Jan 102011

For those of you that didn’t catch Nine Nation Animation, here is a quick rundown and some praise for my favorites. It consisted of (as you guess from the title) nine animated shorts from Norway, Turkey, France, Ireland, Belgium, Croatia, the UK, South Africa and Sweden. It was altogether a very good collection – none were computer animated one-liners aimed squarely at children. Which was great. ‘Cause I hate that. My favorite by far was Bâmiyân by Patrick Pleutin (France).

I know that I’ve criticized animators and viewers who focus on technique over content, and at the risk of contradicting myself here, I have to say, I absolutely loved the technique used in this film! I found it really inspiring. The short used recordings of children (from Afghanistan) narrating the story of a Chinese monk in the 7th Century, who visited the great Buddha statues of Bamiyan.

It looks like it was shot on a multi-plane animation stand – with figures made out of paint and/or sand on one layer, with other layers above or below of water, ink, or drawings – making the whole thing have a fluid, liquid, temporary effect. I felt this was very appropriate. The film starts off as if we’re being told a very old fairy tale – the memory and facts of which are hazy, uncertain.  The whole story seems to have a dark undertone – vaguely ominous music, dark scenes, etc. And sure enough, the film ends with one of the kids describing and justifying (according to his uncle) the destruction of the statues by the Taliban in 2001.

If anyone comes across this film (or the Nine Nation compilation) being sold on DVD, please let me know as I can’t find it anywhere.

Watch the whole of Bamiyan (with French subtitles only, unfortunately) on the Arte website here.

The full list of titles from Nine Nation Animation:

Deconstruction Workers by Kajsa Naess (Norway)

Average 40 Matches by Burkay Doğan & M. Şakir Arslan (Turkey)

Bâmiyân by Patrick Pleutin (France)

Please Say Something by David O’Reilly (Ireland/Germany)

Flatlife by Jonas Geirnaert (Belgium)

She Who Measures by Veljko Popoviç (Croatia)

Home Road Movies by Robert Bradbrook (United Kingdom)

The Tale of How by The Blackheart Gang (South Africa)

Never Like the First Time! by Jonas Odell (Sweden)

And below is the trailer for the program which shows a bit of everything:

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