Tag Archives: animation

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.

MIFF 2015 – Fehérlófia (1981)

Director: Marcell Jankovics

A combination of several folk tales from Hungary where the Son of the White Mare of the title quests to find his brothers and do battle with the three dragons who were freed from the underworld when the doors were unlocked.

Although it is a fantasy story it is different to many of the traditional stories in that the character designs are unique. I have recommended this movie to other artistic people and tattoo artists to watch for inspiration as I had never seen anything like it.

The “dragons” are not what you would expect and they are called that in the subtitles, I suspect they are not really that at all. One is a giant three-headed stone statue with hanging balls, the other is a eight-headed tank and the final one is a 12 headed skyscraper complex.

The powers of the main character are legendary as are his brothers with them punching mountains to rubble and picking up an entire mountain and turning it on its side like it is nothing. I was a bit disturbed they never put it back though.
I did like the part where each of the three brothers got lowered down in the cauldron to the underworld and meeting each of the wives in the castles.

There is so much to look at in this movie it is hard to get bored and you could watch it over and over and find new things each time. I am not sure of the availability of this film on DVD. But it is on Youtube in bits if you are so inclined.

MIFF 2015: Animation Shorts Program

Yùl and the Snake
Director: Gabriel Harel

Yùl and his brother meet the local shithead to divide up the spoils after a bout of petty thievery. After some mistreatment, Yùl learns how to stick up for himself and a snake is involved.

I liked this even though it seemed a bit rough and ready. If the story and characters work well you don’t need much to help the characters come to life.

The use of the snake metaphor is a bit strange but it suits what the story was about.

Waves ’98
Director: Ely Dagher

A young man is bored in Lebanon one day when he sees a flash on the horizon. Going out on his scooter he finds a giant golden elephant and enters it to find himself in another world.

This was an interesting style of animation in that it was “composited” with traditional animation, photography and video. I know the Congress movie was disqualified from the animation category of the Oscars for including live action, but this should count surely.

The imagery in the fantasy land was suitably weird and clearly a lot of work has gone into the film.
I am not so sure of the statement the film was trying to make but it was good to go along for the ride.

Bush Mechanics
Director: Jason Japljarri Woods, Jonathan Daw

Based on the TV special and TV series this Claymation style animation short tells the story of a group of friends going back to country in their beat up old car only to have a mischievous spirit cause them grief, to which they responded with their bush mechanic techniques.

Made out in a community near Alice Springs and lovingly produced by hand this film has a lot of character and humour and you hardly even notice that it is not in English. I particularly enjoyed the part with the sign language when they were trying to find out where to find the kangaroo from the old man.

Hopefully this short will get a wider run on NITV and the ABC. I know that it was funded via Pozible so the supporters would have got their copies and it will do the festival run.

A Portrait
Director: Aristotelis Maragos

In a style that reminded me of the classic “La Linea” series, but with even more detail a single line tells the story of the film maker’s grandfather.

I know from my own drawing that when you have less lines to work with, you have to be more confident with what you are putting down.

The story ends up being surprisingly deep for the little that is shown on screen, as I said you would not expect so small a line to tell so much of a story.

Director: Fluorescent Hill

A strange creature is looking for its way home and is joined by other creatures, it eventually finds where they all are jumping off a cliff, but decides to just sit and enjoy the view.

A very strange animation that combines 8mm live action with computer animated figures, but it is blended so well it is hard to tell where one finishes and the other begins.

I am usually a bit down on computer animation, but when it is used like this it works quite well. There are still people doing interesting things with it outside of larger productions.

Director: Yorkiko Mizushiri

A very strange animation with simple line drawings and good forms does not really have a story to tell but it does have repeating imagery and a good soundtrack. From the trailer it seems there are harmonics on the soundtrack you need headphones to hear properly.

It was borderline experimental but this short just manages to stay within getting too annoying due to the interesting setting and things on screen.

Two Films About Loneliness
Director: William Bishop

A man tries to record a dating profile while next door a giant German hamster records a cooking show.

