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Singapore Animation Showcase @ Animation Nation 2006

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I grew up on a steady diet of animation that included anime dubbed in English and Mandarin, as well as cartoons from the West, primarily from the US. But it wasn’t until much later that the world of animation opened up for me. Primarily, this was due to a re-acquaintance with anime, which, I realised, could be funny, tragic, mysterious, sexy, simple, profound — with a bewildering array of styles to match. There wasn’t anything that anime couldn’t do.

Animation Nation 2006So I was glad to see animation taking on a higher profile here in recent years. This is the Singapore Film Society’s third Animation Nation, while the Singapore Animation Showcase goes back to 2001, held under the auspices of the then-Singapore Broadcasting Authority.

There also appear to be more avenues for aspiring animators to break into the business, both in terms of the number of educational courses offered and production houses sprouting up here, most notably Lucasfilm Animation. So I was curious to see, as the publicity material promised for the Singapore Animation Showcase (organised as part of Animation Nation 2006 on November 19, 2006), what “local Singaporean animators have been up to.”

Most of the offerings at the Showcase were from schools, which was fine, but I would like to have seen more from the professionals in the industry. For instance I saw some interesting animated shorts last week at RESFEST 10’s Screener Series: Singapore, whose inclusion would have given a better sense of the scope of work being done here. Or other works by the same filmmakers could have been included in this programme, to avoid duplication with RESFEST and other showcases.

Coming back to the Singapore Animation Showcase screening on Sunday, my friend remarked afterwards that the shorts appeared to be divided into two categories: those strong in story or those strong in the technical aspect of animation. Call it a left-brain/right-brain dichotomy, which meant that rare was the filmmaker who was adept at both and so the more collaborative works tended to fare better.

So here are another slew of awards I’d like to give out to the films at the Singapore Animated Showcase:

Most Befuddling
The Story of Black
Chung Cheng High
While somewhat derivative, I was quite impressed by the standard of the animation. Too bad the story didn’t make much sense.

Most Patriotic
Total Defence animations
CHIJ St Joseph
Some simple but effective animation in the service of the Total Defence campaign. Still, the faint whiff of propaganda lingered and I was soon longing for a shot of, say, Brian Gothong Tan’s We Live in a Dangerous World from the recently-concluded Singapore Biennale.

Strangest-looking Cupid Ever
Stupid Cupid
Dias Leong
Cupid looked like a thug in a sumo-wrestler get-up. Seriously.

Best Sound
Take to the Skies
Lim Beng Loon
A canny cashing-in on the fad for all things penguin, aided by a classic cartoon soundtrack.

Best in Show
The Pinnacle
Demonstrating that it’s possible to build suspense, hold audience interest and end things with a twist in a few short minutes. Nicely done.

Most Dangerously Titled
The Boaring Chase
The idea of a badly-designed (biologically speaking) alien held hostage by a boar tickled, but the chase around the world was clichéd.

Most Likely Inspired By The Phrase “If Pigs Could Fly”
Legend of the Pig
This riff on why pigs can’t fly stood out for its Chinese ink painting-like animation style. Charming in a low-key way.

Most Reminiscent of Teletubbies
Songs of Innocence and Experience
A cautionary tale about the power of words to hurt, let down by the deja vu animation.

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