Festival Watch
Fantasia International Film Festival 2004
Daniel Greaves lets Little Things get to his characters
You might remember Daniel Greaves's 1991 film Manipulation, a brilliant short about an animator and his creation battling for control over the tiny figure's fate. You might also remember his longer but less gratifying Flatworld, from six years later. During Small Gauge Trauma, another short-film collection, I had the pleasure of seeing his 2003 effort. Little Things is seven minutes of watching a handful of different characters, each presented in a different style, coping (or not) with the little things that aggravate us in life. At the end, their universes all come together and the film is wrapped up in a hilarious and finely calculated but neat and satisfying little bow.

DJ XL5's Zappin' Party Extravaganza was a collection of shorts, many of them animated. Flash-animated entries like the six or seven Happy Tree Friends shorts, The Exorcist in 30 Seconds and The Shining in 30 Seconds (the last two both subtitled "Re-enacted With Bunnies") bored me to tears. Both series play on novelty (Happy Tree Friends features cutesy animated critters meeting horrific ends, and the other two speak for themselves), and absent of their context—a computer screen during a break in a tedious work day—I just don't find them all that funny. Your mileage, of course, may vary. (And given the rousing cheers from the audience whenever the Happy Tree Friends intro played, I know that's a distinct possibility.)

Ignacio Ferreras's How to Cope With Death sports a rough, hand-drawn look and a killer (pardon the pun) premise and gag, but it was only my second favourite of the Zappin' Party Extravaganza. I'm saving my love for Jason Wishnow's brilliant Oedipus the Movie, a more or less straight-faced, epic, pathos-laden retelling of the story of Oedipus, but with fresh produce. Well, it's not completely straight-faced; there are some great visual gags, like the fact that Oedipus is a potato (the eyes, get it? ha-ha!) and the fact that he and his father face off with vegetable peelers. Oedipus's mom is a tomato who sings the portentous "Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby" in a nightclub. But even with the corny (sorry) jokes it's played straight, right down to the lighting and the score. The most remarkable thing is that this film was entirely shot with digital still cameras. The second most remarkable thing is the dedication toward the end of the credits. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

Fantasia 2004 Animated Award Winners
Dead Leaves
The Exorcist in 30 Seconds
Hair High
Little Things
Paranoia Agent
Wonderful Days

For details, see the complete Fantasia 2004 awards list
Disney's dub of Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso played on the last day of the festival. Having seen it before, my only two reasons for going were curiosity about the new voices, and the desire to see it on the big screen, as the director intended. Of course, there was no disappointment in the latter aspect, but I felt Michael Keaton wasn't the best choice for Porco; his world-weariness came off more as just being weary. (I'm hoping Disney includes the pre-existing French dub on the upcoming DVD release, as I'd like to hear Jean Reno's take on the character.) My favourite part of the screening actually came some time after, when my mother—who I never would have expected to sit through a film about an Italian ex-WWI pilot who, though transformed into a pig, is something of a celebrity air mercenary—declared it her favourite movie of the summer. A fantasia, indeed.
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