The annual release of the graduate films from The Animation Workshop are a regular highlight in the short film calendar. Consistently serving up stellar content year upon year, the 2019 batch might be the most eclectic mix of subjects and styles we’ve seen come out of the school so far. Featuring the story of a man’s friendship with a giant troll, a collage film exploring originality and a crazed tale of nine people and their wild transformation when they’re stuck on a train together, below you can watch all six films, starting with my favourites first:
Animals // Tue Sanggaard (Director)
Animals is an absurdist contemporary short film about the transformation of nine people stuck in a moving metro. What seems to be a normal day quickly takes a strange turn, when the metro doors refuse to open. The passengers’ failed attempts to get out, descend into frustrated chaos. Losing all sense of rationality, they go wild in order to ensure their own survival.
Holy shit this is wild! A crazed tale of a group of passengers totally losing it when they get stuck on public transport, Animals goes to some places you were never expecting. Featuring a cutting commentary on human behaviour and society, this six minute animation is sure to reverberate around your headspace long after watching.
Deepness of the Fry // August ‘Poul’ Niclasen (Director)
Deepness of the Fry is an absurd existential crisis disguised as a collage film. Living in a world where everything’s already been said, felt, and done before, can anyone truly be unique? And is thinking about this too much really a good idea?
An onslaught of ideas surrounding uniqueness are served up, in a diverse range of animation styles, in this frantic but rewarding four minute short. A film that deserves multiple viewings, Deepness of the Fry impresses with its ability to elicit a range of emotions in its brief, but well-packed run-time.
Ur Aska // Myra Hild (Director)
Two women live happily together, one starts to transform, disturbing their usual dynamic. The one left unchanged has to decide how far their love goes.
Featuring a beautiful, but somewhat generic aesthetic, Ur Aska is the touching tale of a love challenged by change. A magical, mystical but somewhat unrewarding narrative, there’s lots to love about Ur Aska, even if it’s ending does leave you a little cold.
Monachopsis // Kim Strandli (Director)
Inspired by John Koenig’s The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, this experimental short film narrates a life passively stuck in a depressive loop, trying to stay afloat. Being part of a bigger puzzle, with no matching pieces around, and every day feels like yesterday, again and again. Through mood, space and sound, we follow this life’s path to break from the hopeless pattern.
I’ve been hugely impressed by the diversity in tone and approach in this year’s batch of Animation Workshop films and Monachopsis is a real stand out in these areas. A slow-paced, meditative piece featuring empty spaces, this thought-provoking, reflective short employs a sombre mood to provoke its audience into considering the repetitive nature of life.
Forglemmegei (Forget-me-not) // Katarina Lundquist (Director)
Deep in the Norwegian forest, there is an old man, living an orderly and quiet life. Closed off from the rest of the world, he spends his days together with his lifelong friend, a troll. Together they share an everyday routine, drinking tea and taking care of each other. One day the troll begins to hint that the time has come for him to leave the comfort of their home. Not wanting to face the consequences of reality, the man sticks to his routines, maintaining their daily life. One morning, the troll is gone. Trying to restore balance to his life, the old man leaves his home in search of the troll, only to find himself getting lost in his own mind, entangled in his fears. In his darkest moment, he realizes that in order to find peace, he needs to accept the fate of his friend.
The most visually impressive short from this year’s batch, Forget-Me-Not features some stellar character design and an imposing CGI aesthetic with a Stop Motion feel. The story of a woodland recluse and his giant Troll companion, narratively this short feels too familiar to really make much of an impact, but with its visual elements so strong, it’s bound to be a favourite of many.
Desert // Sofia Pashaei (Director)
A visual poem about a woman hitting rock bottom. Hardship buries her alive. She is of this world, yet decidedly not. Hiding in her old struggles, she toys with the idea of rising again. The world lures her out, helping to look for what has once been. Only in her surrender, does she find her answer.
A visually rich four minute animation, Desert delivers on an aesthetic level but its ‘visual poem’ approach to storytelling feels a little too abstract to truly engage with. Feels like a film where you can clearly see what it’s aiming for, even if it never quite arrives at its destination.