I wrote this list for Sight & Sound about the best films to find on the internet last year. It was difficult to narrow it down to just five, let alone keep track of every good thing that went viral in the past 12 months.
1. David O’Reilly’s The External World
You may have caught The External World at a film festival last year as it did the rounds that new films do. As increasingly more filmmakers are choosing to do, O’Reilly also posted the whole film online for free (though he added the option of purchasing an HD version for the reasonable price of $3.50). Hand-crafted for Generation Z, it’s a multi-episodic work, heavily loaded with global cultural references, that pushes the boundaries of taste and the possibilities of 3D animation.
2. This Is It Collective with Don’t Hug Me I’m Scared
A nostalgic analogue delight: what seems like an episode of a cheery children’s television show soon descends in to madness. This skillful group of jesters mess about with costumes, puppets and animation to craft an outstanding film with a very catchy song. Just shows that an online hit can be anti-digital. Get away from that computer and get creative!
3. David Wilson’s Alternative Advent Calendar
A lovely contemporary take on a festive favourite. The hugely talented David Wilson, taking a break from making adverts for Nokia and videos for The Maccabees, uploaded a short video for every advent calendar day. Each mini-movie is accompanied by a track from a bunch of hip musical collaborators including Spiritualized, Action Beat and Bo Ningen.
4. Charlie Tweed’s Archimeters
By appropriating footage from the internet and adding a computer-generated narrative composed of lines from software testing handbooks, Tweed creates a work that questions social control systems. Whilst the neutral voiceover lends an air of authority, Tweed disrupts the action by disclosing the digital effects being used in the film. Chilling stuff.
5. Allison Schulnik’s Mound
Claymation is a much-maligned animation technique. Thankfully contemporary artists like Natalie Djurberg and Allison Schulnik are reviving the craft in style. Mound is a delightful, dark fairytale with a superbly kitsch soundtrack. Schulnik breathes life into an assortment of nightmarish pastel characters in this celebration of the handmade.
There’s some great contributions from other critics and curators to take a look at: Laura Allsop nominates Ben Rivers’ wonderfully contemplative Origin of the Species; Max Hattler’s stop motion marvel Aanaatt as suggested by Sight & Sound’s very own Nick Bradshaw; Adam Curtis gets three mentions – I have to go with Ian Francis from Flatpack Festival, who nominates Curtis’ response to the August Riots, The Terrifying Gangs of England; Philip Ilson included the bittersweet yarn of Trevor Anderson’s The High Level Bridge; this gem by Saul Bass courtesy of Watershed’s Mark Cosgrove; and John Hillcoat’s suitably bonkers video for Grinderman, as suggested by Jessica Manstetten from Oberhausen Film Festival.