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Hey Boys and Girls, We are thrilled to be graced with another scintillating commentary from our adored guest reviewer, Ms. Dollie Banner. Your ever luvvin’ Elephant head was wise enough to ask Dollie to visit The Animation Show and let her keen luv for all things animated take its course. Tell ‘em, Dollo!

 

I adore animated short films. They provide the perfect form to indulge every impulse of whimsy, vulgarity, humor and beauty. When I was studying animation, let's just say a while ago, the events I most looked forward to were the animation festivals that strolled through town. The International Festival of Animation and Spike and Mike showcased some of the most memorable short films I've ever seen and kickstarted the careers of today's top creators: Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit found their first exposure on the festival circuit; John Lasseter, Pixar's mastermind, displayed his digital prowess with Luxo Jr. and Tin Toy; and Spike and Mike specifically fostered the talent of Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, even commissioning his earliest films.  With the demise of the earlier festivals, Judge has take up the reins with The Animation Show, now in its fourth incarnation. As producer and festival editor, Judge has compiled a polished set of shorts, including a number of commissioned projects. Showcasing films from France, Switzerland, Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and of course the United States, this edition has a decidedly global feel.

With the proliferation and accessibility of short films available on the Internet, it's a testament to Judge's belief in the festival format that The Animation Show is continuing. As it should. It's just for this reason that this collection is such a delight; because Judge has already waded through thousands of films to hand pick the wittiest, most stylish and funny shorts. While not every piece is a home run, there are plenty where I thought, "Why didn't I make that?" My favorite short was Angry Unpaid Hooker by Steve Dildarian. Using a limited animation style that reminded me of my beloved Home Movies, Dildarian introduces us to Tim, a lovable loser who not only hires a prostitute on the eve of his girlfriend's return, but also has no money to pay her. The resulting confrontation between Tim, his girlfriend and Debbie, the hooker, make up the body of the film. The joy is all in the awkward repartee, and I cannot wait for the continuing adventures of The Life and Times of Tim debuting on HBO this fall. Other standouts included the commissioned work Western Spaghetti by PES. A fabulous short piece of stop motion in which real life objects such as Pick Up Sticks stand in for the actual ingredients. Lovesport: Paint Balling by UK animator Grant Orchard features video pixels that engage in an all out paintball war. You know you've succeeded when you can get an audience to root for a little rectangle of color. Australian animator Dave Carter contributes three commissioned shorts from his Psychotown series. Similar in technique and vision to South Park, Carter uses cutouts and stop motion to illustrate the skewed lives of a group of friends. UK animator Matthew Walker has two entries, the debut Operator, which honestly didn't excite me very much, and the beautiful John and Karen about a polar bear apologizing for his verbal insensitivity to his ladylove Karen, a penguin. It's the sweet absurdity of that relationship that exemplifies what makes animation shorts so enjoyable. New toons by festival legend Bill Plympton and very accomplished digital films by new artists from the Gobelins College round out the entries.

While I don't think that any of these films will be up for Best Animated Short at the 2009 Oscars, there's plenty here to interest and excite. I strongly recommend catching this collection in theatres because Judge never releases the exact same lineup on the DVD edition and you know you do not want to miss Corky Quakenbush's series, Yompi the Crotch-biting Sloup!  

 

~ Dollie Banner

July 23rd, 2008

 

PS: Beginning July 25th, The Animation Show is playing in New York at the IFC Center as well cinemas in Denver, Sacramento and Santa Fe. For more information, visit the website:

http://www.animationshow.com/

 

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  The Animation Show)