Eleven in Motion: Abstract Expressions in Animation

Eleven in Motion: Abstract Expressions in Animation
Thursday, April 15 at 7:00 PM
Winnipeg Cinematheque

Eleven in Motion is a special Canadian animation commission that takes as its starting point the work of the Painters Eleven. The Toronto Animated Image Society (TAIS) invited eleven Canadian animation artists to draw inspiration from and pay homage to the artists and seminal works of the Painters Eleven:


Inner View by Patrick Jenkins – inspired by Kazuo Nakamura
The Yarwood Trail by Richard Reeves – inspired by Walter Yarwood
The Importance of Hortense by Lisa Morse – inspired by Hortense Gordon
Old Ink by Rick Raxlen – inspired by Harold Town
STROKE by Ellen Besen – inspired by Tom Hodgson
The End is the Beginning by Craig Marshall – inspired by Ray Mead
William’s Creatures by Pasquale LaMontagna – inspired by William Ronald
As Above so Below by Élise Simard – inspired by Alexandra Luke
Traffic Flow II by Nick Fox-Gieg – inspired by Oscar Cahén
Playtime by Steven Woloshen – inspired by Jock MacDonald
Strips by Félix Dufour-Laperrière – inspired by Jack Bush


From Uptown Magazine April 15, 2010:

Animation nation
Eleven in Motion offers some insight as to why Canada is revered for its animated shorts — but not all the works here are winners

This program may leave those with a mere passing knowledge of Canadian animation wondering what the accolades are about.

After (or perhaps simultaneously as) the documentary, the animated short may be Canada’s most celebrated cultural product. For decades, National Film Board-funded docs and shorts have won heaps of awards, including multiple Oscars.

Some of the shorts comprising Eleven in Motion live up to the pedigree; others don’t. While this 40-minute presentation is worth seeing, the uninitiated will have plenty of discovery left for them: the sum total simply doesn’t represent this country’s very best in the art.

Perhaps the problem stems from the premise: Eleven in Motion is a commission paying homage to the Painters Eleven — so you’ve already made it as much about someone else’s work as the animators’. Nonetheless, there are several noteworthy works that encapsulate the essence of the medium.

But first, let’s dispense with the negativity. There is a creepy, arresting aesthetic to Richard Reeves’s Yarwood Trail; however, the film feels stiff and constrained, like there’s so much more for it to explore. And it feels repetitive and boring, even at a mere four minutes.

There are a few arresting images in Rick Raxlen’s Old Ink, but mostly the short is a downright irritating jumble of sketchy images and painful sound effects. A filmmaker’s in deep shit when listening to the soundtrack is an endurance test.

Finally, Ellen Besen’s STROKE may be the weakest of the bunch: the imagery is uninteresting, and what seems to be an attempt at theme is merely incoherent.

Craig Marshall’s The Beginning is the End is absurdly funny, reminiscent of the nuclear holocaust taking place in the classic NFB short, The Big Snit. The hysterical reactions of the human figures illustrates how good animation is at caricature, being a drawn, stylized medium.

The best pieces marry music and movement, such as Pasquale LaMontagna’s William’s Creatures, with its rhythmic cutting and motion; it suggests the filmmaker may have expressly animated to the music.

The most evocative short is Nick Fox-Geig’s Traffic Flow II, comprised wholly of reflected light on a wet street. What’s going on in the world being reflected? Our imaginations are stimulated to fill in the gaps. There’s a sense of mystery, but perhaps also danger, tragedy, and romance.

Katsuhiro Otomo, director of the animated classic Akira, has said that animation is, essentially, constant movement. This is encapsulated in Steven Woloshen’s Playtime, a jazz-scored that whips by at a frenzied pace, bursting with kinetic energy.

Finally, Felix Dufour-Laperriere’s Strips holds one’s attention for an admittedly more basic reason: it’s a great piece of burlesque, in which the tease factor is augmented by the animator’s visual games.

(Whether it’s actually meant to be sexy is questionable: the soundtrack clashes with the visuals, as if intended to de-eroticize them.)

If you haven’t already seen it, warm up by watching The Big Snit. But don’t let Eleven in Motion be your only dalliance with Canadian animation; it’s the equivalent of an amuse bouche.

Madi Piller, president of the Toronto Animated Image Society, will introduce Eleven In Motion and engage in a Q-and-A with the audience.

– Kenton Smith


~ by cineflyer on April 6, 2010.

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