ENJOY THE SHOW
"Izzy was a good frog!" Who doesn't love wacky animation? Mushroom Park is an animated short film by Tim Rauch, one half of the animation duo Rauch Brothers. Two friends locked in a love-hate relationship bury a dead frog as rain beings to fall. They make a fateful decision to wait out the storm under a tree and wake up in a world quite unlike the one they left behind. Rauch reveals his inspiration: "We all screw up from time to time and need a second chance – because life is short and love is all we have." Featuring the voices of Betsy Sodaro and Shondalia White. This has a distinct "Ren & Stimpy" / "Looney Tunes" style, which isn't so common anymore making it exciting to see. It's such a unique short, entirely worth your time.
"If you kill me, she dies too." Well Go USA has debuted an official US trailer for Jiang Ziya, another new epic animated Chinese action fantasy film (see: Ne Zha) with demons and gods and fights galore. Thankfully they're bringing this one to US theaters in February, same time as in China, to give everyone a chance to see it. Atop the ruins of war, top commander Jiang Ziya is given the task to banish the Nine-tailed Fox Demon who threatens all mortals' very existence. When he discovers the Nine-tailed Fox's life linked to the soul of an innocent girl, he is faced with a challenging decision - follow the will of heaven or find his own path to righteousness. Featuring the voices of Zheng Xi as Jiang Ziya, Yang Ning, Yan Meme, Ji Guanlin, and Jiang Guangtao. This looks pretty damn cool, let's hope there is a good story to go along with the visuals.
"Wolfs are cunning and hunt in packs, always on the lookout for an easy prey." This is another exceptional example of how animation opens the door for so much creativity and ingenuity. Lupus is a short film made by Colombian director Carlos Gómez Salamanca, an experimental animator / filmmaker with his second short film. This one was produced and made in France, despite taking place in Colombia. The short tells the true story of a watchman attacked by a pack of over 20 stray dogs wandering the outskirts of Bogotá. Carlos explains: "The whole Lupus project was structured from this news [story], trying to show a broad context about the expansion of the city and the sad condition of stray dogs." Worth a watch to see a film this unique.
"Two hearts entwined. Two lives unravelled." Another award-winning short to feature this week. A Love Story is an animated short film that won the prestigious BAFTA Award for Best Animated Short in 2017. It's finally online to watch in full, and it's a lovely 7-minute journey into the surreal world of love. Made by British Sri-Lankan filmmaker Anushka Naanayakkara, the short is about two creatures that fall in love, weaving a colourful world together. But when darkness threatens to consume one of them, the other must fight to remain together, or risk being torn apart. "As the journey from lover to carer and back again grows from unlikely to seemingly impossible, these two creatures must make some hard decisions about how much of themselves they can give, without compromising their identity." It's very experimental and mesmerizing.
"I told them about the map! I told them about the gem! I told them about the curse!" Disney has released one more official US trailer for Pixar's Onward - their next big movie, both written and directed by Dan Scanlon (of Monsters University). This is technically the fourth trailer we've posted, including the original teaser and another international trailer recently. Onward is set in a "suburban fantasy world" and follows these two elf brothers who could not be more unalike. Tom Holland voices Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt voices his brother Barney Lightfoot. The only other main voices listed include Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The two brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. The more we see of this, the better it looks, though each trailer seems even wackier than the last. But I'm still onboard.
"Don't be afraid. Be brave." Passion River Films is highlighting one of their best releases from this fall, an animated documentary film titled Liyana. This originally premiered in 2017, but since then has picked up over 35 Jury & Audience Awards from numerous festivals all over the world. After playing at various fests for over two years, it's now available to watch on VOD or DVD. Liyana is a genre-defying documentary that tells the story of five children in the Kingdom of Eswatini who turn past trauma into an original fable about a girl named Liyana who embarks on a perilous quest to save her young twin brothers. The film weaves her animated journey together with poetic documentary scenes to create an inspiring tale of perseverance and hope. It looks like an imaginative and inspiring film to discover about the incredible power of storytelling.
