My March wrapped up with four days of sensory overload thanks to the 9th edition of the superb Flatpack Festival in Birmingham. Having been invited to be on the short film competition jury I was tasked with considering 48 films across five programmes for just two awards. The films that my co-conspirator, animator Joni Mannisto, and I selected were:
Horse by Chinese artist Shen Jie for the WTF Award; an award which recognises the most innovative, visionary and bold film across the competition selection. Horse is a beautiful yet disturbing short with a distinct painterly style and superb editing and timing that reveal the story in ever changing animation loops. The film alludes to the early photographic techniques of Eadweard Muybridge, including his proclivity for naked sportsmen.
For the Best Short Film Award we decided after much deliberation on the superb Tempo // Basho by US artist Kogonada. As a well crafted exploration of iconic cinema its three screen composition offers new ways for an audience to contemplate Yasujiro Ozu’s filmmaking style, showing the beautiful static shots in his films, the pacing, the similarity of poses and so on. I particularly enjoyed the section on female characters crying where the combination of shots serves to highlight the stylised crying gesture repeatedly used in his work.
This short on passageways in Ozu’s films gives an idea of the craftsmanship Kogonada brings to collage film.
Other remarkable films in the competition included:
World of Tomorrow by Don Hertzfeldt – a mid-bending contemplation on a fantastic future driven by technological advancement. Available to watch in its entirety via Vimeo on Demand.
Small Men With Hats by Sarina Nihei – sinister goings-on in this stand out RCA graduation film. Excellent character design and sound design. Great job.
The Bigger Picture by Daisy Jacobs & Chris Wilder – another impressive graduation film that superbly uses stop motion and painting to explore family dynamics.
Seven Times a Day We Bemoan Our Lot and at Night We Get Up to Avoid Dreaming by Susann Maria Hempel – unusual set design and a playful use of props to present a dark tale of abuse.
Here is the full list of festival winners who amusingly all receive branded Flatpack allen keys.
I was also involved in moderating the Animation and Beyond industry day, which was a fantastic opportunity to hear from and speak to many talented professionals working in the industry today. I particularly enjoyed hearing from composer and sound designer David Kamp on his tips on how to produce your own foley using pound shop toys and other weird and wonderful objects. The panel on the use of animation in live performance also brought a refreshing angle to the day.
Seeing Citation City performed live by People Like Us was a real delight. The piece assembles footage from more than 300 feature films that feature London, using a ‘convolutes’ technique inspired by Walter Benjamin to find thematic links between the clips. Citation City is a riotous, playful, colourful homage to popular culture and the capital.
And finally hats off to the pop up Video Palace at Vivid Projects, which saw the gallery transformed into a video rental shop (remember them?) filled with an array of bizarre, cult, gruesome videos to enjoy, courtesy of Viva VHS and Scalarama.