Animation Underbelly: 12 of Dana’s favorite experimental animation masterpieces

(Knife Hanging From A Tree by JiHee Nam)

Welcome to the arcane world of experimental animation! Dana, a Juice Media intern who studies traditional animation at Columbia College Chicago, compiled a list of wonderfully strange animations that changed what the medium meant to her. 

Many of the titles are pulled from Dana’s workshop on Experimental Film & Animation at the Juice Media session on March 16th, 2021. You can view the slideshow (and a broader list of experimental films) here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1igIBDQZbQXaWqw7uGMDMi_axL69nY6ALgubwgCVH-ko/edit?usp=sharing 

Here they are. Nine shorts and three features, in no particular order:

Law of Averages (1996) by James Duesing. CGI, 15 min,  American.

https://duesing.wordpress.com/visions/law-of-averages/ 

In a strange twist of Adam and Eve, two lovers meet in a garden and are tempted by none other than The Big Ghost, an interactive virtual reality. 

 

  1. Knife Hanging From A Tree (2019) – JiHee Nam. 2D animation, 3 min, Korean/American.
    1. https://vimeo.com/336961237  
    2. An simple yet elegant film based on a traditional Korean saying which means “Let me stab the persimmon, since I can’t have them”. I like this film for Juice Media because it is simple and brief, yet so powerful.
  2. Quasi at the Quackadero (1975) – Sally Cruikshank. 2D animation,10 min, American.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dH7LcVNusQE 
    2. Be reminded that a world is what you make of it. Two anthropomorphic ducks and a robot have a day at their local amusement park… complete with time travel, telepathy, and reincarnation. A cult classic.
  3. Lizard Ladder (2020) by Ted Wiggin. 2D animation, 5 min, American.
    1. http://www.tedwiggin.com/LizardLadder/ 
    2. Animals being animals in between planes of existence. This animator made his own software to complete the film, and you can download it and watch tutorials on his website!
  4. Duet (2019) – Jeanette Fantone. 2D animation, 3 min, American/Japanese/Filipino.
    1. https://vimeo.com/328027868 
    2. A film made by a 19 year-old. If they can do it, know that you can too. I’m inspired by the simple techniques that comprise this mirage of color. 
  5. Hedgehog in the Fog (1975) by Yuri Norstein. 2D animation, 10 min, Russian.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MS5mxXtStOY 
    2. The most famous short of Russian master Yuri Norstein, whose personal twist turns animation into a dramatic and artful medium for profound tales often depicting woodland creatures.
  6. Dimensions of Dialogue (1982) by Jan Švankmajer. Stop-motion, 11 min, Czech.
    1.  https://vimeo.com/12073562 
    2. A celebrated surrealist’s exploration of the hardships of communication and understanding one another. 
  7. Street of Crocodiles (1986) by the Brothers Quay. Stop-motion, 21 min, American.
    1. https://vimeo.com/495021325 
    2. The twin Quay Brothers are an iconic influence on the “creepy” aesthetic often associated with stop motion. They often pull from Eastern-European stories and include a dash of South American magic realism. This is their most well-known short, but be warned!!! The linked video does NOT feature the original score by Leszek Jankowski!
  8. Roommates (2016) by Jamie Wolfe. 2D animation, 3 min, American.
    1. https://vimeo.com/218736744 
    2.  The relatable CalArts film that utilizes extremely limited animation, making the whole “24 frames per second” feat feel more attainable. 
  9. Mind Game (2004) directed by Masaaki Yuasa. Mixed animation, 103 min, Japanese.
    1. https://www.imdb.com/video/vi3202136089?playlistId=tt0452039&ref_=tt_ov_vi (trailer)
    2. Stylistically all over the place, in harmony. Masaaki Yuasa’s youthful, raw, creative masterpiece makes for one of Dana’s all-time favorite films. Based on a manga of the same name by Robin Nishi. 
  10. Belladonna of Sadness (1973) directed by Eiichi Yamamoto. 2D animation, 86 min, Japanese.
    1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WkcLMapo_Y (trailer)
    2. https://ok.ru/video/2497662356078 (full film english subs)
    3. A feature film that reminds you of the graphic inventiveness of a hand-crafted world. Visually reminiscent of the artwork of Gustav Klimt and Harry Clarke, story based on Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière. .Content warning: Sexual Violence & Nudity.
  11. The Point (1971) directed by Fred Wolf. 2D animation, 74 min, American.
    1. https://ok.ru/video/2244243229270 (full film)
    2. Is this even experimental? You tell me. A colorful bedtime story starring Ringo Starr and Dustin Hoffman, and written and scored by Harry Nilsson. 
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