Tag Archives: miff 2013

MIFF 2013 – WTF! Shorts

Pandas (2013)

Director: Matúš Vizár

The entire evolutionary cycle of the panda from vicious killer to bamboo eating lazy bones is shown before the credits and then it just gets weirder. The panda’s brain gets sick of its lot and tries to kill itself, only to find the conservationists reviving it and lending it out to another zoo for lots of money.

I enjoyed this film as it was funny and educational and demonstrates the quote from Charles Darwin “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

The zoo scene is very funny with the other animals acting like prison toughs and when the pandas escape it is even funnier due to HOT PANDA ACTION.

Hopefully this short gets to be seen by a wider audience as it is very interesting as well as being funny.

Matriarche (2012)

Director: Guillaume Pierret


A mother visits her son in prison while he recounts the events of a bank robbery gone wrong. Over the course of events the identity of who is visiting who in prison is called into question.

The scenes of the bank robbery are very brutal with people being blown to pieces by shotgun blasts and the car crashes look like they hurt.

I did like the reveal and it does show you what real strength can be from a person, it doesn’t have to be the cock-swinging bravado.

Rabbitland (2013)

Directors: Ana Nedeljkovic, Nikola Majdak Jr

In a bleak landscape, the pink clay brainless rabbits go to vote every day at the behest of the evil girls that rule them.

While this was a funny and strange short, it did hit you over the head with the message unnecessarily.

The rabbit character designs look interesting as do the different buildings and strange locations such as the long conveyor belt and giant leg and foot and the evil girls.

A Story for the Modlins (2012)

Director: Sergio Oksman


With a introduction that includes a scene from Rosemary’s Baby where the person played an extra, this film tells the story of a family’s life based on a suitcase full of photos and papers found on the street.

While the director says he made up from the story from the photos as he saw fit, it does get a bit confusing if the story changed to suit the objects.

In this age of everyone being connected, there are still people that refuse to use technology but it is becoming a lot rarer. More importantly there are people who live quiet lives and die without leaving a lasting legacy, it is more sad than weird.

Eat (2012)

Director: Moritz Krämer

After getting body snark from a fashion shoot crew, a model goes to the dressing room to eat her yoghurt and ends up eating a rose petal, then starts breaking pieces off the furniture and walls to eat them. Being ashamed of herself, she then stretches her lip over her head and eats her whole body (I could not watch that.)

Not really a fan of body horror, but it does bring a new meaning to “chewing the scenery”.

Unicorn Blood (2013)

Director: Alberto Vázquez

In a world where cute teddy bears hunt unicorns, not all is as it seems. The unicorns are guarding against the worst demon, man.

I was really looking forward to this one, but found it a bit disappointing. The introduction was way too loud and hurt my ears and the main characters just walked around. It ended rather abruptly.

While it would have been fun to see the war against the unicorns by teddy bears, I have to be content with just one being shot by an arrow with a love heart on the tip. A unicorn did gore one bear in the eye.

The film reminded me of the Terry Pratchett story Lords and Ladies where unicorns are dangerous wild animals that kill on sight.

Flytopia (2012)

Directors: Karni Arieli, Saul Freed

Out in the country a man is very bothered by insects, while his girlfriend doesn’t seem to mind them to much. When she goes away on a trip the man keeps fighting them until the insects offer him a deal. The things offered by the insects get increasingly weird, but what they want from the man gets more and more until a Faustian deal is put on the table.

This was the best movie to put at the end of session of strange shorts. If a fly can suck you off, you have bigger problems. There are more insects living inside your home than you would realise as they get everywhere.

I did end up giving up control of my kitchen to cockroaches at one point and still put all my perishables in the fridge due to this.

MIFF 2013 – Animation Shorts Program

The Wolf, the Demon and the Moon (2013)

Director: Leanne Lee


In a dark forest the evil demons emerge and terrorise the local wildlife hiding in fear in the undergrowth. Only the mother wolf protecting her cubs will stand against them, even if it means her life.

Quite an impressive effort from local animator Leanne Lee as it was her graduation project and you can only imagine the work she will produce in the future.

The film has a strong Princess Mononoke vibe and the forest spirits also resemble those seen in those films and other films on the subject. Like all the best folk tales there is a lot of blood and killing involved as most fairy stores had before Disney re-imagined them.