"Just took a little bit of work, and a whole lotta love." Sony Pictures Animations has released the short film Hair Love for everyone to watch. This initially premiered in front of The Angry Birds Movie 2 in theaters, but I don't think many people saw that - luckily it's on the web now. It's up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers & daughters, by former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry. He also wrote a book also titled "Hair Love", which you can find at bookstores everywhere. I love how honest and pure and beautiful this short is, especially without dialogue. There's a lovely score by Daniel D. Crawford & Paul Mounsey that compliments the story. Watch below.
"Look at their faces! Tell me you want to continue…?!" Another gorgeous animated short film to watch. Le Mans 1955 is a short film directed by Belgian animation filmmaker Quentin Baillieux. It first premiered last year and played at a number of prestigious film festivals worldwide, now it's available to watch online. The 3D animated short is about the infamous Le Mans 1955 race in France, during which 80 people were killed when one of the cars flew off the track and into the stands where audiences were watching. "And yet, the race goes on." The next day it continues - nothing can stop the race. This features a beautiful geometric animation style that is unlike anything I've seen, which makes it all the more mesmerizing to behold. The flames are especially stunning. And with Le Mans 66 (also known as Ford v Ferrari) in theaters now, this is a perfect follow-up to that. Featuring the voices of Nathan Willcocks, Joe Sheridan, & Nicholas Mead.
"Fate does funny things sometimes…" A fascinating mix of hand-drawn animation and doc storytelling, this award-winning short film is now available to watch online. The Driver is Red is a short doc film made by animation filmmaker Randall Christopher, and after picking up awards at major festivals all throughout 2018, it's now available for everyone to see. Set in Argentina 1960, this true crime documentary film follows secret agent Zvi Aharoni as he searches for a mysterious man named Ricardo Klement. What he discovered in the remote outskirts of Buenos Aires would send shock waves around the world. Featuring Mark Pinter as the voice of Zvi Aharoni. I appreciate how unique, and how detailed, the sketch-style animation is in this.
"We're going on a quest!" Disney has revealed another official international trailer for Pixar's Onward, their next original project that's both written and directed by Dan Scanlon (of Monsters University). This new Pixar movie arrives in theaters March, coming up in just a few months, their first of two original movies out next year (Soul being the other). Onward is set in a "suburban fantasy world" and follows these two elf brothers who could not be more unalike. Tom Holland voices Ian Lightfoot, and Chris Pratt voices his brother Barney Lightfoot. The only other main voices listed include Octavia Spencer and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. The two brothers embark on a quest to discover if there is still magic out there. Now with the big reveal of the half-father pants thing out of the way, they can finally give us a taste of what else is going on in this. And I'm very, very curious. The more we see, the better this looks - which is usually the case with Pixar.
Watch out below! How about something funny to end the week, maybe brighten up your day with a bit of animated skiing humor. Hors Piste is an award-winning short film made by talented four students at École des Nouvelles Images in Avignon, France. A few are also involved in MegaComputer animation collective. This short is an amusing 6-minute comedy about two ski patrol rescuers who head to a mountain top to pick up a crashed skier. However, their journey down doesn't go as planned and things fall apart fast. The two guys are named Salami and Parmesan, which might be a bit too much but it's okay. This has an impressive amount of expressive animation which is important at making it at universally funny as it is. Jump right in.
"Today, I want to tell you about my little sister." Always happy to feature stop-motion animation - shorts or features. This award-winning, wonderful stop-motion short is a very personal film from Chinese animator Siqi Song and it's worth just a few minutes of your time to watch. 妹妹 Sister is a stop-motion film about a man who thinks back to his childhood memories of growing up with an annoying little sister in China in the 1990s. What would his life have been like if things had gone differently? The voice is provided by Bingyang Liu, with Siqi Song doing most of the animation herself. This won the Jury Award for Animated Short at the Austin Film Festival and Best Animated Short at the competitive Hollyshorts Film Festival. Not only is it an emotional story, but the animation itself is lovely. I hope we'll see more fantastic films from Siqi Song soon.