Monday, October 29, 2007

International Animation Day - Atlanta

On October 28th, the Atlanta chapter of ASIFA (aka Association International du Film d'Animation) participated in the organization's "International Animation Day", which commemorates the first public performance of Emile Reynaud's Theatre Optique at the Grevin Museum in Paris in 1892. Atlanta's part in the day's activities was a presentation of 21 short animated films in the High Museum. Each chapter submits and exchanges dvds of member films. So, interestingly enough, each chapter creates a program derived completely from international submissions. Tonight's program in Atlanta featured shorts from Estonia, Bulgaria, Australia, Israel, Korea, Hungary and Iran. Though, the evening began with a local entry, a screening of HOW CAN WE ACHIEVE WORLD PEACE? (dir. Jeffrey Poole, Atlanta College of Art, Georgia, USA, 1:12) which won the 2007 Helen Victoria Haynes International World Peace Student Storyboard and Animation Competition, and naturally, Jeffrey Poole was there to receive plaudits. After its pleasant little screening, Joe Peery proceeded to introduce the program. Of the twenty one pieces to be viewed, there was one director present: Hamid Bahrami from Iran.

TRAVELLER OF THE HORIZON (dir. Hamid Bahrami, Iran, 2006, 8 min.) This was a particularly beautiful piece, involving a man who DRAGS a large crate across a desert, while being passed up by 'the upper classes' who are pedaling away in vehicles. The finale is typically moralistic, as our laborer does get the upper hand. It is beautifully and painstakingly drawn and well paced.

Also from Iran was THE LOST PUPPET (dir. Moin Samadi, Iran, 2006, 7 mins.) This was perhaps the most technically stunning, if not the most beautiful film in the program. The film follows a puppet that has fallen from a cart through a series of theatrical tableaux. The screenplay is impressionistic enough to be dreamlike, as are the visuals. It was one of those experiences where it is so esoterically sensual and visual as to defy my ability to verbalize it. It was an outstanding piece!

Australia was represented by a group of shorts from a production company called "The People's Republic of Animation". Five of them were episodes from the short series "Errorism: A Comedy of Terrors" (dir. Eddie White, Australia, 2006, 1 min. each). In each episode 'Terry', our little anti-hero, is a comically and tragically inept terrorist, who manages to self destruct in each of his complicated plans to terrorize the society. Apparently, all of the episodes are available to screen via the PRA's website, including my FAVORITE of the five, "THE ENVELOPE"!

The sixth entry from The People's Republic of Animation in Australia was CARNIVORE REFLUX (dirs. Eddie White and James Calvert, Australia, 2006, 7 mins.) It is a beautifully grotesque story of feasting and gorging, that climaxes in a Technicolor explosion of, well... 'reflux'! The storytelling narration underneath the fantastic visuals, is just as witty and surreal as what is on screen. I LOVED it! I must HAVE it!

Two of the three entries from Hungary were particularly creepy and nightmarish, eventhough they were 'vintage'. SZMOG (dir. Zoltán Vitális, Hungary, 1987, 3 mins.) is twenty years old, it still achieves its creepy purpose, as we wander through a smog so thick, that figures appear to be apparitions. Szupermarket (dir. Csilla Temesvári, Hungary, 1996, 4 mins.) This ten year old short follows a little girl who gets separated from her mother and lost in a supermarket. The art is not necessarily breathtaking, but the pacing and editing are! (The third entry, "2 Minutes of Life", I am afraid I just do not remember anything about to comment upon.)

The Bulgarian entries were shown back-to-back, featuring The Crown (dir. Tatyana Trifonova, Bulgaria, 2006, 2 mins.) and The Bear (director credits not found, Bulgaria, 5 mins.). These were 180 degrees opposed in style and technique. THE CROWN was a slick, CGI fable of a group of creatures obsessed with following 'the crown' and gaining it through assassinations and plots. The little creatures were hysterically animated and the lesson at the end was pointed. THE BEAR may have been computer assisted, but the style was hand drawn and exceptionally, though effectively, rough. The graphics were humorous enough, though the actual plot, as short as it was, didn't quite hold up. It was just a bit too quirky, visually and dramatically.

Israel was represented with three pieces. AND THEN SUDDENLY (dir. Oded Naamaan, Israel, 2006, 7 mins.) This effectively related the purpose, the motive and the art of story telling. The mixture of animation techniques and the accompanying, appropriate musical score styles is a near brilliant example of virtuosity! Plus it featured a bizarre little penguin! I LOVE animated penguins! The short is viewable at the linked site. LIVE LIFE (dir. Jonathan Pasternak, Israel, 2006, 6 mins.) In a very humorous and irreverent way, the film relates the creation of the Sedlec Ossuary, while accompanied by William Shatner's and Ben Fold's song "You'll Have Time". William Shatner... bones... animated... hee hee hee... The third film from Israel, THE CELLO (director credits not found, Israel, 6 mins.) was beautifully realized using cutouts.

Bosnia submitted two shorts, APPETITE (which I remember nothing about) and PINNACLE (director credits not found, Bosnia, 1 min.), which may have been one of the shortest entries, but nonetheless, one of the funniest!

Korea's entry HUG (dir. Lee sang-hui, Korea, 2007, 5 mins.) was CUTE. You know, I hate CUTE. This was VERY CUTE. Look at the accompanying screen shot. It SCREAMS CUTE! "HUG" is ugh.

The evening began and ended with the two longest shorts, both from Estonia. The opening program was INSTINCT (dir. Rao Heidmets, Estonia, 2003, 10 mins.) which retells the story of creation in the form of puppets, who wrestle with the perfection that the Garden of Eden precariously balanced on - literally, in this film.

The evening drew to a close with CONCERT FOR A CARROT PIE (dirs. Heiki Ernits and Janno Poldma, Estonia, 2002, 11 mins.) This is an extraordinarily, detailed drawn animation. The plot itself is a series of episodes that make as much sense as an old nursery rhyme. However, there is a sense of joy captured within the artistry, so any need for morale or logic is whimsically placed aside. The score is a lot of fun, in of itself!


Brett W. Thompson said...

Jay, thank you so much for writing this excellent review!! I'm so glad you enjoyed the films! :)

Jay, aka The Angry Little Man said...

Thank YOU, Brett!
This was only my second ASIFA-Atlanta event (Animation Attack being the first!), and I can't wait to see what's coming next! I joined! ha!

Brett W. Thompson said...


I just put up a new post on with a link to this entry. You really did a great job researching and writing about these films! Yay!

We're going to show some more at the Five Spot on December 17th- if you come and see me, please say hello, I'd love to meet you! :)

Jay, aka The Angry Little Man said...


It was MY pleasure! Thank YOU for such a cool evening!

I can't wait for Dec. 17th! I. Am. There!