Shortcakes 12/12/16 – #slamdance

Shortcakes is our weekly feature on what’s trending in animated short films. We scour the Internet, from YouTube to Vimeo to parts unknown.

This week, it’s all about the Slamdance Film Festival. Slamdance, modeled after the much more famous Sundance Film Festival is designed to help newer filmmakers achieve success.

It seems like every success story in Hollywood has a big gap in the middle. It’s rare for filmmakers to talk about the hard work that got them where they are. It’s like the old meme.

  1. Arrive in Hollywood
  2. Have a great idea for a movie
  3. ???
  4. PROFIT!

Indie festivals like Slamdance are part of that mysterious step 3. It’s open to anyone, and low budgets with unknown names are the norm, not the exception. A few directors that have come out of the festival include Christopher Nolan, Lena Dunham, and Jared Hess.

A few days ago, Slamdance announced the 17 animated short films to be featured. Screening at Slamdance is a qualifier for the Academy Awards (the Oscars!), so this really is a case where it’s an honor just to be nominated.

Disclaimer: Most of these are art films, more akin to a museum exhibit than the latest Pixar short. In most cases, they’re designed to stir emotions or evoke a mood more than tell a specific story. It will be interesting to see which ones make it to the Oscar nominations.

Slamdance Film Festival 2017 Animation Shorts Program


Creator: Conner Griffith
Country: USA

Slamdance says: Cars dance on highways, crowds of people wash across sidewalk shores.

We say: Visually striking with great music. Also, not sure this should qualify as animation.

Batfish Soup

Creator: Amanda Bonaiuto
Country: USA

Slamdance says: Wacky relatives give way to mounting tensions with broken dolls, boiling stew and a bang.

We say: Only the trailer is available online. The line-drawn style is appealing, reminiscent of Don Hertzfeldt.

Chella Drive

Creator: Adele Han Li
Country: USA

Slamdance says: A disembodied memory of adolescence in a Southern Californian suburb. The stuck-stillness of endless summer is disrupted only by a passing El Niño.

We say: Although the film premiered in September, it’s not available online. We’ll just have to see!

Chella Drive, an entry in the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival

Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)

Creator: Renee Zhan
Country: USA

Slamdance says: Flap flapflapflapflap flap. A large bird and a small boy cohabit in an unhappy relationship, trapped by four walls and a mutual codependency. The fragile balance of their existence is cracked by an un-eggs-pected arrival.

We say: Only the trailer is available for public view, but it looks to be a great mix of humor and unsettling imagery.

Insect Bite

Creator: Grace Nayoon Rhee
Country: USA

Slamdance says: A tiny bug tries to figure out what it wants to become.

We say: Terrifying. L If you’re having a good day, maybe skip this one until you want to bring yourself down.

It Is My Fault

It Is My Fault, an entry in the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival

Creator: Liu Sha
Country: China

Slamdance says: This work utilizes the own approach of the digital medium itself to deconstruct, to form the subliminal synesthesia visually and to create a fictional experience for the mind.

We say: It looks very, very digital. This might be the only film here to comment on video games.


Creator: Shen Jie
Country: China

Slamdance says: One of the three monkeys died.

We say: The trailer is attractive with an nice hand-drawn style. It looks like the illustrations on ancient Chinese scrolls.

My Father’s Room

Creator: Nari Jang
Country: South Korea

Slamdance says: Sometimes, family members can be worse than strangers.

We say: Maybe a little too artsy for our taste.

The Noise of Licking

Creator: Nadja Andrasev, from a short story by Ádám Bodor
Country: Hungary

Slamdance says: A woman is being watched every day by the neighbor’s cat, as she takes care of her exotic plants. Their perverted ritual comes to an end when the cat disappears. Next spring a peculiar man pays her a visit.

We say: Hitler cat.

Plena Stellarum

Creator: Matthew Wade
Country: USA

Slamdance says: Neon ghosts dreaming in dead landscapes.

We say: Fantastic look! The trailer shows very little, but we’re intrigued. It’s almost like pixel art. The name may translate to “Music of the Stars.”


Creator: James Bascara
Country: USA

Slamdance says: A bashful encounter.

We say: Sadly, does not appear to include John de Lancie.


Creator: Shunsaku Hayashi
Country: Japan

Slamdance says: “Leaving home, ‘I’ got a phone call. As ‘I’ answered it, the house exploded. ‘I’ went to work and continued as normal”…

We say: This looks like one of the few entries to have a semblance of story, and we’re interested to see more.


Creator: Bronwyn Maloney
Country: USA

Slamdance says: A young woman’s reflective fantasy arouses a surreal exploration of sensuality, self-esteem, and deeply rooted fears.

We say: Paper dolls, a living caduceus… Rabbits.

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