Thursday, April 22, 2010


I’ve been a fan of the Spike and Mike’s Sick and Twisted Film Festival for years now. So, naturally I was a little worried this new festival might be nothing more that a watered-down version of something I once loved.

It’s not.

In fact, the Spike and Mike’s New Generation Animation Festival could easily be one of the best things to ever happen to modern animation.

This collection features short films from around the world, most of them newer offerings, with a few great classics thrown in for good measure. Of the 19 short films presented I’d only seen a couple of them previously, and I probably watch more short films than most people. And while a few of the films offered can probably be found online, you’d truly be doing yourself a disservice to not see them on a big screen.

“The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl” by director Michael Roush was easily one of my favorite films of the festival. This dark little comedic piece had impeccable timing and an uneasy feeling of foreboding that brought this viewer in, and held me captivated until the last frame.

“Santa: The Fascist Years” by Bill Plympton made me remember why I fell in love with his work years ago. Plympton just has a warped sense of humor like no one else and this new one proves his work now is just as relevant as it ever was.

Another stand-out film was multiple award-winning “E1even Roses” by Canadian director Pedram Goshtasbpour. The look and feel of this film is like no other, as it integrates so many different techniques into a flawless piece of moving art. And the soundtrack by Tchaikovsky is just invigorating and fits the piece perfectly.

And, of course, what would a Spike and Mike festival be without an appearance by everyone’s favorite American man-of-action, Dr. Tran?

One thing I found particularly interesting about this collection is the lack of excessive computer generated animation. While a few of the films do have computer effects, it seemed that the focus for the festival was more on traditional animation and new uses of mixed media integrated with animation. I found this to be a really interesting choice, in a day-and-age of digitized-everything, that an animation festival can be both innovative and securely rooted in its past.

While this festival certainly lacked the white-knuckled depravity and gross-out gags of the “Sick and Twisted” collection, it was still edgy and innovative and incredibly entertaining. I also think that this collection is a bit more palatable for general audiences and would probably clock in at a PG-13 rating, so if you want to make it a family outing, you’d probably be safe to do so. I can’t really recall anything objectionable.

If this first collection is any indication of things to come, I’d say that Spike and Mike’s New Generation Animation Festival is set to be a yearly guidepost into the future of modern animation.

This is a Limited Engagement, so I’d recommend you come down to The Loft Cinema and see it soon! The festival ends on Thursday April 29th.

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