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The magic and merit of animation lies not only in its complexity, but in its ability to show images that would be impossible to bring to life in a manufactured set, or with real-life actors. This collection of short animated films prove exactly that. Full of vibrant images, they create universes that truly show the complexity of the creative mind.

Subconscious Password

Director: Chris Landreth
Animator:  Chris Landreth
Run Time: 11 min 15 s.

Subconscious Password is the story of Charles, a man who cannot remember the name of an old friend he encounters in a club. The short, animated by Oscar-winning director Charles Landreth, shows the mental process Charles goes through in order to remember, and the complex relationships the brain makes in order to evoke information. This feat is accomplished through a variety of different animation techniques, and with irreverent and whacky sequences that make up a truly unique experience, yet is extremely relatable. The work is a compilation of pixilation and 3D animation that comes together in order to create a short that is visually unique.  Charles’s subconscious manifests itself in the form of a game show, made with 3D animation. The game show is in both black- and-white and in colour, and it does not limit itself to the simple portrayal of characters. Faces twist and distort, adults transform into babies, and glitching is a common occurrence. Subconscious password is a delightful take on a very common occurrence that is actually very accurate in its portrayal of the strange things the mind does in order to achieve a goal. The short is extremely amusing and greatly recommended.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Subconscious Password

Impromptu

Director: Bruce Alcock
Run Time: 10 min 10 s

Bruce Alcock’s Impromptu is a buzzing, busy, and beautiful collection of lines and colours that come together to form the most minimalistic design for an emotionally charged work of animation. It tells the story of Chuck, a family man who in the midst of cooking and imagining all the things he wants to talk about with his wife, receives a call that informs him of the swarm of guests he is soon to receive. The house soon becomes inundated with people, and Chuck must cope with not only his own problems, but with the people that have suddenly filled his house. Impromptu makes use of nothing but outlined characters and objects set against a white background, but this approach in no way prevents the spectator from understanding the story and becoming immersed in the short. The lines come together perfectly, and they narrate the events clearly and dynamically. The character design is simple and delightful, and all the edible elements feel real enough to want to eat. The sound in the short also suits the story; not only does the music give the work great ambience, but the sounds of mingling, chopping, and laughing really drive the story and make the experience more enjoyable. Impromptu is one of those projects that leaves you smiling from ear to ear, not because of its theme, but because of the blatant creativity and beauty that it presents.

Overall Rating: 5/5

Impromptu

The End of Pinky

Director: Claire Blanchet
Animator:  Claire Blanchet
Run Time: 8 min 14 s

The End of Pinky is one of those stories that can only be told through animation. The short is a sombre and dark experiment that utilizes warm colours and shadows to create a film-noir-type experience about the murder of a man’s best friend, which is manifested in a collection of unique character and background designs. The story is adapted from a short story written by Heather O’Neill, and it tells the story of Johnny, a thief who has learned to not fear death through a traumatic set of childhood events. When Johnny’s best friend Pinky confesses to a crime and compromises Johnny’s operation, he has no choice but to plan out his revenge.   The illustrations in the film are hand-drawn, and create a fragile image that suits the frail characters well. The ambiance is effective, and the design of the universe is consistent and well-crafted. The voice acting, however, is somewhat off-putting. The narrating doesn’t quite suit the style of the short, and it prevents complete enjoyment of the film. Regardless, the art itself is enough to make this short worthy of recognition, and its simple yet compelling story is definitely worthy of note.

Overall Rating: 3/5

The End of Pinky

Gloria Victoria

Director: Theodore Ushev
Run Time: 6 min 56 s

Gloria Victoria utilizes patterns, geometry, and colours to create a vigorous portrayal of the pains of war. It does so in an abstract yet wonderfully direct manner that uses art in order to convey feelings perfectly. The short, made by Bulgarian animator Theodore Ushev, is an absolute outburst of energy that successfully creates a highly interpretative piece that entices the viewer to create their own interpretation. The film is set to the sound of Dimitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 7, which demands attention, but is also the perfect sound to accompany the images of war. The short is highly abstract, and the message might not be entirely clear after the first few views, but even then, it is worth admiring just for the artistic merit it holds. The influence from artistic currents is evident, and this fact makes the short all the more admirable. The film can be seen as a criticism of war, or as simply an outlook into it. Regardless of its purpose, Gloria Victoria invites the viewer to question and analyze massacre and war.

Overall Rating: 4/5

Gloria Victoria

Photo Credits: Toronto International Film Festival