The major Festival prizes were allocated by the international jury of six. The audience were also given a chance to vote for their favourite film. In the case of the film Een Griekse Tragedie both the public and the jury were in agreement. It won the Grand Prix and the Prix du Public.
Een Griekse Tragedie is a first film for Belgium artist Nicole Van Goethem who wrote the script and directed it. It is a brilliantly observed film about three ancient Greek female statues who are feeling their age. They are determined to stand firm and hold up their stone arch come what may. This resolution forms the basis of the soft, warm humour that endears them to the viewer as high winds and flying objects come their way. The action is well paced with pauses and climaxes rather like those of a high wire act. The ending is weak, with the characters dancing off into the distance. This seemed at odds with the way they acted in the main part.
Young British animators made a good showing among the prize winners. Susan Young, aged 24, got the Special Animation Prize for her film Carnival. It presents the events that happen to two youths who go to what appears to be Notting Hill Carnival. The animation consists of flowing brush strokes and brightly coloured pastel lines on a white background. In many scenes the content is very economic but it all flows beautifully. The lines girate in time to the Jamacan rhythms and give a true carnival feeling. The director Susan Young studied graphic design at Solihull College of Technology and Liverpool Polytechnic. She is currently studying at the Royal College of Art School of film and TV.
The prize for best first film was shared by Alison Snowden with Second Class Mail and Jon Minnis. Interestingly enough they were both born in Britain and are now both working in Canada. Second Class Mail does more for women’s lib in four minutes than Jamane Greer has done in her lifetime. It shows what happens to an old lady who sends off for a blow-up man. I wouldn’t mind betting that Bob Godfrey wishes that he had got hold of this script first. One sequence that had the audience in histerics was a canary that shows off by swinging on its perch and finally drops dead with the effort. Alison Snowdon studied animation at The National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield.
Charade centres on two characters who take turns to act out film and book titles for an unseen audience to guess. The humour stems from the fact that however hard the first person tries, the voices off screen do not get it, where as the second character strikes the most unlikely pose and they get it right away. In desperation at the end the first character lowers his trousers and shows his bottom to the players. They think it is still part of the game and call out such titles as Blue Moon and Black Hole as the credits roll. The director Jon Minnis was born in 1950 in Birmingham, England. After working in several cities in Europe and North America, he became a Canadian citizen in 1978. Charade was his third year project at Sheridan College and he is currently working for Michael Mills Productions in Montreal.
Two films from British studios also won prizes. The Entertainers will be very familiar to viewers of London Weekend Television as it was used introduce the audience to the personalities starring in their programmes in the Autumn of 1984. It was a great favourite in our house as the kids loved to spot the characters they knew. The directors were Pat Gavin, who was born in London in 1951 and Graham Ralph who was born in London in 1945.
Skywhales, from Animation City in London, creates a science fantasy world on an island floating around in the sky. It is inhabited by green snouty creatures who hunt the great skywhales. (See Animator No. 7 for the background on this film) The directors were Philip Austin and Derek Hayes. When asked about the storyline Derek Hayes explained: ‘It is about not being able to see below the surface. The people do not realise that they turn into skywhales when their time is up.’ It has the look of a pilot for a series but this was not the intention says Hayes: ‘The only kind of series we have in mind is a series of shorts on different subjects. We would have to forget the life cycle aspect of Skywhales to make it into a series.’ When asked if it was typical of their work Philip Austin said: ‘We both enjoy science fantasy and are interested in storytelling. We like to have a strong storyline with an element of fantasy.’ Did they intend Skywhales as a challenge? Austin replied: ‘We felt it would be more convincing if no one could understand the dialogue. We like the distancing effect that the silly language has.’