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Annecy 2017: Short Films in Competition 1

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The annual delight that is Annecy Animation Festival is once more upon us, presenting an opportunity for the whole world to board planes and to take in the world of animation at it’s finest.

Obligatory out the plane window shot with a filter on it – Annecy here we come! #annecy #animation #annecy2017

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Day one at the festival began up at the Palace with The Women in Animation World Summit, an event exploring unconscious bias and ways of combatting it as well as promoting 50/50 by 2025, a drive to ensure equal footing for women in industry within the decade. A lively presentation on bias by Julie Ann Crommett was followed by an enlightening debate by a panel of experts. 65% of students on Animation courses are female so the disparity within industry where 30% of studios are women show something in desperate need of addressing.

The first presentation of the day was by Passion Pictures director Robert Valley who gave a candid behind the scenes look at his career and approach to his artwork. You can’t help but admire Valley’s laid back attitude to his work which included his Massive Swerve comic work, the latest Gorillaz video and Pear Cider and Cigarettes which was fantastic to see on the big screen (I say because barely any festivals have screened it). Listen to Robert Valley on the Skwigly Animation Podcast here.

Because of it’s acclaim Annecy is often earmarked as a premiere festival, that being a festival that filmmakers wish to get their films shown at first. As such it marks the beginning of the animation calendar firing the starting pistol and presenting a batch of new films ready to compete against one another in other film festivals for the rest of the year.  As we have done in previous years, here on Skwigly we review the short films in competition at the festival. There is always an eclectic mix in competition and whilst Short Films 1 wasn’t the easiest selection of films to watch, it was peppered with a few delights that ensured the audience didn’t leave completely disappointed.

Radio Dolores
Finland – Katariina Lillqvist

A Finish busker searches for his missing father among the fascistic backdrop of Franco’s Spain. This stop motion tale is well crafted with the characters static faces not really hampering the overall performance of the puppets too much. The expert narration lends a pleasing tone to this film which, whilst it looks good, at 18 minutes it lasts just a little too long for a film beginning a selection.

Wednesday with Goddard
United Kingdom – Nicolas Ménard

Part of the latest output from the ever changing Late Night Work Club alumni, Ménard’s dry humour, timing and wit fill a visually striking tale of a man searching for enlightenment. Looking like Réne Laloux meets Yellow Submarine (Manshen Lo’s artwork compliments Ménards graphic style beautifully) and presented in a peculiar framing this film almost defines quirky.

Listen to director Nicolas Ménard on episode 2 of the Independent Animation Podcast here.

When Time Moves Faster
Austria, Canada – Anna Vasof

Live action sequences are sped up to produce animation with the help of innovative contraptions. A roll of paper filled with frames of a walk cycle are photographed by the person walking the roll out with their feet, a multilane of plates are smashed or curtains with images on are drawn to produce small loops. Whilst the films purpose is to delight in the construction and process of these animated snapshots, there are moments where the sound is painful to listen to. The sound of smashing plates is really uncomfortable to listen to when speeded up. The mundane pacing and relatively banal results of the process coupled with the ear-splitting sound design are something which really let this film down.

J’aime les filles
Canada – Diane Obomsawin

A series of revealing stories about coming to terms with sexual orientation are presented in an odd mixture of colourful comic rotoscope animation with animal heads. There are echo’s of Jonas Odell’s Never Like the First Time in the frank tales through the presentation of the interviews, but the film retains a unique feel to it through it’s pacing a delivery of their revealing tales of personal identity and sexual exploration.

Filled with tales retold in a way that really explains the personal nature of coming out this film could have some question their prejudices or at the very least leave them wondering exactly what waffles dipped in Pepsi actually tastes like.

Listen to director Diane Obomsawin on the Intimate Animation Podcast here.

Poland – Jaroslaw Konopka

The smooth stop motion animation and camera work of this short might leave some to mistake the film for CG. The film centres around two undead people, a mother and son. They navigate through the remains of their lives in a world that is now ruined. The sound design in this short is superb, with every rustle of grass or crunch of sand placing you beside the unfortunate subjects as they crawl their way through a desolate setting.

The deeply unpleasant action onscreen quickly grows tiresome and whilst there are notable achievements in this film in terms of the sublime animation, camera work and sound design the runtime and repetition of the main characters torturous existence become an unfortunate annoyance.

In a Nutshell
Switzerland – Fabio Friedli

A nutshell burst to life, replaced in quick succession by objects that weave a tale of the world through war, society, celebrity, sex and more.

In parts the film remind me of 5 Minute Museum by Paul Bush, but perhaps a little cheekier as it takes a more humorous look at a similar subject matter. Engaging and inventive throughout the film is lifted through a mix of folly and acapela soundtrack and the cheeky surprises that morph in and out of existence.

Double King
Australia – Felix Colgrave

This film charts the pursuit of a greedy king’s efforts to steal as many crowns as possible. Set in a bizarre world populated by uniquely designed characters, the pace of this film matches the frenetic nature of the greedy king. You’re not quite sure what is coming next with this film, but it surprises, sometimes alarms but always entertains it’s way through the runtime.

With echoes of Terry Gilliam, Adventure Time and, yes Stoppit and Tidyup this bizarre comedy is sure to please in more ways than one.

China – Shen Jie

A gun firing guard has fetishistic desires for a statue. With it’s heavy breathing soundtrack, odd presentation and blurry look I have no idea why this film was selected. If it is a film that is trying to be funny it woefully misses the mark, which for a film that apes The Great Train Robbery from the start, you’d expect a hit.

Brazil – Sávio Leite

An erotic fairytale told by a vicious narrator. This relentless display of gratuitous pornography is a little jarring from the off, but given the context of the film you could seek forgiveness in it’s technique. However, being as it is mainly rotoscoped pornography on a loop the result isn’t a film I can say I enjoyed viewing. Themes of sex, lust and eroticism have been done with heart, humour and honesty in the past but unfortunately this isn’t one of those films.

Keep your eyes on Skwigly for continued updates and coverage from the Annecy Festival. You can keep up to date with us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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