On judging duty at this year’s LIAF festival, I was charged with watching almost one hundred animations screening in the International Competitions. I witnessed a wide range of techniques and tales, with many entries finishing at around the ten minute mark. Noticeably technique was strong across the competitions, though dialogue and plot was sometimes shaky. I was joined by fellow jurors animator Joseph Pierce and Dietmar Schwartzler from Austrian distributor SixPackFilm to undertake the task. I found it most agreeable to be able to sit and discuss, and sometimes disagree, about the films after each screening. Here’s the list of winning films that we, the judges, and the audience, picked from each screening.
Here are a few films that I watched that I also think are worth a mention…
Secret Bee by Gina Kamentsky
LIAF liked Gina so much that they showed two direct animations that she had made – Secret Bee and House Bunny. I love the way she uses the original film footage that she paints onto and the zany characters she creates, plus her soundtracks are marvellous.
Wisdom Teeth by Don Hertzfeld
Hertzfeld is the master in creating seemingly simple animations that are brilliantly funny. With Wisdom Teeth the action is labored to the point it becomes painful and the action and dialogue descends into typically Hertzfeldian madness. I challenge you to watch this without laughing. It’s also worth checking out his journal on bitterfilms.com.
Amar by Isabel Herguera
The mix of watercolour and drawing is really lovely. Isabel brings the paintings from her sketchbook to life using bold colour and delicate line drawing to evoke the places of her memory and reflect on the character’s state of mind.
A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard
This film tells a witty story from the New Yorker of a man startled to see a chicken walking down the street in three different time periods and three distinct and well-executed animation styles. A very funny film – I particularly liked in the contemporary telling how the character trying to film the chicken on his smartphone is distracted by a zombie dance game app. Looks like a good app too.
Battenberg by Stewart Comrie
Now we did award this film a Jury prize, but I think it’s worth mentioning again how good it is. Based on the brilliant short story, The Landlady by Roald Dahl, but acted out by stuffed animals and other creations, this seems to come from the fevered dreams of Beatrix Potter and Jan Svankmajer. Incredibly detailed settings and great animation of the animal protagonists.
Howard by Julia Pott
Julia Pott has an instantly recognisable drawing style, creating awkward looking characters that act out her tales of love and loss. Howard looks at the breakdown of a relationship told through a fantastical inter-special pairing that makes for some great humorous moments.
The Wonder Hospital by Boemsik Shimbe Shim
A nightmarish vision of a cosmetic surgery utopia rendered in a mix of computer graphics and puppetry. As the main character travels through the hospital corridors we’re given glimpses of unsettling undertakings. One of the most inventive films of the festival.