Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jason goes to the SFFS Animation Festival

Part of the SFFS Fall Season. I've only managed to fit one day into my busy schedule. But I saw three pretty great programs on Saturday.

First up, an adorable little movie NOCTURNA. Tim is a little boy in an orphanage (or maybe boarding school, it wasn't quite clear). He's sort of the quiet kid the other kids make fun of, and he's horribly afraid of the dark. In fact, every night he pushes his bunk to the window so he can look at his star--Adhara. His mother told him that his star would always be there to watch over him. But one night, his star disappears and that sends him on an adventure into the world of the night--a world known as Nocturna. He meets his cat, Tobermory (cats are responsible for making children go to sleep, but it turns out Tobermory is more of a sleepy head himself) and the giant Cat Shepherd. Turns out, the sounds and sights of the night aren't random--flickering streetlights, crickets chirps, branches rustling, wind, fog, everything is the tireless, never ending job of the denizens of Nocturna, ruled over Moka. But tonight, there's a terrible new danger to Nocturna, and Tim goes on an adventure to save his star--and as it turns out all the lights in Nocturna. Just a beautiful, charming adventure.

Then the second show was a shorts program (some short films, some music videos) called Ball of Confusion.
CRYSTALLINE: A musci video for Björk's song Crytalline. Points of light hit the moon, while crystals grow from below ground, and the disembodied, lit up head of Björk sings in the sky.
CENTRIFUGE BRAIN: A hilarious look at how extreme amusement park rides are really experiments in vertical centrifuges.
FINGER FIGHTER: Mortal Kombat, with fingers. And a really cool and funny surprise end.
THE HOLY CHICKEN OF LIFE AND MUSIC: Giant chicken creatures play opera music.
LEVITATING: A woman goes through her daily life while levitating a few inches above the ground (stop motion of her jumping). Mostly mundane tasks--shopping, ironing, etc.
POINT DE GAZE: Images of lace, which can serve as a music video for 4'33".
POSSESSION: By Aideen Barry, who also did Levitating. Similar technique used to show the repetition of suburban life and the surreal horror within. Includes eating a whole table full of desserts and cutting the grass with scissors stuck in your hair.
REULF: Little angular critters of color bring color to black and white Paris.
SPLITTING THE ATOM: A Mezzanine music video. Sci-fi war scenes, featuring a giant devil bunny! Giantdevilbunny! Giantdevilbunny! Giantdevilbunny! Giantdevilbunny!
SUNDAY: Church, visiting the grandparents, squashing quarters on the railroad tracks. Squashing an animal in the car (boor bunny!) making friends with a grizzly bear who stuck his head in through the window. Canada is weird, man.
THE THIRD & THE SEVENTH: Old cameras, lots of books, wild architecture. I don't know exactly what it's "about" but the whole thing was beautiful.
WILD LIFE: An English gentleman in the 1900's moves to Canada to become a rancher. He is not at all equipped for such a life, but at least he's very polite.

And then I finished up with a bit of Japanese weirdness, MIDORI-KO. The 10 year labor of love by master artist Keita Kurosaka. As a little girl, Midori loved vegetables but refused to eat meat because she always felt bad for poor animals. Now as a young woman she's a scientist researching and growing odd-shaped but delicious vegetables. Meanwhile, elsewhere five characters--one each with an eye, ear, mouth, nose, and hand for heads--bear witness to a mysterious vegetable pod brought forth by the sun's laser eyes. Out of the pod pops some sort of squash, which flies through the air and lands in Midori's apartment. There she finds it has a baby's face, and while her scan of it reveals it's all vegetable matter, it's a sentient vegetable. So she raises this little veggie as her son, protecting it from the odd denizens of her apartment building (including an old man and his fish-headed lover). And then things get weird. Beautiful, surreal, and grotesque. Of course I loved it!

Total Running Time: 215 minutes
My Total Minutes: 256,073
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