loves2k19: the films by women at animation block party

Yesterday I went to Animation Block Party, and there was a moment where my friend and I got nervous, because the first three shorts they played were of a certain… type. Now I know it’s not impossible for white male animators to produce interesting work, but if you wanted to build a case for it… I mean at least Flex Calibur was fun! And Pine High did some things! And Phantom 52… you know what I’ll stop there!

Anyway thank GOD, the program did include work by women! And they were outstanding: Under Covers by Michaela Olsen and ROSE QUARTZ/FULTON STREET by Sarah Schmidt.

Under Covers

So this will probably be frustrating to read, because a) Under Covers is a short film that you really ought to see knowing nothing beforehand, but b) I can’t find any information on how one can view Under Covers!

AFAICT it’s not available online anywhere… I hope it’s eventually uploaded somewhere? Or becomes available for purchase? Anyway. In the mean time: See if any of your local theaters are screening animated shorts from Sundance 2019? idk!

As I said, I think Under Covers is best experienced with no prior knowledge, so I’ll describe more what it does than what it is.

Often when a film has an interesting storytelling mechanism or is made through an unconventional medium, the story itself is unremarkable. Under Covers has both qualities — it’s a story told through under-the-covers/under-the-bed reveals, in stop-motion — but also manages to tell a weird and compelling story, a celebration of secrets and vulnerability and nakedness.

What’s fun about the film is that it starts out jarringly strange, then somehow by the end, without ever noticing, you’ve been sold on every very-odd part of it. Like 7 minutes later, when all the characters float up into space to orbit a smiling moon, you’re like, “ok yeah! that makes sense.”

It’s also visually v beautiful! Gorgeous colors and materials.

Try to see it somehow! If you can!

Rose Quartz/Fulton Street

On my way home from the event, I looked this one up and I learned that it’s actually a music video commissioned for and by a band called La Dispute.

I think it’s better viewed the way I viewed it, though, as a gorgeous short film with an unexpected soundtrack that just narrowly avoids overwhelming it:

This is such a hard thing to pull off!

The whole thing takes itself so seriously — it’s an intense song, with intense, 0-subtlety kind of lyrics, set to … a cartoon? How does this not become a parody of itself?

And yet it works! The chorus(?) especially is breathtaking.

(Argh this is also something that was truly stunning to see outdoors, at night, on a giant HD projector screen! But a computer screen will have to do as a proxy.)

Honorable mentions

Octane by Jeron Braxton was also extremely cool! I had to go to the bathroom so I missed part of it 😅 ugh should have gone during — nvm.

I’ll also enter this, which is not an animation, but is filmed by me, premiered on Instagram as a story: it was a nice day

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loves2k19: this kpop sub-unit dance cover of lovely

It’s 2019 and I’m on a kpop journey, led joyfully and competently by my friend-coworker-neighborhood-kpop-scholar Ryan Khosravi.

Recently Ryan showed me this video (a mere bullet point in the lecture slides of Ryan’s kpop curriculum) and I can’t stop watching it.

It’s Ten and WinWin from the sub-unit WayV of NCT (look at me, using words!) doing a dance cover of lovely by Billie Eilish and Khalid:

Sometimes I wonder if I’m expressively stunted by never learning how to dance.

Like how sometimes it’s easier to understand someone’s feelings by looking at their face, are there things, thoughts, emotions that are best expressed through dance? Are there things, thoughts, emotions that I feel internally but cannot communicate because they are only expressible through dance?

Growing up, I knew some Korean-American kids who could understand Korean when they heard it, but they couldn’t speak Korean themselves. I always wondered what that would feel like.

Does it maybe feel a bit like how I feel, watching a dancer? Like dancers are able to communicate to me, and in this case something so clear and fittingly lovely, but I don’t have the language to reply.

I’m grateful I at least have this one-way lopsided comprehension, though.

Imagine watching this and not feeling anything!

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loves2k19: IG dog bichon_tori

I know that one’s favorite IG animal is neither novel in concept nor interesting to hear about but fml bichon_tori.

Like this is not just some regular cute dog situation:

Not only is Tori a style icon but ALSO HIS LIFESTYLE IS ASPIRATIONAL

Like how is this dog providing me a blueprint on how to live my life?

Style icon, lifestyle icon, fitness icon, relatable legend bichon_tori I do not want to have you, I want to be you, and for those reasons you are most certainly in my loves, 2k19.

Update 6/21: tori in a travel bag

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loves2k19: How It Feels by Jenny Zhang

(So I’ve decided I’m trying to catalog the things I love in 2019. (Not necessarily things created in 2019.))

(Starting now. This is the first one!)

This is a thing I love in 2019: How It Feels by Jenny Zhang

How It Feels is an essay on poetry and its place in a culture where, culturally, we’ve decided that emotion is humiliating.

GOSH I love Jenny Zhang. Lately it’s been hard for me to create anything, because I’m perpetually embarrassed by anything I have to say. (Well, not anything I have to say; just anything that, like, matters to me.)

…I’m trying to unlearn this! And this essay is encouraging me to look at my own work with more kindness.

OK Jenny, thank you. I will attempt to be 3% less embarrassed by my existence.

Also this essay is SO beautifully written. Wholly unsurprising if you’ve read Jenny Zhang’s work before but aghghghsdf I can’t help but marvel every time.

Some highlights:

“I found it so incredibly generous — to be just as ugly as anyone but to emphasize that ugliness over and over again, to let yourself be the subject of your art and to take all the pummeling and the eye-rolling and the cruel remarks and the who cares? and the that’s not art that’s just a scorned woman unable to let go.”

“We built our private little world through these mistakes, and like everyone else falling in love we tried to become one entity, impenetrable through our arsenal of inside jokes, through a language that other people could not understand or use.”

“I think everyone wants to make something touchable, but most of us don’t out of fear of being laughable. I’m not saying I’m fearless.”

Read this and improve your life!