REVIEW – Animated Shorts – Cinequest

Animated Shorts – This year was the best selection of Animated Shorts in recent memory; a genuinely fantastic compilation with an expanse variety of stories and styles, plus a huge display of really strong animation talent.  Additionally, I thought the music for ALL the films was just stunning, cinematic, dramatic, complimentary, and really integrated into the films (in some cases inspiring the animator to create a story around it).  There were cat, pig and cycle/repetition/full circle themes tying these short together into a smartly curated package. Quick thoughts on the line up, should you have an opportunity to see ANY of these films again in the future, do it.

Bear Story – What a brilliant, detailed, magnificent piece. I could watch this tremendously moving eye candy for hours. I’m in awe of the work that must have gone into the creation of this compelling, rich story. It’s just so beautiful to look at and a fantastic example of animation that transcends the genre, creating an instantaneous human connection (one full of magical empathy) with the subject. My favorite I think among all of them, and that’s high praise considering the company it’s in.

Behind My Behind – A clever, amusing poem taking us on a journey between the cracks in the sofa. I was more engaged with the words I think than the animation, but it was an animation style well suited to the silliness of the prose.

Chiaroscuro – An experiment in kinetic, geometric, sharp animation. I wasn’t sure at all what it was saying, but it did its thing with an interesting visual that stood out as unique for sure among the other films.

Crow – An experiment in fluidity and mirroring effects that was one of the more abstract pieces (which I normally don’t care for too much) set to a Ted Hughes reading of one of his own poems. Esoteric in some ways, yes, but compelling enough visually and distinct. An odd piece that left you thinking a bit.

The Dam Keeper – The smudged and cloudy animation style of this film worked well symbolically with the film plot content, but it made me a bit dizzy to be honest. It’s a style for me best used in smaller doses, but it had a nice poetic, poignant arc that I appreciated.

Deadly – A sweet and very “cartoony” look at reaping, cute with some charm, stylized without appearing to be too complex.

Dinner for Few  – A dark and cynical depiction of the “machine.” Capitalist pigs, doomed to repeat, uprisings, the chains of government….there was a lot of metaphor here, HEAVY metaphor and some interesting choices from an animation standpoint.

Footprints – A typical Bill Plympton piece, you have to admire the hand drawn process even if the storytelling is a bit abstract and the visual not your cup of tea.

German Shepard – This was perhaps the most personal and even intellectual narrative of the lot and as was the case in a few others, the exact style of animation closely fit that narrative. While not seemingly vibrant, moving, or terribly engaging on its own, it worked well to tell this story. It was a layered piece, interesting and through provoking.

Heavenly Peace – My least favorite of the group, but nothing bad by any means, just a bit too corny and kitsch for me. It had a hallmark, old school feel that I just wasn’t totally enamored with. Well executed, but not anything groundbreaking for me personally though.

Jinxy Jenkins , Lucky You – A great, light, quirky short  with clean and bright style and a creative, smart story. Third favorite of the screening for its sweet and clean animation and narrative.

The Last Resort –An outrageous and wonderful homage to the horror genre done in contrasting bright-colored cut outs. What a feat in animation and what a fun story, with so many little gems hidden amongst the frames.  I loved this one both for twisted plot and exquisite visual execution. My second favorite of the screening, sick, sick, sick in the good way!

Luna & Lars – Lovely, gothic, darkly romantic story, with a Victorian toy element done in stop motion. A wonderful emotional short that had the best music of the lot.

Nine  – This was a ball of WTF at first, but it was visually engaging and I appreciated the different types of animation used during different phases of the story.

Teeth – Easily the biggest reaction from the audience the screening I saw, it was graphic, dark and perfectly matched with regard to style of animation, rough raw, gritty, abrupt and unapologetic. Disgusting but a wonderful example of visceral storytelling.

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