A film looking to explore old age and memory loss, Ross Hogg and Duncan Cowles’ award-winning short Isabella examines the mind of a 92-year-old woman suffering from dementia and Parkinson’s Disease. A hugely personal film (the titular Isabella is Hogg’s grandmother), this 9-minute experimental short fuses live-action and animation to create a dizzying and evocative journey through the broken recollections of a woman nearing the end her life.
Originally conceived as a standalone short or even a series of animated films, Isabella began as a way for Hogg to capture the memories of a woman who always took pride in her storytelling. However, as the 92-year-old’s condition worsened, the film adapted to maintain its relevance and truthful representation of its subject.
“As she was coming to the end of her life, I felt it was important to capture and preserve her character at this sensitive time, as honestly and respectfully as possible”, explains Hogg. “Therefore, the film was no longer solely about her stories, but also had to capture as much of her, and her condition, as possible”.
Blending Hogg’s animation expertise with Cowles distinct approach to documentary, Isabella is a film where you can clearly identify the individual talents of each filmmaker, whilst the advantage of their collaboration remains clear and present for the audience.
“We were always going to split it”, says Cowles when discussing their collaboration, “Ross would handle the animation, I would deal with the camera, and we would both kind of be across everything else, both asking questions, editing etc… I think it worked well because it bounced us both out of our comfort zones”.
With Hogg adding that the aim of the film “was to try and create an environment capable of immersing the viewer into the disjointed, at times confusing, world of 92 year old Isabella”.
Now entering festival with their new solo projects, Ross an animation called Life Cycles and Duncan a doc titled Alexithymia, you can read more about Isabella and what’s next for this filmmaking duo in our in-depth interview