10.24.13 | Jordan Brown
Animated Shorts Competition
A girl with a tail, a beat-boxing child, a unicorn with an umbrella, and a singing vegetable man: we’ve culled through stacks of admissions, and these animated short films have emerged victorious. Their animation styles vary as much as their subject matter and each one deserves a view. Read on, fellow film watchers, read on.
Dogonauts: Enemy Line
In the realm of famous foes, few disputes are as dramatic or long-lasting as the constant war waged between Dogonauts and Flea-ons. In this 15 minute stop-motion short set in outer space (funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign!), creators Justin Rasch and Shel Rasch pit a fighter from each side against each other, having been shipwrecked on the same desolate planet. Dialogue be damned; the tension between two such mortal enemies needs no words. Claymation has never made me feel so on edge: would they be able to escape by forming an alliance, or would they be doomed to destroy each other? Find out by catching the film in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
A Cautionary Tale
This quirky and sweet parable of self-acceptance follows a girl born with a tail that expresses her emotions. Narrated entirely in rhyming verse, it traces the ups and downs of her “freakishness.” Writer Erica Harrison brought her story to life with animator friend Simon Rippingale. Simon and his team combined handmade miniature sets and 3D computer-generated characters to create the unique look of the film. I actually found the production history to be just as fairy tale-esque as the film itself. Gathering fans from an early stage, the short attracted talent like Cate Blanchett and even raised $50,000 from a crowd-funding campaign. Come see one of the most celebrated Australian shorts of the year! Check out Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
Lost in the big city, a little girl discovers another world, ultimately freeing herself and her mother from the non-stop bustle of the metropolis all around them. This sweet film reminded me of Ferris Bueller’s famous quote: “Live moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Belgian animator Wouter Bongaerts wrote and directed this 9 minute gem and funded it with help from the Flanders Audiovisual Fund, which rewards young filmmakers with a Wildcard, a production fee to fund a future project. He received the endowment for his acclaimed short Mouse for Sale (2010). Come see him put the funding to good use with Mia, playing in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
La Nuit de L’ours (The Night of the Bear)
Directed by Fred Guillaume and Samuel Guillaume, this short presents us with a dark, unfriendly urban landscape and the creatures that inhabit it. Homeless animals seek shelter and find it with the generous Bear, whose comfortable home built high above the city serves as a temporary escape from the harsh city below. It’s a safe place for the homeless animals to recharge and share their thoughts and stories. Interestingly, the short’s dialogue was created by using recordings made at a party for the homeless in Switzerland. The quirky, gloomy plot and the fact that the dialogue is comprised of real people telling their stories definitely got me thinking about social divides. You could find characters like these in any city. Be sure to see it, playing with Shorts Program 6 – Today and Tomorrow, at the Hideout Theatre, Sunday, October 27th, 4:30 pm or Monday, October 28th, 5:30 pm.
StrAngel – Angel of the Odd
Based on a short story by Edgar Allan Poe, this film follows a bachelor (named Edgar, of course) who is convinced that bad luck and unexplainable misfortunes are self-inflicted and will therefore never happen to him, being a smart and logical man. His world is suddenly changed when he is visited by the Angel of the Odd, who is bent on reforming Edgar through a series of strange events. This hand-animated, stereoscopic 3D-animation tale takes us on an odd tale of redemption. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable dark fable. Catch it in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
Fay Adams was once a dancing star. Now she’s stuck wrangling local contestants for a community church talent show. She’s trying to run a tight ship, but willful young contestant Darlene has other ideas… Director/ animator Claire Winters and writer Matthew Kyne Baskott present us with a colorful cast of characters that we all surely recognize from our own communities, from the awkward young performers to the crotchety old men observing everything from their card table. I loved everything about this short; if only everyone was as willing as Darlene to let their freak flag fly! Will the talent show go on? Find out in Shorts Program 1 – School Daze, at the Hideout Theatre, Thursday, October 24th, 7:10 pm or Wednesday, October 30th, 3:00 pm.
Having an umbrella instead of a regular horn doesn’t make a unicorn’s life easy, but Umbrellacorn’s luck seems to change when he spies the pretty pink unicorn of his dreams. Can he beat his golden-maned, testosterone-fueled rival and win her affection? Storyboard artist Stephen P. Neary’s short is the stuff Technicolor dreams are made of, complete with cupcakes, sparkles, and rainbows. Oh, and a Cyclops. I bet you’ve never seen a unicorn romantic comedy with a Cyclops in it. Even for that reason alone, you should catch the film playing in Shorts Program 9 – Sex, Love, and Other Bits of Ridiculousness, at the Hideout Theatre, Friday, October 25th, 6:45 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 6:45 pm.
