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Annecy 2018: Short Films in Competition 1

// Featured, Reviews (Festival, Film)

Annecy 2018 starts with a bang, and a flash – bloody weather, we’re only off the plane half a day and the thunder and lightning starts. Still, what better excuse is there to retire into the cinema out of the misery and indulge in some of the finest animated short films of the year?

After collecting our bags we headed to the Salle de Creation to take in this mornings contingent of VR experiences, with Extravaganza (dir. Ethan Shaftel) taking a tongue in cheek view of what VR might have been like if it were around in the colonial and misogynistic world of the 1950’s, all from the point of view of a puppet in the contraption and then it was onto the Oculus for chapter one of Crow: The Legend (dir. Eric Darnell) a story which tells a traditional tale from Native American folk law and brings it to life in VR, a rising symphony of sound for a family audience. Both of these films demonstrating a rise in popularity of VR films among celebrities, all eager to loan their voices to the latest thing.

As I headed to the cinemas to take in Shorts in Competition 1 I was instructed to ‘enjoy the flatties’ an interesting term that the VR crowd has for films on a screen, so here’s what i made of the first batch of ‘flatties’ at this years Annecy.

Weekends
Dir. Trevor Jimenez – USA

A young boy traverses the puzzling reality of being a child of divorce, entering a dreamscapes which fold into reality as he is passed between parents. This is a tender story set in the 1980’s (you’ll have Dire Straits in your head all day after watching) with no real drive on the story, it’s happy, it’s sad, there are scary moments and there is fun. What is more important is that it is all illustrated beautifully and directed from the child’s limited understanding of the complex situation he finds himself in. What’s remarkable about this film is that there is love from both parents, when films about divorce are screened it is often that either one of the parents can be the villain, this film is pitched perfectly. Marvellous.

Guaxuma
Dir. Nara Normande – Brasil/France

A riveting story about growing up, love and friendship which channels into a tragic tale that will hit you like a punch in the chest.
Told through some of the most exquisite sand animation I have seen, leaving one to wonder if it is sand animation or cleverly done CG trickery. The mixed media approach give the film a charm that elevates it above many others of it’s ilk.

Slurs
Dir. John Morena – USA

The stark white screen is steadily filled with falling slurs against women, read out by a cruel male voice, the word buckle and crush under the weight of one another as the screen becomes black. It’s all a bit of an assault on the senses, as is no doubt the desired effect, but when the point of the film arrives it is greeted with a knowing laugh and hopefully the desire for change. A great example of how animation can be used to make a point in a direct, powerful and humorous way.

Love He Said
Dir. Inés Sedan – France

The unmistakable tone of Charles Bukowski is matched with Loving Vincent-esq painterly animation and then lighter, watercolour tones, that journey through the words read. A good film, but not remarkable perhaps picked more out of love of Bukowski, rather than love of the film itself which does have some very nice moments, but rather a lot of missed opportunities.

Happiness
Dir. Steve Cutts – UK

Hordes of rodents fill the screen as the living embodiment of the rat race in a film that looks like an animated Banksy painting. The lows and lows of capitalism is exhibited as the main character continues his never ending spiral. There are a lot of films like this, such as El Empleo that shake their fist at the world and the way the world is looking at the moment it is no wonder this particular film found itself being enthusiastically shared across social media (a curiously absent vice in the film) last year.

Tears of Chiwen
Dir. Sun Xun – China

There is a some fantastic illustration on display in this rather confusing film that pays homage to wood cut illustration through to print. There are some nice flashes of animation that career the viewer through an turbulent barrage of colour and linework. As you can tell by my write up I’ve absolutely no idea what it was all about.

Death Van
Dir. Michael Enzbrunner – Canada

A hodge lodge of weird objects and creepy toys gather for a concert to jam the films soundtrack. An image of death arrives, many objects manifested and held together somehow, there is a psychedelic battle led by the soundtrack. Imagine Sid’s room from the first Toy Story, but on acid and you’re halfway to understanding the tone of this film.

Ride
Dir. Paul Bush – Portugal/UK

There are few directors can fill frames like Paul Bush, undertaking what can only be assumed as a labour intensive look at locomotion as the director raids a collection of cycles and motorbikes to tell a very simple story in a beautiful way.

La Mort, père & fils
Dirs. Denis Walgenwitz, Vincent Paronnaud – France

Very well realised stop motion film about death trying to control his angelic, but inquisitive offspring who tries to dave the world, but ends up making things worse. A cute film crafted with stylish care.

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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