Possessions (2012)

Director: Shuhei Morita

A travelling repairman seeks shelter at a temple during a storm and has tricks played on him by mischievous objects that have been discarded. He sees the value in them and repairs the umbrellas, clothing and thanks the abandoned junk monster for its service.

A very colourful animation with lots of interesting characters including the frog/umbrella creature. The story is based on the belief that any object or musical instrument after 100 years gains and soul of its own and starts playing tricks on people. Was also some themes I remembered from “The Great Yokai War” about the rage of discarded things.

I did try and find more information about this director or even a trailer but had trouble finding anything. This movie was released by Namco/Bandai, strange.

Requiem for Romance (2012)

Director: Jonathan Ng

Interview with director

A couple breaks up over the phone while two characters in ancient China have a Kung Fu fight across the rooftops and the landscape. Eventually the two people calm down as do the people fighting.

This short had a very interesting animation style, with the animated characters in the foreground and a live painted watercolour background. I did talk to the director over email and he said he had a period of 4 weeks to shoot everything. The bubbles that appear in some scenes were not originally meant to be there, but add to the look. There were several techniques used with the painting to make it look like wind and fire were in play.

Also talking to the director, the movie was inspired by Chinese water ink painting and the animated movies from the 1950s that were banned in China.

The director his currently hoping to produce a full animated feature as a co-production between three countries, it should be quite a film when it is finished.

ECHO (2012)

Director: Merlin Flügel


A dose of old-school surrealism with a hand-drawn scratchy animation where figures roam the landscape and have long arms, houses bleed out the windows and dogs have spindly stick legs.

There was no real storyline, but I liked this short as it was long enough to establish the mood and it did not outstay its welcome.

Like Rabbits (Sticky Ends, chap. 2) (2012)

Director: Osman Cerfon

A school bus pulls up at the fairground and a fish-headed man gets out and is miserable around the place. In the mean time strange people have even stranger things happen to them.

There were some line-ball and sick things that happened in this, but people still laughed at them any way. Hard to tell with an audience what would be funny.

The character design and art style in general was very interesting. I would like to see what happens in the other chapters of the story.

Darling (2013)

Director: Izabela Plucinska

A woman wakes up and has forgotten her whole life, her husband tries to calm her but she does not accept him. Eventually she works out what has happened and reconciles.

The look of the film is very striking with green clay animation and good use of negative space. It also managed to tell a good story in a very short amount of time.

Us (2013)

Director: Ulrich Totier


A rock falling from the sky disturbs a bunch of mono-colour simpletons who begin to compete over it and end up destroying themselves in the process.

This was a very funny short even though the characters only spoke in gibberish. They had very funny actions and did stuff you would not expect like eating the rocks and becoming weightlifters due to lifting them.

It reminded me a lot of the European cartoons that used to screen on the ABC back in the day like the Red and the Blue and La Linea.

Irish Folk Furniture (2012)

Director: Tony Donoghue


This short tells the story of old Irish farm furniture and how it is finding new homes from people who appreciate its simplicity.

The animation is made up of thousands of photos and the story is told be the people who used to own the furniture and those who restored it. The furniture seems to move by itself through the landscape.

I have tried to animate this way myself with my own photos, but you have to make sure they are all taken in the same direction and have the set up done correctly so it would not work for me. It is a good use of the medium however and an interesting subject.

Palmipedarium (2012)

Director: Jérémy Clapin


A young boy goes duck hunting with his father and later finds a strange creature that resembles a duck but cannot fly. The hunting dog tries to attack it, but the boy befriends it and helps it realise its dream of flying away with the other ducks.

I enjoyed this movie as it was very atmospheric and even though it was 3D animated you couldn’t really tell as it seemed to blur the lines between 2D and 3D animation. The character designs were interesting too.

Boles (2013)

Director: Špela Cadež


Based on a short story by Russian playwright Maxim Gorky, a writer is asked by a woman living in the flat next door to write a letter to her beloved out on the sea. Strange things start happening with the writer and when the woman asks him to write a reply he gets sick of it and refuses at first, but then does it any way. The question is was the woman actually there all along?

I do enjoy puppet animation, the Tale of Little Puppetboy was the last one I saw at MIFF a few years back. This was also interesting with the unique character designs and models of the buildings. I also liked the special effects with one characters fingers stretching, then freezing and having him dance on the typewriter.

