No Fantasia Festival is ever considered complete without looking at the short films offered. When I can’t be in Montreal for the closing film, The Great Yokai War: Guardians, checking out these shorts collections is the next best thing! That way, I can see who are the up-and-coming talents and perhaps get a sense of what may get turned into feature length works. There was a lot I could have looked at, but decided to settle on two programming blocks.
I looked at the Circo Animato 2021 and Things That Go Bump in the East selections. These had the overlap of pieces I was curious about, and the pieces that stood out for me are:
Death and the Winemaker
By Victor Jaquier
If Ingmar Bergman was alive, I’m sure he’d have praised this short. Not only does the titular character have to face Death, but also he’ll have to keep this figure happy! The artistic design behind this haunting animation is simply gorgeous and I’m sure there’s a bit of a The Legend of Sleepy Hollow vibe intentionally put into the direction. There’s no relation to this Disney work, but the ambience just felt familiar.
According to IMDB, this filmmaker hasn’t made a lot of works. I’m certainly wanting to track these other shorts down and hope they’re somewhere in the Internet.
By Ralph Pineda, Dyan Sagenes
This haunting little film is about a devil versus the media. He lives his days alone, and he’s feeling lonely these days. On those old television sets he’s using as monitors to the outside, he sees life in the Philippines unfold. There’s crime, murders and hate! In tHE home where the devil has set up shop, he has portraits of Adolf Hitler and Mother Teresa. In what hits home is in how this work deconstructs what they represent to this entity. I suspect he knows history is bound to repeat itself and it’ll take place in this country.
By Kim Tae-woo
This offbeat and fun short examines Korean folklore, much like how I remember the parade of Yōkai in Studio Ghibli’s Pom Poko. It takes place during a full moon. Only this humble craftsman, Huh, can save the day. His neighbours are being “haunted,” and only he has the skills to do away with them … or not.
The supernatural theme in this work is perfect as this week is the start of Ghost Month on the lunar calander. Just when I didn’t think there’s a lot of animated works to debut at this time, I am corrected. This piece is simply mesmerizing.
by Jordan Speer
Had the classic Robot Carnival been a regular ongoing anthology series to showcase works from around the world, I’m sure Sunbelly would be featured. It’s a kaleidoscope of wonder! We see that not only a dog as a cosmomutt out to do good, but also there’s a bit of a Buck Rogers retro vibe to it which I enjoyed. This piece is a must for canine lovers.
by Aya Yamasaki, Jason Brown
This Japanese animated short has a very early Studio Ghibli style which is simply magical. Here, Tato and Bere are two spirit creatures who bring offerings to a harvest deity. The mixed-media approach is simply perfect to bring to light the Shinto belief spirits are everywhere. I was certainly enthralled.
I also believe this narrative can be expanded to a feature length work, but for now, I can repeatedly marvel at this short look at life in the countryside of Japan.
Telos of Bust
by Brad Abrahams
This documentary is a pilot for an upcoming docu-series called Keep Folklore Alive. I’m okay with it being on either History Channel or as a web-series on YouTube. In this short’s case, it’s about the New Age theory of simply tuning into Nature. It’s a more grounded look at why Mount Shasta is considered sacred. This episode acknowledges its significance in pop culture and UFOs and thankfully doesn’t say too much. Instead, we have people just trying to commune with the energy that surrounds us.