Animation, Charlie Kaufman once helpfully observed, “is a series of static images creating the illusion of movement.” If he's that incisive about his own work, what would he make of yours? SMPLE Film Fest is moving faster than expected, and it’s left us a little animated. Okay, more than a little. A fair bit. Fuel for our playful side, like we’re taking cues from Steamboat Willie whistling at the captain’s wheel.
With around two months to go until the competition closes – which, by the way, we’ll parade around our site and socials, showing off the best new filmmakers before they judge our in-person event next year – we thought you might like to see we're rewatching.
From hip hop swordplay and flooded rooftops to two friends at odds over a dying fire, our users have submitted a range of work that really shows what you can do with half a camera and weird mind.
There’s plenty of time to submit your own short film too! Make contacts, get noticed and open the door to collaborative projects with our team. Entry is free. You have until the first day of summer (21st June).
But for now, close the curtains or slam the emergency train break in a tunnel . . . Watch these selections from SMPLE cinema.
On The Other Side Of The Moon– Travis Northam
Ever tried to have a meaningful conversation in a smoking area, but can’t quite find a quiet spot from the big guys in shorts? Travis Northam’s short flick strays into fantasy at the back of a bar, giving its leads plenty of ruminative air, but otherwise remains low key and sad with late-night cigs. Two guys hang out for the first time in three years. One of them has been living abroad and barely told anyone; the other never wanted him to get away with it. When does freedom become selfishness, and how do we ever tell? An especially tender performance from Warren Jefferson as Devon, the homebird, elevates the material, while the production values almost catch up.
Timmy’s Lovely Day– Chris D’anna
Everything is awesome! Actually, it’s lovely . . . too lovely. Chris’ stop-motion Lego movie is a cute takedown of thinking positive when you’re really not in the mood. Timmy is chastised by everyone at home, school, and on the street for failing to love his fellow man. An Orweillian superstate sends him to love correction therapy, where we encounter a mincing German interrogator as well as Bucky, a lobotomy patient who seems only able to say “Crab apples!” The visual wit is fast and charming – a plane spelling hearts in the sky, a student unzipping to a gestapo suit.
Glücksmaschine– Camilo Ribadeneira
Three sections (technically four, if we trust the cue cards) of nightmarish obscurity ask us to switch on our Art Brains, leaving logic at the door while letting rhyme through the keyhole. Using a rose as his central image, Camilo Ribadeneira explores beauty and pain, our fascination with natural ideals that shake us to the core; the distance here may imply that we’re too far gone from reclaiming them. With scenes that recall Get Out’s sunken place and Hiroshi Teshigahara’s beach-bound surrealism, you’re invited to put the pieces together yourself.
Cocoon– Joy Waldinger
“Every summer,” reads Joy’s post description, “I become a cyborg. It’s almost always during a heatwave, and it’s always an irritating and itchy week.” A chest machine will do that to you. She has a loop recorder in her heart, implanted to monitor the seesawing risk of a genetic defect. Cocoon pries that anxiety open and exposes it to impressionistic states of becoming: a chrysalis of wool, an insect in a jar, a Day Of The Dead dance. Religious meditations purr and pound the soundtrack as we’re torn from one skin to the next. If you’ve ever felt buried by your body, this is an emotional watch.
Just Around The Corner– Erica Star
Bodega culture is a taut collection of livewires within New York City – hundreds of spots at which you can buy a sandwich, pick up some deli bags, and look strangers in the face. This wholesome doc turns the lens on Ali, a Yemeni corner store owner who’s been feeding New Yorkers for 40 years. He’s so nice, he lets people rob him occasionally, just to avoid trouble. As Erica herself admits, she’s been coming to the same store forever but breezed past a real conversation. Now, she rectifies it, teaching us (amongst the urge to sit down with any proprietor we take for granted) that bacon-egg-and-cheese is one word.
Stories From Home– Olivia Hays
Sometimes, you don’t truly believe a story until it shapes you as an adult. That’s the thesis for Olivia Hays’ deft traces through her childhood in New Orleans, a state thrashed by hurricanes, poverty and astonishing mis-government. “I watched the rain,” she says. “I made a truce with it.” News footage from Katrina, Marco and Zeta hammers the cost of these storms – both emotional and basic – into your eyeballs, reminding us that some stories never end, but add more pages to the tragedy when you’re filling them out with direct experience.
Even Haezer by Berzik ft. Sentimental Moods – Endrayatno
Hostages are bound to a chair in a room with papered windows. Through the ink, light blasts while a band goes bananas, a woman fondles a knife, and four hornsmen do their best to turn hardcore into a party for the end of the world. I’m not going to pretend to know what the title means or whether the featured artist is a mega fan of Duke Ellington. What I can tell you is, Even Haezer is a punch to the tit. Bass rumbles. Klaxons shriek. That lady with the blade is exactly as scary as you expect her to be.
Sailing Boat by Zoe Wren – Zoe Wren
Fleet cross-cutting blends several locations for Zoe’s folk melancholy, showing her at the edge of all kinds of water. Dragged leaves become continents; a drone camera buzzes away as we meditate on relative distances, and assume the singer might often find herself damp with seawater in an effort to bridge them. But what’s really special about this video is the animation: simple white sketches unfurling like origami in the wind. Come for the chill factor – stay for the skyscraper lighthouse.
Suraisu by Har-Q – Jason Williams
We know many of you eat, sleep and shit anime, yet even by those standards, Jason Williams’ mini hip-hoperatic fight scenes are a wonder. By taking his friends and flow-meister Har-Q into the woods, he’s crafted a low-budget thriller with genuinely impressive choreography. Mr. Q sounds in step with it too, stabbing and slicing, half his face masked. Where did they find the gym as well? There are more blue glow lights than your average spin class.
We're hungry for more! Check out entry rules and info surrounding each of our three major festival categories on SMPLE Projects.