Stepping over the threshold...

STUDIOAKA has enjoyed a long-standing working relationship with Icelandic composer JOHANN JOHANNSSON, ever since he scored our film VARMINTS, for which he won first prize for Best Original Score at the Rhode Island film festival. So we were delighted when he asked us to create a film for 'A Song for Europa': one of the beautiful tracks from his release ORPHEE on Deutsche Grammophon.

Typically for Johann, the work is a beautifully atmospheric composition, one that immerses the listener into the strange recordings of the 'Numbers Stations': a category of shortwave radio station broadcasts characterized by readings of number lists, letters and coded messages from a forgotten era.

Johann's main inspiration came from Jean Cocteau's film Orphee, which shows the main character, played by Jean Marais, listening intently on his car radio to cryptic, repetitive sequences of words and phrases, interrupted by short wave bursts of static and noise. These scenes were in turn inspired by Cocteau's experiences of the BBC's broadcasts of coded messages during the second world war. These cryptic broadcasts were direct antecedents of the 'Numbers Stations', which were most prevalent during the Cold War and provided Johann with a connection to the album's overarching theme of Orpheus and that myth's themes of thresholds and crossing borders. The lonely girl's voice reciting seemingly random numbers became the voice of Euridyce, a voice from beyond, from elsewhere.

In response, AKA director Gergely Wootsch has created a considered and thoughtful animated film, which crosses literal boundaries and thresholds as it drifts along a desolate cold war landscape, following a haunting voice as it searches for a listener.

Johann Johannsson
Director: Gergely Wootsch
Creative director: Marc Craste
Producer: Nikki Kefford-White
Production Company: STUDIOAKA