An ex-bounty hunter makes breakfast with his young daughter, who becomes increasingly curious about his past profession. (synopsis courtesy YouTube (c) Studio Anomi)
BOUNTY is a powerfully succinct piece of short form animation.
It tells the story of a man whose daughter begins to ask him innocent questions about his past, a past which comes with some painful memories and startling secrets.
He is open with her to a point but as BOUNTY, a project by Writer/Director/Producer/Editor and Animator Shirley Zhou makes profoundly clear, his openness can only go so far (the reason for this is revealed in the final act which delivers an emotional punch or two).
In the emotionally resonant story, we have to consider the nature of good and bad – for the daughter, it’s easy; her dad is a superhero hunting down bad guys who are, rather amusingly, dentists, farmers spruiking broccoli or grandmothers giving out less than popular candy – and how you live with that as a person when your past exists in a morally grey area.
And when that past keeps bleeding, despite your best efforts, into the present.
But Zhou, speaking in an interview during the Austin Film Festival 2019, wants people to take what they see in the film further than what’s shown in six impressively impactful minutes.
“Narratively, the film is fairly easy to watch and digest, but it gives you some food for thought as you process the storyline. It’s the kind of story that gives you answers while simultaneously creating more questions, and implores you as the viewer to imagine what the story of these characters looks like outside of the six minutes you see on screen.”
It’s easy to imagine so beautifully well does Zhou create her world and tell her story, which goes to more places, emotionally and chronologically that many feature films manage in far longer running times.