Sundance Film Festival: Animation Spotlight


By: Amanda Guarragi

To kick off the festival, I thought it would be fun to start with the animated short films. I have always had a soft spot for animation and there were many different styles presented. Here are my reviews for the Animation Spotlight.

Kkum
dir. Kang Min-Kim

Courtesy of KIAFA AniSEED

Review: Kkum was really inventive and it had a beautiful story. The idea that our mother’s dreams and prayers make up our very being is special. This piece is very stylized and is structured in four parts to specify certain objects in dreamspaces. The figures were unique and the voiceover explaining his mother’s dreams created an emotional attachment to each section. I have always been fascinated with the meaning of dreams and Min-Kim experimented with the dreamspace by using animation. The score that accompanied the pieced elevated it and brought you into the world he created.


The Fire Next Time
dir. Renaldho Pelle

Courtesy of Renaldho Pelle

Review: What impressed me the most about this piece was the colour grading. Pelle created an atmosphere that was dark and bleak from the start. The background had dark shadows, while the shoppes and clothing on his characters had bright colours. Pelle created so much tension within the frame, as people faced their own issues, the edges of the frame began to shrink. The darkness in the shadows closed in on them, as they were faced with an emotional issue. The score was used to cause a panic in the viewer as the darkness closed in. It really touched on so many issues and made it clear that anything can happen at any time.


Ghost Dogs
dir. Joe Cappa

Courtesy of Great Question

Review: This was such an interesting watch because the horror elements skewed the purity of bringing home a rescue pup. It was such a unique take on a dog being alone in the house. The idea that there were dogs that used to live in the house and had passed on would haunt the new rescue was really interesting. Cappa just put you in a trance with the way he bent the shapes and structured the ghost dogs. It was all very creepy and the score was also a standout as we went on this journey with the dog. The ending of the piece was also very surprising and I did not expect that at all.


Misery Loves Company
dir. Sasha Lee

Courtesy of KIAFA AniSEED

Reviews: This piece presented general thoughts about life and the future. As young Seolgi lays on the ground with her friends, a shooting star falls and disrupts her mental state. It disrupts her mind as she begins to panic about life and how time can change so many things. Her thoughts whisk the viewer away into her imagination and the negativity blooms into colourful flower people. Everything is so bright and vibrant, while they call for a meteorite to end their suffering. It shows the depths of anxiety and depression quite well, as it takes a mind of its own.


GNT
dir. Sara Hirner

Courtesy of GNT

Review: This was a very unexpected short film about the perception of women in social media. The animation was very playful and most importantly, pink. It had a lot to say about the way women are constantly comparing themselves to each other. It also pokes fun at social media and how the viewer count rises when something gross or funny happens to someone. Social media consumption varies from each platform but they’re all mentally damaging in their own way. Hirner did a great job in exploring this topic and she brought humour to it as well.


The Fourfold
dir. Alisi Telengut

Courtesy of Cargo Collective

Review: This piece really does put you in a trance, as it explores the power and beauty of an Indigenous worldview. There is so much wisdom, truth and openness when discussing ancient traditions. Telengut uses the power of animation to explore the environment and enforce human reconnection with the Earth. It is beautifully handcrafted and the journey through each scene was mesmerizing. The colours were stunning and each image would blend with the next quite effortlessly. The sound mixing and the voiceover were so soothing, that it felt like a wonderful story was being told.


Trepanation
dir. Nick Flaherty

Courtesy of Nick Flaherty

Review: This short film was definitely a trip. I was rather impressed with the three-dimensional animation and how everything was constructed. The sound design really stood out as it set the tone for the piece. This short film also addresses the mental struggle that well have with ourselves. Every morning, we wake up and wonder, “why” and try to carry on with our day. The imagery for the multiple bodies within one body that is presented as whole, was really interesting and the message was understood. The hole in the ground symbolizes the depths of one’s mind and how far they could spiral.


Souvenir, Souvenir
dir. Bastien Dubois

Courtesy of Miyu Distribution

Review: The most interesting aspect of this piece was the mixture of animation. I was so impressed with how different animation styles came together in different scenes. The story is really unique and it presents multiple ideas when approaching family issues. The fact that Dubois was interested in his grandfather’s souvenirs in order to structure a narrative around them says a lot about his connection with his family. Dubois dives into his own experiences, all while retelling stories that pertain to these souvenirs with an emotional attachment to his family.


Little Miss Fate
dir. Jordan Von Rotz

Courtesy of YK Animation Studio

Review: The one thing that I admired about this short film is that the frame was always busy. The colours were vibrant and the objects had great dimensions to show the depth of each plain. The story itself was so much fun because it deals with fate. We all truly believe that something can control our everyday actions and what happens to us. Von Rotz shows us through the power of animation that there is a small hand, attached to a switchboard that plans our every move! Somedays are better than others, until our mood hijacks our fate because we control our own destiny. There’s so much to unpack in this one and it was a lot of fun to watch!

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