The Girl Without Hands (France – 2016) – Short Review



Sébastien Laudenbach’s The Girl Without Hands (La fille Sans Mains),  his first feature after a string of highly promising shorts, is a hand-painted animated jewel of a film in glorious 2D. The story of a young woman, collateral victim of her father’s pact with the Devil, challenging the darkness of the world with her purity of mind and body.

Freely adapted from European folk tales (once collected by Brothers Grimm), The Girl Without Hands is mainly the results of Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Cocolors (Japan, 2017)



Blind faith in the reality of an outside world pushes Cocolors’ protagonists ahead in a mission to see what they’ve been told that they cannot. Toshihisa Yokoshima’s animated gem constructs a dystopia where children still act like kids despite their full-body protective gear, and the frailness their society’s inhabitants have inherited. Living underground after a natural disaster, Aki tries to bring hope to himself and everyone around him, but his words fall flat. His friend, Fuyu (re)invents the traditional Japanese art of woodblock printing. He is missing just one special ink color to complete his piece. Alas, it only exists “out there”.

Fatalism is pit against naive optimism in a toon shaded digital animation world (toon shading creates flat color areas – similar to woodblock printing techniques – instead of rendering objects with 3D volume). Set to a lovely score by Abe Ryudai and Hirose Kiyoshi, Cocolors premiered in Japan as a multimedia performance where Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Oscar (Marie-Josee Saint-Pierre, Canada)



The short animated film, Oscar by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre begins without beating around the bush. There is no flowery intro or slow lead-in. Oscar Peterson’s voice appears in the opening sequence with assurance and purpose, announcing, “I love what I do.”

There is nothing revolutionary here in terms of ‘plot’. Instead it feels more like a glimpse of the musician for audiences who may already know a bit about him. In just 12 minutes, however, we learn about loneliness on the road and the melancholy of having great news to share about last night’s performance, with family not physically present to hear about it. It is with regret that Peterson speaks Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: Junk Head ( Japan – 2017)



Japanese director Takahide Hori has talent,  lots of it. Since he also has a virtue called patience this talent simply explodes on the screen in his first feature, Junk Head, the extended version of his 2013 celebrated short bearing the same title. Both stop motion films were produced by his own (totally) independent company.

An adult oriented sci-fi animation, Junk Head takes us into an abyssal world of human clones refugees who mutated into various species, and live into a vast subterranean underworld.

The director and (reduced) team behind Junk Head show dazzling creativity and strong visual sense in the creation of this organic cyberworld. Continue reading

Fantasia 2017: The Senior Class (Hong Deok-Pyo, South Korea)



Jung-Woo has a crush on his art school’s best student, Ju-Hee. Ju-Hee makes very little conversation with her classmates, instead focusing on her ultimate goal. She will travel to France to further her art studies no matter the obstacles. When Jung-Woo discovers how exactly Ju-Hee makes ends meet, it gives him the opportunity to get closer to the object of his affection. But as with most stories of young love, things don’t go smoothly. Though we might think peer bullying and gossip abound in high school, Hong Deok-Pyo’s The Senior Class shows that this exists even among college students. Since these youngsters are on the brink of becoming adults, this is exactly where angst and conflict arise.

Where there is a secret, there is always someone willing to spread his or her knowledge – even if not entirely accurate. The power of the rumor is something we’ve seen in other Korean films such as Old Boy (2003, Park Chan-Wook). Ju-Hee’s secret eventually spreads, even if it was no fault of Jung-Woo’s. Desperate to graduate with her Continue reading