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This is my third program review of the Dutch Kaboom Animation Festival, which is completely online this year, allowing one to watch more than 300 films from his own home. Today I’ll focus on the commissioned shorts in competition. This is a short program, lasting only 45 minutes, but with its 16 short films this turns out to be long enough.

Clipphanger: Waarom worden meisjes ongesteld? (Why Do Girls Get Their Period?)
Natali Voorthuis
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★★
This Dutch animation short tells children in ninety seconds why women have a period. The voice over is accompanied by cartoony visuals in a traditional style that are simple and effective to get the message across.

#Stolen Memories: Johannes
Leo Rey
Germany, 2020
★★★
In this very stylized short Johannes tells his life story. During the film it becomes clear that Johannes’s memories are reconstructed from the little material we know from his life, for Johannes perished in a concentration camp during World War II. Hence the title ‘stolen memories’. The narrating voice over is accompanied by stark and highly stylized black and white images rendered in effective 2D computer animation. The result is a very effective film on the cruelty of war.

A Dog by Your Side
Selina Wagner
United Kingdom, 2019
★★★½
The message of 2 minutes long film I that “life is better with a dog by your side”. Wagner illustrates this with very beautiful 2D computer animation of semi-transparent silhouettes against gorgeous colored backgrounds. The film illustrates several phases of a life in rapidly succeeding short scenes set to music. Apart from the beautiful artwork Wagner’s inventive use of frames should be mentioned.

Halloween Promo -Veronica
Sverre Fredriksen
The Netherlands, 2020
★★½
This is a very short promotional film, lasting only 27 seconds. The Halloween theme is evoked in rather old-fashioned stop-motion, which is as amateurish as it is evocative.

Clipphanger: wat was apartheid? (What Was Apartheid)
Hilde Buiter
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★½
A second entry in the Clipphanger series, which apparently explains several subjects to children in a mere ninety seconds. Buiter illustrates the explaining voice over with images in traditional animation in a simple, cartoony style and rather jumpy animation, which, combined with the strong sound-effects, reach their goal easily.

De scheppende mens (The Creator)
Maarten Treurniet
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★★½
This short showcases the importance of art and design, both intrinsically as economically. This message certainly is a very welcome one in The Netherlands, in which the attention for the arts have been in a steady decline the last ten years. Treurniet accompanies the explaining voice-over with very attractive moving infographics in 2D computer animation in a graphic style that harks back to the 1950s.

Facing Water
Daphna Awadish
Israel, 2019
★★
‘Facing Water’ is an acoustic song on water, illustrated with painted animation, combined with highly edited live action footage, resulting in a rather granular visual style. The images are poetic and evocative, but the film the film floats by calmly without making a lasting impression.

Gardener & Bumblebee
Ignas Meilunas
Lithuania, 2020
★★★
In only 34 seconds Meilunas tells about the importance of bumblebees for gardeners in Lithuania. The narration is illustrated with very charming, if rather childish stop-motion, more fit for toddlers than the intended audience.

Gouda Cheese Experience Mindset
Stef Holtz
The Netherlands, 2020

Some commissioned films feel more heavily edited by their commissioners than others. This opening short for the ‘Gouda Cheese Experience’ in Gouda comes across as if all heart has been taken out of it due to too much influence from the commissioning Cheese industry. Holtz’s 3D computer animation is of a reasonable quality (especially his rendering is very good), but his visual style is awfully conventional, and the end result pretty annoying. ‘The Gouda Cheese Experience Mindset’ completely misses the mark, and I pity the poor audience having to sit through it.

Let Love Live on
Daniel Stankler
UK, 2020
★★★
‘Let Love Live on’ is a ninety second promotional film for organ donation. Stankler illustrates this with 2D computer animation, in a very bold and handsome indie design, which is completely his own. Unfortunately, I’m not sure whether his vague images make the message come across.

Tonke Dragt: An Animated Biography
Iris Frankhuizen
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★
A charming biography of Tonke Dragt, one of the best children book’s writers of The Netherlands. This biography only lasts ninety seconds, and makes clever use of several of Dragt’s famous book titles. Frankhuizen’s visual style and 2D animation is pleasant and colorful, if rather unassuming.

Letter to My Body
Elyse Kelly
US, 2020
★★
‘Letter to My Body’ is a poem, which Kelly illustrates with virtuoso 2D computer animation, partly based on drawn and painted material. Kelly’s sense of color must be noted, but the most interesting aspect of this film is the camera, which constantly moves to the right. Otherwise neither the poem nor the visuals make any lasting impression.

Life at Oranjehotel
Studio Motoko
The Netherlands, 2020

‘Life at Oranjehotel’ is by far the longest film in this program, lasting 12 minutes. Unfortunately, it’s also the most disappointing one. The short tells about a prison in Scheveningen in which people of the resistance were imprisoned during World War II. No doubt this black episode in Dutch history needs attention, but Studio Motoko uses a hideously ugly combination of 2D graphics and 3D computer animation, which they hardly master. Especially the human movement looks wooden and unnatural. In fact, the looks of this film are so deplorable, I stopped watching it after several minutes. This is a pity, because the concept art shown during the end titles is much, much more attractive.

Warming up: Vliegen
Sverre Frederiksen
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★½
Frederiksen returns with another stop-motion illustrating the disastrous emissions of short flights within Europe. As in ‘Halloween Promo – Veronica’ Frederiksen’s stop-motion is very simple, even rather old-school, but highly effective. He certainly does manage to get the message across in a mere 41 seconds.

Whatever You Call It
Moth Studio
UK, 2019
★★★★½
This is a delightful little short featuring a happy song about death. Moth studio illustrates all synonyms of dying featured in the song with charming, child-friendly 3D computer animation to a highly entertaining effect. These are 70 seconds very well-spent, indeed.

Jabberwocky
Sjaak Rood
The Netherlands, 2020
★★★
The animator of ‘Coffee’ (2012) and ‘At First Sight’ (2018) illustrates Lewis Carroll’s famous nonsense poems in his idiosyncratic scribbly pen style. Unfortunately, Rood clearly makes some shortcuts in animation, hampering the illusion of movement, and some parts of this 2 minutes long film are hardly animated, at all. The result looks a little cheap. Moreover, Rood’s cartoony rendering of the poem fails to evoke its weirdness. Thus, ‘Jabberwocky’ may be fun, it’s not the best illustration of Carroll’s work. Nevertheless, ‘Jabberwocky’ is a nice little fun short. Note Mark Nieuwenhuizen’s quasi-medieval music in the background.

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