Nine Nation Animation

First-rate compilation offers a filling multicourse meal for the discerning grownup toon fan.

First-rate compilation “Nine Nation Animation” sprawls not just in terms of geography but technique, theme, style and tone, offering a filling multicourse meal for the discerning grownup toon fan. Package has been playing runs of various length in U.S. rep houses, cinematheques, museums and other venues since late September; bookings should stretch well into the new year, presaging transition into home-format sales.

Distributed and curated by Gotham nonprofit the World According to Shorts (named after annual programs commenced a decade ago at the Brooklyn Academy of Music), “Nine” reps that org’s first all-animation collection.

It starts off on a raffish note with Kajsa Naess’ Norwegian “Deconstruction Workers,” in which two hard hats (played by animate stills of two actors) debate the meaning of life — or whether there is any — while oblivious to society collapsing around them and their own mortal peril. Using a somewhat similar media mix to different ends is Robert Bradbrook’s Brit entry “Home Road Movies,” which starts out as a nostalgic look back at driving vacations that seemed wonderful in childhood, then turned a little sad as the kids grew old enough to realize the less-than-wondrous shortcomings of their aging dad (Bill Paterson, a live figure amid vintage advertising imagery).

Also ambitious in narrative terms are Patrick Pleutin’s French “Bamiyan,” which tells the history of Afghanistan’s Taliban-destroyed giant Buddha statues in rich, oil-painterly abstractions; and Jonas Odell’s 15-minute closer “Never Like the First Time!” in which four Swedish interviewees recall their first sexual experiences — by turns boastful, disappointing, traumatic and tenderly romantic — which are illustrated in four distinctly different ways, from willfully crude line drawings to collage.

Disparate as they are, these are all delights. Likelier to divide viewers are Turkish toon “Average 40 Matches,” a computer-animation vignette set to piano-roll Paganini that feels thin even at just three minutes; South Africa’s “The Tale of How,” an eccentric mix of Bosch-like graphics and classical chorale narrating a nonsense story that’s a good deal closer to Lewis Carroll than Tim Burton’s recent stab; and Croatian entry “She Who Measures,” whose grotesque landscape of futuristic conformism recalls the Zagreb school of the ’60s. That’s not a bad thing, although the slaves-of-consumer-marketing parable feels equally old and tired.

The two funniest works are back-to-back in the middle of the omnibus. Jonas Geirnaert’s Cannes prizewinner “Flatlife” is a Tati-like orchestration of slapstick destruction by a quartet of adjacent apartment dwellers. Its drawing style and military-percussion soundtrack are both perfectly simple and simply perfect.

There’s wilder fun in David O’Reilly’s Irish-German short “Please Say Something” (winner of a Golden Bear at Berlin), which chronicles stormy domestic relations over the long haul between an office-drone cat and its mercurial mouse spouse. Designed (sound included) like a primitive videogame, with the characters’ gibberish translated into subtitles, pic mixes neurotic modern-life banality and anarchic, sci-fi-tinged absurdity in a way that feels so brilliantly fresh, viewers might well wish for an immediate second viewing.

Popular on Variety

Nine Nation Animation


Production: A World According to Shorts presentation. Produced by Jonathan Howell.

Crew: Camera (HD, DV, DVD). Reviewed at Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, Nov. 9, 2010. Running time: 82 MIN.

Deconstruction Workers
A Mikrofilm production. Produced by Lisa Fearnley.
Directed, edited by Kajsa Naess. Screenplay, Kjartan Helleve. Camera (color, HD), Janne Hansen, Naess; music, Helleve; production designers, Cecile Ellefsen, Magnhild Winsnes, Ketil Bruun Andersen, Naess. Original title: Bygningsarbeidere.
With: Anders Mordal, Jan Gunnar Roise.

Average 40 Matches
An Ortalama 40 production. Produced, directed, written by Burkay Dogan, M. Sakir Arslan. (Color); editor, Emre Yalgin; music, Niccolo Paganini. Original title: Ortalama 40 cop.

A Les Films de l'Arlequin presentation in association with Arte France of an Arte France Unite de Programmes Cinema production. Produced by Dora Benousilio.
Directed, written by Patrick Pleutin. Camera (color), Nicolas Pfeiffer; editor, Celine Kelepikis; music, Philippe Eidel.
With: Fatima Husseini, Mohamad Husseini, Ahmad Ali, Chen Dehong.
(Farsi, Chinese dialogue)

Please Say Something
A David O'Reilly production. Produced, directed, written, edited by David O'Reilly. (Color, HD); music, Bram Meindersma, David Kamp.

