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Utakata [Luca Ogawa Depardon, USA, 2017]

Antsy fancy

“We are all ants! And ants are inside you!” reads the cryptic tagline from Luca Ogawa Depardon’s playfully surrealistic Utakata. Employing a mixed media approach to his production Depardon uses acetate, paint markers, paint and cut-outs amongst others to create a distinctive composition of colour and texture, incorporating them into a childlike and cartoonish milieu. It is a weird and curious world that points to and subverts the Japanese chanbara genre, filtering it through the wayward anthropomorphic zaniness of American animations such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force (US, 2000-15) and Adventure Time (US, 2010-18).

As the tagline suggests, this film is all about the ants, and they take up virtually every frame of the film - an army of them carry away and consume the severed foot of an ant samurai’s unfortunate victim; a formation of ants in ritual-like fashion celebrating and dancing; a group of marching ants being watched online as they gather up their day’s haul to their colony. It’s all a bit of a psychedelic trip that manages to navigate its course by way of creative sound effects (by Hannah Subotnick and Luca Depardon) and ambient electronic music (Roy Xu), and without any dialogue. It is an amusing piece in passing, which at only 4-minutes in length won’t leave you feeling too antsy.

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