Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition 1
The Extraordinary Life of Rocky (Bel) - Poor Rocky is cursed so everyone who he has a love for (including his unfortunate pet dog meets with a gruesome end. Hiding himself away from the world to stop any more accidents, can he ever find happiness? A bittersweet narrative tale. 7.5/10
Men of the Earth (Australia) - Ever wondered why there are sometimes groups of workmen at the roadside, seemingly doing nothing while holding traffic up? This film, which includes a very long choreographed scene, attempts to answer the question. 7/10
Frozen Stories (Pol) - Two young supermarket workers find their lives made immeasurably worse when their boss punishes them for bad work, having to go on the popular 'unhappiest man of the month' reality show, and treats them accordingly to make sure they win. An interesting concept, but executed coldly and with some stupid dialogue. 5/10
Matador on the Road (Spa) - An elderly matador is forced out of retirement and flown to America to take centre stage in the country's first bullfight, but an unrehearsed, unexpected bovine encounter on the way brings back troubling memories. Good, but nowhere near as brilliant as the many awards flashed up at the start seemed to suggest. 6.5/10
My Sweetheart (Fra) - Estelle is taking her sister Romaine to see her boyfriend Laurie on their big day. They both have learning difficulties and have been allowed out of their care home on a holiday, and they intend to take their relationship to the next stage. But the complexities of love are a strain on their fragile tempers and it isn't long before Estelle is very much needed to help out, and the confidentiality of sisterhood is tested to the limit. A sensitive look at the complications of love. 7.5/10
Louis le Prince International Short Film Competition 2
Beatitudes (Gre) - An old man is reminded of the past as be prepares to join the streets once more in the street protests. One by one, ghosts haunt his mind and sit beside him, challenging the decisions that he took. Mysterious and beautiful. 7.5/10
My Bow Breathing (Ita) - An archer takes a trip out at night, complete with her equipment, determined to seek revenge on those who wronged her. Bloody and direct. 7.5/10
Fireworks (Fra) - The union workers of a massive steelworks come together under a rallying cry of the latest person to suffer loss, to put an end to the company's safety record and chemical spills. Some pretentious dialogue spoils it. 6/10
House Party (Rom) - After a spell away with her husband in hospital, housewife Moni returns to her little flat which appears spotless, but when her chattery neighbours start to weigh in, a story about the antics of her son, left alone in the house over the weekend, starts to form. Featuring possibly the most dialogue-intense subtitles I've ever read. I was out of breath! 6.5/10
Nasty Bitter Sweet (Bel) - A spate of 'metro pushings' - where innocent tube-goers have been pushed in front of the trains has left one woman out of her mind with worry about her partner. But when he turns up OK afterwards, it's not relief but anger she feels. A mysterious man on the tube system - lank and with unkempt hair takes an interest, and in her confused state she responds, but the stranger seems to hang around the tube a lot, is she too blind to see? A French mystery with the usual random philosophising. 6.5/10
All Men are Called Robert (Fra) - A naked man runs through the woods, carried along by the sweet but vulnerable voice of a woman calling him for help. But there are also hunters on his tail. A short film with a quick twist. 7/10
Alois Nebel (Cze/Ger) (site)
In the high Jeseniky Mountains, Alois Nebel works in peace. It's 1989, that year used so often in films from this area, and the upheavals of regime change are a world away as he works out his final pre-retirement years as a station guard on a remote platform. That changes when a stranger passes through the area on the way to the border, chased by dogs and men. He has something to hide by running, and the forces that be will have that information.
Captured but silent, everyone the man talked to is questioned; and Alois' quiet demeanour is mistaken for something to hide. This jolting out of a stable position brings back memories of the past, and the end of the second world war when young Alois and the stranger seem to be linked somehow.
Bleakly animated in black and white using a rotoscoping technique, Alois Nebel's snowcovered grounds and perpetually black skies, and the dark and seemingly hopeless situation he is in, is entirely suited to the animation style. But there is just something, maybe the robotic not-quite-right bodily movements, or the coldness and lack of compassion shown by just about every character, that makes it hard to embrace fully. Technically accomplished, and I'm certainly glad I saw it, I just can't recommend it enthusiastically. 7/10
World Animation Award 2012 Part 1
There was meant to be ten films here, but the projection equipment began to croak as we hit number seven.
Fear of Flying (Ire) - A cute and cheerful tale of Dougal, a bird that can't fly, but gets a good reason to try when he catches the eye of Lucy, who is about to fly south for the winter. Fresh and humerous, well worth the time. 8/10
Dr. Breakfast (US) - Two deer attempt to look after a man, unable to move as the hunger monster within him escapes and eats everything in it's path. A crazy, energy-packed animation with a style very similar to Spongebob and Ren and Stimpy. 8/10
The Pub (UK) - Using a rotoscoping technique to get the main forms of the characters, and then finishing off with pen lines to create expression, The Pub shows us a day in the life of a landlady, and all the stick she has to put up with from the idiots that crawl into her pub. Depressing but interesting. 7.5/10
Deep Shit! (Ned) - The band Deep Shit is in deep shit after making a pact with the devil to get some of the best songs he has lying around. Loud and colourful and energetic, similar in style to Sita Sings the Blues, but a little messy story-wise. 7/10
Fly Mill (Est) - In a creepy world inhabited by scary-eyed dolls, a baker uses dead flies to grind up into flour and make bread for his ducks, who are hunted down as soon as they take flight, but the baker has a surprise in store for the hunters. Grim and icky. 7/10
Red River, Song Hong (Fra) - A mix of computer generated character models overlaid onto the busy streets of Hanoi, Vietnam, makes for a beautiful, if confusing story of a young boy going to the city to work with his brothers, who busk for money. Left alone with his dog and a few supplies under a bridge, it doesn't take long before a cow, a lost ball and a furtive soldier trying to get his end away with his girlfriend makes for a dangerous combination for him. 7/10
The Great Rabbit (Jpn) - I'm not even going to score this - the equipment made it unwatchable - the video kept freezing but the sound gallopped along so the last half of the film was in complete silence. It didn't look that good, but it would have been better if we could see it properly.
The Last Bus (Slo) - This was just about watchable but with a nasty drone in the background (not the films fault I'm sure). A group of assorted humanoid forest creatures hurry to board the last bus out of the forest before the hunters come for them. The mix of live action and animal heads and a stop-motion feel to the frame rate gave this a creepy, atmospheric feel. 7.5/10