OIAF Review: Short Competition 3

Archer: 'Coyote Lovely'
The animators of Short Film Competition 3 at the 2013 Ottawa International Animation Festival don’t seem to have quite the same fascination with male appendages that their cartoon comrades of Competition 1 do. Nor do they seem to be riding the vomit comet, as not one short of this programme features projectile vomit. Short Competition 3 might be the most diverse programme of the festival, as it includes everything from a full episode of the hit show Archer with the funny Coyote Lovely  (Bryan Fordney, USA) to a Project X promotional Penthouse letter called Vice and Project X ‘Big Sean Tells Crazy Party Story’ (Leah Shore, USA) to Boogodobiegodongo (Peter Millard, UK), which should teach kids at the festival that they can still have their work shown in a theatre if they still can’t colour within the lines. Fret not, though, since Short Competition 3 lets Ottawans and animation buffs unleash their inner child and let out a little giggle. There is not one but two films here devoted to poo.

Fecal fun comes when the graduation animation Ketsujiru Juke (Sawako Kabuki, Japan) unleashes a flashdance of frat-house humour into the competition with a song based on a post-break-up dream about the animator’s ex. It’s a song comprised mainly of the word “ass juice,” so Kabuki might be doing animation à la TMI. A girl and an ass-clown face off in a zany fluorescent farce that’s akin to a fart-laden fever dream. The tidal waves of ass-juice that drip from the memory bank of the bad break-up are connected with the tsunami that devastated Japan a few years ago, so OIAF-goers might be alternatively mortified by Ketsujiru Juke or intrigued by whatever magic the animator smoked before having this random dream. Short Competition 3 also drops one with Bird Shit (Caleb Wood, USA/Japan), which gives a closer look at bird shit in an experimental collage. Who knew that bird shit could be cut to look like a Rorschach test?

Short Competition 3 adds some animals to go with the animal waste. This group of shorts ranks as the best of the competition. The programme’s opening short, Abduction Milk Cow (Shin Hye Kim, Woo Sol Lee, and Hyun Ji Yoon; South Korea) is an imaginative and hilarious film that sees a farmer defend his herd of cows when they’re abducted by aliens. Abduction Milk Cow is twice as impressive when one realizes that it’s a high school production. If there’s one by air, there must be one by sea, and Short Competition one continues with the funny Portlandia ‘Dolphin’ (Rob Shaw, USA), which ends so abruptly that audiences will do a double take before the next film begins. Playing out with an impeccably plotted tale is the mysterious Anomalies (Ben Cady, UK) in which the people and animals of a minimalist world are overtaken by strange colourful presences. They’re not quite black holes, but viewers will relish the playful ambiguity of these colourful blotches that morph and consume the picture. Fans of Don Hertzfeldt’s OIAF feature It’s Such a Beautiful Day will surely want to catch Anomalies for its notable realization of how much life and atmosphere an animator can create with a mostly blank canvas.
Marcel, King of Tervuren
The standouts in the animal-friendly films are Not Over (Toru Hayai, Japan) and Marcel, King of Tervuren (Tom Schroeder, USA). Not Over brings an impressive flair for CGI animation to the competition as a giant stuffed bear travels the world in an amazing race. The film is cute and touching, and it provides an especially strong finale to the programme with its memorable renderings of picturesque landscapes and its sunny, optimistic message. Equally memorable is Marcel, which plays early in the programme but leaves a lasting impression. The film, dubbed “Greek tragedy as acted out by Belgian roosters,” is a darkly funny story of a woman trying to sedate her rooster when she receives word that he might be ill. Port and sleeping pills do little to numb the bird, and the narrator learns the hard way who is cock of the walk. The tragic humour of Marcel is brought out by Schroeder’s painterly rendering of the tale. Conceived with the nostalgic design of a bedtime story, Marcel is a mature fable. Marcel gets the rule of the roost among the other hens of Short Competition 3.

Short Competition 3 screens again:
Saturday, September 21 at the ByTowne at 3:00 pm.

Please visit www.animationfestival.ca for more info on OIAF.