Saturday, April 19, 2008

Atlanta Film Festival 2008 - Animation Extravaganza (part 2)

The Atlanta Film Festival 2008 continues it's 9 day stay at the Landmark Midtown 8. Today's program included the Animation Extravaganza, which was a program of eighteen short subjects. I was able to preview half of them and reported on that HERE. (The remainder of the day included four features, which I have posted separately HERE.) The program was introduced by Brett Thompson, president of ASIFA-Atlanta, who would also moderate the Q&A after the program. (The screening proceeded with only one minor technical hitch involving one of the segments caught in a "digital chapter loop".) In alphabetical order:

THE ADVENTURES OF BAXTER & MCGUIRE: THE BOSS (dir. Mike Blum, US, 2006, 3 mins.) The only short that dared to get nasty! Baxter and Mcguire are... testicles. And they're not very happy with "The Boss", aka, the penis. It's sort of fun! It is computer animated, though would have been as effective as traditionally drawn.

BOTTLED (dir. Jian Lee, US, 2007, 4 mins.) Technically, I don't know HOW this was made! It appears to be drawn figures that were stuff into bottles. The plot between the two figures is secondary to the visual paach and technique that Jian Lee has employed. I assume the bottles containing the drawings were specially built props, but still, there was not a sign of stop motion involving the bottles or surrounding set. Yeah, I know I'm not being perfectly clear here...

DEADLY DESIRE (dir. Darius Hill, US, 2007, 2 mins.) An exceptionally pithy tale of a turtle in love with a hawk, and the tragic consequences. This was the traditionally drawn short that actually benefitted from the chapter looping! As we watched his tragic journey replay three times, it actually reinforced the power of infatuation and desire! He should think about actually working that in!

FETCH (dir. Dana Dorian, UK, 2007, 2 mins.) This perfectly describes the 'fetch and play' relationship that I have with Princess Isabelle, the English Bulldog. It is a harrowing experience to suffer the glaze of an unappreciative puppy. The short takes that look one step further and plays out that subtext we KNOW that those little dogs are thinking! Traditionally animated, though with CGI support.

KIDTASTROPHE and LAV DANCE (dir. Hilton Tennant, US, 2007, 2 mins. each) This pair of comic computer animated shorts for Delta Airlines exploring 1) the chaos of being on a plane, SURROUNDED by screaming, kicking, playing children; and 2) the "lav dance" of going to and from the lavatory, while gracefully dodging everyone else waiting in the aisle. KIDTASTROPHE was a HOOT! LAV DANCE was ok, though overplayed the joke.

RUNNING SEASONS (dir. Y. Grace Park, US, 2007, 6 mins.) It is sort of ironic that one of the longest shorts of the night was also one of the more forgettable. I vaguely recall the sharp black and white visual style (think Rankin Bass title sequences), but the story of a boy's growing up as an allegory of running through train cars, was lost on me.

SNAPSHOTS (dir. James Mullins, US, 2008, 6 mins.) James Mullins gets a big bunch of points for living out a little dream of creating his first animated short. It is the model/claymation story of an alien visiting another planet and being an obnoxious tourist, with some resulting punishment. Mullins' character design of the alien flowers was remarkably clever. During the Q&A (he is from Savannah), he described with a charming naivete the challenges he unwittingly faced, particularly in working with glass prop pieces.

WHEN I GROW UP (dir. Michelle Meeker, US, 2007, 7 mins.) This was a collection of pieces commissioned to visualize the dreams of children and the unrealized dreams of seniors, about where they would be when they grew up. As it spooled, I was sort of fascinated, however the format of the dozen or so animators only distracted from the overall effect of the film.

After the collection was screened, Brett called up the directors who were present: Count Lear Bunda (HITLER'S BRAIN), Hal Miles (THE MADNESS OF BEING), Gina Niespodziani (MOVIEKISS: THE LITE BRITE MOVIE) which are discussed in the preview post, and James Mullins (SNAPSHOTS). Bunda provided answers and commentary that only reinforced that HITLER'S BRAIN really was an honestly whacked out creation! Niespodziani was accompanied by the band whose music she Lite-Brite'ed to, and she appeared overwhelmed by the project she started. Miles now teaches at the Savannah College of Art and Design after a full career in film and provided his short as part of his exploring his own work. Brett kept the commentary effectively bouncing around, i.e. not letting Bunda get too crazy, until well past midnight.

Maxxxxx says
re FETCH: "Belle! Belle!"
re DEADLY DESIRE: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"


Brett W. Thompson said...

Yay!! Thanks so much for sticking around for the Q&A and writing this, Jay!! :) It was great to see you!

I felt a bit nervous doing the introduction, but I really loved doing the Q&A. I wouldn't mind doing more of that kind of thing- the filmmakers were fascianting!! :)

It turns out that Nick Niespodziani (Gina's brother and creator of the music behind the "Moviekiss: the Lite Brite Video") does the music for Homestar Runner, including the famous "Trogdor" song! And it was amazing to learn that Gina's a schoolteacher who's going back to school to study animation!

Anyway thanks again for writing this! :)

Jay, aka The Angry Little Man said...


Thank you for including the notes about Niespodziani! I forgot about her story and didn't know about her brother's band!

See you later!