ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival: Independent Films

Photo by Caresse Singh

Photo by Caresse Singh

Animators and aficionados, familiar ASIFA-East faces and new visitors all converged on Tuesday, March 18, in SVA’s screening Room 502, for one of the most anticipated ASIFA-East events of the year: the ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival’s independent film night. The submissions did not disappoint; strong films showcased the depth and breadth of technique and subject matter in East Coast animation and beyond. Whether you are a fan of stop-motion, traditional hand-drawn, CGI, or experimental animation, there was something on display for everyone. Comedy ruled the night, but there were also films of a deeply personal nature which tackled serious subjects, and others that were quietly charming or transcendent in their hypnotic beauty.

The evening also served as one of three jury screenings for the 45th Annual ASIFA-East Animated Film Festival. Previous screenings were held for commissioned films and music videos (March 11) and student films (March 13). Current ASIFA-East members in attendance judged each film on the new 6-10 scale, and also voted on craft awards in the categories of writing (including humor), design, animation, sound design, and education. The winners will be revealed and screened at the awards ceremony on Sunday, May 18, with a reception to follow. Don’t miss it!

Beware the couch vodka.  (photo by Caresse Singh)

Beware the couch vodka. (photo by Caresse Singh)

After the screening, a large group of attendees headed up to Rodeo Bar for drinks and discussion. Old friends and new mixed and mingled, talked shop (or not), and brought the evening to a close on a convivial note.

Some trends from the evening:

  • Documentary-style, “real” audio – This is a trend which has been consistent over the last few years, with animated documentary films appearing at each festival screening in recent memory. If done well, this storytelling technique can bring an arresting honesty and weight to a film.
  • Music, music, music – The musical soundtrack played a huge role in many of the films, so much so that a few of them could even be considered de facto music videos. (No complaints here!)
  • Old techniques, new technology – While many animation techniques were on hand (ha ha), the predominant style was still hand-drawn animation. This was often coupled with contemporary computer graphic technology to great effect, making the traditional feel new again and breathing warmth and humanity into graphics that might otherwise appear cold and mechanical.
  • Squirrels! – I noticed a few throughout the night, but for the official count, please consult our official ASIFA-East Animated Squirrel Accountant, Linda Beck.