Hello from Austin, Texas! Over the last week I have had the privilege of being able to represent Rotoscopers at the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival in Texas.
While they didn’t have any animated feature films I did have a great time seeing the 10 animated shorts they presented as part of their 2023 Animated Shorts Program. Today I will present my ranking of those 10 shorts, but I enjoyed them all to varying degrees.
Ranking the Animated Shorts10. Christopher at Sea by Tom CJ Brown
This bittersweet romance is billed as a thriller but it’s mostly watching a young man travel in a commercial ship across the ocean. While on board he becomes infatuated with one of the crewmen but we aren’t really told why aside from him being handsome so it ends up feeling rather dull and repetitive. However, the animation is beautiful especially when portraying the ocean and stars.
9. The Debutante by Elizabeth Hobbs
This one is definitely out there about a woman who trades places at a fancy ball with a hyena so that she doesn’t have to attend. I really liked the unique oil painting/sketch style to the animation and it was definitely eclectic and strange.
8. Beyond the Fringe by Hang Tang, Constanza Baj
This short doesn’t really have much of a story but it was pretty to see the ebb and flow of the animation as a piece of paper becomes its own lifeform.
7. Sprout by Zora Kovac
Another quirky short in the program about a botanist who creates a plant that eventually consumes him and goes on a journey. I enjoyed the simple animation and story and the music is catchy.
6. A Tiny Man by Aude David, Mikaël Gaudin
With this short we get a morality tale about a man who has to finally pay the consequences for his actions. I liked the pencil animation style and the way it moves and flows from scene to scene.
5. Ashkasha by Lara Maltz
The claymation stop motion animation is the standout in this short about a living being that is created out of the world around her.
4. Remove the Hind Legs Before Consumption by Lukas Wid, Finn Meisner, Leslie Herzig
This might be the funniest of the shorts about a cricket who escapes the horror of a cricket snacks factory. Think Chicken Run but with crickets. The animation is bright and colorful with an effective sound mix to capture the terror of our poor cricket.
3. Sandwich Cat by David Fidalgo
Another very funny short about a man who wakes up one day to find out his cat has been taken over by aliens and become a Sandwich Cat who is going to destroy the human race. It’s as weird and fun as that description sounds.
2. Ice Merchants by João Gonzalez
This short was actually my favorite of the 2023 Oscar nominated shorts this year at the Academy Awards. It’s about a father and son who live on a cliff and run a business harvesting ice. The sketch style animation moves and flows in a way that captures the height and cold of the situation and I loved the blues and oranges of the color palate. I’m so glad they had this as part of the festival because I hadn’t been able to see it on the big screen until the shorts program. A gorgeous short.
1. Spring Roll Dream by Mai Vu
My favorite of the 10 shorts is also about family but in this case it is a story of 3 generations of a Vietnamese family cooking dinner. The Grandfather wants to introduce spring rolls to his grandson but the Mother struggles with her culture and wants to make mac and cheese. I loved the stop motion animation and messages of family and understanding in this short. It all came together very nicely.
So there you have it. Congrats to all the filmmakers of the shorts program. You are all important artists and I loved seeing your work at SXSW 2023.