August 1, 2011


From Paths of Hate
Watching a programme of short films can be an exhausting experience; you are constantly attempting to reset your brain and approach each new short as freshly as possible. The annual Animation Now! selection can veer from the fantastically wonderful and brave to the tortuously pretentious and boring. I’ve picked out some for mention here.

For me, the two stand-out shorts were Love & Theft and Paths of Hate. Love & Theft was a perfectly realised piece of animation: movement and colour and music. Things begin simply enough with a constantly morphing circle. This then morphs through Charlie Brown, Hello Kitty and more. Things begin to more complex as more and more shapes and characters morph in and out, bringing colour and chaos with them.

Paths of Hate is simply one of the most stunning pieces of aerial combat I’ve ever seen. Two nameless WWII fighter pilots dodge, duck, weave, fire and bleed far above an unknown country. There is no dialogue, and none needed. The story is told entirely through the visuals: the choreographed dogfight, the photo of a loved one, the ammunition counters running down, the rosary beads breaking… The film has a clean animation style that harkens back to the past, while also being very much of the future.

Guard Dog (Global Jam!) and Videogioco (Loop Experiment) were both interesting approaches that largely worked. Guard Dog had the director of the original Academy Award nominated 2005 short film going out to animators across the web to animate scenes from the film in their own style. I’ve not seen the original film, but the story is simple and funny and while the change in animation styles can be disconcerting most sequences bring something to the table. Videogioco is an intricate stop-motion work: a man sits in the middle of a huge swatch of paper and sketches. Frankly, it all looks a little mad. The tale is told by flipping pieces over, revealing actions and animation. There is a certain roughness to it, but this only adds to the charm.

There was also a repeat of Preferably Blue from Homegrown: Works on Film and Das Tub, a cute enough wee kiwi film that does exactly what it needs to. And, of course, the requisite Eastern European and experimental animations that tend to drive me a little mad. I try to remain open but Miss Daisy Cutter and Get Real became infuriating and quickly wore out their welcome. I got the point of each within the first minute and they continued to drag on. In a Pig’s Eye and Danny Boy were both easy on the eyes; In a Pig’s Eye had the gentle feel of a simple hand-drawn tale while Danny Boy was a complex stop-motion film that I ultimately didn’t see the point of (and that ended on a “joke” of questionable taste).

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