MIFF 2016: Animation shorts

POP (2016)
Director: Henry Bulleen

In this very stylish looking short a woman on a motorbike is searching for the spirits of the deceased for some unknown reason. When a person with a metal detector kills themselves things don’t go according to plan as one of the souls ends up in a fly and giant tetrahedrons appear.

The animation style reminded me a lot of Aeon Flux as seen on the Liquid Television show on MTV in the 90s. I would like to see more stories in the same style.

There is no dialogue but the story is easy to follow and it is best not to know everything is going on sometimes so you can make your own conclusions.


Bird Flu (2016)
Director: Priit Tender, Hefang Wei

A bird house with a man’s head overlooks an apple tree with a flock of bird and a drunk penguin at the base. The spirit of sickness in the form a snake lady kills all the birds and the worms eat the tree, she takes the birdhouse with her to repeat the cycle.

A sweet animated short with simple character designs with the main characters consisting of solid blocks of colour and lines over a dirty background of scribbles that makes the setting interesting looking and not too bland.

Even though I could pretty much tell what was going to happen as soon as the snake lady turns up, it was still and interesting story to watch and some things like the drunk penguin were never explained.


LOVE (2016)
Director: Réka Bucsi

A system of happy planets orbit a much smaller planet in the centre. It soon receives a visitor in the form of what looks like a comet, but is actually a box full of plants that soon seed the planet and transform all the creatures on it in different ways.

Some excellent character designs and imaginative setting and plot make this one stand out. There are all sorts of different creatures that look like animals from earth but could not possibly be those exact things.

I did like the idea of the comet “seeding” the planet and then the planet exploding with life which then went off to go to other worlds and repeat the cycle.


In the Distance (2015)
Director: Florian Grolig

A man and a chicken live at the top of all tall tower above the clouds with seemingly no way down. In the distance the sound of war encroaches until it finally hits the tower and the man fends off attackers and rescuers alike. Things take a turn for the worse in the war and the man has to decide whether to stay or leave.

This is a simple concept with just the one location, but it covers a big subject of war and sanctuary and when is the best time to move on. It also proves you can show just a small part of a wider story and the audience can fill in the blanks.

There is no dialog and only a few characters but you do get a sense that they all have their own stories that continue even after their parts in this particular story finish.


Mrs. Metro (2016)
Director: Aggelos Papantoniou

A very strange art style with interesting filled shapes and character design. This short tells the story of a weird man leaving a bag on the train which turns out to be a naked crying baby. The muscle bound man leaves it with the female passenger with the largest breasts who ignores it. The crying then attracts the attention of Mrs. Metro who emerges from the train’s roof speaker to pin the baby for a submission to stop it crying.

I enjoyed the setting for this short especially since they recorded the audio on the train line I use every day.

I would not say that I see these exact characters on the train all the time but I have used public transport a great deal in the 16 years I have lived in Melbourne and a lot of different people use it.


Spring Jam (2016)
Director: Ned Wenlock

In a short that could almost be a tourism advertisement, a deer with short antlers tries to find a way to make music when he doesn’t have lots of birds to roost on them. Through a series of mishaps the deer eventually finds a way to make music and even the kiwi gets to have a part in it despite being tone deaf.

A very attractively animated short with a lot of flat colour blocks making up the characters in a story that seems to be in 2D until parts of it wrap around on a 3D plane also for extra depth. It does work very well and makes it have a unique style.


Sea Child (2015)
Director: Minha Kim

A young girl lives on docks with her grandma helping her cut up eels to feed to customers. Some creepy men try to make her eat an eel but her grandma rescues her. After having a nightmare about the eels the girl goes looking for her mother and finds out the truth, returning to her home to live with the eels.

Very bleak story with the wash of dark watercolour having a lot of texture that you would not expect from a usually flat medium. Also the use of colour ends up being lurid and threatening and is perfect for the situation.


Wall Dust (2016)
Director: Haiyang Wang

Pastel drawings come to life and blend into each other into a series of surrealistic scenes culminating in the artist becoming involved in real life wearing the mask of the man he drew over and over standing in the midst of his creations.

This was my favourite of the animation shorts program due to the creativity of the imagery involved and the number of different colourful drawings involved.

The “fuck head” scene had me recommend it to a cartoonist friend I know and someone who collects drawings of cock and balls as a hobby.

With a lot of surrealistic painting the subjects are not that detailed, but in this case each frame is a fully detailed drawing, which would have taken a lot of time for each one.

There is not really a story but there is a sequence of drawings including a disembodied bum laying eggs onto a conveyor belt, a real syringe withdrawing the blood for a drawn pig, which turns into a skeleton, a man coming out of a pig’s bum, a pig’s anus turning into a pomegranate and many other things.


The Empty (2016)
Director: Dahee Jeong

A room grieves for its former occupant through the things left behind (mostly dust) at one stage it starts to knits things out of dust and arranges books to have conversations with each other. A photo falls out of one of the books and the memory of the former owner is finally forgotten.

An interesting story with inanimate objects having their own story relating to the person living there. When people pass on there is really not that much left that is unique to them.

I know that in Japanese culture objects are considered to have a soul but was not sure if it was similar or different in Korea where this film was made. There does seem to be some similarity.


Mamie (2016)
Director: Janice Nadeau

A woman tells the story of her childhood visiting her grandma Mamie and wondering why she didn’t really have that much love for her grandchildren. Her grandmother lives by the sea but is afraid of the water and loves her grandfather. When he dies and there is a train line built through her house she is never the same.

A simply flat animated style of animation but it suits the story and the characters are well defined.

There is some magic realism with Mamie and her partner floating when they dance and the child being a giant looking through the window at a tiny Mamie in her house.

Was an interesting story and was not very long but still told the full story in enough time.


The Crossing (2016)
Director: Marieka Walsh

The director of this film was at the screening and introduced it talking a bit more about its development. Animating the film took over a year using sand and salt on top of a light box while the director looked after her new born child.

The story is about an old sea captain who is not really appreciated by his crew, but when things get tough he is seemingly the only one that survives because of his experience. He comes to resent having survived and wants to re-join his crew under the waves.

The animation style is unique using sand and salt and various objects to push the grains around but it does look 3D at times even though it could not possibly be as it is on a flat plane.

Colin Friels is the voice of the old sea captain and is appropriately gruff and tender at various times.
A well made short with an interesting story.


Of Shadows and Wings… (2015)
Director Elice Meng, Eleonora Marinoni

A colony of birds have stopped flying and now live underground under the dictatorship of iron armed birds who do not even have wings. One bird stands up to them with the help of the only birds who can fly, but have been forced to carry rocks to keep them weighed down.

An interesting short with a strange concept of birds not flying. It is never explained why they are not flying and the birds are full of ennui.

As you would expect all the birds begin to lose their colours and feathers from living underground for so long.
I did like the animation style with basic flat animation for most of the film, with the bloom of watercolour at the end when the escape occurs.

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