The Best of North West Animation Festival 2014

North West Animation Festival showcases some of the best animation films from around the globe. These animated shorts boast remarkable diversity both in style and narrative. Here, I wish to persuade those of you on the fence to come and enjoy one day of celebration for some of the most interesting talents in animated films. (If you missed the 2014 edition, there is always another one coming every year thanks to the hard work of Sven and Gretchen from North West Animation Festival!)

Cooped by Mike A. Smith and El Empleo (The Employment) by Santiago ‘Bou’ Grasso and Patricio Plaza

The essence of this humorous short film, Cooped, is all told in the title. Or is it? This delightful piece is more than meets the eye. On the surface, it is the story of a dog who is ‘cooped up’ in a desolate cohabitation with his owner. Yet, by the end, we are not sure who is really ‘cooped’ in what. If you find the dog too friendly for your taste, you might like El Empleo (The Employment) by Santiago ‘Bou’ Grasso and Patricio Plaza. It is a story about a world which is chillingly familiar with all its banality and the evil.

The Missing Scarf by Eoin Duffy

This is a great film for anyone who has been annoyed by someone who has all the answers. This is equally a great film for someone who actually has all the answers. French philosopher Braise Pascal famously said that even in the moment of extinction, humankind is better than Nature, for we humans understand what is destroying us, whilst Nature does not. If you agree with the great philosopher, you should definitely watch this film more than once. You might want to follow the footsteps of a cute origami squirrel philosopher very carefully, and note the fate of his friends in detail.

Marilyn Myller by Mikey Please

Marilyn Miller is a macabre tale of a struggling artist. If you think such a character is a tired and old cliché, this film is about to blow your mind. It is an insightful satire of what is going through the mind of an artist in the process of creation, and, at the same time, it is a chilling portrait of the relation between an artist and his/her admirers. The animation is stunningly beautiful, and the story is told with flawless timing. One question remains, however: How could you continue as an artist after gaining such an insight? Perhaps Samuel Beckett offers the best answer: Fail again, fail better.

Rabbit and Deer by Péter Vácz

Rabbit and Deer is a story of a genuine friendship with all the ups and downs. That being said, their challenge is nothing short of unworldly: Deer and Rabbit live in different dimensions! This film has all the ingredients: quirky and cute characters, an amazing concept, great storytelling, and a fantastic resolution. If the above description reminds you of the illustrious Miyazaki, yes, you are on the right track. But, before giving a knowing nod, add ‘artistic originality’ to the list of ingredients: it is truly a delight and capable of bringing back the wonder of childhood classic such as Harold and the Purple Crayon, but it stands against the seasoned eyes of adult moviegoers.

There are many more gems in this line-up. A visually stunning fairytale (Premier Automne), a magical espousal of visual and music (Virtuos Virtuell), heart-warming stories (Borrowed Light, and Velo Hoot), and some crazy satires (Love the Way You Move, and The Beards). There is something for everyone, and you will be jolly indeed if you are a fan of short films and/or animated films.