Set in a crumbling black-and-white futuristic metropolis, void of creativity and color, the city is traversed by The Gold Sparrow and her nefarious side kick, The Ring Leader. Together they... See full summary »
The film follows a girl named Sintel who is searching for a baby dragon she calls Scales. A flashback reveals that Sintel found Scales with its wing injured and helped care for it, forming ... See full summary »
A prestigious fairytale illustrator is hired by the psychiatric hospital director. His job there will be to decorate the hospital walls with his drawings to improve the place's atmosphere. ... See full summary »
Jiney is a talented student of Arts with a trauma in her childhood and lack of communication with her mother, and excellent photographer that is not satisfied with her awarded works. When ... See full summary »
Red Crow Mi'g Maq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that meansimprisonment at St. Dymphna's. That means being at the mercy of "Popper", the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school.
With the help of Põrguneitsi, the mythological virgin of hell, a young man saves the world. When he later comes to understand that he has not changed anyone's attitude, he leads the world to ruins again.
On finding out that this film is the creation of Jan vankmajer's son, Václav, one could be forgiven for expecting a derivative imitation of his father's pioneering stop-motion animation style. However, 'The Torchbearer' acquits itself as a major and distinctive work in its own right, arguably the greatest sub-30-minute film of 2005. Visually, it is in a more 'classical' vein than any of vankmajer Sr's messy and visceral shorts: the film follows the passage of an austere and silent figure in Greco-Roman armour through a castle resembling one of Piranesi's imaginary prisons, and inhabited by female statues who come to life and watch from the shadows (I won't go into the further details here, since I couldn't do them justice anyway). Both the structure and the imagery of the film seem to invite possible allegorical readings: temporal cycles, the rise and fall of kings, the martial invasion of a matriarchal space, etc. (although the absence of dialogue leaves things uncertain).
The models are crisp and realistic, and sound is put to haunting use: creaking pulleys, the clank of metal on stone, unidentified subterranean rumbling. In fact, if 'The Torchbearer' resembles anything, it is the Quay Brothers' sombre 'Street of Crocodiles' (itself vankmajer-inspired), although one can see that the filming technology has moved on in the intervening twenty years. This film deserves to be seen not only by vankmajer/Quay enthusiasts, but anyone who remains sceptical about the power of animation to create genuinely 'dark' environments that rival live-action productions. I saw it amongst other shorts (both hand-drawn and CGI) at an animation festival, but it made everything else seem weak by comparison. Unfortunately I doubt this will reach much beyond the orbit of the international festival circuit, and Václav's father's name may be more of a hindrance than a help to him, but I would recommend keeping an eye out for it.
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