Wolfsong is a very sad and yet beautiful and moving short animated film by Toniko Pantoja: a wolf mother tries to regain her lost cub, now dead and stuffed as the trophy of an uncaring hunter, so she can sing the cub to sleep, but alas the hunter follows her determined not to lose his prize…
Cracking short film by Nick Ryan, The German sees a the pilot of an RAF Spitfire locked in a duel with a Luftwaffe ME 109 during the Battle of Britain. Determined to claim the Nazi pilot who shot down his friend the Spitfire pilot pursues the fleeing Messerschmit, the two exchanging fire, evading, chasing, diving through clouds, to a surprising conclusion:
Having a look around Vimeo I spotted another short ten minute film by Nick, A Lonely Sky, a gripping short movie about the attempts to break the sound barrier in the 1940s, complete with an appearance by Keir Dullea of 2001 fame, well worth a watch:
A cracking find online – this short work by Clement Bolla, Fx Goby and Matthieu Landour pays great homage to those classic creature features so beloved of 1950s Sci-Fi, as a young man working night security in a film studio can’t resist trying on a monster costume to play a practical joke, which snowballs into a series of increasingly out of control situations. I really like the setting, which has a sort of 1950s/60s feel to it that could be Britain or America, it’s undefined and really suits the tale very well:
I found this achingly beautiful pice of short, award-winning animation, Caldera, on Vimeo. A film from Evan Viera and friends, it is largely a homage to his father, who had to deal with images and delusions due to a mental disorder. It follows a young woman who experiences some quite remarkable visual worlds due to her own mental health issues, worlds that society decides she must control and curb with medication, bringing her back to the drab constrictions of what people rather foolishly call reality (as if they had any real idea what that actually was), but the realms in her imagination are too vibrant to be contained. The film reminds me very much of one of my favourite literary works of all time, Don Quixote, and how sometimes we are happier with our delusions; perhaps if more questioned the nature of imagination and reality and our individual natures rather than the bland demand for all to conform we’d have a happier society. There is some gloriously beautiful visual imagery in this animation, especially a scene where she leaps into a nocturnal, glowing sea, like falling into stars, or swimming with a great sea turtle. Beautiful work.
Love this brief video by Andrew Julian, taking in my beloved Paris in the winter, before the tourist season starts to fill the streets increasingly. Like my own Edinburgh the tourists never really stop coming, but you can notice the difference as the seasons pass – early spring and the approach to Easter see the visitors increase rapidly here, and also in Paris. When I was last there it was very early March, so the visitors were at a much lower mass than later in the year, but certain spots like the Louvre or Eiffel Tower are eternal magnets to visitors even at that early time of year, but since we made a point of walking off the main tourist roads we often sat back and relaxed in very quiet bars (also much cheaper than those on the main drag!), or wandering through a street market. The video is rather lovely, very nice, sharp picture quality, and doesn’t hurt having Arvo Part’s music on it…
Can it really be five years since I last walked the streets of Paris? Strolled over the beautiful Pont Neuf, browsed for bande dessinee in the bookstores of the Latin Quarter or the boquinistes along the Seine? Lot of things have happened since I was last in the City of Light, and most of them not very nice, often think it isn’t just that I want to return to Paris, I want to return to that point before so much that was wrong and bad in my life happened.
Since we’re on a Parisian theme, here’s a short video I shot with my old still camera, which had limited video but did the job (not HD back then, alas) – descending from the summit of the Eiffel Tower, I was near a small window in the lift and clicked the camera to video mode and let it run for the whole way down to the first floor:
During the epic Voyager missions, after one of those innovative little mechanical explorers had finished with its primary mission to give us our most astonishing close up encounters with the most distant worlds in our solar system in a detail that Galileo and Copernicus could never have dreamed possible, it was re-tasked and reprogrammed to turn around to look back into our solar system from the cold, dark edge of our own little stellar neighbourhood. The late, great Carl Sagan was one of those who campaigned for this to happen – no small feat given the codes to reprogramme the distant probe would take hours to reach it even travelling at the light speed of radio waves, so far was it from home now, and there was no true scientific knowledge to be gained from this move.
Sagan, however, always understood that science has to appeal to both the heart as well as the head, emotion and intellect, and be able to make everyone grasp why it was important to us. The spacecraft was turned and took what is now known as the family portrait, a view of most of the planets in our solar system, a perspective no-one in the entire history of humanity had ever beheld before, a real “going where no-one had gone before” moment. In that family portrait is a pale, blue dot, not even an entire pixel in size – our world, the Earth. As Sagan put it, everything any of us has ever known, every person we have read of, every person who built a monument we’ve gazed at, everyone we have ever loved and all those who came before them, right back to the emergence of our ancestors out of ancient Africa’s cradle to start out human journey, every one of them, peasant and king alike, lived on that tiny dot. Joel Somerfield’s animation is very short but celebrates that moment, using the words of Sagan, a moment when emotion and science, heart and intellect, gave our species a new perspective on the majesty of creation and our own place in it, just a tiny mote floating in the glow of the sun, miniscule in astronomical terms, fragile, but never, ever unimportant, but a wonder in a sea of wonders, a haven of spectacularly diverse life. Our home.
Overview is a stunning short film from the Planetary Collective, celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the famous “Blue Marble” photograph (taken by Apollo 17, see above) by talking with astronauts about the ‘overview effect’ – the change in perspective many of them experience when they get to do something that all the thousands of years of humans before the 1960s could never do: see the world from space. I’ve been a space geek since I was a very young boy, happy with a NASA costume and toy helmet, box for a ‘spaceship’ and imagination, and I’ve heard a number of astronauts and cosmonauts talk about this experience, about how viewing the world from above the clouds changes their perspective forever on how astonishing our world is, how remarkably beautiful yet fragile, how everything and everyone is interconnected… The imagery is beautiful…
This short film by Rutger Hauer and Sil van der Woerd is as hauntingly beautiful as the lifeforms it celebrates – the last blue whale, the largest creature ever known on our life-rich world, comes eye to eye with the only predator it ever really had – a human:
TiM is a wonderful short animated film from Ken Turner, about a little boy who is different and relies on his own imagination to get him through, losing himself in drawing, making his own films and watching movies. But most of all he wants, when he grows up, to be Tim Burton. A lovely little homage to being different and how we all find little pieces of wonder that, even if most others don’t understand, mean the world to us and make life more magical.
Here’s a wonderfully creepy and nicely made short fairytale horror from Ben Tillett and Jake Cuddihy at the BloodyCuts site, just the thing for Halloween: the Suckablood, who is summoned to punish naughty children when they refuse to stop sucking their thumbs…
Payload is a very well-executed short science fiction film by Stuart Willis, set in a near-future, dog-eat-dog dystopia a father and his two kids try to scratch a living in the shadow of a space elevator. Willis manages the difficult trick of cramming an interesting and complete narrative into a short timespace while still managing to give us quick character development sufficient to make us care and give us a good feel for this run-down future setting he has placed them in, well worth viewing:
Adrien is a piano prodigy, but when he fails to win the music prize he worked so hard for his life falls apart and he retreats into work as a piano tuner, but then he creates a pretend persona as a blind man, finding his clients are more trusting and kinder and more intimate with him when they believe he is blind. And then on one visit he sees something he shouldn’t, and the question is does his client think a blind man may stumble on their secret or not? Very stylish short French film, with English subtitles: