MANIFF: Animation Shorts

The Manchester International Film Festival showcased twelve different animations for their 2017 selection on Sunday 5th March. These included Lockbox, I am Dyslexic, Hope, A Little GreyMoney Time, My YHugo Bumfeldt, Digital Romance, This is not an animationMagic Box, My Man (Octopus) and Crack’d.

Lockbox was by far my favourite of all the animations. Directed by Glan Johnson and Peter Cotter, the beautifully told tale shows a loving mechanical puppet who searched for a way to save his maker by making the ultimate sacrifice. Only two minutes long, it proved that just because an animation is short, doesn’t mean that it can’t tell it’s audience a stunning and compelling story.

I am Dyslexic
I am Dyslexic, directed by Mads Johan Øgaard and Katie Wyman was another that stood out to me from the screening. Earning a special Jury mention for ‘Outstanding Animation’, the short film expresses what it’s like to have a learning difference in our current school system. It uses strong metaphors to portray the characters emotions as he battles with his frustration and disappointment in himself. With fantastic music, adorable style and a positive message, it deserves all the positive acclaim that it’s received and more.

Michael Scherrer’s black and white tale, Hope shows the tale of a mother and her young boy being separated at a prison camp. The bond between the two and the memories that the young boy carries causes a heart wrenching effect. It centres purely on keeping a hold of hope when all else seems lost. It’s a truly chilling story that reminds us to remember the past so we can avoid making the same mistakes in the future.

A Little Grey
A Little Grey, directed by Simon Hewitt, tackles themes regarding mental health and family support. It takes the viewer on the protagonist’s journey as he explores religion, tattoos, bars, and doctors in an attempt to restore his ‘soul’. It’s witty and clever, whilst still tackling quite dark themes. Combined with its bright and colourful style it made a very enjoyable viewing.

Money Time
Perhaps the most gritty and dark of them all is Money Time, directed by Ludovic Houplain. It focuses on the impact of media and the sacrifices to control it, or rather, so it can control us. The twisted reflection of the current world is not only tragically clever but also beautifully animated. The messages it conveys allows the audience to come away from it with a deeper appreciation of their surroundings and it encourages us to be cautious of the impact of the modern world.

Mr. Y
A charming student film directed by Yuanyuan Qui. The narrative itself focuses on Mr. Y’s quest to find love; while I didn’t feel as drawn to the narrative as strongly as I did to some of the other animations shown, the beautiful style that Mr. Y presents places it far up in my favourites, it’s charming use of stop motion works incredibly. It’s beautiful and adorable visual ending leaves a lasting impact on the audience, it was a truly lovely screening.

Hugo Bumfeldt
Eva Katinka Bognar’s Hugo Bumfeldt tells the story of an alien boy who receives a real human scuba diver as a present; He doesn’t realise that his pet is a real being and not simply a toy, so the animation focuses on him learning how to become more empathetic to those around him. While I personally hated the protagonist and felt strong sympathy for his pet, this only added to the tale and helped remind myself of the mistakes we all make as we grow up. While the ending was far from satisfactory, I believe that was the point of the film and therefore I can’t fault it.

Digital Romance
Directed by Michael Helmuth Hansen, Digital Romance tells the story of  a computer game called ‘Brutal Bullet’ becoming infected by a destructive virus. Skullhead, the main character of the game, is suddenly brought to life, which causes the antivirus in the computer to be activated. We then see Skullhead begin to run for his life which will eventually reach beyond his own world. With its video game style and its story that resembled the likes of Wreck it Ralph, it was an entertaining and sweet animation to watch.

This is not an animation
The most humorous of all the animations was Federico Kempke’s, This is not an animation. The student film explores a group of pretentious animators attempting to create the ‘ultimate animation’, with characters ranging from a Brony to the Goth. It’s a funny reflection on the recent hipster culture that’s become especially prominent in the artistic world.

Magic Box
Directed by Raed Alshaikh, the audience sees that a person discovers a Magic Box that can provide anyone with anything they wish for. With allusions to Pandora’s Box,  it’s soon clear to see that it’s not a gift, but rather a curse, and ends up creating a world fueled by dark curiosity and corruption. It’s similar to Money Time in some senses as it focuses on the greed of the human race.

My Man (Octopus)
Stephanie Cadoret’s shocking My Man (Octopus), follows a young woman at her house as she sinks into the underwater depths of her apartment. As the audience later sees, this is rather the ecosystem of her spouse, an octopus. While it can make the audience uncomfortable as it arguably tackles themes of consent, claustrophobia and unconventional intimacy, it’s interesting style and music created a wonderful visual effect.


Crack’d, directed by Sebastion Brown, focuses on a young bird on a distant planet who lives in a village of eggs that never want to leave their shells. The story focuses on MeeGGo as he attempts to break out of his shell and explore the world outside. While I personally wasn’t a huge fan of it’s audio and animation style, I did appreciate it’s sweet tale of gaining independence and facing the worlds challenges.

We teamed up with Humanity Hallows to bring you complete coverage of the Manchester International Film Festival. You can view the full list of reviews which is being updated as we post new content here.

Evelyn Sweeney

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