BUFF19, Went There

BUFF19 WENT THERE: Get the Balance Right (Animated Shorts)


I attended the screening of some wonderfully twisted animated shorts at the Brattle Theatre as part of the 19th annual Boston Underground Film Festival. These shorts varied from cute hand-drawn adventures to dark and disturbing character studies, and were all visual treats to watch. Here is my breakdown of all eleven shorts.

The Past Inside the Present
dir. James Siewert

A trippy, rotoscoped dive into a world in which people’s heads are nothing but computers, and human interaction is only possible through wires. Amazing to see on the big screen.

dir. Veselin Efremov

The computer animation on this robot-focused micro-short was absolutely stunning. I would watch a full-length feature about this concept. Two minutes was not enough.

dir. Luke Liberty

I love claymation, and this short did a lot with a creepy tooth-based premise. The lighting was interesting as well, and flipped the unsettling mood on a dime.

Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)
dir. Renee Zhan

A surprisingly graphic tale of an enormous bird and her lazy human boyfriend. The short is entirely black and white, except for some clever moments involving the color yellow.

Panic Attack!
dir. Eileen O’Meara

The title says it all – this is an animated panic attack, complete with nagging voiceovers and colorful imagined disasters. An anxiety-provoking but funny little feature.

Lilly Hits the Road
dir. The Bum Family

The most charming of the shorts, this focuses on an orange monster trying to drive home. I love that a family from Calgary worked on the premise together, and put it into animation with colorful paper cutouts. The children’s voice acting was wonderful as well.

Roger Ballen’s Theater of Apparitions
dir. Emma Calder & Ged Haney

The fluidity of the animation and how it synced to the music was phenomenal. Some of the sequences were phallic in nature, so viewer discretion is advised.

The Golden Chain
dir. Adebukola Bodunrin & Ezra Claytan Daniels

The story of Dr. Yetunde in the solitude of space will stick with me for a long time. I think this premise and the strong performances could anchor a feature-length film. I want to see more of this vast universe.

The History of Magic: Ensueño
dir. Jose Luis Gonzalez

There’s such an effortlessness to this bike-riding adventure through time and space. I got lost watching Ester’s journey home set to some delightful Spanish-influenced tunes.

The Itching
dir. Dianne Bellino

This was my choice for best short in this series, though people with aversions to scratching, open sores, and axes may want to stay away. The designs of the rabbits and the wolf were simple, cute, and effective.

dir. John F. Quirk

A cute ribbon that wrapped up the event, where a triangle meteor threatens our world. It’s a jazzy apocalypse scenario with a thrilling plot.

Overall, this shorts were incredibly weird, but all had something unique to bring to the table. It was heartening to see all different kinds of animators who clearly worked hard to make these pieces. I hope to see more in the future!

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