FANTASIA FEST 2022: ‘Circo Animato’ Highlights Amazing Animated Work

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Circo Animato - But Why Tho

Circo Animato has become one of Fantasia Fest’s most exciting traditions. This short film program spans a variety of animated works from many countries, thus offering us a taste of global culture through the quality of a wide array of talented artists. The 2022 edition of Circo Animato boasts films from Canada, Iran, France, China, the United States, Chile, and Saudi Arabia. Some of them have a bonus Latin America flavor.

The clear highlights of Circo Animato 2022 have Latin American flavor. First, we have El After del Mundo, a 2D short film by Argentinian director Florentina Gonzalez. Set in a post-apocalyptic world, Its story follows Fluor, a delivery girl who enters an abandoned Marine Park where she meets Carlix, a melancholic woman who used to work with whales and is now trying to assemble a dead one. With the aid of Juana Molina’s outstanding music, breathtaking visuals, an intelligent screenplay, and a chill music-loving main character that seems to be stuck in a cycle of never-ending productivity, El After del Mundo explores the end-of-the-world anxieties through a Millennial lens and a sprinkle of hipster vibes.

Also outstanding is New Moon, a short directed by Jeremie Balais and Jeff LeBars that animates an extract from Colman Domingo’s autobiographical play A Boy and His Soul. Here, the ZOLA and Fear the Walking Dead actor narrates (and stars through rotoscope animation) the story of a young Black boy recollecting childhood memories of his mother. Hopes, poverty, dreams, and Aretha Franklin are connected through gorgeous animation that smartly presents metaphorical representations of the boy’s memories while preserving a theatrical vibe. A mesmerizing artistic film that serves as a thank you letter to Black mothers.

Chilean director Camila Donoso Astudillo gives us another remarkable film in the Circo Animato 2022 program: Deshabitada. Inspired by her own grandmother, this work uses stop motion to tell the story of an old dying woman pondering on the ghosts of the past. Similar to countrymen Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León (La Casa Lobo and Los Huesos directors), Astudillo uses an experimental stop-motion approach to create a creepy and effective film.

Most of the films on display have a surreal and experimental edge. Although tough to grasp, Grace An’s Baek-il uses beautiful animation to express isolation; from France, Amandine Meyer’s “A Story for 2 Trumpets” is a stunning portrayal of growing up; Shengwei Zhou’s “Perfect City: The Mother” is a bizarre trip that overstays its welcome about a mother trying to shape her baby into a creepy doll; and Ye Song’s “The Principle of Sunrise” is a delicate, animated metaphorical fable about a girl treating an injured bird.

The most straightforward and easy film to watch is also action-packed. Based on Alexei Tolstói’s 1839 vampire tale, Sam Chou’s VRDLK: Family of Vurdulak has bloodthirsty creatures —a mix of werewolves and vampires—stalking a Serbian family in the middle of the woods. They get reluctant help from an arrogant traveler. Although a fun watch, the writing of its main character, a jerk to animals and humans alike, stops this from being great. There’s no reason or explanation for his repulsive personality and it serves nothing in the story.

Michael Ralla’s “Break Bug” is a fun three-minute short about a bug pestering a hip-hop dancing robot; from Iran, Elaheh Ghomeyshi’s “Piece of Solitude” is a quietly painful and moving short about an old amnesiac man who starts searching for a precious item from his childhood; in just one minute, Tarun Padmakumar’s “The Commute” enchants through notable animation and creativity; Omorose Osagie’s “Glass Doll” is a moving but unfinished film that struggles to justify its maliciousness; El Salvador animator Karla Monterrosa uses its two minutes duration to portray, with good authenticity, the chisme of a typical Latin American WhatsApp family group in “Lo 100to;” and Raghad Al Barqi’s “Whisper Down the Lane” applies the Broken Telephone game concept in adults with little effect.

Although many of the films of Circo Animato 2022 struggle to create an impact due to their small duration, they all are impressive in their own ways. As a whole, this collection is a sample of worldwide artistry that allows us to dive into cultures, themes, and stories from unique and exciting perspectives. As an added bonus, it’s badass seeing so many Latin American talent hitting home runs in Circo Animato: El After del Mundo and Deshabitada are great examples of the impressive future that lies ahead for Latin American animation.

Circo Animato 2022 was showcased at Fantasia Fest 2022.

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