This short is a musically-infused collaboration between writer/director Bracey Smith, animator Neil Dvorak, and pianist Nadejda Vlaeva. Set to Vlaeva’s performance of Bach’s Ouverture from Cantata No. 29, it follows the early life of a girl born with musical notes pouring out of her chest. What at first seems like a burden ultimately turns into an inspiring gift as she learns to harness this peculiar gift. Smith’s inspiration for this story about nurturing one’s potential came from seeing Vlaeva play and the knowledge of his own impending fatherhood. The power of music is so intensely felt that you shouldn’t be surprised if your heart swells or you shed a tear or two. Come see this 5-minute masterpiece in Shorts Program 4 – Family Matters, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 6:45 pm or Monday, October 28th, 9:45 pm.
Firefly and the Coffee Machine
In the visual tradition of Pixar, this CG animated short presents us with an inventor’s creation, a coffee-maker that lives in the shadow of the inventor’s newest project, the Firefly. Creator John Michael Wilyat based the story upon his niece’s drawings and her explanations of them. The result is a whimsical short that mixes a childlike sense of wonder with an acknowledgement of the darker side of life. It reminded me of Wall-E: a forgotten machine struggling to find its place in the world. Already a hit on the festival circuit, this is a short you don’t want to miss! Catch this playful and acclaimed film with Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
This short traces the story of E. Lillian Todd, credited as the first woman in the world to design airplanes. Miss Todd dreams of attending university to hone her craft and eventually to become a pilot, but she struggles against the patriarchal era she lives in and the limited opportunities for women in the early 1900s. She has the passion and determination, but is that enough to break through the gender barrier? Director/animator Kristina Yee has created a stop-motion musical short using paper cut-out puppets in a model set. The visuals are simply amazing – there’s so much love and care in every frame. Catch this inspiring story in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
A boy and a girl are chased by monsters of darkness for the light that they carry. A tale of courage and selflessness, this black-and-white short was created by 15 students and 2 graduates from Columbus College of Art & Design. Writer/director Grace Kim worked with the team of fellow students for a period of four months to create this eerie, exciting chase of a film. I didn’t realize I was so on edge until I finished watching and was able to breathe easy again (watching chases make me anxious, okay?). Be sure to catch it in Shorts Program 2 – The Kindness of Strangers, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 4:30 pm or Tuesday, October 29th, 9:30 pm.
A frustrated musician sits stumped at his piano. Behind him, his dog and bird have entered into an epic fight among his instruments. Could their struggle be the musical inspiration he’s been searching for? They say inspiration can come from the most unexpected places; apparently this includes warring pets. Hey, whatever works! This fun and jazzy short is writer/director Bram Cayne’s 4th year thesis project. Catch it in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
Pepe & Lucas
A clown and a mime enter into a wordless battle of wits, with the attention and coins of the crowd at stake. Which street entertainer will emerge victorious? Co-directors Mo Davoudian and Wim Bien are both 20 year veterans of the entertainment industry, and this short is the first in-house film from their company Brain Zoo Studios. With the comedic style of a silent film (Pepe’s a regular Charlie Chaplin), the film is ultimately a romantic comedy about brokering peace between two types of entertainers (but maybe not magicians…). Be sure to check it out in Shorts Program 11 – Flights of Fancy, at the Hideout Theatre, Saturday, October 26th, 12:00 pm or Sunday, October 27th, 2:15 pm.
Tome of the Unknown
Wirt (voiced by Elijah Wood!) and Greg are two brothers wandering through the mysterious Unknown with their bird friend Beatrice (and a frog?). They meet a wandering minstrel made of vegetables singing a lonely tune and the three head for the big city. Patrick Hale created this sweet and funny short and produced it through Cartoon Network Studios. It’s a lovely concoction of seemingly random plot points. Will the minstrel find a lovely lass to call his own? Can Wirt figure out how to start the engine on the watermelon car? Will Greg ever find a goose? (Just watch, it’ll all make sense, I promise). See it for yourself in Shorts Program 3 – Into the Unknown, at the Hideout Theater, Thursday, October 24th, 9:20 pm or Thursday, October 31st, 4:00 pm.
This short boasts a fantastically dramatic style, a hero to root for, and the most interesting use of a wood-chipper since Fargo. Our protagonist Woody dreams of being a famous concert pianist. The only problem? He has wood paddles for hands. This labor of love, written and directed by Stuart Bowen, is another crowd-funding success story. Self-funding the first minute of the film, it was then released to widespread public support and access to some top-notch animators. From there it grew to become a 10-minute epic (not an exaggeration-this ambitious short truly is larger than life). Make time to see it in Shorts Program 6 – Today and Tomorrow, at the Hideout Theatre, Sunday, October 27th, 4:30 pm or Monday, October 28th, 5:30 pm.