I'm a huge fan of animation, so when I saw that there would be an animation competition at the festival it became my priority to see it.
I arrived in Ann Arbor Friday, around noon. I had expected a downtown festival more akin to "Arts, Eats and Beats," where a few city blocks are closed off for the event; this wasn’t the case. Nevertheless, Ann Arbor is a hip enough city to where hanging out for 9 hours before the “Animated Films Competition” turned into a good time.
I thought that the animations in the competition were pretty diverse but some were definitely more interesting than others. The only artist that I was familiar with prior to the show was The Brothers Quay. I saw their film "Street of Crocodiles" a few years ago after hearing many other artists cite it as an influence. I've also seen their work in a short animated sequence in the movie “Frida.” The “Quay” film shown was called “Maska.” It was animated in their signature stop-motion puppet style but unfortunately for me, it was subtitled. I found myself forced to choose between reading the dialogue and focusing on the visuals. After a few moments into the film, I decided to generally focus on the visuals. So although I did enjoy the feel of “Maska”, when it was finished the entire narrative wasn’t completely clear to me. It was definitely a film that I would have to view more than once in order to fully take it.
One of my favorite films was called, “Bird Boy” which was done by Pedro Rivero. Although this film was also subtitled, I didn’t have the same problems with it as I did with “Maska.” This is probably because both the dialogue and the visuals were much simpler. “Bird Boy” had these really cute/cartoony characters and visuals on the surface, but the narrative and subject matter were quite heavy and sad.
My favorite film in the competition was called, “In Between Shadows” by Tianran Duan. Essentially, the film consisted of nothing but a mysterious light moving through a dark vacant house but I thought that it created a really powerful atmosphere.
The “Taxi Driver” parody called, “Walt’s Disney’s ‘Taxi Driver’” by Bryan Boyce was hilarious.
I had a great time hanging out in Ann Arbor and going to the festival. I’ll be back for the 51st Anniversary, for sure.