Sydney Film Festival 2020 Shorts Round-Up: Animation

GNT

Reviewed by Agnes Forrester

“My vag has gone viral.”

Glenn has a problem. Her daily Instagram activewear butt pics do better numbers than her friend Tammy’s informative posts about reusable straws, but pale in comparison to Nikki’s latest update… about having thrush. Despite no prior understanding of the topic or interest in educating others, Glenn plans to monetise Nikki’s medical condition for the purposes of online fame and fortune.

A 2D animation from filmmakers Sara Hirner and Rosemary Vasquez-Brown, GNT finds humour in the tensions between the frivolity of social media, the power in sharing information online, and the often cynical nature of #content – as well as various bodily (mal)functions. Equally gross and educational, the script feels contemporary and specific, never veering into the cliches around the negatives of social media. When Glenn tells her friends to “Lift me up, thotties,” it’s with an appropriate level of irony. There’s even a poem about different ways thrush can be developed! Who said you can’t have fun while you’re learning?

The animation is expressive, with a bold pink, red and black colour palette. The pink tones in particular are vibrant and refreshing; there’s no Instagram-friendly ‘Millennial pink’ as seen on this decidedly labial $350 coat from Seed Heritage, but lurid, fluorescent hues which burst from the frame. The thin linework and scratchy textures perfectly complement the film’s off-beat caricature.

Chock full of gross-out gags whilst never being judgemental of people’s bodies, GNT is incisive and entertaining. Though thrush is an infection, this is one time it should definitely go viral.

The Quiet

Reviewed by Alex Langsam

“Silence is the most beautiful thing that exists in the universe,” narrates the protagonist of The Quiet, the 10-minute animated short directed, written and animated by Perth-based filmmaker Radheya Jegatheva.

This protagonist is an astronaut who, drifting in space, contemplates loneliness, silence, and what he has left behind on Earth. Through the astronaut’s journey, Jegatheva crafts a story focused on isolation, although the narrative doesn’t come together as well as it ought to.

The short’s most interesting quality is its animation. The film transitions between scenes with slick ease, rotating and sliding through moments on Earth and in the stars above. We open to sparking synapses, which explode into a psychedelic universe full of planets, nebulas and galactic spirals. Later, objects are conjured and then repurposed: the spherical shape of the Earth becomes a man’s face;  Saturn is turned into a record player. In one shot, stars bleed into droplets of rain and back again. 

But by bringing about such a sense of wonder in its artistry, The Quiet confuses in its internal message. It’s fascinating to watch the animation unfold, bringing light to Jegatheva’s technical and imaginative talents, but The Quiet’s visual style clashes against its rather simple story. It is too flashy in comparison: too distractingly complex and contrived. For a film that deems silence to be a beautiful thing, The Quiet is visually noisy. Instead of contemplating the ideas narrated, we are told about them while experiencing a series of dazzling images.

With these drawbacks in mind, if you’re into trippy, clever visual imagery, this short is worth 10 minutes of your time. The images themselves are beautiful: if appreciated for what they are, they are far more intriguing than the plot itself. What The Quiet needs is a narrative on par with the promising quality of its animation.

GNT and The Quiet are playing as part of Sydney Film Festival’s program strand ‘Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films’. More info here and here.

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Agnes Forrester is a screen writer and critic based in Melbourne, Australia. She thinks videogame movies are terrible, yet loves them all anyway. You can block her on Twitter at @cartridgepink.

Alex Langsam is, by accident of a failed voting algorithm, a third-place runner up on Australia’s Got Talent. Despite not entering the competition, he was overjoyed to receive a midnight call from the show’s producers informing him of his success. However, the mistake was soon discovered and concealed from the public. Now he writes and publishes whatever he can, hoping to one day build a platform large enough to expose the cover-up and take back what’s rightfully his.

Rough Cut