This week were the final nights of screenings for the ASIFA East judging.
from "Why Does The Sun Really Shine?"
The rules for judging, if you don't know, are opaque and borderline nonsensical. One category screens per night, although stragglers and miscues will screen on other nights. People come in late, leave early. Given these variables, it would be good to know exactly how the winners are calculated. Are they averaged? Highest score wins? Either way, both are highly flawed given the loose nature of balloting.
Then there are the craft awards within each category. Voters circle which craft they find a film excellent in. Or they don't. Or they circle them all. How this is tallied is never revealed, although the manner of filling in the form gets explained several times throughout the evening.
a humorless corporate film from Flickerlab which refused to take its own advice about innovation.
On top of that, a significant number of attendees are SVA students. That's like letting the Presidential Election hinge on the Florida electorate. To be fair, even with this apparent majority the SVA bloc typically hasn't held significant sway in the final tally.
My number one personal peeve (the above are all practical problems) with the ASIFA East voting system was largely absent this year: the hooting cheers when certain names are announced to be screened. While I find any cheering at such screening impolitic and improper, applause before a picture even screens establishes a bias of celebrity which is completely unfair to "outsider" films. Superior films which don't get the inside track routinely miss out on the big ASIFA East show. This is probably typical for any festival/awards show but it doesn't mean it should be happily accepted.
Tuesday night featured Independent films (and one commercial work less than 2:00).
Tops for the evening was Stephen Neary's "Let's Make Out". Last year, I felt his "Chicken Cowboy" was the best student film. I didn't even make the connection until it was pointed out later.
Julie Zammarchi's film "The Passenger" is also good. That screened in Ottawa last year. She's worked very closely with Suzan Pitt over the years. It's evident in the design and certain animation tropes but the narrative style and subject matter are wholly her own.
I also appreciated two films from "The Paper Theater": "Annie's Circus" and "Puppy's Super Delicious Valentines Day Biscuits". They had a charm. Though unpolished, they were convinced of their idiom.
Another annoyance with the festival: a few entries were clearly in the wrong category. They were commissions. Either ASIFA needs to explicate what defines "Independent" or they should be serious about segregating the categories. Miscatagorized pieces are unfair to all the films.
Looking over the list now, there were more "OK" films than I remembered: John Dilworth's "Rinky Dink" (which is best once we get passed the surface Dilworthisms to core ideas that make up his films), Aaron Hughes & Lisa LaBracio's "Backwards", Edmond Hawkins "Spare Time", Elliot Cowan's "The Thing in the Distance" and others -all solid. Not enough "great" to make the evening stand out.
Wednesday was sponsored films over two minutes. This one, this was tough.
Mo Willems' "Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus". One film that didn't make you feel run over.
Not much in the way of filmmaking. Two Weston Woods pieces based on Mo Willems books were good -Mo's a brilliant guy, but the directors/animators of each are both talented: Pete List and Karen Villareal.
Buzzco's "It's Still Me!" was nice. At 15:00 it pushed patience's limits, but that's the nature of a commission -you've got requirements to meet. Beyond that, the film (about asphasia) falls back on the most severe forms as an example. It's not until deep within the piece is it clear there are many forms the disorder can take. It's a nice film, though.
"Hey, animation screening, what are you going to do to my patience?"
There were a bunch of They Might Be Giants films and pretty much every entry was devoid of filmic narrative opting for either music video-ness or single panel gags cut after cut.
Liesje Kraai and David Cowles "Why Does The Sun Really Shine?" was my favorite of the TMBG videos. Probably a little biased on that, as she works with us sometimes.
Oh, and the first film of the night was -I kid you not -a 14:00 minute film (Flash, ugly) convincing kids to eat broccoli.