Eyeworks Festival Of Experimental Animation Draws Us In

By Steven Pate in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 24, 2012 8:45PM

Eyeworks Festival
Through four programs jammed tight with interesting and inventively animated shorts, the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation, kicking off this Saturday at the Chicago Cultural Center, is the perfect rejoinder to anyone thinking that the most exciting things in animation are limited to either the Pixar/Dreamworks animation duopoly in Hollywood or the CGI worlds created to flesh-out the green screened blockbusters of the summer season. Now in its third year, Eyeworks is the brainchild of local filmmaker and Roots & Culture video curator Alexander Stewart, whose work we last spotted at the Chicago Underground Film Festival, and Lilli Carré, whose drawings and illustrations you may recognize from recent issues of the Reader or from the bookshelves of the coolest people you know.


The two-day film festival corrals a wide range of styles from around the world in service to its stated focus on "abstract animation and unusual character animation." The result is a program that is of interest to lots of audiences, from devotees of avant-garde and experimental cinema to comics fans to old school animation enthusiasts to art lovers to people who watch too much Adult Swim.

On the first program, Saturday afternoon, the geometrical reveries such as Mirai Mizue's arresting Modern No. 2 and Ballpit, from Kyle Mowat, immediately caught our eye. Animation has long been a great way to explore new relationships to music and sound, as elections like Selections like Christopher Hinton's cNote, Jake Fried's Waiting Room and Bruno Dicolla's stunning computer-generated work, The End, look to attest.

Mixed in with the new material are classic animations from as far back as the 1930s and 1940s, with one highlight sure to be Celestial Navigation (1985) by the legendary Al Jarnow (something you may want to grab on this nifty DVD compilation from Numero Group, if you're looking to bribe us any time soon.)

Saturday evening will feature special guest Nancy Andrews presenting three of her animated films, Hedwig Page, Seaside Librarian (1998), The Haunted Camera (2006), and Behind the Eyes (2009). On Sunday, two full programs are replete with highlights, such as the mesmerizing organic creations of Adam Beckett, who was head of animation and rotoscoping on Star Wars. The definitely not-safe-for-work Removed, in which Naomi Uman used bleach and nail polish remover to erase the female body from each frame of some 1970s softcore pornography and Keiichi Tanaami's incredible 1975 animation Sweet Friday are must-sees. We're curious about local filmmaker Jim Trainor's The Fetishist (1997), which took 11 years to make and tells the story of a teenage murderer, and curious to see whether Thorne Brandt's collage of 1,000 animated GIFs, AGOD 2012 looks different than when we saw it at the NEXT Art fair last year.

Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation 2012 Preview Trailer from Eyeworks Festival on Vimeo.