A very odd stop motion animation with unique character designs and I would like to see more films from this director.

I would watch the cooking show that the German hamster was producing.

It reminded me of some of the strange animations they used to show on the ABC back in the day between programs.

My Home
Director: Phuong Mai Nguyen

A young boy does not like his mother’s new partner, who turns out to be a giant bird and runs away. The bird rescues him but he is afraid his mother will turn into a bird.

I enjoyed the style of this animation as it says it was computer animated, but it looks more like it was painted.

Even with one of the main characters being a bird it still manages to tell a good story. The bird might not really be a bird, it is just the feeling some kids get when their parent gets a new partner.

I thought it was a funny and sweet film and would enjoy seeing more from this director.

Director: Daniel Gray, Tom Brown

In this very grimy and icky feeling short, Richard E Grant narrates a tale of dental loss and obsession.

It was surprising how the soundtrack combined with such simple imagery to make you feel so uneasy about where the story was heading.

There was the usual “twist” ending but the whole short was pretty twisted so it did not seem that big of a thing this time.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
Director: Konstantin Bronszit


Two best friends in Cosmonaut training are picked for the next launch. I won’t give away what happens but this is a very funny and sad short at the same time and does feel very Russian in its outlook.

I did enjoy the animation style and the setting of it being in a space training centre. Given the amount of accidents with the old USSR space program it is quite mild what actually happens.

There is quite a pedigree with old Eastern European communist animation, this short shows that there are still a lot of talented people in the field today from those countries.

Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose
Director: Brendan Fletcher, Del Kathryn Barton
With the voices of Mia Wasikowska, Geoffrey Rush, David Wenham
Music by Sarah Blasko

Based on a story by Oscar Wilde this very artistic story has every single frame that could be its own artwork being that it was painted by Del Kathryn Barton and based on a series of artworks she made based on the original story.

Quite a lot of famous Australian actors provided the voice talent and the soundtrack fits quite well with the story.

The character designs manage to be both beautiful and disturbing at the same time, being there seems to be something “off” with them in line with the artist’s style of painting.

A very unique animated short that no doubt will do well on the festival circuit.

MIFF 2014 – The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

Director: Isao Takahata

Based on the folk story The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter we see a simple bamboo cutter finding a tiny girl inside a bamboo stalk, who turns into a baby once he hands her over to his wife. The baby is no ordinary baby and seems to be growing at an extraordinary rate, leading her friends to call her Lil’ Bamboo while her adopted father calls her Princess.

After finding a bamboo stalk full of gold and one full of fine kimonos, the father decides that his princess should live in the city and take her place amongst nobility. His daughter is not so sure, but goes along with it any way.

Fitting in with the Japanese nobility at the time isn’t easy, but the princess tries her best and even ends up with five suitors. As she wants them to prove their love, she asks each of them to bring her something that is impossible and they leave disappointed. Things do not turn out as expected as three years later they return claiming to having done the impossible and now even the Emperor of Japan is interested in her.

This film is quite extraordinary. From the “other” director at Studio Ghibli , Isao Takahata, I can see why it took so long to finish. In the documentary Kingdom of Dreams and Madness they were worried it was never going to be finished as the director seemed like he did not want to finish it. I can see why you would not want to finish it as if you could keep working on your best work forever you would want to do that.

More than any of the other Studio Ghibli films, you can tell this film is all hand drawn as the style starts off all sketchy and broken up during the scenes in the country and gets more refined as the characters move into the world of the nobility.

At times it does go back to being sketchy and strange when emotion is being shown. Some of the characters have funny shaped heads even though most of them are meant to be human, but it just gives them more character.

There is a lot of emotion in the movie with the woodcutter prone to blowing up and also crying. I should have expected as much from the director after seeing Grave of Fireflies.

It does not really explain why the Princess came to be where she was or how she manages suddenly to have super powers but these things do fit with the story.

I would recommend this film if you are a fan of this director or folk stories as it is a great example of a good story told well.