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GOCRITIC! Animateka 2022

GoCritic! Feature: Overview of Animateka's Shorts for Adults - WTF2022 programme


- Levan Tskhovrebadze was present for the Animateka screening of the aptly named programme devised in collaboration with the Annecy International Animated Film Festival

GoCritic! Feature: Overview of Animateka's Shorts for Adults - WTF2022 programme
Godzalina by Lucile Paras

One of the most outstanding programmes in the 19th edition of Animateka was the Shorts for Adults: WTF2022 line-up. This particular selection was presented in collaboration with the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and introduced by programmer Sébastien Sperer, whose hilarious speech and eccentric behaviour somehow predefined the unexpectedly spectacular and hysterically funny nature of the programme. Playing with his bucket hat, Sperer explained that some of the films were fine, some good, some bad, some political, some feminist, and some politically incorrect, before throwing his headwear into the audience.

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At 75 minutes long, WTF2022 consisted ofcontroversy-courting and cringe-inducing shorts. The selection saw people dying from coughs, human beings with AI speaker voices, and an apocalypse beginning with birds breaking their legs, to speak of just a few.

As its synopsis of ‘Soviet folk phantasmagoria’ suggests, Anatol Čečik’s Red Square is a genuinely psychedelic mirage and a visual hallucination where we encounter three-headed eagles wearing Russian police officers’ hats, frogs marching in front of Duma, and bizarrely-shaped biological creatures. Lots of things happen here, although nothing makes sense.

Another joyfully senseless picture is Gina Kamentsky’s stop-motion short Sed saepe cadendo, which shows a middle-aged woman emerging from a house entirely naked, making a ‘kiss my ass’ gesture while spread out on the ground. If Sed saepe cadendo comes across as uproarious observation, Thing by Malte Stein is a vortex of idiocy in which a tiny creature pesters a man and makes his life a misery. At first, it seems “the thing” is looking for love from the man, but it responds to rejection with a bite… This hysterically funny short pairs the visual paradigms of visceral horror with the dramatic essence of macabre comedy.

Besides these absurdities, most of the selection embraced political and social commentaries about bourgeois culture, inner fears and desires, pandemics, feminist struggles, etc. In Steph Hope’s Not Drifting Off, Amy aims to fall asleep, but memories and intrusive thoughts prevent her from doing so. Well-trained naked males dancing, sheep running in front of an abstract background, and various other freaky images suddenly blend together. It’s a flawless depiction of human sleeping habits, social anxieties and collective absurdity.

A most anti-bourgeois spirit characterised Nicolas Gebbe’s The Sunset Special, revolving around a luxurious, super exclusive hotel on an isolated island. When a white man arrives by private boat, he encounters a woman searching for her daughter. During their conversation, Instagram ads for the hotel pop up unexpectedly, with voiceovers of leading characters praising the locale. With its uncanny style and preternatural setting, The Sunset Special is a visual trope wholly representing commodification. In Lucile Paras’s feminist revenge film Godzalina, meanwhile, male harassers are shrunk by a bizarre, giant creature on the streets of Paris.

Last but not least, Dirk Verschure’s Birds Whose Legs Break Off works as a metaphor for pandemics. It opens with a bird flying peacefully, before the creature’s legs break off, causing it to fall from the sky. The humans below don’t notice the birds falling from the sky… until their own legs begin to fall off, too. It’s funny, yet Birds Whose Legs Break Off is a profound allegory about the early months of COVID-19.

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