Three little films screening for TIFF Kids – Orange O Despair, The Little Team and Ballet of Unhatched Chicks – remind me that there’s something really great about short films made for children. Without a whole two hours to fill, ideas that might get tedious are compressed into a few minutes and can be brilliant. And the best of these little gems tend to be universal; parents will chuckle alongside their kids.
Two of these shorts are CGI animated. Orange O despair offers the immediately hilarious subject of dancing fruits. Zone in on a humble French fruit stand and picture a gaggle of pineapples with big smiles bobbing back and forth to a cartoonish reggae soundtrack. Then dolly on over to the orange section and we meet our spherical protagonist, a little orange. He’s looking over at the pineapples and he wants in on the action – but his orange elders are uniformly glum. Et voila: there’s your simple, universal plot of a person (or fruit) wanting to fit in with another crowd. This micro-comedy (4 minutes long) offers enough twists and delightful sight gags to really warm a crowd.
Ballet of Unhatched Chicks also looks impressive, but lacks the uptempo excitement that Orange O Despair pulls off. You know those not-quite-there works of animation (or computer game sequences) where characters are stiff and not exactly alive? Ballet of Unhatched Chicks is better than that, but it’s missing a spark. Nevertheless, it’s still fun watching a bunch of colourful eggs dance around in elaborate formations while gradually sprouting legs and beaks. The colours are nicely chosen and there’s enough in this tiny two-minute film to keep you engaged.
While Orange is utterly charming – and Ballet holds its own – you’re most likely to remember The Little Team a year later. This nine-minute live-action documentary tells the story of a Catalan kids’ soccer team that just can’t seem to score a goal. The kids look about eight years old and they’re more or less adorable.
Directors Roger GÃ³mez and Dani Resines keep the camera on the kids, interviewing them in a tight frame and a shallow depth of field . This is a style you usually only see with adult subjects and brings to mind the question: why don’t kids get interviewed more? They’re so weird. Through interview after interview, we get a funny and warm portrait of a bunch of kids whose dream that they’ll score a goal – let alone win a game – keeps them resilient and happy. This one’s a keeper.
Sometimes kids’ movies can be hard to bear. Disney and Pixar dominate the little ones’ brains and their star-studded, ironic animations all start to look the same. TIFF Kids does an excellent job of bringing a diverse film selection from around the world that will surprise, entertain and broaden horizons.
Orange O Despair screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, March 14, 2012 at 10:45 am and March 21 at 12:30 pm as part of Loot Bag: Follow Your Dreams!
Ballet of Unhatched Chicks screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, March 14, 2012 at 1:45 pm and March 21 at 12:15 pm as part of Reel Rascals Shorts: Movin’ and Groovin’!
Ballet of Unhatched Chicks screens at TIFF Bell Lightbox on Saturday, March 14, 2012 at 1:oo pm and March 21 at 10:30 am as part of For the Love of…
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