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The Big Picture (2018)

May 29, 2018 0 animation

The shortest short on Shortfilmweb, The Big Picture is a charming and accomplished animated short directed by animation and film student Doriana Re. It is about a man who is persuaded by his wife to step away from studying bacteria through his microscope, and instead focus his attentions on the heavens above (also through a lens!)

5 mètres 80 (2013)

August 31, 2016 0 animation

5 mètres 80 is the creation of French animator Nicolas Deveux. Known for his skill in creating realistic and lifelike animations of animals, Deveux took a year and a half to create this mesmerising short featuring high-diving giraffes. Their graceful movements are soothing to watch, and the hyper-realistic rendering is impressive. Unsurprisngly, it won numerous film awards.

Find out more about Nicolas Deveux at http://www.nicolas-deveaux.com/.

Madame Tutli-Putli (2007)

March 19, 2015 0 animation, drama

Created by  &  (Clyde Henry Productions).

Madame Tutli-Putli is a 17-minute stop-motion animated short film about a woman taking a train journey. We don’t know where she’s going or why, but she has a fantastical and often terrifying ride, encountering all types of outlandish and menacing characters along the way. The film has a truly hallucinatory quality. We don’t know whether to take Madame Tutli-Putli’s experiences as real or a product of her feverish mind, perhaps her darkest nightmares. Even the train seems to be from another world, a steampunk mass of hurtling metal with a propeller on the front. Surreal and dark visions punctuate the whole journey – chess-playing stowaways, mud-covered monsters intent on robbing everyone, people hanging limply from the electrical cables overhead.

This film took four years to make, showing what dedication, hard work and patience can achieve. The film uses ground-breaking techniques to add realism to the characters. Madame Tutli-Putli’s eyes look so expressive and human because they are – footage of human eyes was merged onto the stop-motion puppet and the effect is astounding. This film is an incredible experience, a hugely immersive visual treat, and a magnificent accomplishment.

Metachaos (2011)

January 2, 2015 0 animation, music

Created by Alessandro Bavari
Music by Jeff Ensign aka Evolution Noise Slave

Metachaos, by ‘Digital Artist’ Alessandro Bavari, is more like 8 minutes of visual and sonic art than a short film. Intense, overwhelming and immersive, it uses state of the art camerawork and CGI special effect technology to create what could be seen as a visualisation of judgement day itself. A series of amorphous figures, vaguely human in appearance, descend from the sky and take over a blocky fortress. This ‘building’, the scene for the rest of the film, looks similar at times to the steel and concrete frame seen when a modern building is midway through construction.

Exactly what is going on is open to interpretation – but throughout the morphing figures appear to be variously fighting, having sex, multiplying – as particles and matter rain down and swarm around them. The ambient, atmospheric soundtrack soon turns into furious, industrial intense, bassy beat, musically redolent of the Prodigy, visually of an Aphex Twin video.

Citing the apocalyptic visions of Bosch and Bruegel as inspiration, Bavari describes the beings in Metachaos thus:

“They exist confined in a spaceless and timeless state, an hostile and decadent hyperuranium where a fortress, in perpetual movement, dominates the landscape in defense of a supercelestial, harmonic but fragile parallel dimension. In its destructive instinct of violating the dimensional limbo, the mutant horde penetrates the intimacy of the fortress, laying siege like a virus.”

Whether you find Metachaos an exhilarating futuristic ride, a monochrome, multi-dimensional nightmare, or both, the impact can’t be denied. This should be ideally be experienced on a big screen, using headphones or quality speakers for full effect. More info on the maker’s website here.

This Land is Mine (2014)

August 4, 2014 0 animation, music

This Land is Mine is a remarkable animation set to a song in the style of a musical by artist Nina Paley. Beginning with the very first settlers in the land over time variously named Canaan, The Levant, Israel and Palestine, we see a succession of warriors and colonialists laying claim to what has proved to be one of history’s most disputed and conflict-ridden territories on the planet. From early cavemen to Assyrians to Macedonians, Ottoman Turks and many more, right up to the Hamas insurgents and Jewish Israeli settlers currently battling each other, this bloody cartoon is like a (admittedly simplified) compacted history of the region’s conflicts.

With numerous territorial wars currently causing death and misery across the globe, this film couldn’t be more relevant. A depressing look at humanity, or human history, perhaps. But if those leading and perpetuating today’s conflicts could step back and take an overview like this (noting in particular the film’s sober conclusion)  they might realise that no amount of time, or coming and going of empires will ever quell the human urge to subjugate and kill for territory. Justified by claims of entitlement and ownership, the cycles of violence go on and in the long run, nothing really changes.

The Exodus Song (AKA This Land is Mine) by Andy Williams provides a fitting backing track. For more information about Nina Paley, the creator, along with a guide to the different peoples represented in the film, check out her blog. But don’t read it before seeing the film, or you’ll spoil the twist!


