Sundance Film Review: Animation Spotlight

Posted January 24, 2013 in
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Photo Credit: Sundance Institute

Animation Spotlight

Sundance Film Festival

Directors: Daniel Sousa, Tom Schroeder, Dash Shaw, Michaela Pavlátová, Song E. Kim, Chris Mars, Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich, Marc James Roels & Emma de Swaef

In the 12 years I have been coming to Sundance, I have never seen the Animation Spotlight program contain such risqué subject matter, which is fully embraced by this film critic. It’s nice to enjoy some lewd material with a sold-out theater of guests. Daniel Sousa’s “Feral” opened the program, which elegantly tells the tale of a man who brings a wild child from the forest into civilization. Tom Schroeder continued the pleasurableness with “Marcel, King of Tervuren”, a comical tragedy that follows the rise, fall and resurgence of a Brazilian rooster in an exquisitely abstract animation, but the first hiccup in the programming came with Dash Shaw’s predictable “Seraph” about a boy’s awful life that drives him to cutting himself. It resembles a clichéd Lifetime Original movie with no originality. Thankfully, Michaela Pavlátová’s hysterically vulgar tale of a conductress who finds sexual bliss on the bumpy roads in “Tram” set the program back on the right track. It was surely one of the shining gems of the evening. Unfortunately, Song E. Kim’s pompous story about a feuding married couple, “Bite of the Tail”, nearly spoiled the entire evening with its crude animation, monotonous voice talent and nonexistent storyline. It forces one to question how a film like this could make it into the top nine selections. Luckily, “In Hanford”, Chris Mars’ touching true story about a community devastated by the production of nuclear weapons prevented a disaster with its grotesque visuals and haunting narration.  Malin Erixon’s peculiar “Benjamin’s Flowers” from Sweden offers without a doubt the most bizarre imagery with human-faced insects performing a variety of sexual acts. The most polished and darling short film, “Thank You”, was delivered by Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich and the team behind the Cartoon Network hit “Adventure “Time”, which follows a mumbling snow golem who befriends a fire wolf pup. It’s as charming as it is ridiculous, which seems to be the team’s signature dish. The line-up was delightfully concluded with “Oh Willy…”, Marc James Roels and Emma de Swaef’s dramedy that focuses on an obese son who returns to his childhood nudist colony to bid farewell to his mother. The stop-motion animation used to bring the felt puppets and environment to life is extraordinary.


Time: 1.26, 7:00 PM Venue: Holiday Village Cinema, Park City


Photo Credit: Sundance Institute