Ann Arbor Film Festival 2009: The Animated Forest
Chainsaw (Dennis Tupicoff 2007): I thought this was really excellent. The narrative is cleverly put together, and the animation suits the subject matter quite well. It's all rotoscoped, but the result is heavily stylized -- strong lines and flat patches of color. There are a few clips of archive footage which are patched in, and I feel are completely unnecessary, but this is minor criticism. What these folks have done really well is take from live footage they shot the things that they want -- movement, shadows, etc., left out the things they don't, and used it to shape their own vision.
Friluftsliv (Outdoor Life) (Håkan Wennström 2008): Admittedly, this suffers from Swedish Film Disorder. I think that I saw 10 or 12 people leave at the end for the specific purpose of committing suicide. On the other hand, the textures that the animator builds up are pretty amazing, and the philosophical voiceover is interesting enough to be forgiven.
I Live In The Woods (Max Winston 2008): This is an interesting counterpoint to "Outdoor Life." While it definitely falls into the "crude humor" genre of animation, the movement conveys real energy. This was definitely the funniest film of the bunch.
Father (Sebastian Danta 2008): I liked the story, but I don't know that the animation added much.
Retouches (Georges Schwizgebel 2008): I'm getting a bit tired of Schwizgebel. He does what he does very well, and very consistently. Every year or two you can be sure that you'll get an 8-10 minute film concerto, light on narrative structure, but with a few clever transitions. He's done that this year too. I wish he'd try a bit harder to do something else.
Trepan Hole (Andy Cahill 2008): This was a bit awkward, since the director was sitting right behind us. There were a few good moments, but I think there was a reach/grasp mismatch. I'm sympathetic to this kind of mildly abstract animation, where the characters are bizarre clay tube things. That's fine. But I think those kind of characters pair naturally with a simpler narrative -- in 6 or 7 minutes, one doesn't have time to tell us what the clay tube things are like, why they do what they do, what happens to them when they're sucked into a giant clay anus, etc. I suspect that the film makes sense to the director, but I can't say it made sense to me.
Kanizsa Hill (Evelyn Lee 2008): There were a few good still shots that would make great paintins, prints, or whatever. I don't think that any of the animation was interesting. And the voiceover was an unwelcome throwback to the pretentious bullshit of film festivals of yesteryear.
The Heart Of Amos Klein (Michal & Uri Kranot 2008): Generic animation and a heavy-handed metaphor. Goody!
Permutation (Viktoriya Gruzdyn & Katerina Friday 2008): The objects animated were pretty interesting here, but I'm not sure what, if anything, the director was trying to convey.
Battery Acid (Dean Denell & Daniel Olson 2008): Nothing much to add here.
El Miedo (Fear) (Jimena Sarno & Ms. Bea 2008): I last went to the A2 film festival in 2003. I had the privilege of sitting through 1.5-2 hours of poorly assembled video "art", usually constructed around a pompous script being read in somebody's best "I AM MAKING A SERIOUS FOR THE ART" voice. I came back this year because the rumor was that the festival was, well, good now. Watching this film was like being in 2003. I actively dislike it.
THE IDIOT STINKS (Helder K. Sun 2008): This film stinks.