OIAF Review: Short Film Competition 3

Lesley the Pony has an A+ Day
There isn’t much sex at the Ottawa International Animation Festival this year. Previous editions of the festival feature boners up the wazoo as swinging appendages and colourful members add some adult entertainment to what some folks usually consider a medium for kids. Fewer boobs and bums figure at the fest this year, too, as many of the shorts in the competition feature a notable maturity. Animation fans looking for skin, though, get their money’s worth in Short Film Competition 3. SC3 has more sex than most short films on the Internet probably do—live action ones, anyways.

Short Competition 3 has lots of sex and a complete winner of a film called Lesley the Pony has an A+ Day (Christian Larrave, USA). Lesley steals the show in this programme. My Little Pony snorts some wonderful drugs as Lesley floats through Merryland in a bouncy number about her adventures with the dick-ish Duke. This film is reminiscent of a children’s storybook tale—the film preposterously purports to be the collaboration of some 4th grade students—and it is even more fun for how flagrantly it gives the middle finger to innocence. Screw childhood, for ponies meet their maker no matter how slaphappy their days are. This crazy, colourful, and all-around nutty film is easily queen of the castle at Short Comp 3. An A+ for you, Lesley!

Fans of hipster-y animation will equally enjoy the animated excerpts from Spike Jonze’s Her in Her ‘Alien Child Sequences (David O’Reilly, USA). David O’Reilly takes a break from all the Kim Jong Un stuff and offers his best work at the festival. I’m not an especially big fan of Her as an overall film, but there’s no denying the originality and spunk the sassy video game character brings to the film. Her, viewed in the context of the animation itself, offers a great range of form and dimension from O’Reilly. The sequences show that one shouldn’t always be quick to attribute the success of a film solely to its director.

The creative process itself gets a whimsical treatment in Marilyn Myller (Mikey Please, UK). Marilyn toils away at sculpting perfection, but her expectations and insecurities get the better of her as director Mikey Please offers an ingenious step into the artistic mind. The soft greyscale canvas of the film offers an accessible window into Marilyn’s psychology, and the film plays with form nicely by smashing and warping Marilyn’s work at her whim. Audiences see art mould before their eyes in Marilyn Myller.

Other visual niceties in Short Competition 5 include the wacky promotional effort Holland Animation Film Festival ‘2014 Festival Leader’ (Andreas Hykade, Germany/Netherlands) and in the effective repetition of the experimental film Horse (Jie Shen, China). Both films offer invigorating feats of minimalism. The experimental film Journey into Womanhood (LaMar Ford, Simon Wilckes & Fernando Rabelo; USA) offers a vaginal kaleidoscope and a good segue for mentioning the naughty bits of Short Competition 3. There’s a boatload of sex in the hand drawn oddity Pilots on the Way Home (Priit Pärn & Olga Pärn, Estonia/Canada), which might be the first film to introduce the Kama Sutra to the festival. There’s plenty of thrusting and whatnot as three soldiers draw matches and take turns having a go with the woman they carry in three suitcases, but the imposing and aggressive animation doesn’t compensate for the overall tastelessness and misogyny of the film. It’s not really a question of prudishness to dismiss Pilots on the Way Home… it’s more that the film simply doesn’t have much to offer beyond gratuitously novelty, albeit handsomely composed gratuitous novelty at that.
We Can't Live without Cosmos. Photo courtesy of OIAF.
The programme more than redeems itself in the end, however, with the excellent film We Can’t Live without Cosmos (Konstantin Bronzit, Russia), which scooped the Public Prize for the OIAF audiences last night. Cosmos is a worthy audience award winner, since it’s a moving account of two friends who become tragic pioneers of space exploration. Cosmos has nary a word of dialogue, but the audience’s reaction testifies to the film’s ability to move viewers through a range of emotions simply through the subtlety and humour of the film’s design. The fanciful charm of the cartoony animation makes the film very funny in its opening act as the two friends excel by goofing around during their training, but it then guides the film into an unexpected dramatic shift as the humour fades and finds itself replaced by stern-faced heartbreak. The film connects to viewers through the simplicity and accessibility of its images, which makes it a fine film to stand out as one of the best of the fest.

Please visit www.animationfestival.ca for more information on this year’s festival.