As a one-person jury, KEES Driessen includes the Kaboom competition for animated feature films. From children’s movie to flying whale.
The main animated feature film competition at the upcoming Kaboom festival will feature eight titles. the movie newspaper (Y from Filmkrant, c’est moiin this case) saw it (partly on a splash screen, I’ll be honest).
We count down, from low to high, from number eight to number one. Note: minor spoilers (because they are predictable).
8) Where is Anne Frank? by Ari Folman
My esteemed colleague Omar Larabi thinks otherwise, but Where is Anne Frank? it has failed. While Folman’s long animated debut Waltz with Bashir (2008) was a masterpiece and successor The congress (2013) interesting to say the least. The contrast between the current popularity of Anne Frank and our ruthless treatment of (non-Western) refugees also belies a fascinating film, but it’s not this one. In the lackluster animated story, Anne’s diary girlfriend Kitty in contemporary Amsterdam comes to life. Visible or invisible, cunning or naive, just what the contrived plot demands, and leads to a puerile and therefore condescending solution to all refugee problems, even for a children’s film.
7) Archipelago by Felix Dufour-Laperriere
I wish I liked it, because you don’t see long experimental animations very often. As a diverse showcase of animation talent, with individual parts that would fit separately in a museum, the film is also successful. But that doesn’t make it any less sleep-inducing. Dripping elongated musical notes accompany solemn recitations as we descend the St. Lawrence River in Quebec. †You don’t exist”, we hear, for example, several times. Definitely poetic. Meanwhile, it is very much about the French settlers and rarely about the original Innu. Well, I must have missed something. I nodded.
6) Poupelle of Chimney Town †Entotsu-machi no Poupelle) by Hirota Yusuke
Hirota Yusuke’s world is lushly designed and yet unsurprising. Detailed, but cluttered and unclear. Flashy flying cameras and plastic facial expressions are well-known pitfalls of computer animation that probably won’t deter kids. But the story is lengthened, it is full of repetitions and it nails the ostentatious message: modern times are bad, because the factories and the smoke and the sky are no longer visible. What can be solved by a single child through a predictable pattern, without any tension as to whether it will work, after which the masses who were against it as one person are now forward as one person, hooray, The end† See also #8 above.
5) my sunny maad †wet slunce crazy) by Michaela Pavlatova
If long animation didn’t take years to produce, my sunny maad may seem inspired by Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s acclaimed book Run away (2021): two animated documentaries about the hard-to-bridge cultural difference between Europe and Afghanistan. In mad a naive Czech goes to Kabul for a wedding. I hope that the film can take advantage of the attention that Run away generates for the captivating genre. This story may be flatter (the woman ignores the warnings that Afghanistan is misogynistic only to discover that… Afghanistan is misogynistic) and the animation less accurate, but the characterization of the characters and the Afghan setting makes up for it.
4) Fortune favors Lady Nikuko †Gyoko no Nikuko-chan) by Ayumu Watanabe
The quality of the animation is again high with the director of children of the sea (2019): I would love to live on the cozy ship that Nikuko travels with. And her daughter’s inquisitive preteen habituation to a new environment has a soothing languor and subtle, mundane asides. Meanwhile, the many jokes in Japanese Lost in translation going is inevitable, but the fat shame certainly not from Nikuko. Chaotic and energetic, with bad taste in men but with an unwavering optimism, she is the most attractive character and the most lively. But more caricatured than others, with her being overweight constantly emphasized and ridiculed.
3) The timekeepers of eternity by Aristotle Maragkos
This is possibly the strangest production on this list. And highly recommended, albeit based on a recommendation. That’s it – this is an abridged adaptation of Stephen King’s film adaptation The Langoliers 1995, printed in black and white and torn and creased in clever ways, inspired by the time rip with which the passengers of an airplane have to deal. Unfortunately, the beat-up original just wasn’t “so bad it’s good,” not even in this edition. Only the computer effects were really fun, but here they have been cleverly erased. So you’re watching a bad movie wrinkled. Fascinating, that’s all.
two) Bob Spit – We don’t like people. †Bob Cuspe: We don’t like people.) by Cesar Cabral
The famous Brazilian underground cartoon character Bob Spit means nothing to me. That’s like watching a movie about Herman Brood without ever having heard of him. Then you are probably not the target audience. Also, old punk Bob is quite an asshole. More “fuck everyone” than “fuck the system”: see the subtitle. Which automatically makes its creator Angeli, who also appears in the animation, less sympathetic. And then in two? Yes, at two. Because stop-motion is really very good, the created world comes to life beautifully and that layered semi-fictional documentary form is original and cleverly developed. Bob Spit wins.
one) Belle †Ryu to sobakasu no hime) by Mamoru Hosoda
Those flying whales! It’s a Hosoda thing, and a lot of animators. I’ll never get used to that new age cliche, but he looks like Hosoda (look, 2019) looks beautiful. Like everything. The history is Beauty and the Beast in a futuristic form of Virtual Reality (far beyond Facebook’s Metaverse) while also providing commentary on life online. It is a world of two halves. In VR, our heroes experience battle-filled CG monster romances. But beyond that, there is a traditionally animated everyday life, not flying whales, but psychologically subtle interactions as the film’s secret highlight.
That was the competition. But also, yes, I must mention two films from the rest of the program. Two masterpieces: one long, one short; one old, one new. Son of the White Mare †feherlófia) by Serbian-Hungarian Marcell Jankovics is a stylistic and mythological, almost mystical gem from 1981, with a surprising psychedelic visual language that tends towards the indescribable. So beautiful. and short film Easter eggs Belgian director Nicolas Keppens (in the compilation program ‘Too Good to Ignore: Shorts’) creates an entire world, around the ironic friendship of two boys, in less than fifteen minutes -one of the best films -long or short- of 2020.
Kaboom Animation Festival | March 28 to April 3 | Utrecht, Amsterdam and online.