The 14th Annual SA Film Festival

There have only been two animated feature films released this year (Horton Hears a Who and Kung Fu Panda), so it was worthwhile to attend the third day of the SAFF where the line up of short films included a few nice animations.

The very first one – and my favorite of the afternoon – was Berlitad, a 10-minute short from Mexico City, directed by Pablo Angeles. The film is about a small, salmon-colored alien who dreams of a life more fulfilling than having to work a monotonous job in a machine-parts factory. The animation is beautifully imagined and well-drawn. For those of you who didn’t get a chance to make it to the Instituto on Saturday, you can see Berlitad here.

In Invisible Master, San Antonio director Mike Fisher introduced the audience to a character known as a nanosapien, a sort-of robotic superhero who travels through the human bloodstream in a spaceship to fight disease. With a techno soundtrack beating throughout the nanosapien’s journey and some trippy visuals, Master was an entertaining 4-minute infomercial on living a healthy life.

From Portland, Oregon, director Holly Klein presented her film Maggie and Mildred, a story about two young girls and the fun time they have together during the day. I had never seen an animation like this one. The characters looked like they were made from needlework. I could see Klein stitching together a series of these and a channel like PBS Kids picking it up. It was very sweet and charming.

Finally, there was Red Princess Blues from Hollywood, Florida. More of a 10-minute character-development prequel to set up the upcoming feature-length film, RPB is an anime film that follows Princess, a 12-year-old girl who is taken in by a man named Nino. Nino has promised her father he would take care of her. With a heart full of vengeance, Princess discovers the “Book of Violence” among the stacks of books in Nino’s home. (The “Book of Violence” is basically a series of books with the pages cut out to fit knives and guns). I really liked Princess’s last line of the short: “I hope I never have to use what I learned from those books, but something tells me, I’m not going to be that lucky.”) Great set up for the film, don't you think? A few months ago, I was able to interview Colombian actress Paula Garces, who is a producer of RPB and the voice of Princess. For those of you who don’t know who Paula is, she’s best known for playing Maria, the love interest of Harold in “Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle.” You know, the girl Harold fantasizes over and ends up kissing at the end of the film. Anyway, when Paula and I were talking about RPB, she was really excited about her pet project and talked about how a Latina influence has never really been used in Japanese anime before. It could be an interesting culture clash. You can see the prequel here.