The Flight of the Manta Rays

Directed by Bruno Carnide

Portugal & Spain, Animation, 7′ (2021)


It all began as all stories begin, at the start. When I was younger, my mother would sit me on her lap, and tell me that, every day the manta rays would come out of the sea flying, by the hundreds!


“The Flight of the Manta Rays” appears in a streak of inspiration shortly after the birth of my first and only daughter, about a year ago.
And during that year, I conceived, idealized, illustrated and animated the entire short film by myself, while counting on the help of my wife to stay with our daughter during the long nights.
The arrival of a baby, that is a piece of us, often makes us stop and think about the past and the future. In imagination and ingenuity. In greatness and smallness.
I thought about making a film that would serve as a tribute to her. To show her that the world is exactly as she sees it: mysterious and beautiful; full of news and lots of things to discover.
Sitting on the sofa, I saw the image of a manta ray and, as I appreciated its beauty and grandeur, I imagined that, instead of swimming in the depths of the ocean, how good it would be if they flew in the vastness of the sky. And I started to draw.
I then drew, for a long year, a story that she could tell, with all the naivety and wonder of a child. A story that mixes a little with our family background. Imagining that my daughter met her great-great-grandfather (unknown to me, my parents and grandparents) in another dimension.
I ended up creating a very personal project, where I talk a little about my great-grandfather – a Japanese soldier lost in Portugal in the middle of the First World War, who met my great-grandmother, got her pregnant and left (becoming a taboo subject in my family) – mixed with what my daughter’s eyes see and dazzle.
This is a story that honors the past and the present; mix reality and imagination; and it transforms my work of several years in the area of family drama, to a level that elevates the family to a less dramatic and more hopeful place.
A son makes us believe that happiness is possible; the future is not black and imagination is not just a starting point, but the whole way.
A film that I dedicate to my great-grandfather, as if it had been made by his great-great-grandfather.