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Father and Daughter — Michael Dudok de Wit, 2002

A young girl bids farewell to her father at the shore. The seasons echo the passing years of her life as she returns to look out over the water, hoping for his return. She ages and has children of her own and still she visits. Finally, as an old woman, she returns once more. The water has gone, and she walks out to finally meet him. With each step closer to him, she becomes young again. The final meeting is ambiguous. Is it fantasy or has she reunited with him only in death?

This moving meditation on loss and memory won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film in 2000.

Classroom Activities

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Critical

  • At the beginning, why does the father run back to the girl and lift her up?
  • As he rows away, how does the daughter feel? How do we know?
  • What is the significance of the wind? How does the mood of the film change when the daughter is blown along by the wind? Why?
  • When she returns with friends, it is the first time she is not alone. What is the effect of that? What is the effect of the close-up on the bike wheel and the shadows?
  • Can you tell what season it is when she returns with her family? What is the effect of this?
  • Where has the water gone at the end? Why?
  • Using Sound On/Vision Off, screen the film with audio only. Tell your pupils that this is a film about a journey and ask them to imagine what film images would fit the soundtrack. Consider what stages the music seems to suggest.
  • Discuss what else is noticeable about the soundtrack (e.g. lack of dialogue).
  • Ask pupils to use the pause button on the media player to identify and make a note of each of significant stage in the girl’s life. Note how colour and the weather are used to identify where we are in the girl's life.
  • Use a 'Tell Me' Grid Analysis to look for patterns and puzzles in the story.
  • Focus on camera: discuss the different shots used in the film. Why is the story presented in mostly long shots and medium shots? What effect does this have on the viewer? How does camera distance affect how the audience feels about characters and events in a story?
  • Look for repeating imagery in the film and discuss whether these are symbolic of anything. Discuss the use and meaning of metaphor. Does this give any clues as to what the film might mean?

Cultural

  • Create two columns: one titled “things that happen in the story” and the other titled “what the film is about”. Ask pupils to suggest items for each column and then see if they can make any connections between the two.
  • Create a class list of keywords that are suggested by the story and the film. Discuss how many of them appear in the film and how many are only suggested by the film.
  • Have a class discussion about the subject of loss.

Creative

WRITE

  • Write a voiceover for the film from the point of view of the daughter.
  • Write a voiceover for the film from the point of view of the father.
  • Write a voiceover for the film from the point of view of a third person narrator.
  • Write a poem or prose story that uses a cycle or circle metaphor as the central structuring device.
  • Complete a piece of creative writing based on your own journey to school.
  • List twelve things that might happen on a short walk (this can be as imaginative as the pupils like).
  • Write a poem on the theme of loss – encourage pupils to go for ‘feeling’ rather than rhyme and try to include metaphor.

FILMMAKING

  • Plan an animated short film, with a script or storyboard based around a journey.
  • Use the film/part of the film or a re-edited version of the film as an advert for a charity. Include a voiceover.

DRAMA

  • Ask pupils to write down questions they would like to ask the father and the daughter. Role play interviews with the two characters.

STEM

  • Create a timeline of the film’s events, indicating the passing of years.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-002-000-063-C
Resource Rights Holder SND Films
Project Ref SCRS-05
Year of Production 2002
Genre Drama
Curriculum Areas Expressive Arts, Health and Wellbeing, Modern Languages, Literacy and English, Religious and Moral Education, Social Studies
Director Michael Dudok de Wit
Country of Origin UK, Netherlands
Medium / Content 2D Animation, Fiction, Colour, Sound
Themes Feelings, Relationships, Loss / Memories
Clip Length 06:50
Clip Length 06:50
Age Group P5-P7, S1-S3, S4-S6