By Joan Amenn
So many brilliant animated films were offered at the Seattle International Film Festival this year. Below is a summary of some of those I found most powerful and creative so be sure to look for them on your streaming services and other venues.
Runtime: 16 minutes
Director: Kristian Mercado
Winner of the Jury Award for Best Animated Short at SXSW this year, “Nuevo Rico” (2020) was included in the selection at SIFF as well. It’s a knockout of vibrant colors and fantastic character design but there is also a strong story that is a riff on a Faustian bargain made and paid for. Director Kristian Mercado shows he is a master of integrating music and animation together. If you see this offered at a festival near you or as part of a compilation from a streaming service, don’t miss it.
Try to Fly
Runtime: 8 minutes
Directors/Writers: Simone Swan, the Affolter Brothers
A labor of love for the brothers Affolter and their co-director/writer Simone Swan, this is a touching and often hilarious tale of personal growth and parental devotion. The fact that it is also about a mother owl and her child does not detract in the least from its emotional power. The Affolters launched their own animation production company in their native Canada in 2006 and this wise, wonderful take on confronting one’s own anxieties to embrace life promises more great things will be coming from them. Also, the voice of Simone Swan as the young owlet is perfect in capturing the angst, confusion and ultimate self-acceptance we all seek in times of uncertainty.
Runtime: 15 minutes
Director: Bastien Dubois
Winner of the Jury Award for Short Animation at Sundance and the Annie Award for Best Animated Short Subject film this year, “Souvenir, Souvenir” is a devastating look at the long-term effects of war on those who serve and their families. Director Bastien Dubois narrates his decade’s journey to try to find out the truth about his grandfather’s participation in the Algerian War of Independence fought from 1954 through 1962. The animation does not shy away from depicting the uses of torture and guerrilla tactics in this horrific conflict. “Souvenir, Souvenir” is riveting and deeply moving as we see how trauma can be handed down through generations.