Saturday, June 16, 2007

6th Annual MIAF

The 6th annual Melbourne International Animation Festival kicks of at ACMI on Tuesday. At the preview I attended, festival director Malcolm Turner expressed his surprise at a record number of 2200 films being submitted for selection this year, which was whittled down to 350 for this year's festival over six days - Tue 19 - Sun 24 June. MIAF is one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.

I'm no expert on animation, but the session I previewed (most of the 15 films that make up International Program #1) showed an amazing array of talent, styles and imagination. For me, this format is an expression of the possible. In one sense there is a restriction (in terms of time) and in another sense, there is the freedom to explore and experiment. There is tremendous scope for expressing wild imaginings, surrealism and alternate realities.

To those who have not been to MIAF before, the variety of animation is awesome. There is huge diversity in the different types: stop motion, claymation, hand-drawn, CGI and many variations of each of these. This is must-see stuff for fans of animation or short films, cinema students, and those looking for a bit of variety in the cinema scene.

Films have been assembled from around the globe. Some of the highlights include collections of the 'Polish masters'; the latest film by the award winning Russian, Aleksandr Petrov; a retrospective of the work of Fred Crippen, creator of Roger Ramjet; the best of Siggraph 2006 (Taiwan); and much more. There'll be discussions about animation, how to get a film made, full-day conferences and other satellite events - this is a serious festival indeed. If you've never been to MIAF before, I highly recommend catching at least one session to see what it's about.

Following are some of the films I previewed (most of the text is sourced from the MIAF website, with some additional comments by myself):

Once Upon A Time
(Jerome Dernoncourt, Samuel Deroubaix, Corentin Laplatte,
France, 5'30)
Clever & bizarre – a rollicking cavalacade of steam powered, wind up, mixed media madness. Merges excerpts from John Ford westerns into beautifully rendered CGI.

The Foxhole Manifesto
(Nick Fox-Gieg, USA, 4'15)
A laconic, slow-burn pub poem on the pros and cons of interpreting the many possible paths to (a) God.

A Journey Across Grandmother
(Meghana Bisineer, UK, 5'15)
Goregeously drawn film gracefully tracing the various threads of a relationship between grandmother and granddaughter.

Burning Safari
(V. Aupetit, M. Maleo, J. Irzenski, F de la Taille, A. Presal, CW Trebutien, France, 1'45)
Hey look – monkeys! And they’re not real happy bout the weird little aliens with the power zappers. Chaos.

La Marche Des Sans Nom
(L. Vigroux, N. Laverdure, J Constantial, France, 5'45)
An intensely detailed film tapping a richly delicious, tormented surrealist vein of dancing through devastation. Visually stunning.

The Lecture
(Clint Cure, Australia, 4'00)
“Animation’s Hard!”. “Hard”. “There’s no short cuts”. “No short cuts”. Two animation lecturers nut it out over a beer.

Journey To The Disney Vault
(Robert Marianetti, David Wachtenheim, Glen Steinmacher, USA, 3'15)
A wicked, behind the scenes look at what happened to Walt’s head – among other scarey Mouseland outrages.

The Red Shoe
(Magnus Fredriksson, Sweden, 4'15)
A lady’s red shoe floats past a fisherman. An odd tale mixing corrupt local officials and mobile defibrillators.

(Luis Nieto, France, 4'00)
An experiment in mini marsupial slicing, inflating and exploding – all in the name of science, of course! This was one of my favourites.

Ten Thousand Pictures Of You
(Robin King, UK, 3'00)
Hell hath no fury like an animator scorned.

(Florian Grolig, Germany, 5'15)
Stunning, uber imaginative – a vision that could only be realised through animation. A figure walks through a fracturing, fractal landscape.

Blindman's Bluff
(Isabel Herguara, Spain, 7'15)
A visually extravagent film – ironically – exploring the world of the blind.

Dreams & Desires: Family Ties
(Joanna Quinn, UK, 9'45)
The latest tour de force from this master animator. A wedding video spirals wildly out of control.

(Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland, 3'00)
The full scale of Schwizgebel’s unique ability to construct a rolling panorama of swirling, colourful perspective bending landscapes is given full flight in his latest masterpiece. An opening taste of a ‘technique focus’ this year – hand painted animation.

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