Official Selection 4: Grey Skies, Green Acres

Official Selection 4: Grey Skies, Green Acres
No film festival is complete without a little bit of environmental preaching to sate activists and Co-Op-living hippies alike. And while there are a couple of shorts that capture that simplified, typically limited youthful zeal, most of them thankfully take either the comedic route or tackle the bigger, more appropriate picture of implicit human nature and socialization.

Not really tackling any of these issues, however, is Clear Skies in May, where a Japanese Ukiyo-e print book opens up, flies around and makes fans twirl. A breakdown of the shots reveals nothing outside of what I presume to be a celebration of spring, given the title and the birds. This brief animation leads into the longer and more thoughtful Words, which follows a man to his family cottage while he deals with the wounds of a recent divorce. It's mostly about the quiet moments, contemplation and eventual moving on, and certainly captures that stillness, if nothing else.

No Pain, No Gain is a tedious, manipulated documentary about a hipster twit that has decided his platform of arbitrary superiority is to live without money, bartering instead of exchanging bureaucratic paper. It would be redundant to point out that money was created to substitute for lugging around large objects.

Similarly glib is 7.57 am-pm, the short about Renaud Capucon, the world-renowned musician that played in a transitory space only to be ignored by people going to work, acknowledged by children and homeless people. It juxtaposes this with his sold-out performance at Theatre des Champs-Elysees. The music is beautiful, but the message is a bit of a fallacy.

Somewhat more incisive and well rounded is the animated The Henhouse, where a fox is offered the creature comforts of modern human life, but is forced to assimilate to arbitrary social customs. This cartoon smartly looks at the constructs surrounding modern life with wit and humour. Similarly biting is the impressive Lord, wherein a man kidnaps dogs from the park in order to retrieve a Euro reward from desperate owners. Both a commentary on modern Europe and the less flattering aspects of human nature, this title is yet another winner for director Adrian Sitaru.

In Between shows a woman balancing a tree in her mouth while rocking in a boat, while Unearthing the Pen mixes myth with politics in the Ugandan education system. These forgettable shorts lead into another amusing Bill Plympton animation about the lure of advertising, The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger. It's as entertaining as the title suggests.