While this Sunday night sees the mighty EE BAFTAs grace the historic Royal Albert Hall, and it looks set to be another great year with some incredible talent up for the main awards, here at Critical Popcorn we love discovering new talent and seeing what up-and-coming filmmakers are producing.
With that in mind, we’ve been lucky enough to see the three short animated films up for the British Short Animation and there are certainly different stories and styles for each one. With the awards so close, we’re offering you a short preview/review of each title, and a way to watch them online from Friday. If you also want to check out my reviews of the British Short Films, click here!
I’m OK – dir. Elizabeth Hobbs
Hobbs I’m OK is inspired by Oskar Kokoschla (1886 – 1980), the Austrian expressionist artist, who after a tempestuous love affair with Alma Mahler, volunteered to fight in World War One in 1915. Hobbs animation tells us that story through hundreds of stop motion drawings on a page, taking us through his injuries during the war, his experiences, visions and artistic representations of his memories. It’s backed by classical and operatic music, for an added dramatic effect, and it shows us what people see, how they react and where influence can take people. This is all strikingly expressed through paint, drawings, mixed media and the accompanying soundtrack, it’s a story within a story and elegantly achieved.
Marfa – dir. Greg McLeod and Myles McLeod
The place, Marfa, is a Texas town with a bit of a reputation for being an arts hub. The two brothers McLeod have created a representation of their town through the stories of locals, who provide a voice-over/interview for their simplistic but detailed animation. Whilst the opening line is a man saying he’s worried about “being reduced to an anecdote”, their short is all about the little stories, woven and broken up over the running time. To be honest, I could have done with a little more cohesion in narrative because I felt occasionally disconnected from the events being animated with minimalist sketch sequences that skip quickly through time-lines. That being said, Marfa does represent the spirit of the town, its people, music and moments, and of how stories come and go and exist in a unique place all of its own in the world. It is beautifully drawn though, that’s not questioned at all.
Roughhouse – dir. Jonathan Hodgson
Hodgson’s tale is a dark and grainy delve into the story of three friends, who move from Birmingham to Liverpool, possibly in the early 90s or late 80s, to find a new life and adventure. Compared to the other shorts, it’s more of your ‘classic’ style of animation but very much stands out individually. After the three mates land in Liverpool, they share a house with a manipulative character that has a dramatic, almost catastrophic effect on their relationships. It’s an amalgamation of being a ‘coming of age’ story and features impressive, visual progression through its dark, real visualisations and also a clever use of scenes merging into others as the time shifts in their lives. It highlights different people’s coping mechanisms, brutal toxic masculinity and the limits people will push each other to. It is heavy going but it also has an underlying hope that shines out of the looping narrative.
All 8 BAFTA-nominated short films are available on
#CurzonHomeCinema from Friday: http://bit.ly/BAFTAShort #EEBAFTAs