By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
The National Film Board of Canada has made BAM, an animated short, available for free public viewing. This piece made its premiere at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for Best Animated Short at the 4th Canadian Screen Awards. But not everyone can make it to this show, and with it now available online, I can see why it’s a modern take on the myth of Hercules. We are not necessarily talking about the twelve labours here, but instead, this film explores the psychological side of this unnamed animated character. This hard-boiled piece begins with a look at his life while at a subway. As reserved as he is in one moment, at another he suddenly goes postal for nearly no reason at all. The violence is hidden as a train roars by, and the fallout is at the core of this short where he silently questions everything about himself. Where does his rage come from?
Muted tones carry this piece, and interestingly enough, this character is a professional boxer. The colours used in this piece suggests what he’s become is not necessarily kosher. As for whether it can be interpreted another way — perhaps that’s where Saskatoon-born, Toronto-based animator Howie Shia applies his own theory in how colours affect the psyche. Here, purple suggests a certain mystery to this character. This colour is said to symbolize the subconscious, and there’s plenty at work in this short to examine. No words are spoken, only emotion. Red is used in a more traditional sense, to represent violence and draw attention.
In what viewers see in this short, they will have to interpret for themselves. For me, I saw a heart in this soul being presented yearning for peace. Perhaps what he needs to do is to literally stop and smell the roses. In what’s ebbing out of him is uncertainty. Perhaps he’s hating what he has become. The picture that’s being painted here feels reminiscent to what Roger Waters crafted in Pink Floyd’s The Wall. I would love to see how this short can be expanded further.
A public screening of BAM will also be presented at Toronto’s four-day UNITY Festival, which is now taking place. This show uses the arts to empower youth with the confidence and skills for success, and this short is perfect to show how everyone needs to look deep into themselves. An installation art exhibit / setup will also be taking place at Yonge-Dundas Square on July 23 where local graffiti artists will be painting onto plates, stills from this short during the entire afternoon. A free public screening of the film will play at 8pm with Howie Shia in attendance.
To view this media piece, please visit the National Film Board of Canada’s website here.