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Annecy 2016: Short Films in Competition 1

// Featured, Reviews (Festival, Film)

It’s been a few years since I was last at Annecy and so as you may expect I was excited to return. I’m welcomed back to the familiar sounds of popping noises emanating from the darkness and paper airplanes either hitting the stage to delighted applause, or hitting the back of delegates heads to enraged cries of “ouch!” and as the pre-show begins I’m instantly enchanted with this years Annecy Partners sting – a wonderful, inventive and humorous homage to Wacky Races and the craft of animation. This was followed by the yearly Gobelin’s sting which, as usual, delivered a short burst of feature style animation in the form of a Picasso inspired bar brawl.

So the films haven’t even started yet and I’m already happy, let’s see if the selection in Short Films in Competition 1 can keep the mood high…

Journal animé
France – Donato Sansone

A man scribbles on a newspaper, his doodles come to life and imbue a vibrant satiric assessment of the contents. There are echo’s of Gilliam to the tongue in cheek scribbles as the artist takes on religion, politics, pop culture and high culture armed with nothing more than a pen that’s strokes bursts to life and colour when applied to the page.


“Parade” de Satie

Japan – Koji Yamaura

A surreal but sparsely presented cast of characters are carried long by a vibrant soundtrack. Clearly, though not explicitly set in the early 20th century the cast of flappers, psychologists and celebs such as Picasso and Chaplin dazzle the screen. If I was being harsh I would have to say that the film was carried along by the music as the animation, though visually dynamic was repeated, perhaps in order to play along in time with the music though this wasn’t explicit on a first viewing. An engaging short, though not without its flaws.

Parade-de-Satie-poster

Spoon
Germany – Markus Kempken

The narrator of this tale keeps the audience engaged throughout as he tells the story of his abusive mother, who used to hit him repeatedly as a child. At first, the audience laughed at the simple animation of a child getting a slap around the back of the head – it is, after all a very slapstick gesture, but as the film continued the narration and that animation combined to add more gravity to the scenario and I found myself transfixed with the tale which was over all too soon. A compelling film for an audience to watch and perhaps a cathartic exercise for the director to make.

He Who Has Two Souls
France – Fabrice Luang-Vija

An Inuit struggles with his identity, he hunts like a man, but has the grace of a woman. As he and his community struggle to come to terms with his life choices I found myself struggling to come to terms with the film. The man is seen to have a choice between being homosexual or not, though this is not explicitly stated, I wanted to know why – and as he found what the film presented as a gentle logical conclusion I was a little disappointed at the missed opportunity to tackle this subject properly. Aside from my own issues with the film it was an enchanting film to watch, the design was nice with some wonderfully realised dream sequences, which made the film one of the stronger entries in the selection.


Accidents, Blunders and Calamities

New Zealand – James Cunningham

Five minutes of murder and mayhem at the expense of a alliteratively named cast. A father possum reads a story to his children about all the ways animals die at the expense of mans clumsy relationship with nature. A charming example of well executed VFX work.

Way of Giants
Brazil – Alois Di Leo

Set in the deep amazon a young pipe maker struggles to come to terms with the cyclical nature of her environment and the consequences of the role she plays in a film that explores the relationship between the young and old as well as man and nature. The design and style of this film is exemplarity placing the audience under the canopies of the rainforest to really engage them with the story of the young protagonist and the fantasy ending concludes her journey beautifully.


Erlkönig

Switzerland – Georges Schwizgebel

A sick boy, traversing through the forest on horseback with his father keeps imagining a mysterious figure in his ill stupor which delights and then offends his senses. This film is quite frantic in its pace and in the metamorphic camera moves that guide this feast for the eyes. Like an earlier film in the selection music plays a pivotal supporting role enlivening the film which may have found itself floundering without it.

Moms on Fire
Sweden – Joanna Rytel

The version of this film I caught wasn’t translated into English so I have yet to see a version of this film I understand – luckily as the language of animation is universal, and I know a few words of French I feel just about qualified enough to deliver this ham fisted review.

Two heavily pregnant mothers are bored senseless and engage in activities to pass the time as the burden of pregnancy gets to them. This film delighted the crowd and it was clear to see why this cheeky, taboo-ignoring stop motion tale would solicit a cheeky chuckle from the audience.

Keep your eyes on Skwigly all week long for updates from the Annecy Festival. You can keep up to date with us on Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram.

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