Milan Fest Moved by House of Small Cubes

Japanese animator Kunio Kato’s beautifully animated and poetic short La maison en petits cubes (The House of Small Cubes) received the prize for best animated picture at the Milan Film Festival last Sunday.

Kato’s 12-minute animated short centers on an old widower, who lives in a house which is slowly submerged in sea water. As each level fills up, the man builds another one on top of it. When the old man dives into the waters to collect an old pipe, he recalls different stages of his life while swimming through the lower levels of a house built on memories. The animator used 2D computer technology and traditional oil-and-ink on paper to create this effective short.

The House of Small Cubes also won the top Cristal at the Annecy Animation Festival in the spring, and also picked up the Junior Jury Award in the short film category. Kato is only the second Japanese filmmaker to win the coveted Annecy Cristal prize. Koji Yamamura won in 2003 for his Atamayama (Mount Head). Kato’s short received top prizes at the Hiroshima Festival in August and was also screened at Brazil’s Anima Mundi and last week’s Ottawa’s Animation Festival.

Kato has won numerous prizes for his animated shorts, which he began to produce while attending Tama Art University’s graphic design course. After graduating in 2001, Kato began work at Robot Communications, where he created various projects for TV, the Internet and CM spots. Since his most recent work has been getting a lot of attention on the festival circuit, it will be qualified for the Animated Shorts category of the Academy Awards this year.

You can visit Kato’s site at http://kiteretsu.robot.co.jp/kunio/index.html and watch his 2006 short The Diary of Tortov Roddle here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=uLMfMN6zS3o