Arts & Culture

RISD hosts short film festival

Show features range of animation techniques from hand drawn images to computer sophistry

Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Rhode Island School of Design hosted the 18th Annual Animation Show of Shows Saturday. The Show of Shows premiered Sept. 30 at the Cable Car Cinema.

The Show of Shows is a collection of 16 short animated videos curated by Ron Diamond, executive producer of Acme Filmworks, Inc. and co-founder and president of Animation World Network. These short films come from countries around the world, such as Latvia, Korea, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Russia, Canada, Norway and the United States.

The films were all unique. Some such as “Pearl” or “About a Mother” dealt with the themes of parenthood. These left a particularly bittersweet taste, as the viewer is confronted by the sweet sadness of a child growing up and moving away from home. Others were more humorous, such as the Korean “Afternoon Class” that gave epic proportions to a student’s struggle to stay awake during class. Some films were far darker, focusing on barbarity, suicide or the Norwegian concept of the Bøygen — “the formless obstacle,” as it was described by director Kristian Pederson.

In addition to covering a wide range of topics, the Show of Shows presented a wide range of techniques. “Our hope for seeing the animation is for you to be inspired,” Diamond said in a presentation before the show. He added that the level of technology often varies from what the viewer expects. “There are lots of different mediums that people can work with in animation, and it should be an inspiration for us all that we don’t need to kill ourselves to make great animation. A lot of work is done by individuals alone or in a small group.”

Some of the films used sophisticated computer animation technology to bring the characters to life, while others were entirely hand drawn. Some were black and white, while others were a burst of watercolors. Certain videos were productions from DreamWorks or Disney, while one was entirely drawn by a Russian art student as a final project.

A notable example of a breathtaking solo production was the work of Ainslie Henderson. “Stems” is Henderson’s celebration of stop-motion puppets. The puppets he created come to life before the viewer’s eyes and make music among themselves. Puppets have an “inherent sadness about them,” Hendersen says in a voice-over. “They have a tiny little life” that blooms before the viewer’s eyes.

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