New Japanese Animation #1: Tokyo University of the Arts
I’m going to say it right off the mark – this collection of films made the entire festival. This was my original thought leaving the cinema, and after the remaining 3 days of the festival it is still how I continued to feel. I, among many, am a huge fan of Japanese animation. I already had high expectations coming into this session and my expectations were vastly exceeded. The Japanese anime is very popular and rightfully so, but real auteurist Japanese animation needs more attention. These graduate films were chosen for their quality and diversity within the medium. Pencils, ink, paint, CGI, cut-out, puppets, stop-motion; it was all there. I could literally do a full write up on each of these films, but a couple stood out that little bit more; they were:
Bonnie (Masanori Okamoto, 2011) – Beautifully amazing cut-out animation starring Bonnie; a tiny woman made of paper who dances and shape-shifts all over Tokyo.
Specimens of Obsession (Atsushi Makino, 2011) – A metaphoric tale of the torment experienced by a murderer reflecting on his dark deeds. Fear and suspense are communicated through bug metaphors and fast-paced sound.
The Tender March (Wataru Uekusa, 2011) – Definitely the most typically Japanese film of the bunch. We follow a female schoolgirl who walks through the city and surrounding areas, accompanied by cute animals and lively inanimate objects, with a giant monster destroying the city, while an upbeat J-pop song plays.
Island of Man (Alimo, 2011) – Breath taking painted animation with soothing narration. Arguably the best of the session.
Uncapturable Ideas (Masaki Okuda, 2011) – Definitely the most unique film of the session; and being a session full of Japanese films, that is saying a lot! This psychotic painted animation figuratively illustrated the irritation of writer’s block in a way that is simultaneously amusing, absurd, and inventive.
International Program #3
The third session of films in competition. My top picks are as follows:
La Détente (Pierre Ducos, Bertrand Bey, 2011) – CGI film displaying the torment of war. The protagonist imagines himself as a child fighting a war in a land made of candy where flowers are ammunition. The cheerful depiction of war exists to juxtapose with its true message: that nothing positive will ever come from war.
Sorceress (Patrick Jenkins, 2011) – A linear supernatural story of two sisters finding themselves in a scary situation involving an evil sorceress that sucks the life out of its victims.
Plume (Barry Purves, 2011) – Larger-than-life, operatic film by British puppet animation master, Barry Purves, about an angel losing his wings.
International Program #4
The fourth session of films in competition. My top picks are as follows:
The Eater (Wally Chung, 2010) – Fast-paced and abrupt film involving a man-looking monster the eats everything it encounters.
Bon Voyage (Fabio Friedli, 2011) – Black & white 2D black comedy animation with stick figures on a holiday, though death is a regular occurrence.
Bottle (Kirsten Lepore, 2011) – Gorgeous stop-motion animation about a sand being and a snow being who send each other gifts across the ocean via bottle.