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Pictures from the Brainbox: A Weekly Dose of Indie Animation - 'Replacement'

Every Tuesday, Chris Robinson digests and dissects (relatively) new indie animation short films. This week he screens a snippet from Replacement (2013), a relatively unknown film about a child's dread about a dentist appointment.

'Replacement' by Boyoung Kim

Much like the experience watching Sean Buckelew’s Another, Buyoung Kim’s Replacement (2013) is an oddly hypnotic and patiently paced film (it runs at about 18 minutes). The premise is remarkably simple and yet recognizable to almost everyone: In three weeks, a kid is scheduled to get his tooth pulled at the dentist. The film then shows us the endless agonizing and irrational anxiety that devours the poor kid leading up to the dreaded appointment.  If Michaelangelo Antonioni had made an animation short film about going to the dentist, it would probably turn out a lot like Replacement (except Monica Vitti would be in the main role).

Now, the film wasn’t shown all that much at festivals and we didn’t take it for Ottawa (though, fittingly, I took a long, pained time to decide), but there’s just something so inexplicably mesmerizing about the film.

When I spoke with Bo-Young Kim (who self-funded the film and worked on it for a year) a few years ago, she told me that, “one of the most traumatic experiences from my childhood was when I first had to get my tooth pulled. It was the most common way to pull their kid's tooth when I was young and I was really terrified of it.”

I think that’s what enraptured me about the film. Whether it’s appointments, surgeries, flights, job interviews… we’ve all had these periods of anxiety and dread – whether as a kid or adult or parent. Bu-young serenely and compassionately captures that glorious insane in-between period.

Normally, I only write about films that are available for the public online, but in this case, we only have a 1-minute-long trailer for the film. It’s enough to give you a small taste of the design and rhythm. 

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.