A Kask presentation. Produced by Jean-Marie Demeyer.
Directed, written, edited by Jonas Geirnaert. (Color); music, Ward Seyssens.

She Who Measures
A Lemonade3d production. Produced by Ivan Ratkovic, Lado Skorin. Executive producer, Vanja Andrijevic.
Directed, written by Veljko Popovic. (Color, DigiBeta); music, Hrvoje Stefotic. Original title: Ona koja mjeri.

Home Road Movies
A Finetake production for Channel 4 in association with Arts Council of England. Produced by Dick Arnall.
Directed by Robert Bradbrook. Screenplay, Ian Seller. Camera (color), Sam James; editor, Tony Fish.
With: Bill Paterson, Phelim McDermott, Arnal Anwar, Joseph Ariolt-Edwards, Tom Eilenberg, Rob Robinson, Gem Souleyman.

The Tale of How
(South Africa)
A Blackheart Gang presentation. Produced by the Blackheart Gang.
Directed by Markus, Ree, Jannes Hendrikz. Screenplay, Markus. (Color, Beta SP); music, Markus.
(English dialogue)

Never Like the First Time!
A FilmTecknarna production. Produced by Susanne Granlof.
Directed, written, edited by Jonas Odell. Camera (color), Per Helin; music, Krister Linder; production designer, Odell. Original title: Aldrig som forsta gangen!
With: Mikael Brolin, Hanna Eklof, Rebecca Haridi, Jenny Holstrom, Torbjorn Jager, Johanna Karlsson, Frederik Ostling.

More Film

  • Benjamin Wallfisch - scoring session, Abbey

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch Signs With Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency

    Composer Benjamin Wallfisch has signed with the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency (GSA) for worldwide representation, in partnership with London-based agency COOL Music Ltd. A top composer, whose scoring credits include “It Chapter Two,” Shazam!” Hellboy,” “Hidden Figures” and “Hostile Planet,” among others, Wallfisch has worked on over 75 feature films and is a member of the BAFTA [...]

  • The Moneychanger

    Toronto Film Review: ‘The Moneychanger’

    Uruguayan auteur Federico Veiroj (“The Apostate,” “Belmonte”) broadens his usual intimate dramatic scope to diminishing returns for his fifth feature, “The Moneychanger,” . Adapted from a novella by compatriot Juan Enrique Gruber, the period (mid-1950s to mid-1970s) tale centers on the eponymous character, an amoral currency exchanger, who winds up laundering some of the dirtiest [...]

  • Send Me to the Clouds

    Film Review: ‘Send Me to the Clouds’

    The social and economic pressures felt by China’s “leftover women” — referring to those older than 26 and unmarried — are examined in “Send Me to the Clouds,” a rewarding dramedy about a 30-ish journalist seeking financial reward and sexual fulfillment after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Bold by mainland standards for presenting a positive [...]

  • Jamie Bell Without Remorse

    Jamie Bell Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse' Adaptation (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jamie Bell is in final negotiations to join Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of the Tom Clancy novel “Without Remorse.” Stefano Sollima, who most recently helmed “Sicario: Day of the Soldado,” is directing from a script by “Sicaro” screenwriter Taylor Sheridan. As previously announced, Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known [...]

  • Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter,

    'Downton Abbey' Movie Sequel? Producers Tease That They Have 'Some Ideas'

    “Downton Abbey” holds the record as the most-nominated international show at the Emmy Awards with 69 nominations and 15 wins — and now, it stands a chance to nab an Oscar. More than three years after the beloved series signed off the air following six critically-acclaimed seasons, “Downton Abbey” is making its big-screen debut. “It [...]

  • Todd Phillips Joaquin Phoenix Joker Movie

    What's Woker Than 'Joker'? Film Critics Made Everything Political at Fall Festivals

    “Is it just me, or is it getting crazier out there?” asks Joaquin Phoenix, playing a deranged incel version of the DC supervillain in “Joker,” the unconventional comic book movie that’s sucked up much of the air from the fall festival circuit. Like an aggro caricature of the “involuntary celibates” who troll message boards online, [...]

  • Running Against the Wind

    Young Africans' Dreams Are Focus of Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda Oscar Picks

    Films about young Africans trying to fulfill their dreams in the face of war, poverty, tradition and other forms of adversity have been submitted for Oscar consideration by three East African nations. The selections by Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda to compete in the international feature film category reflect the relative youth of filmmaking in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content