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This will be my second-to-last review of the Shorts in Competition of the Dutch Kaboom Animation Festival, which is completely online this year, allowing you to watch the festival from your home, wherever you are. Please do so, for you can watch some very good animation films here, as well as, let’s face it, less compelling ones. Let’s find out how the fifth program fares!

Orgiastic Hyper-Plastic
Paul Bush
Denmark, UK, 2020
★★★★★
Paul Bush combines stop-motion and 2D computer animation techniques to produce a surprisingly colorful visual ballet out of ordinary plastic objects, like discarded bottles, and ditto bottle caps, lighters and combs. There’s no narration, but the images are no less than mesmerizing and accompanied by intriguing music and sounds by Andy Cowler. To me this is the most interesting film of the (Human) Nature program, and one of the best in the competition, overall. Highly recommended.

Polka-Dot Boy
Sarina Nihei
France, 2020
★★★½
‘Polka-Dot Boy’ is an intriguing traditionally animated film with hand-painted frames. The scenes are very surreal and hard to decipher, but apparently Polka-Dot Boy has some weird disease that causes polka-dots on his arms. Even worse, he gets some unwelcome attention from certain members of a religious cult. I can’t make head or tail of this film, which ends all too abruptly, but I cannot deny that Nihei’s tale is a captivating one.

Popcorn
Rafael Sommerhalder
Switzerland, 2020
★★★★
‘Popcorn’ is by far the shortest entry in the competition, lasting only 15 seconds. It doesn’t even appear to be animated. In these 15 seconds we watch a very original way of popping corn.

Candy Can
Anton Octavian
Romania, 2020
★★★
‘Candy Can’ follows a ca,. fourteen years old boy who seems to live in a slum near a garbage dump. He dreams of being a soccer player, and there’s a girl he’s clearly in love with, but otherwise it’s hard to make head or tale of this film. Nevertheless, I must say that Octavian exploits a very interesting, idiosyncratic style, strange perspectives, and attractive watercolor background art. Moreover he manages to tell his tale without dialogue. There’s a sad story looming somewhere in this film, and I wished Octavian’s images were less hard to follow.

Überfrog
Tuomas Kurtakko
Finland, 2020
★★
In ‘Überfrog’ a frog chases a dragonfly into a magical land. The tale of ‘Überfrog’ is on the shallow side, and seems only to be a frame on which Kurtakko can showcase his command of CGI. For ‘Überfrog’ is apparently the only animation film in the competition to exploit photo-realistic animation, and Kurtakko admittedly knows his trade. Unfortunately, the film feels as empty as a show reel. Much ado about nothing.

Freeze Frame
Soetkin Verstegen
Belgium, Germany, 2018
★★★
‘Freeze Frame’ is an artful black and white stop-motion film depicting ice pickers and animals trapped in ice. It’s not entirely clear wether this is a narrative film or not, but the cinematography is interesting and the sound design, by Andrea Mantignoni and Michal Krajczok very fitting, adding greatly to the film’s mysterious atmosphere.

Något att minnas (Something to Remember)
Niki Lindroth von Bahr
Sweden, 2018
★★½
‘Something to Remember’ is a curious stop-motion film in six scenes. In each scene an animal character, introduced in the scene before, sings a verse of a Swedish song. This short is well-made, with beautiful, intricate sets, but what’s the point? The film leaves me completely puzzled why it was made.

Flying Squirrels and the Pyrotechnician
Momoka Kato
Japan, 2020
★★★½
‘Flying Squirrels and the Pyrotechnician’ looks like an amateur version of anime, with garish designs, hand-colored frames and rudimentary animation. But in some respects Kato goes back to the roots of Japanese animation, albeit in color. He even exploits his own benshi, a traditional storyteller doing all the voices. Even the subject matter somehow reflects Japanese animated cinema of the 1920s. Some flying squirrels challenge the greatest pyrotechnician of the world, a little girl with an unmistakable anime design. Kato’s film certainly is no masterpiece of animation, but his short is funny and delightfully tongue-in-cheek.

Plantarium
Tomek Ducki
Poland, 2020
★★★★
‘Plantarium’ is a moody short about a man caring a garden inside a cave below the ground. One day he discovers a baby growing in one of his flower pots…

‘Plantarium’ is animated in emblematic but effective stop-motion. Ducki’s character design is intriguing, as the man and baby are seemingly made of wrinkled paper. Much better even is his lighting, which give the sets a mysterious, glowing atmosphere. At the end there’s also some traditional 2D animation.

Cage Match
Bryan Lee
US, 2019
★★★★½
A businessman finds himself trapped inside an elevator full of hostile warriors. ‘Cage Match’ is as bizarre as it is funny. Animated with ballpoint both the designs and the soundtrack are distinctly Japanese, with all the Japanese voices done by Brandon McNeil. The result is quirky, but irresistible nonsense.

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