The Annecy Animation Festival 1983

Although films could be entered in the festival in a number of categories, no distinction was made when they were shown in the cinema. Thus a children’s film could be shown alongside an avant-garde experimental production or a first attempt with the product of an established studio. Although this meant that in any one showing, the audience could see many types of films it was sometimes to the detriment of the films themselves not knowing the circumstances of their production nor their intended audience. Whilst I think that to show a diversity of films in each session is a good idea, I fee that an indication could be given of the entry category for which they were intended.

Jan Svankmajer’s THE POSSIBILITIES OF DIALOGUE was his first film for five years and showed that animation had regained a master. Object and clay animation was used in an examination of the many failures of communication in dialogue. The film began with animated heads made from familiar objects like food items (cucumbers, onions, tomatoes etc) or cooking utensils (pan lids, cutlery etc) in the style of the 16th century painter Archimboldo. The heads attempted to converse but only achieved violence as one consumed the other. Finally, two clay heads at first achieved communication symbolised by one producing a tooth¬brush followed by the other’s tooth¬paste, or by a shoe followed by a shoe lace, but this soon broke down and all ended in chaos. Undoubtedly well animated and technically superb, the film, although not the most accessible to a lay audience, was
one of the best in the festival. Australia, in the past has not been a country particularly noted for its animation. Live action film makers have already achieved inter¬national acclaim and it must be said that Australian animation looks like following the same course. Dennis Tupicoff’s DANCE OF DEATH is a satire on media obsession with death and suffering. Beginning with a panorama of typical, though exaggerated, scenes of death and destruction, the film graduates to what must be the ultimate in sick TV games shows. Hosted by a smooth presenter, Don Death, the panellists pass judgements on the quality and manner of a number of horrible deaths which take place in front of them. Finally, a little old lady is awarded the star prize of being permitted to press the button of destruction on an identikit family of viewers. The show was made as nauseatingly embarrassing as the worst of television games shows and the presenter Don Death every bit as smarmy as show hosts usually are. Dennis showed that not only is he a good script writer but that he is also a very proficient animator. The film has been criticised for its exploitation of violence in its subject matter but it would perhaps have been difficult to deliver the message another way as tellingly.

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