21st Annual Animation Show of Shows Press Release
“Animation is an incredibly versatile medium that allows artists to explore situations and ideas that you won’t see anywhere else,” says ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS founder and curator Ron Diamond. “From political and philosophical concerns, to the complexities of individual identity and personal relationships, animated short films are uniquely able to capture the many facets of human experience.”
Personal relationships are at the heart of several of the films in this year’s program, including Daria Kashcheeva’s International Student Academy Award-winning puppet animation Daughter, a deeply moving exploration of the ties between a father and daughter. Charting a very different, but related, course, “The Fox and the Bird” by Sam & Fred Guillaume, is a beautifully observed fable about an unlikely friendship between the two eponymous characters. Filmmaker Michael Frei and game designer Mario von Rickenbach provide a more clinical view of human behavior in their mesmerizing KIDS, which explores the nature of group dynamics.
The question of individual identity informs both Hounds by Amit Cohen & Ido Shapira and (Self-Narrative) by Géraldine Charpentier. In the former, a highly domesticated dog undergoes a disturbing change when a pack of wild hounds gathers near his house, while the latter offers a clear-eyed and heartfelt look at a young girl’s journey to self-realization as a transgender person.
Animation has often been the medium of choice for artists seeking to explore abstract ideas or philosophical issues, and these themes are well represented in the program. Joanna Lurie’s mysterious and transcendent Flowing through Wonder chronicles an extraordinary ritual and celebrates the transformative mystery that underlies life and death. Natalia Mirzoyan’s Five Minutes to Sea in which a young girl waits impatiently to go back in the sea, takes a more lighthearted approach, while playing with conundrums of time and perspective.
The program is rounded out by Gil Alkabetz’s Rubicon, a frenetic and very funny hand-drawn animation based on the classic riddle about how to ferry a wolf, a sheep, and a cabbage across a river without something getting eaten. In addition to the slapstick, the film also serves as a parable about the convoluted nature of political negotiations, specifically those related to the Middle East.
The program also includes two mini-documentaries about the creative process featuring Alkabetz and Amit Cohen & Ido Shapira (Hounds).
THE 21ST ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has a running time of 83 minutes and includes 10 films. The complete lineup is:
- Kids - Michael Frei, Mario von Reckenbach, Switzerland
- Rubicon - Gil Alkabetz, Germany
- Portrait of Gil Alkabetz (Rubicon) - Marta Trela Germany
- Five Minutes to Sea - Natalia Mirzoyan, Russia
- Récit de soi (Self-Narrative) - Géraldine Charpentier, Belgium
- Le jour extraordinaire (Flowing through Wonder) - Joanna Lurie, France
- Hounds - Amit Cohen, Ido Shapira, Israel
- Portrait of Amit Cohen and Ido Shapira (Hounds) - Shlomi Yosef
- The Fox and the Bird (Le renard et l’oisille) - Sam & Fred Guillaume, Switzerland
- Daughter Academy Award nominee - Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic
Curator Ron Diamond responding to parental questions of age appropriateness explains: In my opinion, this program is very kid friendly as it's a bit tough and uncomfortable at times but it's also life affirming, funny, inspiring, purposeful and memorable. There is no sex or profanity. Spread throughout the program and like "life" in general, there are isolated incidents of interpersonal tension, hitting, shoving, sadness, anger, growling, barking, subjugation and retaliation. A burial at sea depiction, a transgender identity film, spoken French and Russian with subtitles, and of course, a wolf inexplicably and briefly has an oar stuck in its hindquarters.
For 21 years, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has been presenting a highly selective, “best of the best” program of new and innovative short films to appreciative audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters around the world. During its 21 years, 41 of the films showcased in the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with 11 films winning the Oscar®. The ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is a 501(c)(3) not for profit and is supported by major studios, companies, schools and hundreds of animation lovers around the world. Learn more about the films in current and past Animation Show of Shows and their makers by joining our mailing list at www.animationshowofshows.com/pages/sign-up.
For further information, contact: Ron.Diamond@AnimationShowofShows.org (323) 791-9781.
Kids (2019) by Michael Frei, Switzerland
Born in Appenzell, Switzerland in 1987, Michael Frei is a filmmaker and artist based in Zürich and co-founder of the Playables production company. He studied animation at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Estonian Academy of Arts in Tallinn and, in 2014, he participated in the Animation Artist in Residence Tokyo program. His films include “Not About Us” (2013) and the interactive project “Plug & Play” (2015), which became an Internet phenomenon and received awards at a number of international festivals.
“My goal in ‘KIDS’ was to examine the workings of group dynamics and to raise a number of fundamental questions. How do we define ourselves when we are all equal? Who is steering the crowd? What if it is heading in the wrong direction? Where does the individual end and the group begin? What is done by choice, and what under duress? The film was made using traditional 2D hand-drawn line animation, which was then assembled, composited and choreographed using a game engine with a custom-made animation system in conjunction with physics simulations.” – Michael Frei
Rubicon (1997) by Gil Alkabetz, Germany
Born in the kibbutz Mashabei Sade in Israel in 1957, Gil Alkabetz studied graphic design at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Following school, he went to work as an animator and director at the Jerusalem-based studio Frame by Frame, and worked as a freelance animator and illustrator. In addition to his work as an independent filmmaker, Alkabetz has taught animation and illustration at various schools in Europe and the U.S., and has served on the jury and had retrospectives at many international film festivals. His numerous award-winning films include “Swamp” (1991), “Rubicon” (1997), and “Morir de Amor” (2004).
