“The director is 20 years old. The film describes how people isolate themselves in technology and forget one of the best things in life, human coexistence with love and brotherhood”, add the publications that spread the videos. One of these has been shared more than 320,000 times on Facebook (1, 2, 3) as of January 2022. The sequence, animated, in black and white, and with piano music in the background, lasts two and a half minutes and shows a child ignored by the rest of the characters, who are concentrating on their mobile phones. The plot denounces the overexposure in networks and the little social interaction of humans in everyday scenes.
That same month it circulated on Twitter (1, 2, 3), YouTube (1, 2), Instagram (1, 2) and reached AFP Factual's WhatsApp, as well as being shared in English, Catalan and Portuguese. Similar content has existed since at least 2018.
The same text has also appeared on networks since 2019 but accompanied by another animation, in this case in color and three minutes long. The characters in the short film, absorbed in their mobile phones, cause domestic, medical and scientific accidents. More than 120,000 users shared it in Spanish, and another hundreds did so in Portuguese, French, Italian, English and Catalan.
The same description appears in a third fiction published on YouTube in 2019, in this case with a happy ending. In it, a young worker, tired of being surrounded by people glued to a screen, improvises a dinner on the landing of her building to which several neighbors gradually join.
AFP Factual found, however, that none of these sequences correspond to a short film called "L'altra par" made by an Egyptian director or awarded at the Venice Film Festival.
Regarding the origin of the title, the AFP verification team did not find that "L'altra par" belonged to any language, despite bearing similarities with several Latin languages. In Catalan, for example, "l'altre par" or "l'altre parell" would correspond to "the other pair". It would also be similar in Latin (“Alter par”), Spanish (“the other pair”) and French (l'autre paire), but none of them fully coincides with the title reproduced by viral publications.
A reverse search for keyframes of retro-style animation, obtained using the InVID We Verify tool, led to a video clip posted on YouTube on October 18, 2016 by American electronic music composer Moby with The Void Pacific Choir.
The animated short accompanies the song “Are You Lost In The World Like Me?” (“Are you lost in the world like me?”, in Spanish), from the album “These Systems Are Falling” (“These systems are failing”).
Social media posts share a shorter version of the video, with the background theme “Comptine d'un autre été”, by Yann Tiersen, soundtrack of the film “Amélie”, by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet .
According to the credits, the author of the video clip is the English illustrator and animator Steve Cutts, who also mentioned this work in his professional portfolio and in a tweet. Cutts, born in 1995, was 21 years old when the video clip was released.
The sequence won the Webby Award, awards that "recognize excellence on the internet" according to its website, for best animated video in 2017.
A reverse search using the color animation video keyframes returned a website listing some of these with the description in Hebrew: “Life Smartphone, a short and entertaining animated film created by a student from China Central Academy of Arts, shows why smartphone addiction can kill you.”
A new Google search for “Life Smartphone” led to an entry on IMDB, a film database, indicating that it is a 2015 short film directed by Chinese filmmaker Chenglin Xie.
“He was named in 2015 as one of the top 30 Chinese microfilm directors. His first animation work, Life Smartphone, was officially selected by nearly 40 animation and film festivals and won nearly 20 awards, ”the Sundance festival website says about Chenglin Xie for him.
The video in which a group of neighbors end the day abandoning their electronic devices to share dinner around the same table includes at the end, superimposed, the words “Crave more” and “Canada 150,” and the hashtag #EatTogether. Searching for those terms, the AFP found that it was actually a Canadian campaign issued on January 1, 2017, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the country's independence, and whose objective was to "honor the time spent sharing food and the capacity of this activity to bring different communities closer together”.
The AFP verification team found no record of a short called “L'altra par” or “The Other Pair” having won an award at the Venice Film Festival.
Consulted by AFP Factual on January 26, 2022, the event's communication office confirmed that "no short film with that title has ever won an award at the Venice Film Festival."
However, there is an Egyptian film from 2014 called “The Other Pair” (“El otro par”, in Spanish). This was directed by Sarah Rozik and is based on part of the life of the thinker Mahatma Gandhi, according to the end credits.
The short shows a poor boy whose flip-flops are in bad shape and who notices another boy's new shoes on the same platform. When the passengers pile up to get on the train, the boy with the new shoes loses one of his shoes, and he can't get it back because the convoy starts moving. Seeing the scene, the poor boy, who stayed on the platform, runs behind the wagon to try to give it to him and seeing that it is not enough, the one who is riding the train throws him the other pair so that he can use both.
This Egyptian short, therefore, has no connection with the isolation of people due to new technologies.
January 28, 2022 Corrects the name of the Venice Festival in paragraphs 17 and 18 and in the last intertitle