(March 9, 2012 in Los Angeles, California) An excited audience, beautiful imagery, and a faulty sound-system: The Los Angeles Animation Festival’s presentation of MTV’s Liquid Television was a mish-mash of bold animation, hilarious comedy, and technical error. Vintage Liquid TV animations were paired with newer Liquid TV animation, showing interesting similarities between the two: blunt humor and shocking endings that generally dealt with unexpected death. After the animation was a Q & A with several of the animators and MTV staff, followed by stand-up comics paired with animators that drew as the comics spoke. Also, there was beer. Lots of beer.
First off: the animation! The shorts featured in this festival were easily the highlight of the night. Many of the comedic shorts were similar in style to some of the better YouTube videos one might find perusing the net (think “PowerThirst” or “SaladFingers”): weird for the sake of weird, but in a bold and entertaining way. There were a few that really stood out: Bedtime Stories with Abraham Willosby (Joseph Bennett) follows a southern gentleman describing the vastness of his library and how he knows every book ever written; going on to tell the story “The Wolf and the Lamb,” in which a wolf tries to justify eating an adorable lamb, is unable to, then decides to eat him anyway: something Abraham finds hilarious. Not to mention the many scantily clad, buff men wandering about Abraham’s estate. Very weird, very funny. Lee Press-on Limbs (Chris Miller) shows a campy, '50s style commercial for easy-to-use, press-on limbs for when your limbs shatter. Story From North America (Kirsten Lepore, Garret Davis) is a wonderfully creative, hand-drawn short about a kid trying to convince his father to squish a spider in his room, and his father explaining empathy to him. This is just to name a few, of which there were many great ones.
While most of the animations were comedic, there were several that were dramatically or action-oriented. Aeon Flux (Peter Chung) was absolutely beautiful in the detail given to each frame, each expression on a character's face. The action was outstanding, non-stop, and particularly unexpected. In indie band Grizzly Bear's music video, Ready, Able (Allison Shulnik) used stop-motion to morph clay figures and faces into fantastical shapes, in a powerful and haunting display. Wonder Hospital (Beomsik Shimbe Shim) made use of gorgeous puppetry and 3D animation to show the story of a slightly deformed child exploring a hospital where everyone is getting their appearance altered.
The show was, overall, a very enjoyable experience; however, this festival is entirely volunteer-based, and there were some technical difficulties throughout. The start to the festival was delayed for an hour, with hundreds of people left waiting outside. During the fest itself, the audio would dip and disappear for long lapses during several different shorts (sadly, it seemed to happen during the more poignant ones), much to the collective chagrin of the audience, who would moan with every audio foible. This cannot really be blamed on the festival itself. This night was a free display of great animation (with free booze to boot), and it was run by a volunteer army. If anything, this shows how much more can be achieved with better funding.
After the main event, there was a Q&A session with several of the artists and some MTV staffers. I’m not sure who the other people were because, though there were some questions well answered, there was little introduction for the people speaking, and few people on stage seemed to have a solid idea of what to talk about. Following that, stand-up comics were paired with artists, and as they joked, the artist drew, and their creation was projected onto a screen behind the comedian. This fresh angle on stand-up led to many hilariously unplanned jokes from the comedians, with minor difficulties along the way in terms of keeping up and staying on point. Also, there were penises drawn. A whole lot of penises.
The Los Angeles Animation Festival took place March 7-11, 2012 in Hollywood, California.