“As far as art is concerned, the most important moral imperative for me is not to be (too) boring, and to try to surprise. If this succeeds, it will cause the viewer to rethink and re-examine subjects that he’s already put in the drawer. For me personally, the elements of a theme, a story and a personality do not stand alone, but are all part of the overall artistic experience. The main question is actually what the mood of the film is and what emotion it should convey to the viewer. All other ingredients are derived from this. It is really gratifying for me when an idea I'm really not sure about is understood or even loved by the audience. That of course is very short-term, because then the next idea comes along.” – Gil Alkabetz
Five Minutes To Sea (2018) by Natalia Mirzoyan, Russia
Natalia Mirzoyan was born in Yerevan, Armenia in 1982 to an economist father and a linguist mother. From the age of four, she showed an interest in drawing and painting and planned to become a graphic artist. However, when she was 20, she discovered animation and, in 2004, she began working as an animator on the TV series “KikOriki.” Her debut film “My Childhood Mystery Tree” (2008) screened at a number of international festivals and her second film “Chinty” (2012) won a Special Jury Prize at Hiroshima, among other accolades. She is currently finishing her new film “Merry Grandmas” at the Soyuzmultfilm animation studio in Moscow.
“The creation of ‘Five Minutes to Sea’ is connected with the birth of my daughter Marika. As a mother, I began to think a lot about time, and also to notice the difference between children's and adult perceptions. In addition to capturing the atmosphere of a sunny and carefree beach, seen through the eyes of a little girl, I wanted to convey the sensation of the elasticity of time and the immediacy of children's fantasies, as well as the notion of the interconnectedness of everything that comes into the view of the casual observer, even if it's simply other beachgoers. The action of the film is limited to a short period of time – five minutes – and a small space, the beach. The screen time corresponds almost exactly to the five minutes of the plot. These five minutes primarily represent the ephemeral nature of a wonderful summer day, and the fear of losing it and spending it in vain. The film shows a small but memorable moment from childhood, juxtaposed with the theme of old age, and the difference in perception of time at the end and the beginning of life.
The film is drawn with professional alcohol markers on coated paper for a glossy effect. The draft animation was hand-drawn frame by frame. It was drawn either on a computer in Flash or on tracing paper and then scanned. We printed four frames each on thin coated paper, painted over on the reverse side, and then scanned. The final alignment and ordering was done in AfterEffects.” – Natalia Mirzoyan
Récit De Soi (2018) by Géraldine Charpentier, Belgium
Géraldine Charpentier enrolled at L'École nationale supérieure des arts visuels de La Cambre in 2015 in the animation department. She then developed a passion for documentaries, and combined her two interests in “Récit de soi.”
“When I started to work on “Récit de Soi,” the goal was to represent gender diversity and start a conversation with the audience, even if they were not familiar with the topic. Illustrating a first-person account was the best way to tell a playful, yet sincere, story. As it is both very intimate and political, it was essential not to dramatize this story, but to approach it with simplicity and kindness. By using animation rather than live action, I was able to focus on and emphasize psychological aspects of trans identity.” – Géraldine Charpentier
Le Jour Extroardinaire (2018) by Joanna Lurie, France
After graduating in Applied Arts from high school in Blois, France, Joanna Lurie planned to go into advertising and received a Higher National Diploma in Visual Communication from the High School of Image and Sound in Angoulême. Meanwhile, she created marionettes, built scenery, learned photography and dreamed about animated films. In 2002, she enrolled at Angoulême’s EMCA, completing her studies in 2005. She then divided her time between production jobs (including work on the series “L’île à lili” and “Grabouillon,” and Jean-François Laguionie’s “Le tableau”) and her own short films. Her 2010 short “The Silence Beneath the Bark” screened at Annecy and was shortlisted for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
“In many myths, water in the night is filled with monsters and ghosts we cannot see, but which are inside ourselves. In my film, some of them light up the dark depths of the sea. With their ethereal and nebulous aspect, they are a poetic and symbolical vision of death. I wanted to immerse the audience in a graphic poem, which is why I created a painterly, pastel universe. Any use of CGI is subservient to the graphics. I love when the image tends toward abstraction. There are large blue spaces, the boundary between the sea and the sky sometimes disappears, sometimes there is no perspective. Light and shade, clear and dark: there is no outline and the light runs freely among the elements, as in a dream." – Joanna Lurie
Hounds (2019) by Ido Shapira & Amit Cohen, Israel
Born in 1991 in Israel, Ido Shapira grew up in Ra’anana, a small town north of Tel Aviv. As a kid, he drew comic books and wrote short stories, and later he was an avid cinema fan, watching films by Paul Thomas Anderson, Hayao Miyazaki and Charlie Kaufman. Shapira studied painting in high school and, after his army service, attended Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. He currently works as an independent animation director and is part of the Jerusalem-based TOHU animation collective.
