What follows are the short films from this weekend's San Francisco International Animation Festival that in my opinion were most fantastic and that I think in one way or another stick with me forever.
I Forgive You (Pierre Mousquet, Cauwe Jerome, Belgium 2009)
Played as part of the Best of Annecy Program. An animation style reminiscent of The Simpsons. Two wrestlers fight, plot turns unexpectedly and the result is hilarious. San Francisco crowd chuckled with glee.
Jean-Francois (Tom Haugomat, Bruno Mangyoku, France 2009)
So beautiful. Hand-drawn. Noteworthy for its unique well lit drawings, and music. You feel like you are watching a video of a book. A swimmer remembers his past... Played as Part of the Best of Annecy program. Unfortunately this trailer doesn't show you much besides a bit of the drawing style. Try to watch somewhere.
I am Simon (Tunde Molnar, Hungary 2009)
Absolutely amazing. A wise voice within a dog. So well done you feel what it's like to be this dog. Noteworthy for unique drawing style, 1st person scenes of dogs running that make you feel like you are the one running. This 30 second trailer gives you only a taste of the drawing style. Try to see this somewhere.
Wisdom Teeth (Don Hertzfeldt, USA 2010)
Humor in simple animation at its best. Wisdom Teeth was my own introduction to Don Hertzfeldt's work, but Hertzfeldt, a Fremont California native, is wide known for his humorous, simple hand drawn short films. He has twice been nominated for Academy Awards for Rejected and Everything Will be OK. According to Wikipedia, he hasn't ever worked any jobs besides on his own animation. This year the San Francisco International Film Festival awarded him the Persistence of Vision Award Lifetime Achievement Award, at age 33. Wow. While watching the delightful Widsom Teeth I asked myself, but why is this SO FUNNY?? Everyone in the theater was cracking up. It's only simple line drawings, how could it be so very humorous? Well, there all different kinds of humor, probably the humor in this is of the variety of the unexpected, suggested my friend Adam. It's true. The more preposterous turns the plot takes, the funnier. Check out Don Hertzfeldt's site, Bitter Films.
Topi (Arjun Rihan, USA/India 2009)
Takes place in 1947, at the division of Britain's Indian empire into two nations: Pakistan and India; a time when 10 million people were uprooted and one million were killed in communal violence at the borders.
A portrait of a young boy at a train station with is mom. This animation tells a very simple story, and makes me think about the idea that very large, complex ideas or periods of history can be translated or taught well via simple, well-done animation films. No, by learning this way we do not learn the details, facts, dates and numbers, but we do learn a little of the feeling of what it was like then. Animation has that capability. In my opinion the learned feeling will stay with you more than the facts and dates and numbers.
Very powerful. Watch in full below.
* As the credits rolled I noticed Original Music by Ludwig Goransson. I had the chance to meet Ludwig and film him at work as a Composer on the show Community for a project I was working on in Los Angeles. He is very talented.
The Gruffalo (Jakob Schuh, Max Lang, France 2009)
Shown as part of the Children's program. Pretty darn cute. Animals take us on a tour through the forest. Nothing super unique about this one, but it's a pleasure to watch and if I had kids I would definitely be excited about having them watch this. And Helena Bonham Carter Plays the voice of the mother squirrel. Trailer below.
Kool-Aid Man in Second Life
While I was not an immediate fan of this one because as at least at this point in my life as a rule I am not into doom and gloom future-themed- art (yes I think we should think of the future as full of butterflies and love and I did NOT like Blade Runner) this film has stuck with me. I enjoyed the unexpectedness of the whole arrangement, and it disturbed me to a point where I will remember it forever. Exactly what it sounds like, and then some. Watch in its tres bizarre entirety below.
Komaneko's Christmas "A Lost Present" (Tsuneo Goda, Japan 2009)
I LOVE handmade animation. You can just tell when something has so much time put into the craft. It's like homemade pie versus store-bought. Well, there's probably a better analogy for that. When watching this kind of animation, each extra attention paid to detail just makes you giggle with delight. This little Christmas animation is so cute you might cry while watching it, as my friend Katie admitted to. Tsuneo Goda is the animator, who is also quite famous for his Domo animation creation.
Watch in full below!
Phew. That's a lot of talent in one blog post.