The Annual Animation Show of Shows has come to The Lyric Cinema for a limited time to bring you some of the best short animations from festivals across the world. Started in 1998 by Acme Filmworks founder Ron Diamond, the annual tour collects some of the best animated shorts from multiple film festivals across the world and compiles them into a feature length showing.
“The Green Bird”
Created as a graduation project by a group of students from MoPA, a computer animation school in France, “The Green Bird” is a delightful screwball-slapstick comedy about a dim bird simply trying to look after its egg. While the premise is simple, the comedic timing manages to make this flailing and screaming bird hilarious to watch. The film remains endearing, and the animation is gorgeous.
“One Small Step”
Created by Taiko Studios, Oscar nominee “One Small Step” follows the life of Luna Chu as she aspires to become an astronaut but fumbles along the way. The short features one of the most gorgeous 3D art styles I’ve ever seen. The character models have soft radiance with a full, smooth texture that renders them beautifully and stays consistent in flowing movement. Though the short is silent, it manages to perfectly convey its story visually that lends a certain emphasis to the emotional beats when they actually happen. It’s easy to see why it earned a nomination.
“Grands Canons” is a series of superimposed and rapidly moving documentary paintings created by French director Alain Biet that look at the progression of everyday objects. While watching 11 minutes of this seems like it would become mundane, “Grands Canons” had me completely engrossed as I watched how over the years, something as menial as brushes changed into something that I’m familiar with today. “Grands Canons” may not have a story, but it demonstrates what animation mediums can do in terms of provoking thought with sheer experimentation.
Wondrously absurd yet slyly poignant, “Barry” is the type of animation that shows the medium can be salient as a result of doing things that wouldn’t be taken seriously in live action. On one level, the jokes about Barry being a goat land with a blunt execution, but on a second level, “Barry” is also a commentary on how those who immigrated to a country can be more qualified than their native-born peers but can be held back because of discrimination.
Admittedly, this short was one of the few I did not care for. Coming in at just over one minute, there simply is not much to say on the short because there is not much there. The most I can give praise to is Henrique Barone’s art style that looks like a mixture of paint mediums in a simple geometric style with flat, light colors clearly taken after the UPA art style.
“Love Me, Fear Me”
Created by Veronica Solomon, this seven-minute claymation may be my favorite out of the entire 15 shorts. Using a very literal metaphor for Judith Butler’s concept of gender performativity, “Love Me, Fear Me” explores the turmoil of someone going through gender dysphoria through a claymation dancer as they transform themselves throughout a dance performance.
You watch as this character transforms from a traditional male image to a female one, until finally mashing all previous versions of the character’s self into one singular image. As you watch this character change, you also watch a character experience a journey that culminates in the short’s message.
The message of “Love Me, Fear Me” is that someone who is exploring their gender likely isn’t going to a have a straightforward journey. It may involve changing your identity multiple times, and those who perceive you can have any number of varying reactions.
“Love Me, Fear Me” is one of my favorites because I think it perfectly demonstrates the potential animation has for exploring ideas visually in ways not possible with live action.
The 20th “Annual Animation Show of Shows” will be playing at The Lyric through June 27.
Based on a short story by Rafael Sterling, Guy Charnaux’s short, “Business Meeting,” uses abstraction to comment on the absurdity of ideas. Though the short is just one continuous joke, it encapsulates just how absurd the transfer of ideas can be and only gets funnier as the joke goes on and the characters get more absurd.
Jorn Leeuwerink delivers a cute storybook aesthetic about classic friends helping each other that becomes very dark very quickly. Centered on a mouse who lost his flower, he enlists the help of other woodland animals, but things quickly lose control as the animals try to deliver mob-style justice. The juxtaposition may seem strange, but it helps to get the point across by making an already strange situation even stranger and making clear that this is more of an outlet for their vitriol than it is to make things right.
As part of The Preschool Poets project, in which animators visualize the poetry of preschool children, “Bullets” offers a surprisingly somber meditation on calming down, complimented by the painted storybook visuals.
Focusing on a woman with face blindness who has painted over 1,000 self portraits, “Carlotta’s Face” visualizes Carlotta’s experiences growing up with face blindness. The short does a good job of creating a metaphorical experience for the audience that at times makes you genuinely uncomfortable.
“Age of Sail”
A stunning work of 3D animation that truly looks like traditional art coming to life, “Age of Sail” tells the story of a ship captain outgrown by society and an adolescent girl trying to find her way home. Everything from the animation, to the art style, to the story and performances are excellently manicured to fully envelop you in the setting.
Moving out can be a tough experience for most people, and despite the cuteness of the animals or the beauty of the crayon and pencil-esque aesthetic, “Polaris” still hits hard emotionally. It’s impressive when any film can elicit a strong emotional response, and it’s extraordinary when you can be glad it did.
The voice over for “My Moon” can make the overall experience confusing, as it is hard to piece together a clear picture of the situation from the voice over. Despite this, you glean enough from context to understand the metaphor of healthy and unhealthy relationships and for that, it earns praise, if for no other reason, for its discussion of a topic not often touched.
Another Oscar nominee, “Weekends,” focuses on the life of a young boy after his parents split and the juxtaposition of his two worlds. For animation, it succeeds in its honesty. Few stories of divorce so succinctly nail the myriad of complex emotions kids go through after a split. The best part is none of this is told to the audience; you are simply given the context and the situation, and it is up to you to come up with your own understanding of these events.
Ty Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TYDavisACW.