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Strangers in the Night

The Late Night Work Club collective debuts new animation anthology, 'Strangers.'

The Late Night Work Club is kinda like some old school film co-op. You know one of those places where filmmakers would rent any venue they could find (bar, church, basement) and show each other their films on 8 or 16mm. The format and venue has obviously changed (this is more like an online drive-thru screening…or is that a sit-thru… porta-thru? Pass by?) but this animation collective (loosely consisting of number of acclaimed young-ish animators) has all the spirit of previous generations of DIY filmmakers.

This second anthology (which reminds me a bit of the live-action anthology show Black Mirror) tackles the theme of Strangers -- a fitting topic given how connected we keep being told we are today -- and features some outstanding new work that you’ll certainly be seeing at festivals near and far from you. Opening the program is Born in a Void by Alex Grigg (whose festival hottie, Phantom Limb was featured in the first anthology). This fragmented colour dance might be aping Jacques Lacan’s "mirror stage" (that’s when a baby sees its reflection for the first time and realizes that it’s actually separate from everything from it…and then spends the rest of its life trying to make up for that imagined lack). Or maybe it’s just about a generation of digital narcissists so fixated on their screens that they can’t see all the life happening around them.

Other stand outs include Nicolas Menard’s Wednesday with Goddard, about a simple man who decides he’s going to hit the road and find God -- and does.  Sean Buckelew’s Love Streams, a sad and spot on little tale about trying to find meaningful love in a virtual world, and Jeanette Bond’s Departure, about an intimate encounter between strangers on a plane (i.e. mile high club)

But my favorite piece is Caleb Wood’s ingenious Anomation. This real time animation jam was hosted in a drawing/chatroom website called 'doodletoo' and recorded online live online like a time-lapse. The result is a wild, manic, stream of consciousness mindfuck. Faces, figures, colours explode and morph instantaneously. It’s like birth is death, death is birth. Things appears and change (very much like with a Bruce Bickford film) that you have nothing to hold onto, leaving us all, animators and audience, as nothing more than passersby, strangers.

Just go and watch all of this.

And then go outside to a park bench.

Sit, smile and breathe.

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.