MIAF 2014 DAY 2: Australian Showcase, International Program #1, Late Night Bizarre

23 Jun

Australian Showcase

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The most important session of the festival to us Aussies; Australia never fails to impress me with its vast array of styles and storytelling techniques. I cannot stress this enough: here is something this country does so well that it simply needs as much support and exposure as it can get. 19 films made up this year’s Australian Showcase. It’s going to be tough picking a winner from this bunch; nevertheless here are my top picks:

Love the Way You Move: Slightly Off Centre – Aaron McDonald, Ben Ommundson. Fantastic music video involving a Soviet research team experimenting with shoes that turn people funky and give them sweet dance moves.

The Elephant’s Garden – Felix Colgrave. This is my pick for best Australian film this year. It is a totally psychedelic observation of nature from another universe. Full of colour, imagination, and an experimental soundtrack; this is why I love animation.

Second Chance – Chris Busuttil. Exceptionally cool neo-noir involving a criminal, Edmund, presumably a hitman with many regrets, adapting to everyday suburban life. The use of colour in this film is very clever. Edmund and his house are shades of grey whereas the outside world is full of colour. Every time Edmund gets a taste of the everyday world colour spills into him. The voice acting is also very well done, which can be the difference between a film succeeding and failing (unfortunately The Duck fails in this respect).

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Teagan – Igor Coric, Sheldon Lieberman. The touching true story of a transgender male going through his transition to become a woman. It is narrated by Teagan Thisby Young, the film’s subject. You can actually feel the pain in her voice while talking about her past and the relief she felt when she finally became a woman. The watercolour animation style aids the emotion of the film.

Bless You – Phillip Watts. Gorgeous little film meshing several different animation styles like traditional drawn animation, to cut-out to, to CGI; we are introduced to God who is creating Melbourne CBD in the style of SimCity. And then exactly like SimCity god creates a Godzilla-type creature and puts it in the middle of the city. Of course Godzilla happens to be adorable, but then he jumps on a chilli factory, god sneezes and the city is demolished. This all happens in 90 seconds. So simple, so great.

 

International Program #1

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The first session of the competition programs and what a way to start. This session was full of memorable films all for different reasons. The best ones were:

Sonata – Nadia Micault. I already brought this film up in my last post but it deserves another mention because it is so visually stunning.

Choir Tour – Edmunds Jansons. Quirky little Latvian film about a school choir on your. The minimalist look and the use of the choir as one rubbery blob with many faces makes this film stand out. The icing on the cake is how it finishes with an actual choir performing for the film.

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To This Day – Shane Koyczan. Incredibly powerful poem about identity and self belief translated into film in the most amazing way possible: through all styles of animation. 2D, 3D, CGI, stop-motion, collage, montage, cut-out, claymation, everything you can think of. The mesh of styles fits perfectly with the film’s topic of those who struggle and survive at school. The message is that beauty is within all of us; that we cannot dwell on the words of others; that we need to stay strong in the toughest of times. The many styles of animation, the story told through the poem, and the passion in the narrator’s voice makes this one of the most powerful films I have ever seen and is my pick for Best of the Festival.

Plug and Play – Michael Frei. The experience of watching this film is very much like watching a David Lynch film; you can tell there is a lot there even if you can’t make sense of it. The whole film is black and white with two hands, a light switch, two computerised voices, and a few people who have plugs or sockets for heads. Sounds simple, so why am I so desperate to see it again?

 

Late Night Bizarre

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Oh yes, the might Late Night Bizarre, the cult classic of the animation festival that has taken on a life of its own. You come to this session you know you’re not going to be the same coming out. It will either damager you or make you popular among your friends for having something to show them.

Cowpokes Livin’ On The Edge – John Akre. Simple cut-out animated song packed with dry humour about three cowboys who have camped too close to a cliff’s edge. The deep, monotonous vocals really drive it home.

Trusts and Estates – Janette Bonds. True stuff is the funniest. This film is an actual overheard conversation between four businessmen at a restaurant who do nothing but talk shit to each other. It’s one of those hilariously crass conversations that sometimes we wish we could record to remember the awesome burns we deliver to our friends.

Mister Super Juicer – Aaron Peeples. An infomercial about the greatest wet liquid, a time machine, a god, a lover, a miniature golden lighthouse with an infinite smile. I am of course talking about ‘juice’. I wish all infomercials were as delightfully psychotic as this one; TV would be so much better.

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Doctor Lollipop – Aliki Grafft. Fantastic spoof of the old Disney films involving singing woodland animals. Doctor Lillopop is a unicorn doctor who needs to perform surgery on a dinosaur who has eaten too many talking animals. Beautifully animated and hilariously executed this was no doubt a crowd favourite.

Rabbitland – Ana Nedeljkovic, Nikola Majdak Jr. Satirical stab at pretty much all politics. The pink rabbits have no brains, just holes in their heads, so they are always happy. Every day they have an election where they must vote, but only ever for the same group of evil girls. Some don’t make it back alive, but this is still a happy day in Rabbitland. The political satire comes from brainwashing, rigged elections, dictatorship, bending the truth, suppression, pick your favourite.

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