Saturday, April 9, 2016

Animated Thoughts: Festival Season part one: CCFF 2016

I have no idea what the CCFF wants me to 'believe' but okay...

The festival season started early this year. The first week of April saw the sixth annual Capital City Film Festival (CCFF) here in my home town of Lansing. I'll be honest, I didn't know about their single, solitary animation screening... I take that back: "Animated and Experimental Shorts Block". The CCFF isn't normally on my radar because, if I recall correctly, they haven't shown much in the way of animation in the past (though admittedly, I could be confusing them with the East Lansing Film Festival).

This year, I hadn't given the CCFF much thought when animator and director Fernando Silva De la Cruz posted in the ASIFA Central Facebook group that his film "Anima Radix" was being shown at the CCFF. So, since the weather was good (at least when I went "into" the theater), the admission for the block of films was only $5, and the venue was only ten minutes from my house, I drove out to see what the Festival had to offer.

It was a good evening. On the one hand the weather turned colder and brought snow. And the venue was cold and kept getting colder by the minute--prompting some people to leave before the screening was over (like the annoying elderly couple who started talking as soon as the first film started playing). But on the other, the screening was a mixture of both student and professionally produced films and the production quality of the majority of the films was pretty high.

One of the most pleasant surprises during the screening was when I saw the familiar "R.I.T. School of Film and Animation" logo pop up on the screen to announce recent R.I.T. Alum Naghmeh Farzaneh's MFA graduation film: "Scent of Geranium". Visually reminiscent of Marjane Satrapi's animated film "Persepolis", "Scent" was an interesting film discussing the cultural transition Naghmeh faced as an immigrant from Iran, newly landed in the United States. "Scent" is currently working its way through the festival circuit, but you can see clips of it below in her demo reel.

Reel 2014 from Naghmeh Farzaneh on Vimeo.

"Anima Radix" turned out to be a very well produced sand animation with a moody soundtrack and lots of transitions and metamorphoses. I could talk more about it, or you could just watch Fernando's entire film on YouTube. But afterward, swing on over to his Vimeo, Fernando has two 'Making of...' videos that are worth your time, especially if you'd like to see how a sand animation film is produced. There's no dialogue, but the visuals are self-explanatory and provide a lot of information in a very short period of time.

Another film that caught my eye was "Pop", by Henry Bullen. This 2d animation reminded me of 'Aeon Flux'. I have no idea what it was about, but I liked it nonetheless. He's got two more teasers on his Vimeo that give a good sense of the film's aesthetic.

POP teaser 1 from Henry Bullen on Vimeo.

All-in-all, the CCFF's screening was worth attending. I'd personally prefer it they didn't lob the experimental films in with the animated films and just make it a fully-fledged "animation" block, but it's better than the Ann Arbor Film Festival or the East Lansing Film Festival where the few narrative animated films are mixed in with the live-action program. If the entire fest isn't dedicated to animation, then I'd rather have a single screening dedicated to animation. Some of us just can't justify taking time off of work and life--and sitting through over an hours-worth of live action shorts that don't really interest us--just to see a single animated short. Gotta have priorities.

Next Spring, I think I'll keep an eye out for the Capital City Film Festival. If they do another animation block, it might just become a regular visit for me.