There seems to be no shortage of festival prizes for animated shorts this month. Just a few days ago, at the 48th Chicago International Film Festival Oh Willy… (Belgium), directed by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels, won the top prize for Best Animated Short. The striking stop-motion film centers on a 50something-year-old character who returns to the naturist community where he spends his youth to visit his dying mother and kinds comfort in the protection of a giant creature.
“The jury found the film to be a treat, full of narrative surprises and delightful tonal shifts, and that rare beast of a film – one where the material design itself (a world covered in fuzzy wool) lends an unmistakable expressivity to the landscape of the film and characters in it,” notes the event release. “The narrative’s tender, scary, and surreal episodes culminate in a fantasy with an unexpected and captivating conclusion.”
The lovingly crafted short has already won a long list of festival prizes, including Cartoon D’Or, Annecy, The Palm Springs Shorts Festival, Animated Encounters (Bristol), Holland Animation Film Festival, Animafest Zagreb, Fantoche Switzerland and Silhouette Festival Paris (Grand Prix). It’s emerging as one of the more popular entries in the early award season race.
Here is the trailer:
The Gold Plaque for Animated Short was given to Franck Dion’s Edmond Was a Donkey (Canada/France). The jurors praised the short for its unique story of a young office drone who comes to accept the image others have of him, as well as for its ability to effectively and cinematically capture the essence of fable. “Mixing black and white imagery, ironic voiceovers and a Buñuelian sense of the absurd, Edmond Was a Donkey is that rare film that delights us with what it has to say as much as how it says it,” they added.
Here is the trailer:
Meanwhile, Timothy Reckart’s Head Over Heels took the top prize for Best Animated Short over at the Austin Film Festival. This graduation film from London’s National Film & Television School is also done in stop-motion and tells the story of a married couple who have grown part—one lives on the floor and the other lives on the ceiling. When Walter tries to reignite their old romance, their equilibrium comes crashing down, and the couple that can’t agree which way is up must find a way put their marriage back together.