Animation Now 2011

Animation Now 2011
NZ International Film Festival

Wow, animators aren’t a happy bunch, are they? This compilation is made up of twelve shorts from around the world, two with a NZ connection, and few of them are particularly uplifting, except for the finale Fiesta Brava, a kinetic Len Lye-like short from Canada (!) drawn directly onto film stock and featuring a joyous song about bullfighting and cuckoldry.

There’s an enigmatic Japanese short called In a Pig’s Eye featuring a household in thrall to a giant pig, hilarious but with many moments which left me wondering if it was a metaphor, or they were just doing it for the hell of it. I enjoyed Love & Theft most, an exhilarating acid trip where famous cartoon icons endlessly morph into each other, and Paths of Hate, a WWII dogfight taken to its ultimate conclusion in the bowels of Hell with a percussive soundtrack, looking a bit like a sequence from a modern remake of Pink Floyd’s The Wall – juvenile in a Tarantino way, but an impressive ten minutes of zero-gravity blood spillage and spent bullet casings.

The title of Das Tub unfortunately gives away the central joke of the film, half of which is produced by three 3D animators, the other half filmed in an impressively grotty NZ bathroom with a huge crew of film students. The other NZ short, Preferably Blue, had funding from the NZ Film Commission but was obviously made for overseas markets, even enlisting UK comedian Harry Enfield for the sub-Seuss narration.

The bombastic Miss Daisy Cutter (also available in 3D, which would be a most unsavoury experience) was like a large-budget design school film, the excellent Get Real! is what happens when a fan of both Lady Gaga and Mark Beyer gets their hands on a powerful 3D computer, the thoughtful stop-motion animation of Danny Boy was marred for me by a peculiar 9/11 reference at the end, Amar was plain depressing, Videogioco (Loop Experiment) was clever yet grim, and although Bill Plympton’s Guard Dog Global Jam was hilarious, I wish I’d seen the original first.

So much for that, then.

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