Uncanny Valley

One paradox of images is that they hold back what they show, and keep at a distance, what they bring close. At the same time, the canvas or screen on which they appear seems like a shield offering protection from what is shown. As pictures, they guarantee a distance between the present of perception and the elsewhere of the recording. This seems even more applicable to a film such as Uncanny Valley, which deals with World War I - an event that is already beyond something that can be remembered, and now only plays out in historical memory. When it wants to be called to mind again, then as depiction—as representation, which in the image, can´t help but depict its distance to what is shown.

Paul Wenninger traces the arc of representational history to representation-critical parable: he straddles the Uncanny Valley with motifs from found footage material from World War I, which he connects to the actors´ performances, to bring them into the image again using techniques from animation and then, with a diorama, to land in a museum-like ambiance. What the film documents is a parable about the difficulty of making present what one wants to show: in this film, the soldiers´ fear and wounds also applies to the distance, which is injured here, in order to gapingly gaze in the semblance of illusion. The stop-motion aesthetics jiggles at the seamless course of images, making the representation stutter: the body language follows the media´s staccato, which intrudes in the dance to perforate the movements, punch holes through the appearance of humanity. What is then shown is a distance, which affects us deeply, the impossibility of backing away, an iconoclastic dance. (Andreas Spiegl)

Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt

In Uncanny Valley, we are at once bombarded by the psychological and physical intensity of a battle fought between desperate soldiers during the First World War. Within the horizon of a physiological apparatus and a gaze towards war, Uncanny Valley develops a dramaturgy of the image interrupted, a stuttering picture that interrupts the narrative structure of the scenic sequence. Each frame of this animated live action piece reveals its own painful yet detailed moment, resistant to the synthetic image of history. The culminating effect of the narrative performance reveals numbing futility of war, the agony of conflict and survival, the discovery of brotherhood, and madness of it all. (production note)

Orig. Title
Uncanny Valley
Austria, France
13 min 30 sec
Paul Wenninger
Orig. Language
No Dialogue
Uncanny Valley (Image)
Uncanny Valley (Image)
Uncanny Valley (Image)
Paul Wenninger
Paul Wenninger
Paul Wenninger
Sound Design
Nik Hummer, Michael Moser
Nik Hummer
Digital Postproduction
Nik Hummer
Paul Wenninger, Raul Maia, Jan Jakubal
Set Design
Nik Hummer
Kabinett ad Co, Films de Force Majeure, KGP Filmproduktion
Supported by
ORF Film/Fernseh-Abkommen, Land Niederösterreich, ZDF / arte, Centre nationale du cinéma et de l image animée, Région PACA, BKA. Kunst, Wien Kultur MA 7
Available Formats
DCP 2K flat (Distribution Copy)
Aspect Ratio
Sound Format
5.1 surround
Frame Rate
24 fps
Color Format
Digital File (prores, h264) (Distribution Copy)
Festivals (Selection)
Paris - Emily Reynaud Award (Nomination)
Wien - One Day Animation Festival (Best Austrian Animation & Audience Award)
Leuven - Short Film Festival
Ljubiljana Animateka - Int. Animation Film Festival
Bogota - Bogoshorts
Uppsala - Int. Short Film Festival
Sevilla - Festival del Cine Europeo
Badalona - Internacional de Filmets
Montreal - Les Sommets du Cinéma d’Animation de Montréal
Yerevan – ReAnimania IAFFY
New Chitose (JP) - Airport Animation Film Festival
Paris - Festival Courts Devant
Cordoba - Anima Festival de Film d´animacion (International Jury Mention)
Annecy - Festival Int. du Cinema d'Animation
Wien - VIS Vienna Independent Shorts (Youth Jury Prize)
Hiroshima - Int. Animation Festival
Zagreb – Animafest, Festival on Animated Films
New York - Animated Spirits
Paris - L'Etrange Festival
Cork - IndieCork Film Festival
Riga Film Festival
Ljubljana LIFFE– Int. Film Festival
Nancy - Film Festival
Clermont-Ferrand - Festival de Court Metrage
Graz - Diagonale, Festival des österreichischen Films
Bukarest - BIEFF Int Experimental Film Festival
Birmingham - Flatpack Festival
Busan - Intern Short Film Festival
Paris - FIFDH Festival du Film des Droits de l´Homme (Special Mention by Fleury-Mérogis Jury)
Tokyo - Georama Animation Fim Festival
Lissabon - Monstra Festival of Animated Films
Middlesborough - Animex
Bukarest - NexT International Short Film Festival
Zilina Fest Anca - Festival of Animated Films
Mont-Saint-Aignan/Rouen - Courtivore (Mention spéciale du Jury)
Altkirch - Festival + Le Court (Distinction for Narrative Research)
Bern - Shnit Short Film Festival
Strasbourg - Chacun son Court (Jury Prize Lab Competition)
Seoul - Best of the Best Animation Festival
Wien - this human world International Human Rights Film Festival
Limassol - Cyrus Int. Short Film Festival (Jury Main Award)
Ankara - Festival of European Film / Festival on Wheels
Paris - César Animée (Nominated 1st Round)
Spokane - SpIFF Spokanimation
Lleida - Animac Animation Film Festival
Tampere - Film Festival