GIRAF Animation Festival streaming Canada-wide Nov. 19-28

How to Draw Clouds

The simplicity of Salise Hughes' How to Draw Clouds makes it a really difficult film to write about. As the synopsis says, it's a "meditation on the desire to hold on to the ephemeral," and at only two minutes long, it makes its point concisely and poetically. Honestly, what else is there to say?

A grainy photograph of a cloud with a tangle of lines vaguely outlining the cloud.

The simplicity of Salise Hughes' How to Draw Clouds makes it a really difficult film to write about. As the synopsis says, it's a "meditation on the desire to hold on to the ephemeral," and at only two minutes long, it makes its point concisely and poetically. Honestly, what else is there to say?

As simple as it is, though, it succeeds because it inspires as many questions as it answers. If it had been an essay or a blog post with the same summary, it would have to take some sort of stance. With the film, it can just unfold, letting you interpret it how you will. What does it mean to draw something that's always changing? What happens when we pluck out a moment and pin it to a frame? Is a cloud defined by its shape at a given instant, or is it a process that unfolds over time? And if it's a process, does freezing it make the drawing more accurate, or is that just a different kind of abstraction?

Even the eventual success can't last. The drawing fades, and the short comes to its end. Unlike the cloud, you can play it again. But in both cases, it lives on much longer in your memory than in its actual unfolding.

dir: Salise Hughes
syn: A meditation on the desire to hold on to the ephemeral.

2006