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Animation fest sparkles

by Tomoko Otake

A collection of surreal, witty and thought-provoking short animation films currently showing at the Laputa Animation Festival 2010 in Asagaya, western Tokyo, stands splendidly apart from the plethora of mainstream anime works that vie for airtime on Japanese TV.

Now in its 10th year, the annual festival, taking place at Laputa Asagaya, a 48-seat art-house theater in Tokyo’s residential Suginami Ward, this year boasts about 70 films from around the world. Included in the lineup are works from renowned Estonian creator Priit Parn, known for his satirical leanings, and Mati Kutt, another Estonian master of surreal, comical animation films. The festival is also running David O’Reilly’s 10-minute feature “Please Say Something,” which depicts in digital images a troubled relationship between a female cat and a male mouse. The German film won the Golden Bear award in the short-film category at the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival.

Not to be outdone by overseas rivals, the films of up-and-coming Japanese artists are also showcased, including Atsushi Wada’s “Hana No Hi” (“Day of the Nose”), a surreal 10-minute film about noses, and Mirai Mizue’s awards-winning “Jam,” in which colorful, amoebalike patterns keep popping up and become layered on top of each other on the screen.

“These are the so-called ‘art-animation’ films, free from commercial concerns,” said Naoko Iwasawa, spokeswoman for Laputa Asagaya. “A lot of Japanese animation projects are commercially driven, but we are trying to support animators who make films purely to express themselves.”

The 10th Laputa Animation Festival 2010 runs through June 5. Tickets are ¥1,200 for adults and ¥1,000 for seniors and students. For more information, call the theater at (03) 3336-5440 or visit www.laputa-jp.com/