thing of many layers and teases out the joy from within the sad and pathetic, such as the moment when his uncle’s Santa costume falls apart and, despite a terrible quick-fix repair job, he pretends to still believe he is Santa anyway. Told with genuine affection and poignancy, ‘Uncle’ is a great start for a superb filmmaker.