This latest batch of featured FIX filmmakers use animation in diverse and resonant ways to illuminate the memories and mysteries of the human condition.
When considering animation, talking cars or mythical creatures (and other kid stuff) may be what immediately springs to mind. As proven by this week’s featured FIX filmmakers, however, animation is a powerful tool that can be deployed as a technique to alter reality and render the world in a more emotionally complex, creative and subjective way. From appropriation to stop-motion and everything in between, these filmmakers show the depth and range of possibilities for animated works.
With mentors like Lawrence Jordan and George Kuchar, Rock Ross has continued the grand tradition of Bay Area experimentation. He is a cinematic jack-of-all-trades, performing live scores with his artist band The Goat Family and making a living providing titles and credits to hundreds of 16mm and 35mm films. Now you can see over three decades’ worth of Ross’ lo-fi, genre-hopping shorts on Fandor.
Nina Paley’s whimsical, musical and emotionally earnest feature Sita Sings the Blues enchanted us all when it was released in 2009. A story that bridges generations and traditions with real heart and soul, the film, which Paley made almost completely by herself, is a triumph of adaptation and appropriation. Kevin B. Lee goes deeper into the making of this “open source epic” over on Keyframe, and three of Paley’s previous works are now available streaming on Fandor.
Maya Erdelyi’s award-winning works combine hand-made collages, stop-motion, computer animation and drawing. Plumbing the depths of the subconscious and constructed according to dream logic, her films unfold in layers like the layers of memory and consciousness. Pareidolia, which was Erdelyi’s thesis project in her graduate program at CalArts, as well as one earlier short, are now available streaming.
“Precarious, impossible, in a culture clogged with slick production values and heavy price tags, Brent Green’s tales are complicated acts of defiance.” So wrote Dena Beard when Green’s first feature, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, was covered by Keyframe. Rachel Salz of the New York Times calls the film “A tinkerer’s ode to a tinkerer, and a romantic’s tribute to a romantic.” We covered this idiosyncratic and heartbreakingly beautiful work, which blends live action with stop-motion to tell a stranger than fiction tale of commitment and obsession, on the Fandorian as well. Green’s other short films likewise probe themes of problematic or unconventional bodies, domestic worlds and deep love.
In order to construct her pieces, which have lately imported icons of early cinema into new and strange worlds, Stacey Steers painstakingly creates thousands of collages that seamlessly blend realities to lovely and haunting effect. Night Hunter, for example, places silent film goddess Lillian Gish in a vaguely sinister domestic space that Lewis Carroll or even Salvador Dali would easily recognize. Steers’ work, including an exploration of indigenous Venezuelan creation myths narrated by none other than experimental cinema’s godfather Stan Brakhage, is brand new to Fandor.
Take a deep dive into the vision of these animators and emerge with new insights about the narratives that unite humanity, bent through the lens of their personal experiences. And stay tuned! There will be a new batch of FIX filmmakers in the next few weeks.