The New York Asian Film Festival is already underway and for that matter, the narrative animated shorts showcase included in this year’s 22nd edition. I was motivated to take a page from Cesar’s style of coverage for the live-action shorts after covering a bunch of films I’ve reviewed and currently saved in drafts. I didn’t do all the shorts due to time constraints, but a good seven count ought to suffice. Click here for more info on the titles and other gems hailing this month’s festivities.
Confusion Of The Afternoon
Lee Yung-Chieh combines different modes of art for a vibrant stop-motion mini-adventure of introspection and growth, specifically exploring life from the POV of a boy growing up and discovering sexuality as his mind wanders the moment he accident touches the hand of his heterosexual classmate while playing cards. In the wake of all the music, dancing and joyous envisioning lies an otherwise ardent truth in the aftermath of of an awkward moment such as this one produces, and it’s a reasonable snapshot of what can go on in the mind of a young person still discovering themselves.
What We Leave Behind
If you ever needed a reminder to hug your loved ones or to so much as give them a phone call, how’s eleven minutes sound? Kang Nam-jin’s new short film dives head first into a live-action setting with story details all told through the animated placement of furniture and personal belongings of a couple newly moved into their home before the birth of their son. As the family lives on and boy ages into manhood, the family goes through its series of joy and happiness, angst and despair, all reflected and otherwise illustrated by the VOs, as well as the set pieces and props. The camera smoothly traverses each room, highlighting the highs and lows of the family, culminating an inflection point in which tragedy takes center stage and the remnants of the family all hinges on what happens in the last scene before the unthinkable. It’s gripping, compelling, and heartbreaking to a degree, especially if you’ve mourned a loved one.
We are how we write… It’s an interesting profile to observe as filmmaker and narrator Jamie Sunwoo examines her own style of penmanship, its uses throughout the centuries, the science and study of handwriting, and the inevitable impact of technology on writing as a relection of American society. Even using Donald Trump and Charles Manson as reference points in her analysis (I kinda gagged), there’s an air of comedic delight in the insight Sunwoo delves into about writing and the role its played in her life from childhood and onward, between communicating with friends, loved ones and love interests, and how and why her style never stayed the same. It’s a brilliant and comprehensible approach to a topic that gets a bit more taken for granted nowadays, with paper puppetry and imagery adding some lively illustration to the mix.
I went into Kong Sun-hee’s 2021 short here thinking it was one thing only to realize it was something else – the story of a girl who awakens in an unknown space with twisted limbs who finds herself tied to a thread behind her and then guided by a fairy to what looks like a safe place… Don’t let any of it fool you into thinking you’re ready for it. You might not be, and instead left sitting with your bottom jaw a little more lower than usual.
Iku Ogawa and screenwriter Masashi Kawamura direct a stop-motion action thriller about a legendary warrior and his mighty arsenal as he and Sleeping Cat wage war against the Tokugawa Shogunate and its wooden mecha weapon. This project was spotlighted earlier this year over at Screen Anarchy via crowdfunding, and has done remarkably well at drawing the attention of fans who love animation and samurai action. A ubiquitous blend of jidaigeki and 90s Sam Raimi, it presents a style worth the effort to support for something vastly different than what fans of genre film are used to, and I’m sincerely hoping we get more than five minutes in the months and years to come.
The story of a cat whose ambitions to win the zodiac race and become a guardian god are hampered by his intense aquaphobia. When a human baby lands in ashore in a wandering boat and into his care, his biggest test is yet to come. At eleven minutes, Chiang Yao’s shortfilm presents an inspiring and even thrilling and neat little parable on knowing thyself and embracing the time it takes for things to come together, especially overcoming fear.
The Kidnapping (Old Man Yang)
The idiosyncratic animation style observed by Gu Yang, Liu Kuang, and Chen Liaoyu place an aging Beijing Hutong resident squarely at the center of a peculiar mystery when a ticket appears out of nowhere. Jaded behind its meaning, it’s not too long before the ticket transforms into a whimsical plot twist that finds him kidnapped by mysterious creatures, each with something magnanimous to offer. This one felt like a story encompassing a poignant message regarding elderlies forced to cope with the changing of times, with a bright note to top off its ending.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.