By Eric Campos | February 14, 2005

It’s back! Mike Judge and Don Hertzfeldt present another collection of short animated films for the 2005. Warning: If you’re looking for an animation compilation featuring an over-abundance of farts, waving genitalia and cheap, gross-out gags aimed at 13-year-olds, look elsewhere – this is “The Animation Show” and it has a lot more class than that. Judge and Hertzfeldt take us on an international trip through the world of animation. From the silly, to the beautiful, to the terminally lame and pretentious, there’s a little something for every taste here…yeah, even for those who love farts.

Bunnies ^ Written, Directed, Animated by Jakob Schuh, Saschka Unseld

Nothing’s ever going to beat Don Hertfeldt’s intro to last year’s Animation Show, but this will definitely do. A bustling city has never looked so good, especially now that it’s entirely inhabited by bunnies. What can I say? I like bunnies.

Guard Dog ^ Animated, Written, Directed by Bill Plympton

With Bill Plympton’s “Guard Dog”, we have the introduction of full-contact dog walking. At least, that’s what I like to call it. You know Bill Plympton and you know how things tend to go overboard in his twisted world, so just imagine what happens in this short when a man takes his protective dog out for a walk and comes under attack nearly every step of the way. Yep. Full-contact dog walking.

The F.E.D.S. ^ Directed, Edited, Produced, Animated, Designed by Jen Drummond

Jen Drummond, who worked on Richard Linklater’s Waking Life, applies that same brand of wacko rotoscope animation to this short documentary about the food sample ladies (Food Education Demo Specialists) at grocery stores. This is actually a really interesting little piece as these “sample slingers” give us a taste of what it’s like to stand around for hours handing out free food to weirdos. Some pretty funny observations are made here, it’s just too bad that the animation gets in the way. I’d love to see a longer, live action version of this, I think it would make for a great, quirky short doc rather than an experimental animated piece.

Pan With Us ^ Film, Animation, Artwork, Editing and Sound Design by David Russo

Kinda cool, but ultimately too pretentious to swallow, this stop motion animated film is a visual poem about woodland god, Pan. It’s good to get the visual poems out of the way early on in the game as patience sometimes wanes towards the end of animation programs.

Ward 13 ^ Produced, Directed, Written, Animated by Peter Cornwell

Fun, exciting claymated short that ends up being stifled by its own weight. “Ward 13”, essentially, is one big fight scene as a hospital patient battles doctors, monsters and whatever else gets in his way in order to make a break from this twisted medical facility, so its 15 minute run time starts feeling really long during the last half. There’s only so much claymated fighting one can stand before one loses interest. But then what the f**k do I know? “Ward 13” has gone on to win special honors and awards at festivals across the world for the past year or so. I just think that a shorter version would bring the piece to its maximum strength.

Hello ^ Written, Directed, Animated by Jonathan Nix

Cute piece about love between two boom boxes – one a tape player and the other with CD capability. It may sound cold and lifeless, but this is actually a really touching film as analog does his best to catch the attention of digital.

Rock Fish ^ Director: Blur Studio/Tim Miller ^ Producer: Blur Studio/Sherry Wallace ^ Writer: Blur Studio/Tim Miller

We finally come to the CG portion of our program and we have a winner. “Rock Fish” shows how dangerous interstellar fishing can get when a fisherman casts his line and gets a bite from something that seems to be way too big for him to handle. This short carries the loud bang of big screen action epics. The character design leaves a lot to be desired, however, but all in all it’s an exciting rollercoaster.

L’Homme Sans Ombre “The Man With No Shadow” ^ Directed, Animated by Georges Schwizgebel


Fallen Art ^ Written, Directed by Tomek Baginski

Easily the best film in this year’s program, “Fallen Art” finds a man making art from the twisted bodies of fallen soldiers. It’s a creepy idea, made all the more disturbing by CG human characters that are made to look more cartoony than real, a trend that I would like to see catch on. These bizarre looking humans are way more believable and far more interesting to watch than the majority of CG human characters we see today. Who gives a f**k if you can create a character that looks damn close to a human? In the end, you’re still only damn close and it’s not very imaginative, is it? I’ll nip this rant at the bud. More power to Tomek Baginski. “Fallen Art” is an amazing short.

When the Day Breaks ^ Animated, Directed by Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby

I’ve had nightmares like this. Human figures with the heads of animals carry on with their lives in the big city. Uh…I know there’s a story in here somewhere, but I was too wrapped up in the disturbing imagery to really find it.

Fireworks ^ Written, Directed, Animated by PES

Stop motion fireworks made out of candy corn, pennies and Peeps. It was about time something like this happened. No, really.

The Meaning of Life ^ Camera, Writing, Animation, Sound, Production, and Direction by Don Hertzfeldt

Finally. Here it is. The film that Don Hertzfeldt fans have been waiting years for. And…

Blah. I feel bad for saying it, but I really don’t know what happened here. The first few minutes make for a promising, funny start as we’re given a look at human beings and everyday life through the eyes of what seems to be someone with a serious social phobia. If you’ve ever had a major panic attack out in public, then this animated growing mass of people is exactly what you experienced all around you. Then, once the humans die out, in come other living beings to take our place and we basically have a bunch of odd shapes rolling around and making noises to the tune of Tchaikovsky. And, yeah, that’s all I got. Damn my expectations and damn my feeble brain.

“The Meaning of Life” comes from a man who is clearly done with the human race, as well as cute, puffy characters with blood flowing from their anuses. While I’d be glad to do away with the human race, I sure will miss the cute, puffy characters with blood flowing from their anuses.

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