Tricky Women is Tricky because animation in German is Trickfilm. Puns are fun. The festival itself is also fun, based in a good looking, friendly town of Vienna.
The festival is organized by a team of great women lead by Waltraud Grausgruber and Birgitt Wagner. They know what they are doing because each screening gets a good, enthusiastic audience of mixed gender. Unlike many other festivals Tricky Women treat their filmmakers as they would treat their visiting family – with warm care and attention.
There was only one thing I missed at the festival that I would suggest they have next time – a Q&A with filmmakers after each screening. To my experience audiences always want to know personal reasons behind making the film, little anecdotes and technical aspects. It would connect the filmmakers with their fans in a more comprehensive way.
This year there were a lot of graduation films in the festival’s program which means that there are many women studying animation, the only question I have is: where do those young and talented women disappear in a few years? I am hoping that the Tricky Women experience will spur the young female animators to continue making films.
I would like to make a note of 16 films from Tricky Women 2013 program that one way or another struck me.
“When One Stops” by Jenni Rahkonen is a graduation film from Turku Arts Academy (Finland). I was taken by unique drawing style and the subject of grief (which can take a form of depression, an affliction am too familiar with). In philosophy the film slightly reminded me of “Flux” by Chris Hinton. But only slightly. Unfortunately, “When One Stops” is not online, I only found something that looks like Jenni Rahkonen’s school test on YouTube.
“In Vino Veritas”, a graduation film by Aneta Kýrová Žabková from Czech Republic reminded me of Joanna Quinn’s “Girls’ Night Out” if it was rendered in Michaela Pavlatova’s style and sense of timing. I did see Michaela’s name in the credits and wondered about her influence (great influences are good!).
Charming “Pishto Goes Away”, Sonya Kendel graduation film from studio SHAR school (Russia), fits within the great tradition of Russian animation. Sonya said that the story idea was based on her mother, who is constantly unhappy with the small details of her life and wishes to run away from it all, but alas, can never run fast or far enough…
“Catherine The Great” by Anna Kuntsman (Israel), also a debut film, was more of a PSA than entertainment or art, as the characters and situations in the film were extremely simplified to drive the point home. An art film would draw on complexities rather than simplification. Still, the story about a young woman in Moldova responding to an ad for a housekeeper in Israel and getting trapped in a prostitution ring was haunting.
“Being Bradford Dillman” by Emma Burch did not suffer from this kind of oversimplification – the film was based on a true story: a girl is told by her alcoholic mother that she, the girl, was born as a boy and her willy was cut off at birth. The mother is not 100 per cent bad – she is trying to be a good parent, but sometimes she fails. I love those kinds of bad-but-good characters. The girl’s situation is very complex, too and I love that there are no clear, realistic answers what would make her upbringing better.
By now we all have shared our upset on Facebook that Micaela Pavlatova “Tram” was not nominated for Oscars 2013. Was this snub a sign of sexism? or aging Academy just doesn’t like sex? who knows… one thing for sure – it is a good film and it had won Annecy 2012 Crystal which was always used as a prediction for Oscars before. Nevertheless, I was happy to see it again, for the 13th time.
“Dog In Heaven” by Jeanette Nørgaard (Denmark). You can watch the whole 25 min film by clicking on this @ symbol which in some languages is called dog (it reminds some people of a sleeping dog with the tail around the body). I enjoyed “Dog In Heaven” because of it’s wonderful style and subtle poke at Christianity for not allowing dogs to have souls. I love dogs. Regarding the question if animals have souls please see my short “Veterinarian”.
“The Allergy Test” by Mariola Brillowska (Germany): the chromakey green hits your eyes like a green tea ice-cream (have you poked your eyes with an ice-cream cone? I suggest you try just for the Hell of it). It is a fun experience but it almost hurts. The middle age doctor sounds a bit absurd and childish till during the credits you realize it was Mariola Brillowska young daughter’s voice, filtered beyond recognition. If you like weird (and it seemed from some films at the festival that German artists are experts at manufacturing weird) this is your cup of green.
“Here and the Great Elsewhere” by Michele Lemieux (Canada). A beautiful pinscreen film that was snubbed by Academy as well. Maybe it made the obvious connection between the pins of the pinscreen making up the story and the particles making up Universe too obvious? It is another mystery snub that Facebook will never solve.
Sand animation, “A Tangled Tale” by Corrie Francis Parks (USA) . In 2011 Corrie successfully raised funds on Kickstarter for this film. The film is now done and delights international audiences with it’s sweet yet philosophical take on love and relationships.
Sundance 2013 alumnus “Bite of the Tale” by Song E Kim (Usa/ Korea). I loved the suspense and mystery of this film, and I do love the subjects of doctors and of our insides. But I found the ending too arbitrary/random. Otherwise it would have been a perfect film. It cracked my heart. But I took a note of the name and shall root for the Song E Kim next film!
“n arratives” by Eva Becker (Germany), you can see the whole film by clicking on this $%# , a symbol that depicts my be-puzzlement. Something strange had happened at the screening: German speaking part of the audience was in stiches, some people where rolling off their chairs in fits of laughter, while international, non-German speakers were looking at each other with confusion – WTF? It made me realize that even with the subtitles some things can never cross into other persons head. Culture and language can build walls between us that only sex can tear down.
In “Tunnel” by Maryam Kashkoolinia (Iran), sand animation technique supports the narrative of a man digging a tunnel to get on the other side of a border to buy a sheep. It is funny at times but doesn’t end well. The text at the end of the film informs us about Gaza blockade and the amount of Palestinians that die each year in the tunnels trying to bring some food and other necessities from Egypt to Gaza. The fact that the film is from Iran made me pause. Politics in that region are never straight forward.
– Are you aware that those tunnels were used to bring rockets from Egypt to bomb Israel and kill innocent civilians?- asked an animator from Israel.
– Of course, I am aware! – Maryam Kashkoolinia said calmly. – And I agree with you – it is tragic. But I chose to tell a story from a point of view of one man who has his private motivations to dig a tunnel – to feed his family. I am not a political person. I want to communicate a human experience.
Could a film that empathizes with another human being make a difference?
“Out of Nowhere” by Isca Mayo, Maayan Tzuriel graduation film from the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design (Israel) was almost the only 3D film in the festival’s competition program. It made me ponder why there were no more 3D films in the selection: was it because women prefer different materials (sand, cututs, stop motion) for their animated stories, or is it because making 3D is more expensive, or is it because technology and gadgets are just not that interesting for women or is is because the selection was made the certain way? I liked the look of “Out Of Nowhere” and the surreal mood. Someone told me that the film was a social commentary. I was too jet lagged to think of what the commentary could be. But now I think we tend to read too much into things – if a film is from Israel, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has a social commentary.
“Kellerkind” by Julia Ocker (Germany), graduation from from Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg, was made with the help of TVPaint software and it shows in digital brush strokes. But seeing digits didn’t bother me at all. The story is a dark take on motherhood, it’s psychologically complex and thrilling. Short and concise, it is delivered with cinematic mastery. I highly recommend the film to festival programmers and audiences. Unfortunately, there is no clip to see online.
“Red River” by François Leroy and Stephanie Lansaque, a couple! They made “Mei Ling” a few years ago. Remember the girl who runs away with an octopus in a convertible? I’m a big fan of that film. François and Stephanie know how to create a very special mood. Although in the case of “Red River” the film didnt have to be animated, it could have worked as a live action.
Submit your work to Tricky Women! They rock!
PS There is more to say on women and their festivals but I have to get back to work.