The Ningyo - Film Review

By Rachel Flanagan

A good movie can transport anyone to a faraway place in a faraway time, make people laugh, cry or scream in terror and sometimes teach a little something along the way. "The Ningyo," a short film directed by Miguel Ortega and produced by his other half, Tran Ma, is a Faustian tale about losing yourself to achieve your goals. As it so happens, Miguel and Tran were so determined to make this short film they almost lost themselves in the process of making movie magic, which brought the concept of the film to a near reality.

At a special screening followed by a Q&A and art show for "The Ningyo," Miguel painted a vivid picture of how tough but rewarding the movie business can be for those with the passion for working for what they believe in. Miguel is an instructor and alumnus of the Gnomon - School of Visual Effects, Games and Animation. He spoke of his journey from wanting to create monsters and animals to successfully portraying them and finally risking it all to create what he wanted to do on his own. From inception to getting the film funded with the help of Kickstarter to turning their house into each set needed for the short, the making of "The Ningyo" is just as fantastical as the mythological creature itself.

"The Ningyo" is a 1909 period piece about Dr. Marlowe, a paleontologist and professor who finds a piece of a map pointing to the location of the ningyo. In Japanese folklore, the ningyo is a mythological fish-like creature whose flesh can be eaten to attain the power to stay the same age for a very long time. However, should someone ingest the flesh of the ningyo, it would bring storms, famine and other misfortune to Japan so it was believed that anyone who caught a ningyo threw them back in the sea. Constantly dismissed as a fraud by his peers, Dr. Marlowe decides to risk everything to prove the existence of this creature but he is not alone. There are others in search of the map and the creature for their own reasons and what Dr. Marlowe chooses to do will put his own moral compass to the ultimate test.

Though it is a short film, "The Ningyo" does not have a solid conclusion. Miguel and Tran hope to eventually turn the short film into a feature length film. Until then, the Art of The Ningyo is open to the public at the Gnomon Gallery. Dive into the vision created by Miguel and Tran as you explore the creature concepts and designs, 3D Sculptures, costumes and stills from the short film. If you're interested in cryptozoology, creature design or even the magic that is visual effects and animation for the movie business, be sure to stop by the Gnomon Gallery through June 21st during business hours to see the display in person.

"The Ningyo" trailer from miguel ortega on Vimeo.

Posted By Rachel Flanagan on May 18, 2017 09:50 am | Permalink