Ceci n'est pas une sofa

Even before things could get off to a good start, the first Festival evening already served up the first thematic retrospective of this year's Animateka; this year, the theme centres on sex a eroticism in animated films. While a few of the audience members found the time to wonder and ponder whether we would have the opportunity to enjoy a special "adult feature", going above and beyond that which the innocent eye of the youngest Animateka visitors is permitted to see, the rest of us were preoccupied with the appropriateness of dividing the evening into a men's and women's part.  Would the spectator be able to arrive at such a thematic division without knowing anything about the male and female authors. Let's try and rise above gender and authorship, shall we?  


Jennifer and Tiffany (A Monday Night in the Bathroom) introduces us to the world of octopus, oyster and prawn movements in a few sliding and slippery close-up stop-motion sequences. Body to body: an octopus in a love embrace with a fish, then an oyster with an octopus, followed by a prawn orgy and a prawn and a man's buttocks. A marine-life porno? Roof Sex also makes use of stop-motion: a lecherous scene between two loudly sighing armchairs ends with a comic twist.  The most risqué films in this segment wasn't reserved for just seafood and pieces of furniture; pixels also jumped in (Pixel Joy).  


Drawn animation can express more symbolic and abstract eroticism, the kind guiding the pencil into transformations of shape and colour.  Bottom Feeders brings up a kitschy imaginative ecosystem and a thought-out reproduction of such a micro-world: we are confronted with some kind of chewing amoebas on four legs that call up figures from Luigi Serafini's pseudo-encyclopaedia, the Codex Seraphinianus.  Nude and Crude transforms the shape of soft pencil-drawn lines on paper into a morphing amalgamation of bodily shapes and functions. The animator uses the body as some sort of ever-changing and faceless medium on which he paints variations. The Carnival of Animals is also based on a strong carnal theme: the author uses the eight movements of Camille Saint-Saëns's composition to frame the first buds of sexual maturity in a surreal kaleidoscopic jigsaw puzzle of sexual organs and various sexual fantasies; it also gives us a glimpse of a kind of circus show involving bunny-rabbits and little snails that join in the erotic.  


In The Hat, fast and rough outlines of sometimes smudged ink take advantage of the flowing lines to show us fears or even the unconscious; the transformations of the body of an exotic dancer into a child-like body soaked through with the trauma of sexual abuse and memories of the Man with a Hat grow increasingly intense and uncomfortable.


The multiplication of a Michaelangelo-like figure of bodies in Hippos takes on a whole new dimension of watching the film screen; at the same time, it makes us think about the "natural" and the "human and primal": the author transfers the mating rituals of hippos into human bodies – the male figures immediately assume the role of predator, rapist and killer.  When dealing with the human body and its form, the uncomfortably explicit scenes are softened by having the figures move to a ballet choreography, thus somehow bringing aesthetics to violence.  


A large part of the animated films presented in the segment used the symbolic possibility of animated feminization to generate various narratives. One of these is No Man's Bush; a woman's legs are planted into the soil of a garden where they are then mowed over; Omulan! talks about a small alien who falls in love with just such a pair of moving legs while exploring another planet. In Ivan's Need, the author uses humour to present erotic fantasies through the medium of baking bread; in Ring of Fire, two cowboys move through a Western landscape drenched in sexuality which literally pulses; the line-drawn animation sets them on a quest to find beauty and temptation; the "strictly educational" films under the title Teat Beat of Sex – Trouble make use of superbly humorous euphemisms (a carrot is not a carrot, a pumpkin is not a pumpkin, etc.), employing a narrative given in poor English to provide personal advice on sex.  



Jennifer and Tiffany is the work of a woman, Momoko Seto, while Roof Sex was made by a man (PES Film), Pixel Joy is the brain child of a woman (Florentine Greiler), Nude and Crude was drawn by a man  (Mario Addis), as were Bottom Feeders (Matt Reynolds), Omulan! (Matei Branea), No Man's Bush (Jelle von Meerendonk) and Ivan's Need (Lukas Suter). Ring of Fire is the work of last year's Animateka judge, Andreas Hykade; Teat Beat of Sex was drawn by Signe Baumane (past Animateka fans had the opportunity to see another of her films, Rocks in My Pockets, which was featured last year). The Hat was made by Canadian animator Michèle Cournoyer, while the Carnival of Animals is the work of Czech animation legent, Michaela Pavlatova; the multi-award-winning Hippos, which we had the opportunity to see during last year's Competition Programme, was created by Piotr Dumała.


Petra Meterc




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