Structuring Strategies: The 11th Annual Animation Show of Shows

Ron Diamond, founder and Executive Producer of Acme Filmworks, Inc., and co-founder and President of Animation World Network, returns to CalArts tonight to present The 11th Annual Animation Show of Shows. The touring event is a showcase of new (2009) animated short films selected from major animation festivals around the world. These curated films include both traditional narrative and character-driven CGI to more experimental works.

Diamond, who is visiting CalArts as a guest artist of the Structuring Strategies class, has included 10 films on the slate. One in particular–Chris Landreth’s The Spine–is generating quite a bit of buzz. (Watch video above.) It focuses on a co-dependent couple going through counseling. Here’s how described both the film and Landreth’s oeuvre:

It works out wonderfully and weirdly. Landreth’s growing resume is a welcome experiment in what he calls psychorealism: The human psyche as rendered in animation. It’s a welcome change for those who think mainstream CGI could be exploring stranger, more challenging territory.

Like his Oscar-winning 2004 short Ryan, The Spine employs bizarro CGI imagery to literalize human flaws and failures. This time around, Landreth’s meta-toon is much more twisted (although just as moving). Instead of documenting the drug abuse of influential Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, Landreth casts a wider net in The Spine, taking a wicked look at disturbed couples undergoing marriage counseling.

The result? A freakish array of human drama: A spineless husband melts into a puddle, his complaining wife swells larger with each insult, couples pick off pieces of each other’s skin with grouchy obsession. It’s a far cry from most CGI, where humans look, well, human. Instead, The Spine breaks down its characters’ humanity, displaying their interior dramas with nightmarish skill.

Other filmmakers included in the Animation Show of Shows are Laurie Hill, Linde Faas, Santiago Bou Grasso and Bill Plimpton, whose film’s title certainly grabs our attention: Santa – The Fascist Years.

11th Annual Animation Show Of Shows (2009)
CalArts’ Bijou Theater
Tuesday, March 16
7 pm

List of films for the The Animation Show of Shows follows:

Photograph of Jesus
dir. Laurie Hill

The Da Vinci Time Code (Germany)
dir. Gil Alkabetz

Volgens de Vogels (the Netherlands)
dir. Linde Faas

Santa – The Fascist Years (USA)
dir. Bill Plimpton

Nuvole, Mani (Italy)
dir. Simone Massi

The Employment (Argentina)
dir. Santiago Bou Grasso

The Spine (Canada)
dir. Chris Landreth

Chick (Poland) –
dir. Michal Socha

Partly Cloudy (USA)
dir. Pete Sohn

Runaway (Canada)
dir. Cordell Baker

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