Last night, RISD Auditorium hosted the 16th Annual Animation Show of Shows, curated by Ron Diamond, founder of ACME Filmworks. It was awesome. That’s really the only word for it. And beautiful. And inspiring. And funny. And disturbing. Okay, there are lots of words to describe it, because each of the films was wildly different, both aesthetically and thematically. Here’s what you missed, with videos embedded where I could find them:
This was weird. It was the epic tale of a quaint French-Canadian village where a rocking chair brings a family enormous joy. The animation style resembled a dancing crayon illustration at a master-level (I clearly lack the vocabulary to talk about animation with any authority). Industrialization rears its ugly head and the chair is thrown away as the village becomes a city. It receives a second life as the chair of an art museum security guard. CRAC!, if your curious, is the sound of a tree falling before it becomes a chair.
Feast will appear before Disney’s new animated feature Big Hero 6. It is the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever seen in my life. A little puppy who loves food is rescued by a man who also loves food. When the man gets a girlfriend, she forces him to eat healthier. The dog hates healthy food. But when the man and woman break up, the man becomes sad and unhealthy It’s then that the dog must decide if he should let his master be unhealthy so he can eat pizza, or if he should help him get the girl back and risk eating spinach.
This is a surrealist, stop-motion short about a sculptor who plays God. It’s in black and white, but the lighting is unreal. The whole thing is impossible to stop looking at, and the end has a surprise twist that pokes fun at self-important artists.
Me and My Moulton
Oh my god, this might have been my favorite. I have never been so into the way animated trees look. It’s 2D and very simple but the humor is so on point. It’s about a Danish girl who wants her parents to be normal, but they are avant-garde and her dad is the only man in town with a mustache. It’s the epic quest to convince your parents to get you a bike. And it’s so good
The concept behind this movie is so cool. One brother makes the rules, the other executes them. The rules: Make a 1 second animated film every day of the year. The execution: 365 distinct films stitched together like a super weird calendar. The animation is hand drawn and very strange and surreal.
We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
Woah, okay, break my heart. This is a Russian 2D film about two friends who grew up together and become astronauts. The first half is funny and remarkably sincere. The second half is devastating because of how funny and sincere the first half is. I couldn’t find a video, but this is what friendship looks like in Russia:
This short love story is brought to you by the man who animated Aladdin, and it’s the first movie he’s ever made without the power of Disney behind him. He hand-drew and directed every frame and it is intensely beautiful. Following a boy and a girl from infancy through adulthood, we see them grow up together and fall in love, while each also pursues what they love as individuals. They also both grow up to be very sexy, by animated standards.
I hated this. This was boring. It was nice to look at, kind of. Maybe I just didn’t get it. Maybe you will.
The Bigger Picture
This film wins my favorite animation style. It combines oil drawings, saran wrap, and other physical objects into a multi-media stopmotion drama about two brothers with a sick mom. The concept isn’t very interesting, but I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
Why the show ended with this I will never know. It was black and white and used water in a cool way. But wait. Here is a catalogue description from the festival at which it premiered: “A few naked women and children are bathing in a river. They are being secretly observed by a group of men, who decide to approach them in a violent manner, as if inspired by the behaviour of hippopotamuses.” Yeah. It’s about sexual assault and was intensely hard to watch.