Article written by David Levy.
After two days of independent animation screenings for this year’s ASIFA-East jury screenings there are lots of thoughts circling around in my head. Some are my impressions of the films themselves and some are from the insightful comments of friends after the screenings.
One filmmaker, who happened to have made a very lush spectacular of a film screened the evening before, asked: “Why do so many indies cut so many corners in their films? Why do they act as if they are making a film to a set tight budget and schedule? Indie films don’t have a deadline. Indie films should be SHOW-PIECES, not a bunch of short-cuts and animation cycles.”
Another filmmaker remarked, “The point of most of these indie films seems to be to out sophisticate each other.”
Of course, no one label could fit a whole night of indie films. And, its easy to imagine that each filmmaker screening a film this night might have fancied themselves to be “the outsider,” apart from the rest. As a maker of a children’s film with my partner Robert M. Charde (“Owl and Rabbit Play Checkers”), I certainly felt that way.
I had trouble relating to some films due to objectionable content…and it occurred to me that most often a scatological-themed film will have production values to match. But, the whole point of indie animation is independence. And, this includes independence from this voter’s opinion. To each his/her own.
Among the highlights of the night for me were, “Santa: The Facist Years” (a very inspired film by Bill Plympton that was his best entry this year by a mile), “The Lost Tribes of New York City” (a delightful and imaginative “Creature Comforts”-esque film by Andy and Caroline London), “Life on a Limb” (David Chai’s thoughtful mixture of heartache and comedy), “Western Spaghetti” (PES’s latest lavished-upon creation), “Q & A” (The Rauch Brothers latest film was the most important film of the evening), “I am So Proud of You” (Don Hertzfeldt’s second film of a trilogy is another masterpiece) and “That Hand Film” (Adam Ansorge’s perfect gem of a little film).
The odd moment of the night happened when we screened a “film” submitted by SVA students, which turned out to be an 11 minute render of a single image of drawn spirals on white. No sound. No anything. We stopped the film after a minute and the prank was complete. One of them was heard to say, “I just wanted to see what the reaction would be.” Shortly after, most of the students got up and walked out, baffling most of the audience in their wake. So, for the record, the response from the audience was a mixture of confusion, hostility, and frustration.
And, with that, the four night jury process was complete. We’ll see you at the festival on Sunday May 3. Save the date!