Returning to theaters across North America, the latest edition of the Animation Show of Shows presents 15 thought-provoking, poignant, and very funny animated shorts from around the world. In a year when the best and worst of human nature has been on constant display, the works in this year’s show remind us of both the universality of shared ideals, as well as the diverse challenges we face.
“The styles and subjects of the 15 films from six countries in the 20th edition demonstrate that in the right hands, animation can be a vehicle for personal expression as powerful and intimate as drawing, painting or sculpture.” – Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times
The power of family ties, and specifically the enduring connection between parents and children, are sensitively evoked in Hikari Toriumi’s deeply affecting Polaris, about a young polar bear leaving home for the first time. One Small Step, Bobby Pontillas and Andrew Chesworth’s inspiring story of a Chinese-American girl’s dream of being an astronaut, centers on her evolving relationship with her father. The beautifully designed Weekend, by Trevor Jimenez, explores the complex emotional landscape of a young boy and his recently divorced parents, as he shuttles between their very different homes and lives.
The darker side of relationships is forcefully explored in Veronica Solomon’s Love Me, Fear Me, a tour de force of claymation that uses dance to delve into the lengths people go to to deceive each other and try to pass for something they’re not. Eusong Lee’s My Moon takes a more cosmic and lighthearted approach to a troubled relationship, limning a celestial love triangle played out by the sun, the moon, and the earth. Carlotta’s Face, by Valentin Riedl and Frédéric Schuld, illuminates a different kind of relationship dysfunction in its sensitive portrayal of a woman who suffers from prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces, and her salvation through art.
Among the other program highlights are the very funny computer animation The Green Bird, winner of a 2018 Gold Student Academy Award International Animation, which harks back to classic cartoons of the mid-20th century. Oscar-winning director John Kahrs’ Age of Sail, the latest in Google’s series of Spotlight Stories, chronicles the adventures of an old sailor who rescues a teenage girl after she falls overboard. Alain Biet’s jaw-dropping Grand Canons is a dizzying symphonic celebration of everyday objects that uses finely detailed drawings created by the filmmaker. And two very short films, Supergirl and Bullets, take their inspiration from poems composed by surprisingly eloquent preschoolers. (Total program running time: 98 mins., Rated PG)