Films using stop motion and time lapse often seem gimmicky. But in “A Man Walks Across Balkipapan,” Indonesian filmmaker Dhimas Ruswanto deftly avoids that problem. He does this through characterization. In his animated travelogue, Ruswanto focuses our attention on an unnamed tourist who serves as our travel surrogate. As we follow the Walker, we’re reminded that character is usually a key ingredient in films that are worth watching. Although the protagonist never talks, his actions and gestures draw us into the story.
Shot using an iPhone 5, Ruswanto’s film is featured in this year’s iPhone Film Festival. Unlike travel videos that lose our attention because they randomly present landmarks, this animated travelogue uses geography to organize the sites. The filmmaker also provides helpful titles at each stopping point.
Ruswanto comments that his movie was “inspired by ‘A Guy Walks Across America.’ While the two films fit in the same general genre, Ruswanto’s style assures that his film feels original rather than derivative.
If “A Man Walks Across Balikpapan” gives you an idea for a travel movie—not necessarily using animation—we invite you to submit it to our Travel Video Contest. There is no entry fee, and there are some nice prizes.