Monday, August 2, 2010

Animating Reality

A second DVD review in the span one week.   You'd think I sit around all day watching cartoons.

This disk came in a little over a month ago and it's taken me this long to finish it.  Animating Reality: A Collection of Short Documentaries (distributed here) clocks in just under three hour with 13 films.  Most are fairly serious, so it's not really a compilation that lends itself to a single screening.

Not a single film here is both animated and documentary.  The animation may by-and-large be non-fiction  but some are closer to Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon in form and tone.   The canvas of non-fiction can hardly be stretched to cover that film, but won't argue against anyone who would assert that it's the poetic meeting place of fact and fantasy.

The most touching piece isn't animated.  The short documentary Birdlings Two is a dialog between the filmmaker Davino Pardo and her father Rene.  The filmmaker is surprised to find that her father, a businessman, made a film with Norman McLaren and the NFB twenty five years earlier.  Their conversation is conducted over faded photos and super 8 footage of the young man diving into a swimming pool while wearing a suit.   It's a lovely little film.

Like many of the DVD's pieces, Birdlings Two is a student film.   I find it encouraging that many young filmmakers are making work that is unconstrained by technique and cookie cutter narrative.  If only every graduating animator with a Kung Fu Granny thesis film put their efforts into something more personal like these films, something beyond an "audition" for a big studio -if only...

Also interesting is Wiener Wuast by Maya Yonesho.  This is a simple concept well executed.  Index cards with abstract watercolor animation held in front of a camera in Vienna.    Cute and well done.

This disk makes an interesting companion to the Annecy collection.  Both have distinct non-American slants, while the Annecy disks cover the heavy hitters of the international animation world, Animating Reality contains work by artists largely unknown in the animation community: one film screened in Annecy, One at Anima Mundi and Holland and none in Hiroshima or Ottawa.

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