FANTASIA FEST 2021: ‘Circo Animato 2021’ Is A Celebration of Animation’s Potential

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Circo Animato 2021 - But Why Tho

Circo Animato 2021 is an anthology of 13 animated shorts from a variety of filmmakers around the world. The Circo Animato anthology is a staple of Fantastia Fest’s programming and true to its name, it serves as a celebration of the animation form. As someone who’s enjoyed animated films and television shows from Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse to Masters of the Universe: Revelation, this ended up being a must-watch on my list. And it proved to be a stellar showcase for the depths that animation can reach, as well as the creative wellsprings it taps into.

The 2021 edition contains 13 shorts in total. “Ouroborus” is directed by Chloé Forestier; “Wayback” is written and directed by Carlos Salgado; “Upcycling” is directed by Anne-Lou Graoww, Song Hayoung Elaine, So Hi-jeong, Oh Sun-kyung, Satoe Yoshinari, and Yoo Kaitlen Haeun; “Hakkori” is directed by Aya Yamasaki and Jason Brown; “Pimple On The Nose” is directed by Davide Di Saro; “Girl In The Water” is directed by Shi-Rou Huang; “Enochia” is written and directed by Noémie Bevierre; “Le Sourire De La Courgette” is written and directed by Lucas Ansart; “Blink In The Desert” is directed by Shinobu Soejima; “Megalomania” is written & directed by Kim Eun-seo; “Ménage à Trois: Flour, Eggs And Sugar” is directed by Choi Michelle Yun-jeong; “Sunbelly” is written and directed by Jordan Speer; and finally, “Misery Loves Company” is written and directed by Sasha Lee.

The majority of the shorts don’t feature dialogue, which I think is a great idea. It allows the audience to drink in details and pick up on the story by the shifting of images. A large part of what makes animation work is visual storytelling; a good director can shape a story with just a few well-crafted images. Perhaps the best example of this is “Girl In The Water,” which depicts the various stages of a young woman’s relationship. A scab on her knee takes the shape of an island, with birds sailing the skies; she slowly sinks into the bath, becoming one with the water; and finally, she leaves the house, signifying that she wants to move on. A sharp contrast is “Pimple On The Nose,” which acts as an animated music video for the titular song and can be best described as “What if Curious George took a bad acid trip?”

My two favorite shorts in Circo Animato 2021 had to be “Wayback” and “Misery Loves Company.” Salgado crafts a stunning sci-fi world that follows an interplanetary traveler who is seeking a strange device. A tracking shot the traveler as he races through an alien city on his hoverbike, with tan and gold columns interlaced with circuitry. The traveler himself is encased from head to toe in a pure white spacesuit, which makes him easy to track in the massive desert he’s walking through. “Misery Loves Company” tackles a depressing subject—a high school student’s fears for the future—in a unique way; she sings about hoping for an asteroid to hit the world and put her out of her misery so that she doesn’t have to “rot at home watching YouTube” in a rather upbeat way. Adding to this strange mix is the fact that the student and her friends are anthropomorphic animals; she even shifts into a massive flower during her song.

Circo Animato 2021 is not only a stellar showcase of shorts, but it also shows the creativity and range of genres that the medium of animation can tap into. Between this anthology and Phil Tippett’s Mad God, Fantasia Fest was a reminder of why I fell in love with animation. And I hope that both titles become available to the public so that they can see that animation doesn’t have to be confined to certain expectations.

Circo Animato 2021 premiered at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival.

Circo Animato 2021
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TL;DR

Circo Animato 2021 is not only a stellar showcase of shorts, but it also shows the creativity and range of genres that the medium of animation can tap into. Between this anthology and Phil Tippett’s Mad God, Fantasia Fest was a reminder of why I fell in love with animation. And I hope that both titles become available to the public so that they can see that animation doesn’t have to be confined to certain expectations.