Questioning Authority at the British Animation Festival

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Questioning Authority at the British Animation Festival

by Stephen Gold (Contributing Writer)

After watching 10 very different films in almost as many hours over, it may appear there is no way to link them except that they are all being shown in the first British Animation Festival. But while the films are varied in style, most of them have a common purpose: they question authority.

"When the Wind Blows" is a feature-length film that describes the insanity of nuclear war and of believing everything governments tell you.

The story is about a retired couple living in the countryside, and focuses on the days just before and after the start of a nuclear war.

"It will all be over by Christmas," the wife says as they listen to reports of the war.

Despite the grim topic, the tight script is full of wit as the couple do their best to keep their British upper lips stiff.

"The insurance is fully paid up," the husband notes. "The bomb won't cost us a penny."

Produced by Film Four - noted for its quality films - it will be screened again tonight at 7 p.m.

The festival features 10 programs, four of them centered on short films. The Short Films One program starts off with the Oscar-nominated "Humdrum," which is about two men sitting at a table desperately trying to think of ways to relieve their boredom.

But the most entertaining films in this program are two offerings from the director Daniel Greaves.

"Manipulation" is about a paper figure pushed around by a hand. The figure gets the stuffing kicked out of it in a variety of ways in a quickly moving six minutes.

In "Flat World," a man's quiet existence, and that of his pets, is disrupted when his gets mixed up with a television show.

Short Films One is showing again tonight at 5 p.m.

Short Films Three starts at a fast pace but ends on a slow note. "Deviant," not surprisingly, is heavy on anti-conformity but the message is presented in the lightest of ways. Four loveable baby-blue blobs with bug eyes spend their time zipping up stairs marked "Down," going in doors marked "Out" and generally causing havoc in a very Orwellian society.

The next film changes gear completely. Tana, a child survivor of the Nazi death camps, narrates "Silence." In just 11 minutes we get a sketch of her remarkable life. The black and white drawings are interspersed with newsreel footage to chilling effect.

Mark Baker's "The Village" focuses on the dangerous conformity sometimes found in small communities. This film is a standout, visually and aurally. One example of the excellent use of sound is when an old busybody races through her home.

Short Films Three shows again on Friday at 5 p.m. Other programs include two on the great English dramatist, William Shakespeare, and one on stories from the Bible.

All of the screenings are free and the festival - at the Seoul Animation Center - ends on Friday. For information, call the British Council Korea at 02-3702-0612, or consult its website at www.bckorea.or.kr

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