Arts Review, Movies
Animation is a funny genre. Not just ha!ha!, but also quite peculiar because the best films aren’t features. They’re shorts. Of course, every year there are excellent features—Shaun the Sheep Movie, Anomalisa and Inside Out were all terrific last year—but there were way more wonderful short animated films made in 2015 than those three. Trouble is, it’s hard to see them in Canada unless you go to the Ottawa International Animation Festival, which takes place in September—diabolically, right around the time of TIFF.
Veteran producer and the driving force behind the industry-standard online publication Animation World Network, Ron Diamond has curated an anthology of the year’s best, which solves the “where are the great animated shorts” problem. His 17th annual Animation Show of Shows will be playing for the first time in Toronto this week, starting on Friday at the Carlton Cinemas. The maestro will be in town to introduce the films tonight, accompanied by Toronto’s Chris Landreth, who won the Oscar for best animated short for his heartbreakingly beautiful Ryan, a brilliant profile of a demon-driven doomed Canadian animator.
Diamond has put together a package of 11 animated films plus four short profiles of a quartet of animators for this year’s Show of Shows. They’re breathtaking in their diversity and gorgeous to view. And, yes, they’re for adults but thoughtful kids will enjoy them, too. For example, what’s it like to be a 6ft. 4in. woman? Love in the Time of March Madness is an autobiographical film featuring former Harvard basketball star Melissa Johnson, who co-directed this funny, endearing profile of her life with animator Robertino Zambrano.
Classical 96 listeners will love Stripy, a tale of workers doing repetitive tasks in a massive factory, hilariously structured around Brahms’ Hungarian Dance no. 5. Another film, which uses classical but also electronic music in its soundtrack is the brilliant World of Tomorrow. Don Hertzfeldt’s computer animation piece about a girl who meets her clone from the future has won over 40 awards in festivals including Sundance, SXSW, Ottawa, Zagreb and Milan.
Love in the time of March Madness is an Australian co-production, Stripy (despite the Brahms soundtrack) is from Iran and World of Tomorrow is American. Russia, a country with a great history of animation, is represented by another multiple award winner We Can’t Live with Cosmos. Konstantin Bronzit’s affecting tale of friendship between two cosmonauts was a multi-award winner at France’s acclaimed Annecy festival as well as in such farflung venues as Tokyo and Melbourne.
The Animation Show of Shows is fun and artistic—see it!
Written by Marc Glassman
Adjunct Professor, Ryerson University
Director, Pages UnBound: the festival and series
Editor, POV Magazine
Editor, Montage Magazine
Film Critic, The New Classical FM
Film programmer, Planet in Focus
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