The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows is not a tradition here, but should become one. This is the first theatrical release of this carefully curated program of 11 international films–seven by women directors. Overall, the feeling is of deep contemplation. This is not animation as slapstick and there are no formulas here. The techniques vary, but all are filled with beauty. If you love animation, don’t miss this presentation which is only booked at the Arclight Cinema Hollywood from Sept. 24 (Thursday) until Oct. 1 (Thursday).
The Animation Show of Shows, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit which seeks to expand the awareness of animated short films and animated short film restorations. Presented by the Acme Filmworks, the show has been curated by Ron Diamond and runs only one week.
The films are:
- “The Story of Percival Pilts,” created by Janette Goodey and John Lewis, Australia
- “Tant de Forets,” (“So Many Forests”) created by Geoffrey Godet and Burcu Sankur, France
- “Snowfall,” directed by Conor Whelan, Ireland
- “Ballad of the Holland Island House,” created by Lynn Tomlinson, USA
- “Behind the Trees,” created by Amanda Palmer and Avi Ofer, USA
- “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos,” created by Konstantin Bronzit, Russia
- “Messages Dans l’Air,” created by Isabel Favez, France/Switzerland
- “Stripy,” Written and directed by Babak Nekooei & Behnoud Nekooei, Iran
- “Ascension” written and directed by Thomas Bourdis, Martin de Coudenhove, Caroline Domergue, Colin Laubry, Florian Vecchionne, France
- “Love in the Time of March Madness,” directed by Melissa Johnson and Robertino Zambrano, USA
- “World of Tomorrow,” directed by Don Hertzfeldt, USA
“The Story of Percival Pilts” is a whimsical stop-animation tale about a boy who decides he shall live his life on stilts and never again let his feet touch the ground. While his family is willing to adapt, other people do not accept his odd ways so easily and he is subject to prejudice. Eventually, he proves himself worthy of their respect, but he still reaches for that higher plane.
“Tant de Forets,” or “So Many Forests” is based on the poetry of Jacques Prévert which looks at the irony of using paper to warn about the destruction of forests to make paper. This is beautiful and colorful two-dimensional design that contrasts the rather dire message.
“Snowfall” is about how the lack of gaydar can sometimes lead to false hope. A young man recounts his initial attraction to someone at a party, only to realize it will come to nothing more. The program features an interview with Whelan.
In “The Ballad of Holland Island House,” Tomlinson uses clay paintings to tell the true story of a house that was built on an island in a waterway of Maryland but lost as the water reclaimed the land as part of natural environmental change. The “paintings” are impressionistic and there’s a feeling of poignancy but also reminds one that even today islands are losing ground to the water currents of time.
“Behind the Trees” makes one want to have your fellow bedmates sign a non-disclosure agreement. Palmer based this short on things her husband, Neil Gaiman, said in his sleep. Lighter than a feather and with a style reminiscent of “The Little Prince” this short leaves little impact.
More thought-provoking is Bronzit’s “We Can’t Live Without Cosmos,” which looks at two lifelong friends and competitors who become Russian cosmonauts but only one makes it into space. A celebration of a competitive friendship, this short has a touch of surrealism.
“Messages dans l’Air” (“Messages in the Air”) is about love in a world of paper and a goldfish. Don’t worry, the goldfish doesn’t suffer too much, and it won’t look at you with drippy sweet eyes like Nemo or Ponyo. The two-dimensionality of the line drawings is kept charmingly simple to prevent this.
“Stripy” is about conformity and monotony and the unconventional person who breaks free only to find that eventually others wish to follow. At a large factory, the workers must all paint tripes in a certain way on all the foxes until one person decides to use a color, red, and make a squiggle. This is for all the people who want to squiggle past the uniformity of societies.
“Ascension” basically takes the myth of Sisyphus and brings it forward to the early 20th Century with two mountain climbers taking a perilous journey up snowy peaks to place the statue of the Virgin Mary at the top. Things do not go well.
“Love in the Time of March Madness” is an engaging tale about Johnson’s experiences as a very tall woman. She was six-foot-four in 8th grade and while that made her a basketball star it didn’t make life easier socially or romantically.
From the intensely personal experience of Johnson, we then go to Hertzfeldt’s piece about a girl learning about her future from her future self. Yes, there’s a time conundrum here and the simple line drawings try to take us into complex thoughts about the world and the meaning of self and individuality, but the piece feels overlong and gets to be tedious. This piece makes a weak ending for the bill, however, this is a minor point. The rest is well-worth seeing. After viewing the full program, I wished I had seen the previous 16 shows. Past shows are available on DVD sets.
The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows is currently at the Arclight Cinema Hollywood. If will also travel to Santa Ana, CA (The Frida Cinema) and other venues nationwide. For more information about the schedule and the attendance dates for filmmakers, visit the official website.