Notes from MIAF #1
Russell Degnan

Day 1

The problem with student films is they have to be made. In the absence of a better idea they tend to fit three categories: animation that displays technical mastery but has no plot/point; a basic and unsatisfying cliched plot with no character development to speak of; more ambitious storylines that with rare exceptions distract from the film through sheer awkwardness.

Advice for student animators: writers write these things called short stories.

On the plus side, the preponderance of quick and dirty 3D animation seems to be a thing of the past, with a great mix of animation styles coming through the programs - some far too derivative for my liking, but you have to start somewhere. Partly this is a programming decision, but it is undoubtedly a positive development. Now if only tv productions would change.

The entertainers

Mad Dogs And EnglishmenRCA grad Clever, but went nowhere.

A Tire D'Ailegrad #2 The better of two films with the same plot: second bird escapes death to wreck revenge.

Zhengrad #2 Very pretty. Travel orientated

The technically superb

Lose This Childgrad #2 Gorgeous 3D sand animation about turtles that got very depressing for unknown reasons.

The well plotted

Correspondencegrad #3 Timing a joke like this is everything. This was perfecy and it looks great too.

The bizarre but brilliant

LovermanAust. grad By Sacha Bryning. A touch of Bill Plympton; but in a fast-paced technically brilliant way. Far and away the best film in the program.

Day 2

I love walking home from the animation festival late at night.

Very few people have the time or energy to immerse themselves in a film festival but it has its own rewards, particularly animation, which draws you into its own world.

Objects in an animation have stunted lives; unlike film, until the animators moves them, they don't move, until the animator colours them, they remain grey, until the animator inserts a sound, the film remains silent.

That dearth of extraneous life has its good and bad points. Animation tends towards dystopian realities, because they are easier: robots, faceless creatures, empty landscapes, particularly deserts, space or dark streets. Lifeless environments and lifeless objects haunt the industry but they also make the truly exquisite scenes that much better.

It also heightens the senses. If an animator provides life in such limited quantities, then the viewer must be alert to every movement, action, colour or change. That is animation's strength. It can emphasise the miniscule detail by making it the only detail.

Merging back into the real world, late at night, when the streets really are quiet, every detail of the mundane becomes something: the single light in a hotel window, the lonely cab, the play of shadows from the trees or the shaking of a street sign.

I need a particular mindset to see the charm of mundane life, but the festival is a fail-safe method of achieving it.

Day 3

Polish animation is technically brilliant, but obsessed with death and destruction. Perhaps that is not limited to Poland. If animators want to write a tragedy, write a tragedy. But anarchic distopia for the sake of funky technical effects displays a certain misanthropy. That said: the technical quality makes up for the disconnected space the plots leave the audience in much of the program; and the less horrific films have great charm.

The technically superb

Paths Of HatePoland #1 Utterly mesmerising plane battle that goes mental at the end. A studio in need of a writer: Cathedral was the same.

Gallery / GaleriaPoland #1 A poster-child for making art from simple lines.

The bizarre but brilliant

Danny BoyPoland #1 Quirky, very funny, and charming (for once). Worth watching for the suppressed mirth of half-offended audience members at the finish alone.

Missed the New York session to play basketball... shot well, won by 1.

Finer Things 22nd June, 2011 02:39:26   [#]