Melbourne International Animation Festival

Every year in Melbourne, it seems, there is the Melbourne International Animation Festival where animated films (mostly short films) by amateur and veteran animators get shown at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) for a whole week (June 21-26).

I was really disppointed last year when I missed that year’s Animation Festival so I swore to myself that I wouldn’t miss this year’s. I almost did actually. The festival started June 21 while Raquel and I were still on our day-off the office. It the next day that I only found out that the festival already started.

That Wednesday night, I went to ACMI to watch two of their programs:
6:30 pm: International Program 1 (repeat from the day before)
8:15 pm: Student Program 1

There were several short films on the International Program but overall I wasn’t too impressed, specially with those films that I found too artsy. I mean, I do appreciate art films but when it’s like an animated abstract painting, I really couldn’t understand the point.

There were also a few films there where a lot of people in the audience were laughing but I wasn’t. There was this film with a lot of slapstick comedy in it that people found real funny but I guess I no longer found it funny because I’ve watched a lot of cartoons in my life which I found funnier.

Perhaps another reason why I wasn’t laughing was because I wasn’t in the mood. That day, I didn’t feel well and I had this runny nose. So, at times during the showing, I couldn’t help but sniff and blow my nose. After a few minutes into the first program, this guy sitting at my right leaned towards me and whispered, “I don’t want to be a pain but your sniffing is annoying me.”

I said I was sorry just to shut him up. But after that, I stopped enjoying the short films shown as I was too busy feeling infuriated with the guy sitting beside me. What did he want me to do? Heal myself in a snap of a finger? I would’ve done so if I had the mutant ability to heal sick people on whim. Leave the theatre? But I already paid $13 to watch the stupid program.

Raquel told me I should’ve given him a retort or something but in the end I’m not the type to look for trouble so I just gritted my teeth while I continued watching the rest of the program.

When the International Program finished, an usher handed a small piece of paper that appeared to be a ballot. We were asked to vote for the short film we liked most in the program we just watched. I voted for Fallen-Art which was a dark comedic piece about soldiers. I found it funny though it was really morbid. Just go to their site to read more about it.

I had hoped that the Student Program that would be shown next would be better. I reasoned that maybe the student films would have more creativity, originality and freshness. However, I was disappointed with over half of the student films shown.

But the one I hated the most was this film where there were these circles drawn and shaded in pen being animated to move across the screen in random directions while loud screeching metal sounds (or maybe it was music but I frankly wouldn’t classify it as such) blared in the theatre. The stupid animated circles were followed by similarly animated triangles and then followed by animated squares. This whole hellish experience went on for what seemed like an eternity. This was the only part of the program where people actually walked out of the cinema. It was that bad. Unbelievable. How did that piece of crap got included in this festival is beyond me.

Then there was this film that I found disappointing though not as bad as the animated geometric shapes film was the 3D animation called Circuit. The textures and models used in the animation were like from the time of Diablo 2 cut-scenes. But to be fair, these were students so they probably couldn’t afford the cutting edge 3D technologies. But the quality of the 3D models wasn’t a big deal for me, really. My main gripe was that the lead character’s “acting” was very wooden. I don’t think the technology would’ve hindered them in making the character act more life-like.

I liked Subway Score (by Alexander Isert of HFF, Germany), Red Sky Morning (by Sterling Sheely of USC, USA), and Edgar (by Aviad Goldevicht of Camera Obscura, Israel) the most among the films shown in the first Student Program. They were all 2D monotone colored animation. The first one was morbidly funny, the second one had a dreamy feel to it and the last one was creepy. Too bad I forgot to vote after the program ended.

Anyway, that night’s showing discouraged me from watching the remaining programs in the festival. Sure, I’ve seen great short films in that night but I wouldn’t want to endure watching the awful ones just so I could see the good ones.

Still, I’m curious to see the good films that I didn’t get to watch. There is supposed to be a “Best of the Festival” program on Sunday 8 pm. Maybe I’ll go to that one where the not-so-good films would already be filtered out.

Published in: on June 25, 2005 at 1:41 am  Leave a Comment