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This is my sixth review of the Dutch Kaboom Animation Film Festival, which is completely online this year, allowing one to attend the festival from one’s living room anywhere in the world. This time I’ll review the 4th program of Shorts in Competition, which, unfortunately, is the weakest of the seven.

De passant (The Passerby)
Pieter Coudyzer
Belgium, 2020
★★½
‘The passenger’ takes place in one long street in Belgium. We watch a character cycling this street, with the events happening in the background. All the action takes place on a very long background which we watch from right to left and back. This original idea is worked out in a kind of computer generated cut-out animation, rich in after effects. ‘The passerby’ is by all means a virtuoso piece of animation, but the drama remains distant, and the film never touches the heart. Moreover, the film uses way more dialogue than necessary, and lacks a certain show don’t tell quality, with some scenes played out way too thick.

The Last Train
Ross Hogg
UK, 2019
★★½
‘The Last Train’ tells about a very, very rowdy night train. Like in his earlier, much better film ‘Life Cycles’ (2016) Hogg uses a first-person perspective, as if the viewer is the principle actor in the film. And by all means the angular designs and the simple and tight color schemes are very appealing, but the whole film feels rather pointless and empty, and fails to make a lasting impression.

Naked
Kirill Khachaturov
Russia, 2019

In ‘Naked’ a man has the strange ability to walk through matter. This gift doesn’t bring him any joy, however. ‘Naked’ undoubtedly has atmosphere, with its faded images of degenerating buildings, but Khachaturov’s character designs are grotesque, and downright ugly. Even worse, his 3D computer animation is terribly wooden and stiff. At no point one has the idea his characters are even alive – they walk through the sets like zombies. In the end very little happens during the film, and the action is so terribly slow that these are fifteen very long minutes, indeed. Can I say I hated it? Yes, I can, I really hated this movie.

Wade
Kalp Sanghvi & Upamanyua Bhattacharyya
India, 2019
★★
Unfortunately, ‘Wade’ is not much better. This film takes place in Kolkata (Calcutta) in a near future, in which the whole city is flooded. A group of eight humans tries to survive in this hostile place. ‘Wade’ certainly is well animated, and Sanghvi and Bhattacharyya are very able to tell a story without dialogue. And yes, heads off to the background art, which is very evocative. But the characters are drawn in a semi-realistic comic book style that is, frankly, pretty ugly. Add some unnecessary gore, and a surprisingly pointless and empty story, and the end result is as disappointing as it is forgettable.

Asim C – Brown Skin
Ingi Erlingsson
UK, 2020
★★½
This is a video clip for the British rapper who tells us about institutional racism in the UK. Erlingsson exploits 2D computer animation to bring us an impressively drawing rich clip, in which Asim C floats down past all kinds of political symbols and images. This video is by all means well-made, if not too subtle agitprop.

My Galactic Twin Galaction
Sasha Svirsky
Russia, 2020
★★★
In ‘My Galactic Twin Galaction’ the film maker tells us what story he wanted to present us, and how it got different in the end. The voice over is accompanied by 2D computer animation in a very avant-garde, underground style, employing pen drawings and collage techniques. The tale itself is outlandish to begin with, and the images are downright insane. ‘My Galactic Twin Galaction’ resembles little else, and certainly is the most adventurous and one of the more satisfying films of this program, even if it never becomes near anything serious.

Affairs of the Art
Joanna Quinn & Les Mills
UK, Canada, 2021
★★★★½
In ‘Affairs of the Art’ a middle-aged woman tells us about her passion for art, about the quirky obsessions of her husband, her grandmother, and especially her elder sister, who even in her youth had a morbid fascination for death and decay.

‘Affairs of the Art’ is a very funny film, showing perfect comic timing, but most of all this is a very, very, very well-animated film. Quinn’s full animation style is refreshingly accomplished. She has perfect command of perspective and the human body, and exploits all classic techniques, like squash and stretch and follow-thru to a seemingly effortless effect. What a delight to watch such a high quality of animation again amidst all experimental, but often wooden and lifeless films crowding all the competition programs! Joanna Quinn is only 59 (in fact the same age as the narrating character in this film), but she already feels as a Nestor, as a master from a past in which full animation was practiced much more. I certainly hope she can pass on some of her extraordinary skills to a next generation.

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