Israeli animator, filmmaker and illustrator Amit Cohen was born in 1989 and grew up in Koranit, a small village in the Galilee heights. She is a graduate of the animation department at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, where she focused on 2D animation. Currently based in Tel-Aviv, she works as a freelance animator and frequently collaborates with Ido Shapira. Her artworks explore the odd conflicts that occur between humans and their surroundings.
“We met when we were both studying at Bezalel and, as we got to know each other better, we found that we had experienced similar conflicts with our families. We both wanted to please our parents, but, in order to become who we really were, we had to rebel against them and their ideas. It was a very difficult and painful process. These experiences were the starting point for our film, which explores the conflict between one’s training and one’s true nature.
“We chose a dog as our main character because of their dual nature. Although we think of dogs as pets, they were once wild beasts that lived and hunted in large groups. In our film, the dog experiences an identity crisis, and we see him giving up human culture and manners as he connects to a more primitive side of himself. Aside from our personal experiences, we wanted to look more generally at adolescence, and the big conflicts that occur between you and your family or culture. These kinds of conflicts – between nature and education, emotion and mind, the self and society – are always present in our lives. It’s part of the human condition. That’s really what our film is about.
“The film is designed to create a very specific atmosphere. The only colors are black and white and we use shadows to make it even more dramatic. The drawing uses rough and expressive lines to underscore the characters’ emotions. In contrast to these emotional elements, the characters have very limited expressions. They don’t have eyelids and they barely move their faces. This contrast creates a special feeling of uneasiness.
The film language is also very minimalist. There are no camera movements, very few close-up shots, a lot of straight lines and symmetrical compositions. But every time the wild dogs appear, the lines become more diagonal, which changes the atmosphere of the film. “Hounds” is a 2D classic animation, hand drawn on a Cintiq, and made in Toon Boom Harmony and Photoshop.” – Ido Shapira & Amit Cohen
The Fox and the Bird (2019) by Sam and Fred Guillaume, Switzerland
Twin bothers Sam and Fred Guillaume were born in 1976 in Fribourg, Switzerland. They directed their first animated film, “Le petit manchot qui voulait une glace,” in 1998 and, enthused by this experience, they decided to devote themselves to cinema, working on commissioned films, commercials, scientific films and shorts. Their first feature film, “Max & Co” (2007), was distributed in more than 20 countries and won the Audience Award at the Annecy Festival. In addition to directing films, the Guillaumes collaborate on performances and art installations, contribute to public awareness through the children's club La Lanterne Magique, organize professional training seminars, and lead workshops and conferences. They are very interested in new technologies and develop tools and participate in research projects in the service of narrative.
“The Fox and the Bird” tells the story of the birth of a relationship between a father and his adopted son. As in a wildlife film, we observe the emotional changes that the fox experiences and how he is transformed. This silent fable takes place in a fantasy world with familiar contours where reality is transfigured. Technically, the project brings together traditional techniques and the most advanced technologies in a new way. As directors, we believe it is essential to try new forms of cinema, especially in short films, which are an excellent field for experimentation. However, our choices are always guided by authenticity of emotion. It is a subtle alchemy between the means used and the final result. We consciously opted for a simple story and a limited number of characters in order to be able to focus on the essential: emotion.
“Nature being at the heart of the story, it was essential for us to give it a prominent place in the fabrication process. Thus we used outdoor shots for environments and we built miniatures using natural materials. These objects were scanned in 3D, then modified and combined using digital matte-painting and camera-mapping techniques. In this way, the CGI becomes the medium for real textures and the image acquires its own aesthetic between photography and painting. After researching various technical solutions for characters, we opted for entirely virtual painted plastiline models, which were scanned using photogrammetry. This option allowed us to keep the traditional aspect of sculpted characters, while offering the flexibility of CGI animation. Some details required the creation of additional virtual elements that would have been impossible to model and animate in puppets.” – Sam & Fred Guillaume
Daughter (2019) by Daria Kashcheeva, Czech Republic
Born in 1986, Daria Kashcheeva played the piano from the age of eight and received degrees from Moscow Music College in performance and the Moscow Academy of Music in sound engineering. While working as a sound engineer in theaters in Moscow, she began creating animations at home. For her first film, “The Giraffe and Me,” she made everything herself in the kitchen – dolls, décor, lights – and served as director, cameraperson, editor, sound engineer, etc. Following this first effort, Kashcheeva attended the Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, where she made “To Accept” (2017), which screened at numerous international festivals and won a Nespresso Talents award, and “Daughter,” her graduation project.
“My film’s key theme is the father-daughter relationship, a very personal and important topic to me. To draw viewers into this world of memories, I made the film with a hand-held camera feel, big close-ups, low depth of field, and a lot of motion, which gives it an immediacy and a quasi-documentary feel. To convey the characters’ emotions, I painted the eyes directly on the puppets’ faces, which intensified their facial expressions and made them more life-like.” – Daria Kashcheeva