Wednesday 18 June 2008

Worldwide Short Film Festival - Food & Work

As with my other screenings at this year's Worldwide Short Film Festival, the thematic content of Saturday night's sessions continued to be pretty vague - Watch What You Eat ("these food films are so delicious, we bet you can’t watch just one") and Human Resources ("hard-working dramas and comedies") - but yet again we were treated to a mostly terrific set of films.

Overall, it was probably the most enjoyable batch out of the 6 screenings I saw in all. Partly because of the following two films which are included here in their entirety from YouTube. They are both excellent examples of how animation (hand drawn, stop motion, computer, etc.) can be lively, informative and damn funny.

The opening film of Watch What You Eat was the Austrian Le Grand Content (by Clemens Kogler and Karolina Szmit) - 4 minutes of deluxe chartware that moves in an almost stream of consciousness way between factoids and their oddly relevant (and very funny) conclusions. Pie charts roll over to graphs which rise to bar charts which rotate to arrows which point at other pie charts...One thing I really liked about it was the colour scheme - it sticks to different shades of greens and blues and just flirts with some yellow and purple. And I have to admit that the Austrian accented English narration also adds to the humour of the piece.

My other favourite of the evening was another 4 minute piece that was part of the Human Resources set. Johnny Kelley's Procrastination takes us through a variety of different ways of putting things off. The laughter from the audience acknowledged not only the creative ways the film shows these stalling tactics, but also the recognition of having done most of these things ourselves before. The film totally had me when the unsorted books on the shelves suddenly arranged themselves by colour.

And some other noteworthy films from the evening:

  • The Frozen City - Winnipeg has been crowned the Slurpee capital of the world (yes the entire world) 7 years running. This short documentary gives an overview - via snippets of interviews with a variety of Slurpee fans - as to why this is the case. Strangely enough, all this talk about ice cold drinks during the frigid prairie winters seems to make Winnipeg look like an awfully warm place to visit.
  • Key Lime Pie - I was really happy to have another chance to see this great spooky noirish short about a man's craving for Key Lime Pie and the inevitable consequences that follow. I saw this at last year's Toronto After Dark and it was just as good the second time around.
  • Kentucky Kingdom - A fascinating fever dream of events that slides from one thing to another. The faceless people jumping between these fantastical occurrences show surprising emotion as they must interact with things like large creatures made of bugs who cut off your hair. Filmmaker Nancy Jean Tucker described how live action footage was taken of actors to get their movements and then rotoscoping was used and then Flash animation as well.
  • No Coke - The timing in this 7 minute comedy is simply spot on - the reaction shots, the editing, the pauses before characters speak - everything has been distilled to bring out the funniest details in one man's quest for a soda and how a Norwegian hotel clerk confuses matters.
  • Bad Day Good Day Bad Day - I love long tracking shots. So I'm bound to like a single 4 minute sequence with no cuts that moves from a dark brooding miserable noisy day to a joyous lively musically enhanced day. It's well done as the noises and music are timed with the actions and movements of the people and things our hero encounters. Some serious thought was put into getting this to work.
  • Summer Sunday - An incredibly tense story of a devoted father bringing his deaf son to his job as a bridge operator. When a power outage prevents the closure of the bridge, the father has to make an impossible choice. I fully expect that any showing of this film will cause discussion regarding whether he made the "right choice". It's moot though - there can't be a right choice in a situation like this.
  • A Fresh Start (Neuf) - An accountant's chain-smoking wife dotes on him after he severs a finger from his hand. Now down to nine digits, he struggles with moving forward with his life, but perhaps this is just the impetus for him to move beyond a few other issues he's been having. Funny and touching as well.
  • Subservience - Master and Servant done up with claymation. Disturbing.

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