Emmy award-winning documentary Last Hijack to open in Irish cinemas January 8th 2016

Posted November 26, 2015 by Suzanne Murray in News
Last Hijack
Last Hijack

Wildcard Distribution are delighted to be partnering with Still Films on the release of Last Hijack, the hybrid animation-documentary from the filmmakers behind A Scanner Darkly

Last Hijack, the new release from filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting (A Scanner Darkly, Waking Life) will open in Irish cinemas on January 8th 2016.  The gripping, multi-award winning film combines documentary storytelling combined with groundbreaking Irish produced animation techniques.  Last Hijack is a true tale of survival in Somalia told from the pirate’s perspective.  The film takes an innovative hybrid approach to explore how one Somali pirate – Mohamed – came to live such a brutal and dangerous existence. Animated re-enactments exploring Mohamed’s memories, dreams and fears from his point of view are juxtaposed with raw footage from his everyday life in an original non-fiction narrative.

In April 2015 Last Hijack won a Digital Emmy Award for Best Non Fiction production; it has also won two awards for Best International Transmedia Project at the Tous Ecrans Festival in Geneva along with winning the Prix Europa 2014 for Best Online Project at the Berlin Film Festival.  The jury report commented that the film had “High production values; rare access to a character with an incredible story; a truly immersive experience.”

Nicky Gogan and Caroline Campbell from Irish production company Still Films produced the animation for the documentary with the uber-talented Gavin Kelly and the animators at Piranha Bar, using a bespoke technique developed with Tommy Pallotta over a number of months. The team brought actual oil paintings on canvas by artist Hisko Hulsing (Montage of Heck) and illustrations by Aaron Sacco (A Scanner Darkly), into a software pipeline that involved 2D, 3D and sophisticated compositing.

Somalia is the worldwide capital of piracy, and Mohamed is one of Somalia’s most experienced pirates. But in his homeland, a failed state, Mohamed is just another middle-aged man trying to make ends meet. Far removed from the glamour and adventure of the pirates of books and movies, Somali pirates face increasing scrutiny and stigmatisation both at home and abroad.  Now Mohamed is engaged and both his parents and his in-laws pressure him to change his ways before the big wedding day.

Mohamed senses that the golden age of piracy may be coming to an end, and with pressure mounting to provide for his loved ones, he must decide whether to risk everything for one last hijack.  Through his eyes a dramatic tale about survival in Somalia unfolds; how did Mohamed come to live this brutal and dangerous existence?  Last Hijack is both a feature-length film, combining documentary footage and animation, as well as an online transmedia experience, allowing viewers a unique and original way to explore the story of Somali piracy from different perspectives.

The filmmaking team of Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting is a meeting of true industry pioneers who push the boundaries of storytelling.  Tommy first connected Richard Linklater with animation when he produced the award-winning feature film Waking Life.  Femke Wolting co-founded Submarine, a multiple award winning production company. She produced numerous projects such as Peter Greenaway’s feature Rembrandt’s J’Accuse.   Femke is producing Greenaway’s next film, Eisenstein in Guanajuato.

The filmmakers commented that “The inspiration for the style of the animation really came from Hisko who did all the paintings.  We had been looking at more traditional designers but the color palettes never seemed right for what we wanted.  Animation is traditionally for children and the colors usually reflect that aesthetic.  Hisko’s paintings brought a more sophisticated color palette and the human touch of the brush on the canvas endowed it with a warmth and an organic feel that we really thought was right for this project.”