Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Flatpack Festival- Shorts on Walls

[Before you read this, i'm sorry about the sheer crapness of this review. It's quite late and i don't function very well. Also, not being able to write is a major contributor.]

Being a film festival rookie, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this event, so I went with an open mind and was surprised by what I encountered. Judging from the overpriced interval snacks, I was looking forward to seeing some hardcore shorts by amateur animators. However, the total mix-bag of what was shown totally threw me off-track, leaving me with some food for thought and inspiration.

The opening short, A Model Christmas, was one of my favourites shown. With obvious reference to Aardman’s Creature Comforts, the makers had paired an interview with humans with Lego replicas of the people themselves. The fact that complex human emotions were projected by a static little plastic Lego man’s face made the reel amusing and endearing to watch. The only problem I found was that it lacked originality, as it was so similar to what has been seen on Creature Comforts. The cuts between the scenes were also quite abrupt so it all didn’t flow very evenly.

Dougie’s First Day was an standard slapstick comedy, done in a stop-motion style. From watching this short, you could tell that a lot of thought went into it, and the details were well appreciated. However, the story dragged on a bit and I found the voice-over hard to follow.

Trolley was a mix of live action, with CG and 2-D animation. A wide variety of techniques harmonised with an interesting storyline. It was about a lonely boy seeking comfort and companionship in his imagination. The juxtaposition of the everyday moments with the fantasy imagination was particularly interesting and I found, quite relatable. However, the lengthy piece was pretty much a marmite work. You either loved it or you hated it.

Arguing is a Nice Hobby was my least favourite of the event. The CG style almost seemed lazy and there were several pauses throughout the film where the maker had literally just doubled or tripled the frames, making it look like the whole animation had frozen. This emphasised the “lazy” quality even more. The storyline was pretty predictable and almost cringe-worthy. However, it wasn’t all bad. The humorous little tags at the beginning with arrows to point out the characters and even the title were entertaining- for a whole second.

Bicycle Diaries was an interesting account of a man’s experience cycling to Mexico. It was more of a documentary fine art film than a story, so it was a series of linear 2-D animation scenes, possibly drawn over live action or photographs. I liked how the frame was never complete, an electrical power line could be passing in the background, and with the sound accompanied, you could almost imagine and visualise the story yourself. Unfortunately, the bleached white background was quite garish and it was quite hard to watch after a while.

Maiden Flight was the shortest film shown that evening. Although it was short, I found it to be one of the most effective. Done in a stop-motion style, it showed someone making an origami butterfly. Sweet and simple.

Let Me In was probably my favourite of the event. The drawing style was quite crude which was quite endearing really. The animation told four stories of who was knocking at different people’s doors. I thought it was amusing and light-hearted to watch. It impressed me that something so basic could be so entertaining, it really showed me that sometimes less really is more.

Through the Looking Glass was highly depressing. Full stop. It was about a girl whom was unhappy with how she looked. She tried dieting, exercising, making a “thinspiration” collage and even making herself sick, and the twist at the end was that she actually perceived her body image incorrectly. The CG style was quite basic but it also seemed to give off a sinister vibe- that might have just been for me.

The Moon Bird rounded off the event for the evening. Done to professional standard by the Brothers Mcleod who made an earlier appearance at the Flip Festival I went to earlier in the year. The story was about an orphan girl who was to cleverly outwit an evil sorceress with the help of the Moon Bird. I’m not quite sure what the style of the animation was, but if I took a guess it was 2-D with flash or something similar. Definitely the most impressive out of all the films but then again, we wouldn’t be expecting anything less from the Brothers Mcleod.

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