animation

Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir

Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir

I began writing about Australian animation in 2003, but only by default. I was in the queues for the Melbourne International Film Festival waiting to see various short film programs, which is what I intended to review. I kept overhearing the names 'Adam Elliot' and 'Harvie Krumpet' in conversations between fellow filmgoers, and noted they were talking about animation, not short film. I wasn't aware Australia had much of an animation industry. I had known student friends who made cartoons, but professionally? It wasn't like local animators were ever mentioned in mainstream media, therefore they didn't exist, in that if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forest kind of way. But there was an insistence about this Elliot character that made me want to know more, and that's how I came to interview him. That was before Adam's Oscar success, and I was left with admiration for those who made painstaking animations in a country that barely acknowledges Australian live-action film, let alone something as marginalised as this medium (it seems likely there'll always be a cross-section of society that sees animation as strictly 'for kids').

There have been some hiccups. A few RealTime writers, including myself, have criticised the oft-simplistic nature of Australian animation, usually directed towards storytelling. Generally, the technique is admirable and improving, especially since the CGI fad seems to be waning. RealTime's reviews of the annual Melbourne International Animation Festival demonstrate this: some years, the festival's local component seemed out of touch; recently, it has held its own with the international selections. The RealTime archives highlight other significant developments and patterns. Danni Zuvela's review of Aboriginal animation from Canada and Australia focuses on work blessed with much storytelling potential at the historical and mythological levels. Ashley Crawford declares the slapstick Dadaism of Arlo Mountford's extraordinary work in a league of its own. Dan Edwards takes a timely look at the 17-minute Sweet and Sour, an Australia-China co-production and a welcome change from what he terms Australia's “depressing myopia” when it comes to non-US/UK film influences. And Keith Gallasch admires Lee Whitmore's compelling The Safe House, “in which childhood, history and politics…come seamlessly together, a rarity in Australian film.”

Appraisals of international productions include no less than four reviews of Boca del Lupo's theatre/animation hybrid, My Dad, My Dog; Angela Ndalianis's seduction at the hands of ACMI’s Pixar exhibition; and Megan Carrigy's analysis of the extraordinary animated documentary Waltz with Bashir, making the salient point that having the film “in general release…is significant since animation has become a major site for innovation in Australian short films”. A couple of historical overviews serve to contextualise: Adrian Martin passionately introduces The Illusion of Life II, a 576-page collection of essays from animation scholars past and present; while my own look at Flickerfest's historical overview of Australian animation allows me to revisit the beloved “Life. Be In It” commercials of my youth, leading to the revelation that this country has always had an animation industry, just not where you'd expect to find it.
Simon Sellars

reviews

animating dream into action
danni zuvela: big eye aboriginal animation from canada & australia

mary and max: little people, big imagination
kirsten krauth

animating the interactive spin
greg hooper: knowmore (house of commons), state library of queensland

active recall: animating history
megan carrigy: waltz with bashir, an animated documentary

australian animation:quality wins
simon sellars: flickerfest’s oz animation celebration

from chinatown to china
dan edwards: sweet and sour, an australia-china animation co-production

traditional animation, the computer finish
angela ndalianis: acmi’s pixar exhibition

small tales tall and true
simon sellars: australian short film at the melbourne film festival

unleashing the inanimate
adrian martin launches a new australian book on animation

art animated and dissected
ashley crawford: arlo mountford’s animations

re-animating australian history
keith gallasch: lee whitmore’s the safe house

animation: in the moment
keith gallasch: 2004 afi awards

education feature: the intricate making of animators
simon sellars

the library withoutbridget currie: jenna woodburn and ben howard's [site-works]

melbourne international animation festival

tricks and treats
simon sellars: miaf 2009

puppet power & scary magic
simon sellars: miaf 2008

animation: access, artistry, limits
simon sellars: miaf 2007

animation: potential or impasse?
rebecca l stewart: miaf 2004

my dad, my dog @ PuSh festival: live art and animation

my dad, my dog: unfinished tales
anna russell

my dad, my dog: disconnection sketched
meg walker

my dad, my dog: between worlds
andrew templeton

my dad, my dog: fuzzy friend
eleanor hadley kershaw

interview

krumpet wins!
simon sellars talks to adam elliot

26 October 2009