In the first day alone of the 2008 Toronto Film Festival, there are no less than three non-cutesy-ironic-computer-generated-fairy-tale-spoof feature-length films showing.
Like 2007’s massive fest-buzz film Persepolis, based on a graphic novel concerning an outspoken young Iranian girl during the Islamic Revolution that went on to garner an Oscar nom ( but lost to Ratatouille), we see a new 2D offering titled Waltz with Bashir – a memoir of serving time in the Israeli army as it invades Lebanon in response to a series of attacks. Rotoscoped over source footage originally shot on film.
Two stop-motion films in the vein of Wallace and Grommit or The Corpse Bride show on day one of the fest, within 15 mins of each other: Edison & Leo by UK director Neil Burns (Varsity 8 Cinema, 7:45PM) explores intellectual, spiritual and literal theft in a noirish steampunk setting, while Tatia Rosenthal’s $9.99 , voiced by Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Ben Mendelson and Barry Otto is a soul-searching film, centered around a man who expects to find some answers from a book that claims he can find all sorts of answers for the “low price of $9.99.” (AMC 7 – 7:30PM)
What do I make of it? Puppets are used very successfully as a proxy for a shrink or parent or older sibling as a channel for communicating with young children. Heck even older children. Oscar Wilde said, and I am paraphrasing, that you give a man a mask and he will show you his true self. Animation offers an interesting ambrosia-like buffer that affords us a different way to access the subject matter. Alternatively, animation allows a director to control the performances of his “actors” completely. Every facial tic, eyebrow raise, cloud in the sky, is under his or her direct command.