808. City Paradise – Gaelle Denis


DIR: Gaelle Denis

SUMMARY: Tomoko arrives in London from Japan and finds it hard to integrate, until she has a surreal experience in a secret underground city.

WHY IT’S HERE: Following her BAFTA win with the impressive debut ‘Fish Never Sleep’, Gaelle Denis bagged another BAFTA nomination with her second film ‘City Paradise’. Aesthetically very different from ‘Fish Never Sleep’, ‘City Paradise’ is tonally and thematically similar, marking Denis out as a notable auteur of commendable ambition and astonishing vision. ‘City Paradise’ combines live action actors with a range of animation techniques to evoke a feeling of London as viewed through the eyes of a new arrival. Denis brilliantly encapsulates the frighteningly foreign environment as her heroine Tomoko attempts to integrate through the use of ineffective language tapes. When these prove ineffective, it is a surreal experience in the local swimming pool that makes all the difference. Tomoko’s experiences underwater after she falls and hits her head make for a remarkable sequence and Denis evokes a third city, albeit fictional, in her triptych of geographical reference points. Bursting with colour and an atmosphere that veers from hopeful to frightening to upbeat in a mere five minutes, ‘City Paradise’ is further evidence of Denis’s unique vision and the film has connected with many viewers who have enjoyed the ambiguity and the opportunity to hang their own interpretations onto the narrative.


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