I got back from Bradford on Sunday night after what had been an EPIC couple of days. Some of the things I saw were totally inspiring, especially the Student films (dare I say, some were better than the professionals), when I eventually start to make films I have a lot to live up to. If I was to write about every individual film I saw, I’d be here well into the night, so I’ll just mention some of my favourites from the festival.
If you I was to recommend that you watch just one film from the festival, I’d have to tell you to that “Mary and Max” is the one to look out for. An Australian film directed by Adam Elliot, it’s an 80 minute “clayography” (clay + biography) stop-motion film that was something like 5 (or possibly 7, my memory is failing me here) years in the making. I don’t want to spoil the plot too much but it dealt with real, some quite heavy, issues that wouldn’t have been pulled off so well had it been a live action film, or even CGI. It’s got a real charm to it and you really built up a strong connection and a real sense of empathy for the two characters, Mary (who starts off as an 8-year-old, the film is set over a period of 20 years) and Max (A middle aged man who suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome and lives in New York), that other films tried to do but never managed to achieve it as easily as this film did. The film has a perfect balance of humour and seriousness, the subject matter is dark, but the characters deal with it in a way so that the film isn’t preachy or deliberately trying to raise your awareness of the issues.
I think that I must have really hard-boiled emotions, because despite the sad subject matter of “Mary and Max”, I didn’t cry then and I managed to not cry at “UP” either, although I had tears in my eyes, they did not spill over. I’m too hardcore for my own good. The story at the beginning of “UP” is really beautiful and the animation throughout the whole film is impeccable. What I’m going to say now will sound like I’m criticising it and I don’t mean for it to sound like that, it was a truly epic film, but the rest of “UP”’s storyline seems like it’s been designed to get the laughs and keep the children’s attention all the way through by adding random characters and gags. After the amazing storylines in “Coraline” and “Mary and Max”, (yes, I’m going to rave on and on about it. If you watch it then you’ll understand for why) - which didn’t have to have giant birds and dogs with funny “chipmunk” voices to engage its audience – it just seems like it’s been altered so that it ticks all the boxes other Pixar films have set, and it seems like Pixar have become too afraid to do anything really groundbreaking like they could’ve done.
I’ll update with some more Bradford bits later on :)