Animating Reality: A Collection Of Short Documentaries

Animating Reality: A Collection Of Short Documentaries
Anyone who takes part in Oscar pools knows that learning a little about the short film categories is the key to winning, because nobody else usually makes the effort. Yet after watching the 13 films on Animating Reality, it turns out that the Animated Short category has a lot more to offer than just another point. The strength of Animating Reality is the variety. While all the short films are animated documentaries, that's all they have in common. Add to that the fact the animators come from 11 different countries and this is a truly international effort as well. Stylistically, the animation is all over the place, with no two shorts looking the same. So, if something doesn't catch your interest, there will be something else along soon enough. The two highlights are Eric Ledune's Do It Yourself (from Belgium) and Sweden's Blue, Karma, Tiger, directed by Mia Hulterstam and Cecilia Actis. The former is a darkly humorous recreation of a '70s C.I.A. torture manual using fish instead of people, while the latter talks to three female graffiti artists who share their motivations for doing what they do. Naturally, there are a few weaker moments on the DVD, in particular Wiener Wuast by Japanese director Maya Yonesho, which is more about technique than narrative. But at just five minutes, it hardly overstays its welcome. Canada is represented by Birdlings Two, where Davina Pardo talks to her father about a rudimentary computer-animated short he made about 40 years ago for the NFB, but it turns into an awkward conversation between the two rather than a celebration of two generations connected by filmmaking. As a celebration of the medium, Animating Reality succeeds simply because of its uniqueness. It's a fascinating way to spend two-and-a-half hours and, hopefully, this is just the first volume of what will become a regular series. There isn't much in the way of extras. There is a commentary track for just one short, but fortunately it is one of the top two (Do It Yourself), although it would make sense to add more of these to help fill in the stories behind the films, which are sorely lacking. (A Million Movies A Minute)