The Machine (2010)

June 23, 2014 0 animation

Directed by Rob Shaw
Animated by Rob Shaw and Sarah Hulin (Bent Image Lab animation studio)

The Machine is a story about a mechanical being built and released into the world by a bored human. Like a malevolent Pinnochio, greedy with power, the Machine takes everything he finds, destroying obstacles and people along the way. From a lowly farmer to a mighty king, the machine asserts his superiority and power over everyone he encounters. The film is a stop-motion animation using puppets, with backgrounds and cut shots of moving parts designed to appear like the interior workings of a nickel slot machine.

This short film is highly allegorical and carries various potential warnings about developments in today’s world – the risks posed by giving machines too much power (drone warfare, autonomous killing machines, the increasing automation of everyday life and functions). The consequences are borne by humans and the planet we inhabit. Andrea Schuch provides the nicely stylised voiceover. The composition was done in Aftereffects.

Sebastian’s Voodoo (2008)

February 14, 2014 0 animation, drama

Created by animator Joaquin Baldwin
Music by Nick Fevola

Sebastien’s Voodoo is the brief tale of one courageous voodoo doll in a collection, who decides to save his other imprisoned friends from the gruesome fate which awaits them at the hands of their (human?) tormentor. A dark, dark story with a bright ending, this superbly executed animation has it all; a great story, tension, a protagonist we root for. One look at the overwhelming list of screenings and awards Sebastian’s Voodoo got shows the film, unsurprisingly, made a big impression on judging panels and viewers across the world. It was created at the UCLA Animation Workshop

Joaquin Baldwin was born in Paraguay but now lives in Los Angeles, California and works for the Walt Disney studios.

More of Joaquin’s work can be seen here: http://www.pixelnitrate.com.

The Sinners – Los Pecadores (2007)

January 30, 2014 0 animation, comedy

Created by Pablo Polledri
Music by David Simons

Los Pecadores, or The Sinners, is a short animation by Argentinian director and animator Pablo Polledri about the seven deadly sins. The Pecadores are represented as characters acting out their natures as they are all thrown together in a lord of the flies type situation. They interact with each other in all manner of amusing and horrifying ways in what becomes a war of attrition.

See more of Pablo’s work at http://www.maniacplanet.com.ar/.

Miracle of Flight (1974)

January 17, 2014 0 animation, comedy

Written and directed by Terry Gilliam.

Terry Gilliam, who began his career as a cartoonist, was part of the Monty Python team and his animations characterised the shows, appearing as vignettes in between sketches. The image of a huge foot coming down to crush everything is a well-known one, and typical of the surrealist style and content of many of these wonderful animated pieces.

Miracle of Flight, produced in 1974, is about humans striving for the ability to fly like birds (or, indeed, a Boeing 707) and embarking on numerous unsuccessful attempts to get, and remain airborne using all manner of imaginative methods, including tar and bird feathers, cliffs, a bird costume and many more.

Minneapolis-born  Gilliam went on to direct several feature films including Brazil in 1985, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen in 1988, Twelve Monkeys in 1995 and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus in 2009. Like his animated work, his films often have fantastical, highly imaginative themes and styles.

In 1999, Gilliam attempted to realise a long-held ambition to make a film about Don Quixote (The Man Who Killed Don Quixote), starring Johnny Depp, but production was beset by disaster included the star getting a hernia, flooding causing expensive damage to sets and filming equipment, and various other mishaps. All was not, however, in vain – archive footage from the doomed production was used to make the fascinating documentary Lost In La Mancha.

Astigmatismo (2013)

December 22, 2013 0 animation

Created by Nicolai Troshinsky
Music by Shogun Kunitoki
Sound design by Pierre Sauze
Character design by Gina Thorstensen
Background design by Cecilia Ramieri

Astigmatismo by Spanish filmmaker Nicolai Troshinsky is a stunning short film about – you got it – astigmatism. Beginning with the moment a boy’s glasses are taken from him as a prank, we are plunged into his world with the aid of some very innovative animation techniques. Only able to focus on very specific parts of his surroundings at any one time, his perception is reduced to localised glimpses of what’s happening around him, with everything else a blur.

The resulting effect is one of dislocation. Seen through the boy’s astigmatic eyes, the world becomes a series of connected and not so connected vignettes, some as surreal as if dreamed up by Dali or Bosch. The genius of this film is that it manages to convey the beauty in this confusion – the reduced power of perception makes the world harder to piece together logically. But then, the world can often be like this even for those of us with 20/20 vision – confusing, weird, wonderful and random.

The animated world of Astigmatismo was created using painted glass and cut-out marionettes, and filmed on five planes, using computer-controlled lens focus in order to switch focus, like the human eye, near instantly between different points. Astigmatismo has screened at scores of film festivals including Sundance and won several prizes including the Animatou Special Animation prize. A short documentary about the making of Astigmatismo can been seen here.