I Saw a Ghost, and It Was Beautiful

Miss Eloise, a melancholic property agent, is assigned to manage the vacation of a countryside apartment room due to the sudden disappearance of its last tenant, a blue collar worker at a neighbouring company. However, her whimsical decision to spend the night in the mysteriously abandoned room—fuelled by her desire to flee from her own soporific reality—slowly spirals into a feverish odyssey.

  • Bobby Fernando
    Ahasuerus (2020)
  • Bobby Fernando
  • Kemal Hasan
  • Salima Hakim
  • Yohanes Merci
  • Michaela Clarissa Levi
  • Bobby Fernando
  • Ryan Oktavianto
    Background Artist
  • Dira Nararyya
    Sound Designer
  • Imanuel Abner
    Sound Designer
  • M H
    Sound Designer
  • Elvaretta Tirta
    Key Cast
    "Miss Eloise"
  • Tami Kira
    Key Cast
    "The Mother"
  • Project Type:
    Animation, Short
  • Genres:
    Drama, Thriller
  • Runtime:
    9 minutes 6 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    June 26, 2022
  • Country of Origin:
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Minikino Film Week 9—Bali International Short Film Festival
    Indonesian Premiere
    Special Jury Mention
  • Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival 2023
    June 30, 2023
    European Premiere
    Official Selection—Asian Shorts
  • Show Me Shorts Film Festival 2023
    Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch
    New Zealand
    Official Selection—Indonesian Focus 2
  • 43rd Indonesian Film Festival 2023
    Nominated for Best Short Animated Film
Director Biography - Bobby Fernando

Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the year 1995, Bobby Fernando was introduced to the world of creative fiction early by various Japanese Tokusatsu shows, as well as VHS tapes of Batman (1989) and RoboCop (1987). A juvenile gateway, perhaps, but it instilled in him a profound sense of awe and fascination that, over the years, would evolve into a deep love toward the vast medium of motion picture, unbound by any specific genre or circumstance.

After studying animation at Universitas Multimedia Nusantara, Bobby was granted the opportunity to direct his first short film, Ahasveros (2020), which would go on to be featured in several international film festivals, and, most notably, won the title for the Best Short Animated Film at the 41st Indonesian Film Festival. This, hopefully, can serve as a solid foundation for him to nurture his talent, and fulfil his aspiration to keep making animated movies in any length or genre - though still with the markings of his own, unique perspective, and oft-sentimental touch - as he is passionate about asserting the presence of animation as a medium; not a constraint or an excuse, nor something that has to be asked, "Why?" but simply an artistic medium that can be.

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Director Statement

I've always been fascinated by the concept of ghosts and, "the haunting." Strictly in a fictional sense, I would say, since, rather paradoxically, I don't really think much of it in relation to real life. This might be apparent in my gravitation toward utilising said concept less as a means to horrify, and more as a lens to examine more grounded, humane themes, though ones that still dabble in the realm of the transient and ethereal. I think a lot about how ghosts would, “realistically,” exist—depending on what measures as, “realistic,” in the respective fictional context, of course—and how a certain visual or narrative approach can be used to represent a particular theme, and that particular theme only. Is there a certain existential ground rule that confine their interactive capabilities? Why do we (or, rather, the characters within the fictional work) find them scary - what kind of threat do they really pose to humans, especially since they shouldn’t be able to interfere with our presence physically? What would ghosts look like, and do they vary from one subject to another? What do they wear, or how would they end up wearing the clothes that they wore when they were alive? And what kind of implication, as well as thematic potential, can any answer to those questions bring to the story?

It is a collection of silly, idle thoughts, but it truly leaves a persistent gap in my mind that would eventually meet its match in my attraction toward the surrealism movement; in the works of Leonora Carrington, Max Ernst, and Remedios Varo, especially, artists whose creations I find posses not only such a strong visual allure and a haunting, liminal quality, but their nature of being simultaneously abstract and intimate, alien but identifiable—commonly represented by gestalts between human figures and other terrestrial elements—feels inherently inviting to be reflected upon, just on the basis of their presence alone. Their mere existence subconsciously calls for their viewers to fathom the unfathomable, and they’re spiritual in that sense, I suppose, which, to me, makes them an incredibly apt inspiration to portray, “ghosts,” even if only as an artful, fictional concept. Over and above that, the futurism movement also lends some influence to the movie; the way it often solidifies the intangible arc of movement into something tangible, the violence implied by a single stroke or shape alone, and the industrial, mechanical textures that persistently remind us of how much people have to lose themselves in literal machines, just to get by on a daily basis. To me, this art movement depicts a kind of…despair that feels in tune with our contemporary landscape, and though there are many other layers to the text and history of this particular movement, I hope it can, at the very least, provide striking visual cues that may tempt the audience to look beyond the surface, and form their own interpretations.

At the end of the day, 'I Saw a Ghost, and It Was Beautiful' isn't necessarily a pandemic movie (the production did indeed span between the years 2020 and 2021). However, the isolation, as well as the pronounced increase in the publicity of reports that reveal how ground-level workers were practically treated as expendable by corporations and/or other larger governing bodies certainly helped in giving me more concrete—and relevant—examples for those two topics that had always formed the backbone of this movie, even since its earliest iteration in early 2019. Moreover, it gave me the space to contemplate not only the topics themselves, but also my personal relation toward them; how much of my interest in them (and social justice activism in general) is motivated by an actual sense of solidarity, and how much is rooted in personal grievances? Rooted in a desire to project, perhaps…or, worse, a senseless martyr complex borne out of a desperate search for catharsis for my personal turmoils. In that respect, I think it’s pretty evident that the movie’s main character, Miss Eloise, does represent my own position in the middle of this question; though not as an exact, “self insert,” but the foundational similarities—a middle-class young adult with a lot of nebulous confusion and anger, who often does things as a release, a means to redirect their suppressed emotions, or even unarticulated disdain toward their present circumstances—are certainly there. Over the course of the story, however, I hope I can convey that Miss Eloise’s journey is one of learning about empathy, about how we owe it to each other, and how true acts of compassion are what’s going to get us through all this.

It might seem a trivial anecdote, but a mock comic that I stumbled upon on social media actually managed to put it into words so succinctly: “[We don't live in hell]; in hell, there is relief in utter helplessness, while here, our actions have consequences for both ourselves and others.” Revelling in our personal grievances in others’ spaces will simply be intrusive, or, at best, obfuscating; inaction, likewise, would only be enabling. If we stop doing anything because we’ve been consumed by despair, then we're admitting defeat - but we aren't in hell. As long as we’re still able to do something—and we are—then we owe it to others to do it.