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Cheer and Loathing in Animation: Episode XXV - Please Be Honest

Every Friday Chris Robinson unleashes improvised and hastily scribbled cheer or loathing on the animation community to be digested, swallowed or... expelled. This week he wonders if animation film reviews are critical enough.

Cheer and Loathing in Animation illustrations by Theodore "Teddy" Ushev

So…the other day I was just standing around scrolling through Facebook posts while waiting for my boxing class to start. Someone had posted a justifiably heated and critical review of a documentary film (can’t remember the title, but it was about an abuser meeting his victim). It was a fiery piece of writing. I liked it.  Anyway, it got me thinking about the age old feeling that in animation circles that we’re all too nice to each other’s work (at least when backs aren’t turned).  

Now… since I started these weekly writings for AWN back in November 2016, I’ve tried move myself away from the ranty reactionism of The Animation Pimp columns in favour of something equally honest but more contemplative and positive. Each week I highlight animators and people and films that I like or respect (or connect with on a personal level) or discuss issues that I think might be worth discussing … but that’s maybe not so useful for the filmmaker…and really… overall... is the niceness too much? I mean, it’s everywhere. There’s no shortage of fluffy uncritical praise on animation websites across the world. How beneficial is that? Wouldn’t it be more interesting and constructive to take films that me we I don't really like all that much and discuss their perceived problems? I don’t mean just cruelly venting about a work, but something more analytical and distant and constructive… that calmly – but honestly - explains what precisely the writer finds problematic with a work. It wouldn’t be easy for an animator to read it, but wouldn’t that be a hell of a lot more useful than endless, meaningless praise?

So… dear animators, what would you like to see? What would help you develop, grow and continue as an artist?

Chris Robinson's picture

A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

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