Saturday, October 17, 2009

Ottawa Animation Festival Part 3

Gonna be brief with tonight's update, since I'm a bit on the tired side. But here we go in any case.

Mary and Max Good heavens. Before I say anything else, I just want to say that this was the only thing I've seen so far in the entire festival that made me cry. Seriously, it grabs you that much, and makes you care about the characters. Nevermind the seriously bittersweet ending, the waterworks were on even before that happened. An Australian stop-motion film, Mary and Max is the story of a 21-year long relationship by mail between a lonely little girl, and later a confident woman, in Australia, and a middle-aged man with severe Asperger's Syndrome in New York City. By times ridiculous and deeply moving, this is a film not only worth seeking out, but worth hunting down. Go well out of your way for this one, especially if character-driven movies are your thing.

Short Competition 2 Another mixed bag, as are all compilations of short films. There weren't any show-stoppers in this batch but the clear favourite was Madagascar, A Journey Diary, with its variety of animation styles that showed the beauty of the land and creatures, as well as vivacity and complexity of the people during a Famadihana festival. The other one that caught my eye was a more experimental piece called Twist of Fate, a trio of stories about lying named, appropriately enough, Lies and a charming little Chinese short about the secret world inside a cotton candy machine named The Universe Cotton. The big disappointment for me was Nick Cross & Dave Cooper's music video for Danko Jones' King of Magazines. After all the buzz on the animation blogs, I was expecting something special, but what did I get? Unappealing drawing, action that had no connection to the lyrics or the beat of the song, and characters whose motivations didn't make sense. Personal opinion of course, but a poor showing overall.

20 Years of Studio Film Bilder This was a treat from beginning to end. Film Bilder is the major animation producer in Germany, and has produced a stunning body of work over the past two decades, including surprisingly enough the animated stairs sequences from Run, Lola, Run. Great fun, and sometimes unflinchingly dramatic, it was a joy to watch.

Seven Reasons to Love Animation This was unexpected, really. I went in with the expectation of getting some old NFB shorts, and what I got was a selection of unusual and outstanding films going back to 1957 Denmark. I had to laugh though, since earlier I've mentioned the names Norman McLaren and The Brothers Quay here, and what comes up but Begone Dull Care and The Comb. In fact I'd already seen four of the seven films in the program, which I guess means I'm cultured or something. Aside from the two I mentioned, I've also seen 78 Tours and Balance, both of which I recommend.

Can't Draw Straight: Queer Perspectives in Animation This was an extremely odd program, not the least because several of the selections didn't seem to have anything at all to do with queer perspectives. The most puzzling choice was PES' Roof Sex, which clearly shows a heterosexual tryst. Similarly, Tango Finlandia was a great little film, but I'm at a loss to tell you what was queer about it. There were some nice bits though, particularly the noir animation Beloved Murderer, about a pair of lesbian assassins intended to destroy each other, although it doesn't end up like that. Overall, not the most impressive screening I've gone to this week, but not without its charms.

That's it for tonight. Tomorrow is the last day of the festival, and I intend to fill it with most of the remaining short competitions and the Canadian compilation. Hopefully my luck will hold and none will sell out.

No comments: