November 19, 2005
Today, I'm writing from the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema. The great news is that Waterloo's ultra-cool Princess Theatre (which is hosting most of the festival films) has wireless internet. So, when most people get up for popcorn - that's when I'll be posting and checking my email.
The festival started yesterday, but I just took the train (and bus) down from Montreal today, so that's when I'll start.
The print of the first film was late getting to the theatre, so the audience was treated to the work of this year's Sheridan grads. Some of the shorts were fantastic. Especially a little film called...
An Eye for Annai
This is an irresistable short story of a one-eyed polygon searching for its second eye. The art is so simple and endearing and the flute score beautifully matches the action. I could keep ranting about it, but you'd do better to see it for yourself as it looks like it's usually available on-line.
Bookmark Burst of Beaden
The theme for today's films was heavily political but wrapped in whimsy. We took in two Eastern European animated feature films that both had harsh things to say about American foreign policy, but said them in two completely different ways.
Frank & Wendy (Estonia)
The heroes of this 2d feature are based loosely on Muldar and Scully prototypes from X-Files fame. In a very appealing minimalist, absurdist style, Frank and Wendy wend their way through a surreal landscape of sausages, shaved monkeys, and obese Americans as they try to uncover an alien plot to replace all living beings with glowing green cubes.
It sounds surreal and it is. But it yet somehow remains engaging and at times hugely entertaining. As festival curator, Joseph Chen pointed out in his introduction to the film, it "pokes fun at everyone: its creators, its own country, Europeans, and, of course, the United States."
I also wholeheartedly agree with Chen's caveat: "Whether you enjoy this film largely depends on how much you had to drink the night before."
The District (Hungary)
This is the first animated feature film to come out of Hungary since 1989. Using a combination of Photoshop, Flash, and 3D software, a team of 15 animators spun this rambunctious and beautifully drawn story of a dysfunctional neighbourhood that finds itself in the middle of an international oil crisis.
At first, the film lulls viewers into a sense that perhaps it's fit for families. But as we get to know the motley, multi-ethnic neighbourhood better, we realize this is one to leave the kids at home for. Predictably, the film involves the US dropping an atomic bomb on Bucharest.
For a sense of the fresh, complex aesthetic, definitely, check out the Trailer.
Tomorrow (Saturday) is the big day at the festival. I think I'll be watching about six films and taking in a couple lectures... so check back for more updates!