The story so far: British Animation Awards, once every two years, Public Choice screenings all over the UK in February, three programmes of short films, audience gets to choose their favourites. Here's a review of Programme 1, and here's a review of Programme 2. So this should be where I tell you all about Programme 3. Except there's a problem: I haven't really seen Programme 3.
If you're reading these pieces on the day they're published, then over the next two days you'll be hearing about the trip to São Paulo I made in mid-February. That trip, enjoyable as it was, meant that I was out of the country for both London screenings of Programme 3. I had a backup plan to try and get to the equivalent screening in Brighton, but that fell through. So I haven't been able to catch these films in a cinema, unlike the other ones I've written about so far.
But you've presumably noticed that I've tracked down oodles of web reference for all the films: the shorts themselves, or clips, or animator websites. So I've done the same for Programme 3, and will now attempt to review the films using just whatever information is available online. As long as you accept that as a caveat, hopefully we can do them all some justice, with apologies to the four or five films below where there's only a clip available on the internet rather than the whole thing. Let's go, shall we?
Moxie (Stephen Irwin) is the first film for which I've only seen a short trailer, which is a pity: Irwin's contribution to BAA 2010, The Black Dog's Progress, was a darkly impressive piece of work, and I'd be curious to see how he follows it up. From the trailer, Moxie looks less tied to a single visual idea than its predecessor, but of course it's hard to tell with just a 30 second clip from a six minute film. So we have to move on to Thursday (Matthias Hoegg), which is the exact opposite: brightly coloured, intensely detailed, and there in full for anyone to see on Vimeo. It's a non-preachy fable about technology and alienation, told though a day in the lives of a couple of people and a family of blackbirds. The sharply-rendered style is a joy for the eyes, allowing its points to slip by without you even noticing.
Get Well Soon: Impaled Leg (Phoebe Boswell) is yet another in the 12foot6 series of Crippled Creature Comforts. Whereas the ones shown in the earlier programmes are straight depictions of the injuries sustained, Boswell realises that in this case showing the impaled leg of the title would make the film almost unwatchable, so she comes up with a sneaky way to work around that. It's followed up by a couple more student films: The Henhouse (Elena Pomares), which has such a short clip on YouTube that it would seem rude to make any sort of judgment about it, and You May Now (Daniel Keeble & Dane Winn), which finds an ingenious premise to allow a 2D animator and a 3D animator to collaborate with each other.
In the music video section (or at least the first part of it), Liz Green: Displacement (Kate Anderson) works better than most of the other ones I've seen this year: the overlap between the song's narrative and that of the film causes some confusion in the early stages, but the splendid monochrome look - and a cleverly worked-in appearance from the singer herself - slowly takes hold as it progresses. Lukid: Stripes (David Gilbert & Maxim Lucas) makes the inspired choice of interpreting the track's bleepy, wubby noises as bird calls, and builds a story of thieving magpies around it.
For some reason, the music videos are then interrupted by two narrative shorts - Get Well Soon: Bob (Darren Walsh), featuring some typically detailed character work from the animator who gave us Those Fucking Meerkats, and I'm Fine Thanks (Eamonn O'Neill), another student film that I've only seen a 20 second trailer for. Then we're back to the tunes with Architeq: Into the Cosmos (Darren Robbie), which puts its Bristol locations to good use as it follows a collection of old records whizzing across town. It looks great, and makes a mockery of the comment from a typical YouTube bellend who asks if it couldn't have all been done in CG - even a casual viewer will pick up on the effort that's been put into getting these effects, and enjoy it more as a result. But the film as a whole is in a weird space between music video and art piece, never quite sure which it wants to be. Our last video is Dry Riser: Tangerine (Thomas Hicks), and although it has a few interesting things to its credit (such as Hicks working in colour for a change), it never really meshes with with the music in the same way that his magnificent entry from two years ago, Chalk Stars, did. In fact, I think that's a common failing of all the music videos this year.
Into the ad break, and Nokia: Gulp (Sumo Science) is a direct followup to Nokia: Dot in the previous programme: selling the same model phone as the earlier ad, and brilliantly using a diametrically opposite approach to do it. It's another rec0rd-breaking film that shows off the capabilities of its product brilliantly. After that one, the epic pretensions of Statoil: Goodnight (David Prosser) and Pilsner Urquell Legends: The Day Pilsner Struck Gold (Chris Randall) can't help but fall a little short: in any other company, they'd appear to be much more ambitious than your average advert.
Finally, we have two more narrative shorts to conclude. All Consuming Love (Man in a Cat) (Louis Hudson) is, unfortunately, another one that I've only seen in trailer form. My colleague Phil Concannon at Mostly Film seemed to like it a lot, and suggests that if you only see one film this year involving a tiny man crawling out of a cat's anus, this is the one to go for. As it looks like I won't see one film like that this year, I'll have to make do with Ernesto (Corinne Ladeinde) - again, only available as a trailer online, but one that I saw in its entirety at last year's LFF, where it charmed the pants off me. You can see why they would want to finish off the Public Choice programmes with a crowd-pleaser like this one.
So, with all three programmes reviewed, I need to come to some sort of conclusion. Here goes. If we're splitting the vote across the three genre categories as usual, then I'd have to say that Robots Of Brixton is the best narrative film, Nokia: Dot is the best commercial, and Loose Fit: Table Beggar is the best music video (of a slightly disappointing bunch). All of which would seem to suggest that if you were watching these films when they toured in February, Programme 2 would have been the best one to catch.
The final result gets announced on March 15th: I'll pop back into the comments below once they've been announced, and I'll let you know how much I'm in touch with the taste of the rest of the country. Or maybe I should be saying, how much the rest of the country is in touch with my taste. Being a monkey, and all.