I had the pleasure of attending the Tricky Women Animation Festival at the end of my recent trip, though I could only stay for half of it. Of the shorts programs I managed to catch, here are the films that stood out to me (in the order in which I saw them):
1. A few of the films were shown at opening night, and I was glad, because I missed the proper program in which they were included. One of them I loved: Autour du Lac (Around the Lake) by Noemie Marsily and Carl Roosens from Belgium. Sketchy characters and snippets of scene are drawn in colored pencil or crayon and float past the eye. They start to overlap and move in a choreographed way. The crude style of the drawing and the absurd actions fit perfectly with the manic song they are accompanied by. Usually films with a heavy song as the soundtrack I find unbalanced, as if the audio is fighting for dominance over the visuals, but here they fit together just right. For the Dutch speakers, here is a nice article. And yes! The film is online:
2. Futon, by Yoriko Mizushiri from Japan. This short is very precisely drawn in a graphic style and limited pastel palette. It’s all about shapes – the shape of a girl lying in her futon, which easily becomes a pair of lips, a leg. The soundtrack furthers the sedate tone – it really feels as if you are just waking up and still really tired, and your mind (and body) is wandering. Below is the trailer:
3. The End of Pinky by Claire Blanchet – this short was in 3D and we had to wear 3D glasses! I’m usually quite skeptical of 3D, but it worked well here. The atmosphere was film noir – dark and moody, with high lighting contrast. The composition of the scenes were well thought out and made the layers make sense. It seems to be hand drawn pencil and pastel animation. I wonder what the stereoscoping process was like.
You can see a clip on the NFB website here. There’s an interview with the director and the author of the original short story here, but it doesn’t go into tremendous detail on the stereoscoping process sadly.
4. torturing (Qualen) by Rebecca Blocher, from Germany. This four minute short starts with the camera traveling through a small set of an empty house – through various doorways. There is a narration of a poem, which I don’t really remember because I was so concentrated on the visuals. But I remember liking it. Pieces of paper with drawings on them appear one by one in a pile. The papers show a woman moving – twirling, drowning, eating an apple, but the whole time you are aware of the animation process because you can see the pile of paper growing, or in some cases, growing, diminishing and growing again if the action is a loop. I love this type of animation – animation where you can see the strings.
I’d love to see this again, but I don’t think it is online, and I couldn’t find any info on the artist either – shame!
5. Blackout, by Sharron Mirsky from Canada. I really enjoyed this short about the 2003 blackout in Canada. Several interviews are woven together and illustrated, sometimes in a backlit plasticine style.
6. Kiki of Montparnasse by Amelie Harrault from France. I feel like I’ve heard so much about this short I’m glad I finally got the chance to see it, and yes, it lives up to the hype. Kiki was a real woman who was the muse and model of many artists in Paris in the early 20th century, and a first person voice over tells her story. It’s an amazing story to start with, and well told, filled with funny moments. But the best is when the style and technique of the animation is changed depending on which painter is being discussed. At some points there seemed to be an interesting technique of paint on cels? You can see the trailer below and there is an interesting interview with the filmmaker where she talks about her creative choices here.
7. Colliding Lives, by a number of filmmakers from the Tricky Women Animation Summer camp in Vienna.
Old movies or adverts from the 1950s have been printed out, and manipulated – cut out, sewn together. I especially liked the inclusion of some of the original audio from these videos in the soundtrack, it made the experience more surreal. Unfortunately not much about this film exists online, except this tiny still!
8. Presentation by Isabel Herguera: I first saw Under the Pillow at the Incubate Festival in Tilburg last year, and loved it. I was lucky to hear the director talk at Tricky Women about the making of the film. She spent some time at a home for children with HIV in India, and recorded interviews with them. She also drew with them, took their drawings, scanned them, and then worked with a team of animators to make them move. As I understand some of the animators simply used the scanned figures and animated them directly in After Effects, whereas others would first draw a rough sketch of the the movement frame by frame in Flash, and then replace that drawing with digital cutouts from the children’s drawings.
9. Another interesting short I saw was Black Tape by Michelle Kranot. Michelle is working at The Animation Workshop in Denmark and gave a presentation about the AniDox: Lab division. But she also shower her own work, including this short that used as source material footage of soldiers interacting with civilians, one on one. These were printed, then painted over and manipulated to look like they were dancing. The couples waltz around each other as well, in time to a classical tune. This short is so new there’s nothing online about it yet, but I’ll keep my eye out for it!
I’m sad I missed the rest of the screenings, especially Lord I: The Records Keeper by Portland animator Lori Damiano. This film recently screened in Seattle, but I missed that too! Keep your eye on this title!