Animation makes up an important part of the world of short films. That is true at HollyShorts Film Festival. Here are a few of the animated films I’ve been sampling. The first four are considered adult themed, the others are for children or families.
American Sikh, directed by Vishavjit Singh and Ryan Westra, tells us a Sikh man who as a child experienced violence towards his religion in India. When he came to the United States he also experienced harassment because of his turban. He cuts his hair (essentially rejecting his religious upbringing), but struggles to find an identity. When he returns to Sikhism and his turban, 9/11 hits and the turban again begins to make him a target for violence. He decides to wear a Captain America outfit (that includes a turban) and he is finally accepted. It is a reminder that our bigotry often hurts people who don’t deserve such treatment.
Spring Roll Dream, directed by Mai Vu, shows us a woman whose father is visiting from Vietnam and wants to make food for them. She tries to tell him that her son doesn’t like strange (i.e., non-western) food. Yet he shows the boy how to do it and all turns out well.
The Future’s Past, directed by Chris W. Smith & Jack De Sena, is set very far in the future as a creature shares with his son the history of the universe. Somewhere in there is a mention of humans (who are as far in the past as we think of dinosaurs). The son obsesses on humans, what they were like, what they did. The father turns to a doctor about this obsession. The doctor does a procedure to remove the ego, which is now seen as a vestigial organ that humans passed on.
Welcome to 8th Street, directed by Yoo Lee, is the story of a West Coast couple who have moved into a New Jersey neighborhood. They meet some strange neighbors who make them wonder if they belong here. And then a wild turkey shows up that makes the upcoming neighborhood dinner raise more questions.
The Tiger in the Zoo, directed by Matthew Kalinauskas, takes us on a school trip to the zoo. One of the students cares only about seeing the tiger. But when he gets to the enclosure, there’s no one there. Hye’s disappointed, but soon his imagination takes over and transforms the trip for him and everyone else.
Hello to Me in 100 Years, directed by Wu-Ching Chang, shares the imagination of Taiwanese six and seven year olds as they contemplate films from 100 years ago and thing of what the world will be like a century in the future. The animation is based on their artwork as well.
The Carp Has Leaped through the Dragon’s Gate, directed by Ryan Adkins, is based on a legend that if a koi fish jumps through the gate at the top of a waterfall on the Yellow River, it will become a dragon. One carp persistently tries to accomplish the feat.
Ham, directed by Rudy Martinez, is inspired by the true story of the first Chimp launched into space. The film uses interesting puppetry to tell the story of the unwilling hero that helped make America’s space program possible.
Swing to the Moon, which has seven directors listed, is another story of an animal in space. A very cute furry spider sees the moon and longs to go there. His little web ropes aren’t nearly long enough. He tries different things. Finally he climbs a very tall building that turns out to be a rocket gantry.
The animation sections are very strong at the festival. All of the animated films I sampled were delightful to watch. But Swing to the Moon was an absolute joy, both for the beautiful animation and the celebratory journey.