Review: Cardiff Independent Film Festival – Day #1 @ Chapter

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Cardiff Independent Film Festival – Day #1 / Chapter Arts Centre / Friday 22nd May 2016

Joanna Quinn

Screenshot of Britannia by Joanna Quinn via YouTube

Now in its third year, CIFF is animation-mad, with many exciting events taking place over its weekend.

Having missed the daytime events due to rehearsals, the evening on the first full day was of huge appeal.

S2

S2 – a Brazilian short film about love, writing, the Internet and ninjas – captures a desire seen in 20-somethings with aspirations of life.

You follow these characters around, yet don’t really engage with them. Would a girl leave her laptop camera on so that her boyfriend can see her get it on with another girl (unless she wanted to?)? A possibly gay supporting character has some amusing moments and his acceptance of his situation is a pleasing finale to the film. The film can only be billed as a standard piece.

Cesium and a Tokyo Girl

Ryo Saitani was in attendance for his first feature film: Cesium and a Tokyo Girl. It had all the hallmarks we attribute to Japanese contemporary culture: the strangeness, the chirpy attitude and other factors that could only be from that island nation.

Dealing with the hefty topic of nuclear power and the recent history of the country, a young girl called Mimi endeavours to find her bird, all the while accompanied by gods. The work is too long, but it is the animated sections that are the most remarkable, for their homage to ancient Japanese folklore, songs, art and history. It’s almost too easy to say how strange the film was (considering the country’s reputation for surreal work), but that’s what I lean towards.

Cesium and a Tokyo Girl

An Evening with Joanna Quinn

After this, local artist Joanna Quinn gave us a tour through her catalogue of fine hand-drawn animations. You are bound to know her work: the Beryl series, Charmin toilet paper adverts, Whiskers commercials and more. With no colour and no backgrounds, Quinn spotlights the subject in striking detail. You can marvel at every stroke of her pencil, her unashamed scribbles coming alive with a frequency seen little elsewhere.

Now in Cardiff, her Beryl films have had a large Welsh influence on them. Hilarious in subject matter, each one captures the over-the-top nature of Welsh ladies and the silly situations into which they can get themselves. Her work on The Canterbury Tales is ambitious and her Wife of Bath is alive with tremendous vigour, as if a team of animators had drawn frantically for weeks. It’s fab that some of this work was Cardiff-made as well.

Joanna Quinn’s Britannia

My personal favourite of her’s is her Channel 4 commission: Britannia. As witty as it is unsettling, it perfectly sums up our perspective in post-colonial Britain and how we have to live with the decisions of our ancestors. It’s played out like a farce, the English Bulldog bombing around the British Isles, then hell-bent on the world (India, Africa), all with a teapot as his crown. The empire soon simmers out and we are all left with the aftermath of these regrets and unfortunate events that took place. A real cracking work of animation.

Ratings:

S2: 3 stars
Cesium and a Tokyo Girl
: 3 stars
An Evening with Joanna Quinn
: 4 stars

Weeping Tudor Productions present Medusa’s Trap by Erik Satie and a Birthday Concert for the 150th year of his birth on Tuesday 17th May at Sunflower & I, Cardiff Bay. If you’d like to attend, tickets available on Eventbrite here.

If you would like to help bring Erik Satie’s Uspud to the Edinburgh Fringe this August, you can support Weeping Tudor Productions’ Kickstarter campaign here.

Cover image credit: Screenshot of Cesium and a Tokyo Girl via YouTube


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