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It’s a beautiful, brutal life in this award-winning animation from 1977

In the short film Bead Game (1977) by the acclaimed Indian-Canadian filmmaker Ishu Patel, stopmotion animation of coloured glass beads offers a beautiful yet dark vision of life, characterised by brutal cycles of competition and consumption. Beginning with a single bead, a series of organisms – real and imagined – split, combine, transform and devour one another, yielding first the emergence of human forms, and eventually the horrors of nuclear war. Inspired by the beadwork of Inuit women, Patel’s dazzling and urgent response to the atomic age won critical acclaim upon its release, receiving a BAFTA award for Best Short Fictional Film and an Academy Award nomination for Best Short Film (Animated).

Director: Ishu Patel

Composer: Jnan Prakash Ghosh

Website: National Film Board of Canada

6 August 2019

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