FAFF as food for thought.

The Factual Animation Film Fuss (FAFF) was a series of film screenings running over the weekend of the 26th-27th September 2015. FAFF was a celebration of animated documentary, and featured screenings of shorts, as well as a panel discussion.  I went to three events in a row: Shorts screening: The Unfilmable Truth, Stories and Portraits and Panel Talk: Animated Documentaries featuring Samantha Moore, Jonathan Hodgson and Andy Glynne of Mosaic Films. The organiser was Dan Murtha at DDAANNStudio, and there was a full house for the screenings at the Paragon Bar.  It would have been possible to lie on a leather sofa with a peach schnapps for 3 hours, watching films, not a shabby way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

The screening Unfilmable Truth featured the following films in this order:

Camouflage by Jonathan Hodgson, 2001

Beau Lotto – Understanding Perception by Steve West, 2015

Beyond Years by Freddie Arenas, 2014

An Eyeful of Sound by Samantha Moore, 2010

The Beast Inside by Drew Christie, 2014

EDS by Daniel Murtha, 2015

Caldera by Evan Viera, 2013

Over and Over again by Andy Glynne, 2009

Sensory Overload by Miguel Jiron, 2012

Jeffery and the Dinosaurs by Christopher Steger, 2009

A Kiss Deferred by Moth Collective, 2015

Stories and Portraits featured the following films:

Marcus McGhee by Alex Lambert and Sam Chou, 2014

Irish Folk Furniture by Tony Donaghue, 2012

Mario by Tess Martin, 2014

Me and You The Rauch Brothers, 2014

Avatar Days by Gavin Kelly, 2010

The Cameraman by Chris Ware, 2011

He was 28 by Sam Chou, 2013

Flawed by Andrea Dorfman, 2010

Just a Mess by Laura Stewart, 2014

Tussilago by Jonas Odell, 2014

Marcel, The King of Tevuren by Tom Schroeder, 2012

Many of the films I had seen before, online or at OIAF last year, but it was still exciting to see the work as a curated programme or as a collection, it makes it possbile to detect trends and to feel the beating heart in the field of Animated Documentary, not the genre, despite the suggestion in this Wikipedia page here.

Though the themes, the budgets, the tools were extremely varied, there was a preponderance of films following a certain structure and this was what was preoccupying.  Most of the films followed the Paul and Sandra Fierlinger model of animated documentary, which when made well, is of course brilliantly effective, and contributes to the sphere of animated documentary, but for me there wasn’t always evidence of Grierson’s definition of documentary as “creative treatment of actuality” to compliment those films and offer a broader perspective of the field.

In some cases, such as Steve West’s Beau Lotto – Understanding Perception, the film does exactly what it should, and really beautifully.  Here was a text that required precise visual elucidation to be comprehensible.  There were also some amazing recordings and stories; especially outstanding was the storytelling in Sam Chou’s film Marcus McGhee, the narrator was so funny, he could have told any old story.   Me and You was another wopper, and tear-jerking too, Beyond Years, and A Kiss Deferred too, they offered a beautiful slice of life, and they were absorbing tales too, but the image (please save me from the word visuals) was largely superfluous in all but about ten percent of the duration, and they would have been just fine on the radio.

IMG_9824Samantha Moore’s approach is to see the voice as another element of her soundtrack, through colaboration with Adam Goddard, who is a sound designer as well as composer. The sound effects, the voices and the music are weaved together to create a magical carpet of sounds that ripple through and along with the picture.  Jonathan Hodgson’s film Feeling my Way has no voice at all (maybe “Hi, it’s John”),  yet we weren’t any less able to share his experience through a certain rhythm in the steps and the movement. His film Camouflage is similar because the experience of living with schizophrenia is shared effectively through a fictional reconstructed sequence and Andy Glynnes film Over and Over Again had an image that didn’t just tag on to the audio, but offered an extra perspective.  For creative treatment of the medium, I enjoyed Irish Folk Furniture by Tony Donaghue, Mario by Tess Martin, and Jeffery and the Dinosaurs by Christopher Steger, also Andrea Dorfman’s Flawed, which is really absorbing to watch.

I have more thoughts on this theme, but now I’ve run out of time.  Thanks FAFF, I hope there’ll be another one next year.

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