MIFF 2013 – Interview with Jonathan Ng director of Requiem for Romance

In the last couple of days I went to see the always popular Animation Shorts Program, the WTF! Shorts program and the documentary Exposed. I thought I would do something a bit different while I get the reviews for these films ready and try to get in touch with a couple of the directors from the animation shorts program as they were at the screening and in theory would be easier to contact while they are in Melbourne. It also gives me an opportunity to hear from new people on the creative scene before they become really big.

Q) There seems to be a lot of influence of Kung Fu movies in the film, it is even mentioned by the characters. Do you have any favourites? Shaw Brothers or modern?

A) I have many favourites. Fists of Fury, Way of the Dragon for Bruce Lee. Drunken Master II and Rumble in the Bronx for Jackie Chan. More recent ones include Drunken Monkey, Crouching Tiger and Hero, who’s colour coded flashback sequences had influence on my film. Actually conventions within martial arts films have separated into two sub-genres, Kung Fu films (comedy, action) and Wu Xia films (poetic, cape and sword). Hopefully my film captures somewhere in between as I tried to maintain both subtle humour and melancholic emotion. One of the reasons I like Kung Fu in films, versus efficient combat forms such as Muay Thai or Ninjitsu, which I have dabbled in, Kung Fu maintains its artfulness, something that links it to other art forms like painting, dance, calligraphy, and the healing arts. While some Kung Fu styles seem to become less efficient for real combat, I find their cinematic quality increases. Thus, I approached the choreography more like a tango between two lovers and not as a lethal death match. The male character’s style suggests a more modern street dance flavour, while the girl’s style and weaponry would evoke the more traditional ribbon and fan dances.

More broadly, my goal was to unite the three signature genres of Chinese cinema, martial arts films described above, Chinese water ink animations from the 50’s that were banned during the cultural revolution, like Buffalo Boy’s Flute, and the love stories that don’t end well, like Spring in a Small Town, and In the Mood for Love.

Buffalo Boy’s Flute part 1 & 2

Q) Dubbing or original language for kung fu movies?

A) Although the dubbed versions can be entertaining, I always try to go for original language in Kung Fu films, whether it’s Cantonese (which I speak) or Mandarin (which I try to speak) or English or whatever. But dubbing is so hard to avoid, because there are so many languages and dialects in Asia. I think of Mr Nice Guy as a fun example, a cheesy Jackie Chan film that would otherwise fade from memory, but for some reason I enjoy it because the Western actors are dubbed to speak Cantonese in goofy accents. It provides the perfect equivalent for all of the poorly dubbed films in English that seem to come off so goofy.

Q) With the live painting under the camera did it take a long time to get the results you wanted or did you go the route “we don’t make mistakes, we just have happy accidents”?

A) For the live painting under the camera, I had a period of 4 weeks to shoot everything. I used the first week just to experiment with all the possible ways to create movement in the water & ink, using different types of paper, brushes, eye droppers, shot glasses, and blow dryers. Once I got comfortable, each time I filmed a specific colour, I had specific shots and sequences in mind based on my storyboards. My concept was to use the ink flow to represent the elements such as wind, clouds, ink, fire, rain, foliage and the river. This meant that I had to closely reference my storyboards to coordinate screen direction with the ink flow direction. In this sense, I thought of the wind as another character, so it would have it’s own moody, energetic and calm periods.

The little bubbles that appear to form in the water were a completely unexpected result. At first glance I thought they were going to ruin my shots. But then they sort of became those “happy accidents” that added an imperfect spontaneous charm, and makes clear that the ink is real and not software generated. Due to the unpredictability of the process, I had to shoot tons of extra footage, then sifted through to find the appropriate takes for each shot.

Q) What are you looking forward to working on next?

I am developing my first feature length animated script, and I intend to continue refining the ink technique for the feature. I now have a world-class, Oscar nominated, French Canadian producer named Roger Frappier, and I am now teaming up with a co-writer from Beijing who recently wrote a feature script for Lou Ye. We recently traveled to Hong Kong and Beijing to meet with potential co-production partners Galloping Horse and Cashflower. A three way co-production between Canada, China and France to create an epic animated feature film is our goal.

Link to Jonathan Ng’s website with DVDs of the short and Limited Prints for sale:

All proceeds go towards financing his next film.