Vancouver’s SPARK Animation 2018 Picks & Highlights

23 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

SPARK Animation is back to highlight the best in what the medium offered in the past year. This event runs from October 25 to 28, and Vancouver will be abuzz with incredible talents showing off the latest works from many talented filmmakers. It is also a great place to meet up-and-coming talents, network and see the best of the best. The highlight this year is from Korea, The Moon in the Hidden Woods and from Japan, Short Films: Modest Heroes of these Times is a themed collection of works from Studio Ponoc (who made Mary and the Witch’s Flower)

Not to be outshone, The National Film Board of Canada has beloved favourites Animal Behavior and Shop Class being showcased. The latter is making its Vancouver premiere. These works are Canadian made. In addition to these works, the following will be making screening on the big screen:

The Zoo

Plays 3:30pm Sat, Oct 27th at the Vancity Theatre. 

New this year is The Zoo, a short film inspired by the real bear, Tuk, who once lived in Vancouver’s Stanley Park. This beautifully created work explores the lives of two animals: man and beast; a polar bear and a Chinese boy whose lives become intertwined. There’s happiness when they are together, and sadness when they are apart. This work is particularly somber, especially in the sublime. Abandonment is an issue.

When the zoo closes down, the bear could not be relocated due to age. He cannot be returned to the wild due to a lifetime spent in a cage. When the boy gets old, he’s in a home for the elderly. They live and try to remember the best of times. However, the worst of times can come back as nightmares. In the case of the lad, we get an idea of what his family fled from. The bear had no other choice. No spoilers will be revealed here.

The meaning behind this work looks at society as a whole instead of modernization. The boy cares about the bear, and I get the feeling he wanted to take him home. Filmmaker Julia Kwan had the idea to make this short. Her concept was realized with the assistance of Jesters Animation and the final product does not feel melancholy at all.

The art consists of waterboard cut out images and they are alive in more ways than one. The nuances in their expressions say more than enough and suggest that neither is growing old. Nor will they remain lifeless. The joy is expressed when they look to the stars and find hope, and that alone will leave audiences feeling good at the end.

A Short Film about Tegan and Sara

Image result for A Short Film about Tegan and Sara

Plays Thursday – October 25, 7:00 PM – Scotiabank Theatre, Auditorium #1

On a happier front, A Short Film About Tegan & Sara, by Ann Marie Fleming celebrates diversity. This filmmaker is best known for Window Horses. With this new work, stick figures highlight the life and times of Calgary-born identical twins Tegan and Sara Quin, who are Juno award-winning musicians. Their band hit mainstream attention in 2007.

This talkie nicely looks at who they are as artists, as sisters, and as queer women. The moments are little vignettes of their childhood and all I could do was smile. Of importance, the message here is not about tolerance. Instead, it is about acceptance and realizing who we all are as humanitarians. They are activists and work hard to create safe spaces for everyone to just chill in.

The music spotlighted in this piece is the highlight. The cheery songs used here are “Closer,” “Walking with a Ghost” and “White Knuckles” make up half of the soundtrack. They come from de l’album Heartthrob, So Jealous, The Con and Love You to Death. Not only does this short work as a highlight reel of their career but it nicely introduces those unfamiliar with them. Perhaps a new fan will emerge after seeing this work too.

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