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The Yorker at ASFF ’17: Animation 6

One of the most fascination forms of moving image to me is animation. The time, effort and patience that goes into creating these worlds is immeasurable, and it is no wonder that animation flourishes in short form as even a minute of filming can take months. This year’s Aesthetica Short Film Festival screened six collections of animated films, the last of which I saw in a lecture hall in King’s Manor on a chilly Sunday morning surrounded by a variety of film fans.

The screening kicked off with Not the End of the World, a charming and funny depiction of school romances. Joe is a regular guy who gets a note one day from the mysterious Molly saying he’s cute; as the film’s description says in the ASFF programme, “What does this mean? Is this true love? And who is Molly anyway?” Driven by a frank narration, the teen feeling is captured through all those cliches which are formed because they’re so accurate, and the cartoon-y animation matches the tone to a T.

Next was The Durnham’s Drizzle, a very short 2-minute cut-out animation about an elderly couple who refuse to leave their house while it rains. Featuring abstract garden creatures and an anti-consumerist message, this is a quirky tale made with care.

The following film was Bulgarian short film The Storm, based on Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s ballad The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. The narration was a deep, ominous voice which recited the poem, matching the swirling mists and looming dark rocks in the image. The darkest part of the screening, The Storm is an atmospheric art piece.

Shrink was another very short film produced by the National Film and Television School. A live-action-stop-motion cross, the film depicts a man’s anxiety at the prospect of answering a telephone manifest itself in the closing of the room’s walls. Quick and effective, it utilises the assets of the visual medium to make mental perceptions of such a situation accessible to those who haven’t experienced it.

The longest film of this screening was Squirrel Island, a 20-minute caper following a grey squirrel and its acorn companion as they uncover and battle a red squirrel revenge plot. With the advantage of time to develop its world and characters, this film drew the audience into the conspiracy and managed to pull of a complex plot without any dialogue. The squirrels and acorns are charming, cute and characterful and the film has a hopeful message of comradeship and harmony. This film will stay with me long after the festival.

The final film was a Chinese production called Life Smartphone. An exaggeration (although not by much) of our obsession with technology, the film depicts endless calamities caused by people being hunched over there phones, and subsequently being oblivious to the outcomes of the calamities. It’s a great example of social criticism and comedy coming together to make a point, which is likely to stick with the audience because of how the extremity of our tech obsession that the film shows isn’t completely unimaginable.

This taster of animated shorts was an excellent and varied selection collected by the Aesthetica team. I hope many of these have success at other festivals and that their online exposure helps promote the diversity of the short animated form.

These films were screened as part of Aesthetica Short Film Festival. Image Source: ThingsToDoInYork.com