The Animation Show of Shows

17th Annual Animation Show of Shows - 11.05 - Ascension - Still 01

Toronto audiences will be able to catch the “cream of the short film crop” at Carlton Cinema with this year’s Animation Show of Shows courtesy of the program’s curator/producer Ron Diamond.  As much as movie goers should always show support for short films, this year’s showcase (consisting of eleven international films) ranges from ingenious to pointless.

The program, at least, starts out strong with the sweet Australian/New Zealand short The Story of Percival Pilts.  The film is wonderfully animated – looking as if a children’s pop-up book came to life – and filmmakers Janette Goodey and John Lewis have carried out some great gags through imaginative visuals as we watch ambitious characters refuse to touch the ground.  The next film, Tant de forest, is another solid step for The Animation Show of Shows containing observant, vibrant interpretations of deforestation and cumbersome machinery taking over the world.

As other films come and go, their impressions don’t last outside of their creative visual shell – the content just doesn’t measure up to the imaginations.  I suppose this comes down to subjectivity.  There are a lot of stories present that draw from real feelings and concerns that simply won’t click for everyone because the audience might be missing those sense memories or emotions.  For instance, as a tall individual, I related to Love in the Time of March Madness because co-director Melissa Johnson was sick and tired of people commenting on her height.  It worked for me, but others may feel denied and disengaged by how selective it is.  This problematic scenario is frequent in The Animation Show of Shows, as well as the occasional short suffering from overlength.

The Animation Show of Shows tepidly wins us back with some funny selections (Ascension is fantastic), and it’s easy to see how much of these projects became a labour of love as we watch real-life interviews with some of the passionate filmmakers.  However, there’s an error in programming by ending the showcase with World of Tomorrow (directed by animation heavyweight Don Hertzfeldt).  It’s far too bizarre and drawn-out for a redemptive finale.

A project like this rarely gets the chance to screen theatrically.  So, even though I’m lukewarm on The Animation Show of Shows, I still give it a mild recommendation.  Catch a matinee and you’ll be feeling fine.


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