Jonas Odell the Great
22nd Nordisk Panorama – 5 Cities Film Festival 2011, Aarhus, Denmark, 23 – 28 September 2011
Even though our Jury was meant to judge short documentaries, I was very curious to see the latest Scandinavian short animated films, and, to be honest, I expected a lot. Since I have been a film critic for a long time (around 40 years), I have always been interested in what is happening in the world animation (since the period of Yugoslavian animation, led by the world famous Zagreb School of Animation). Having written many articles about world animation as a whole, I knew beforehand what to expect from the Scandinavian filmmakers.
When in Aarhus, I was pleased to see the retrospective of the one of the most talented directors, the Swedish animator Jonas Odell. I consider him as one of the greatest in the field of music videos and commercials. In his music videos (he is based, besides Stockholm and New York, and in London as the Mecca of the rock era), I recognized the true meaning of Odell’s fruitful interpretation/collaboration with the great rock bands such as U2, The Rolling Stones, Erasure, Franz Ferdinand and others. He creates his music videos as a mixture of modern Dadaesque graphics, early film underground/experimental cinema, with a sharp eye for painting and design and all packed in a vibrating animated collage style, totally depending on the music that inspires him.
Jonas Odell demonstrates his creativity and imagination by proving that music videos are among the most expressive art forms of the 21st Century. At the Nordisk Panorama in Aarhus, beside the selection of his best music videos, I saw a group of Jonas Odell’s best short animated films which show his creative mastery, such as Never Like the First Time! (Aldrig som första gången!), the winner of the Small Golden Bear Award at the Berlinale short film competition in 2006 and Lies (Lögner) – awarded as the Best International Short at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009. On both these films, Odell was writer-director leading a team of animators composed of Per Helin, Arvid Steen, Marcus Krupa and others. Among the best animated films was Revolver (Här är karusellen, 1993), a film inspired by classic silent era animation. From the 2000s are Family & Friends (Släkt & vänner, 2002), with the music composed by Odell himself and the newer Tussilago (2010).
Also from Sweden, the Aarhus Nordisk Panorama also screened a present You Tube attraction Las Palmas (2011) by Johannes Nyholm, as a combination of fiction and animation, which had its premiere in the Quinzaine Program at the Cannes Film Festival. The main attraction of this feature/animated comedy comes from the fact that in the main role, a Swedish tourist on a package holiday in Las Palmas, is the director’s daughter, a one-year-old baby Helmi, who acts a drunken woman, turns over a table, tries to make new friends, has good fun, but also annoys the other guests, played by string puppets. The other very interesting Swedish animated film was Anyone for Tennis? by Monne Lindstrom, who creates an absurd story inspired by tennis and summer holidays.
The home country Denmark was represented by a special selection from the Animation Workshop in Viborg, the internationally renowned school of animation and a workspace for animation and the production of animation for video games and other media. Within this program were presented 11 short animated films by talented young filmmakers. Also, from the latest Danish animation, were Venus by Tor Fruergaard, a plastic animation sex comedy; The Great Mistake in which the director Anders Berthelson makes a mafia-hit man parody; Heavy Heads by Helena Frank, a minimalist black comedy about loneliness and solitude; The Art World’s Ugly Faces (Kunstens grimme ansigter) by Malte Klagenberg, another fiction/animated parody about modern life.
Finland is also fertile in animation production. The best examples were The Tongueling (Kielitiettyni) by Elli Vuorinen and Animals for Animals (Eläimiä eläimille) by the tandem of Tatli Pohjavirta & Mark Stahle. The very best example from Norway was the short animated film with the symbolic title The Last Norwegian Troll (Det siste norske trollet) by the writer-director Pjotr Sapegin.
Scandinavian animated films for children also have a good tradition. In Aarhus there was a selection of new Nordic children’s shorts, composed of 5 films, two Swedish: I am Round (Jag är rund) by Mario Adamson and Sid the Pike (Gäddan Sid) by Tony Holm; the Danish film The Fir Tree (Grantræet) by Lars Osten Felb, the Finnish Learning to Play (Soitto-oppilas) by JP Saari and above mentioned film from Norway The Last Norwegian Troll.
Blagoja Kunovski, Macedonia, FEDEORA jury member