This Time Away

Nigel is an elderly man living as a recluse, haunted by his past and memory of the family he once had... until an unexpected visitor arrives and disrupts his lonely routine.
by Magali Barbe
14 Min / UK

Sci-FiAward WinningFamily


We have seen many old man/old woman robot films yet this one touches our heart because of its genuine simplicity and the final emotional twist that the writer, director has planted. This near-future heart-warmer is really a gentle, reassuring watch and is also technically one of the best VFX one could see in a short film with the perfectly created robot acting like a silent dog/child (it follows the famous saying - best vfx is no vfx visible at all).

The brief the director had for Max was for it to be "cute and friendly, and the shapes and colors should remind us of vintage household robots and also avoid looking like Wall-E!" On set, they used a bamboo stick stuck on a base to represent Max with colored tape for its eyeline, so Timothy (the actor) would know where to look.


MAGALI BARBE - Writer/Director
Based in London, Magali has worked as a VFX animator and previz artist for 10+ years. Driven by her passion for storytelling, she wrote, produced and directed her first short film ‘Strange Beasts’ (2017). It was selected in a number of international festivals and got her representation. ‘This Time Away’ is her second short, it started its festival run by winning ‘Best Foreign Film’ at the LA Shorts Fest.

Magali  has the following thing say about the film:

"Growing as an adult is growing away from childhood and sometimes, family. Hardship, differing opinions, the different choices we make… With time and distance, life sometimes grows family apart. I often found myself struggling, trying to maintain those relationships and sometimes questioning their viability, foundations, substance… quality.

‘THIS TIME AWAY’ is my attempt to portray the complex relationship between a father and his daughter.

The loss of Nigel’s wife - Louise’s mother - challenges their relationship. He’s a man growing old, carrying his sorrow in loneliness and the comfort of nostalgia. She’s a young woman who despite her own pain, will eventually choose to move forward."

this time away