short film

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Animation Art Illustration

Around the Block: David Zinn's Quirky Chalk Cartoons Spring to Life in a New Short Film

January 15, 2021

Grace Ebert

If you’ve walked the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the last few decades, you’ve probably spotted the wide-eyed monsters and mischievous dragons of David Zinn (previously). Since 1987, the artist has been drawing chalk-and-charcoal creatures in site-specific works that wash away with the rain. Drain pipes become robotic dogs, a pillar morphs into a giant pencil, and a green monster pops out of a brick walkway.

A new short film directed by Jonnie Lewis dives into Zinn’s practice by animating his signature cartoon cast that greets the artist as he walks around the city. Watch “Around the Block” on Lewis’s Vimeo, and check out more of Zinn’s eccentric creatures on Instagram.  (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Animation Food

THE COIN: A Moving Stop-Motion Short Reveals the Power of a Family's Cooking Traditions

December 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

Siqi Song reminds us that the simple traditions of home stick with us no matter how far we travel. The Los Angeles-based director and writer, who created the highly regarded animation “SISTER” about China’s one-child policy, released a new stop-motion short about a girl who struggles to hold on to the remnants of a prized holiday ritual.

THE COIN” opens with a felt character hand-making dumplings to celebrate the Chinese New Year. A silver dollar is hidden inside one of the pork-filled pockets, and according to tradition, “whoever eats the dumpling with the coin would have a blessed year ahead.” The fiber-based animation then follows the little girl as she grows up and leaves home for Los Angeles, where she loses her cherished coin collection and desperately searches for a new one.

Song shares behind-the-scenes shots on Instagram, in addition to making-of videos and full animations on Vimeo. “THE COIN” also has a dedicated account that shares updates on the short film’s awards.

 

 

 



Animation

'Awkward' Revisits the Embarrassing Moments We All Experience in an Amusing Animation

November 5, 2020

Grace Ebert

Nata Metlukh’s animation “Awkward” lives up to its name as it transports viewers right back to the last time they bumbled a handshake or didn’t properly judge the distance during a parallel park. Through uncomfortable and comical scenarios, the San Francisco-based animator captures many of the embarrassing moments even the most graceful folks experience: a man’s stomach growls loudly, another enthusiastically waves at a stranger, and a simple haircut goes awry. Despite their innocuous nature, the situations exude uneasiness.

Earlier this year, “Awkward” was awarded Best Short Film of the Year at Promofest in Spain. For more of Metlukh’s humorous animations, visit Vimeo, Instagram, and her site, where she shares a collection of quirky gifs.

 

 

 



Animation Art

A Turbine-Faced Pilot Returns from War in a Surreal Animated Short About Love and Transformation

October 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Presented by the National Film Board of Canada, an animated short by Montreal-based director Alex Boya considers the complex effects of war through a heartwarming tale. “Turbine” opens with a woman climbing aboard a train that inches along the track like a worm. The black-and-white film then chronicles her journey reuniting with her pilot husband, who returns from war with an airplane engine permanently replacing his face and subsequently falls in love with the ceiling fan.

Through incredibly rich renderings—the wrinkles on the characters’ hands and the whorling patterns in their hair are particularly detailed—Boya depicts peculiar scenes and quiet domestic moments to share a story about love, humanity, and transformation. In an interview about “Turbine,” the director says the film’s distinct style came about organically:

It felt like creating sober instructional illustrations of real things, with an honest attempt to simply survey their opaqueness and shadows in a photorealistic world. Just like I focus on the water instead of on my body when I swim, it works not to think of style, but simply on the subject matter that is being drawn.

For more short films, see the board’s Instagram and Vimeo, and check out Boya’s site to explore the entire Turbine Universe, which is complete with dozens of sketches and gifs of the hybrid character.

 

 

 



Dance History

A Moment of Stunning Choreography and VFX Shares the History of the Little Rock Nine through Dance

October 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

In a powerful interpretation of Elizabeth Eckford’s historic walk to school in 1957, dancer Kendi Jones moves gracefully along a sidewalk. “The First Day” is shot in black-and-white to mimic the iconic photographs of Eckford as she passed through crowds of angry White students, teachers, and community members on her way into a formerly segregated school. Eckford was part of the Little Rock Nine, a group of Black students who were the first to integrate Central High in Arkansas’s capital. They were initially barred from the institution until an intervention from President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Directed by Barnaby Roper, the short film captures Jones’s elegant movements and freezes them in time. As she shifts into her next position, a bit of her form appears left behind like a cloud of particles. To watch more of Roper’s experimental projects, head to Vimeo.

 

 

 



Animation

An Intimate Short Film Highlights 2020's Crises through Exquisitely Surreal Scenes

September 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

Set to subdued music, Nicolas Lichtle’s short film titled “à la fin…” is an unusually ethereal depiction of the crises climaxing in 2020. The delicate animation flows through a series of lightly-hued scenes that explore reactions to COVID-19, the wildfires raging across the planet, and the endless distractions of technology. “It’s a moment of introspection, very intimate, staged through a succession of small moments imbued with poetry, absurdity, and sometimes surrealism…” Lichtle writes.

Many of the anonymous characters’ faces are obscured by a plant, digital device, or cloth mask, and they undertake both mundane and bizarre tasks that critique contemporary life: An unassuming man runs on a treadmill while someone stands nearby to douse him with disinfectant, a figure with a bowling ball head shouts through a megaphone at upright pins, and two women happily wave at a distant earth set ablaze.

Lichtle is based in Paris and has an extensive collection of films on his site. Follow his critically-minded projects on Vimeo. (via swissmiss)