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LIAF 2015: Best Abstract Film – Behind the Scenes with the Jury

This year Jonathan Hodgson, Ton Crone and Riccardo Iacono formed our Jury for the Best Abstract Animation Award. Read on to find out what our much-learned judges had to say about the winning film Steven Subotnick‘s Line and why they ultimately awarded it the LIAF 2015 Abstract Film Award.

A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time, Max Hattler, LIAF, London International Animation Festival

A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time (Max Hattler)

But before you do Jonathan, Ton and Riccardo wanted to make Special Mention of another abstract film, Max Hattler’s A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time:

Like something out of a science lab experiment – A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time – we thought deserved a Special Mention for its vitality and childlike sense of play and intelligence.

Jury, LIAF 2015 Abstract Film Award

Best Abstract Film Jury Statement

One could write a whole essay about this film and some. Initially it was not a piece we all agreed on as being outstanding (the winner). We thought it used sound and image in a very “interesting” way. It was pleasing, (satisfying and moving in parts), but somewhat bewildering. It seemed a very considered piece, but unresolved and inconclusive. It was “noisy, unclear, unconvincing”.

We say “was” because we based our decision on only one viewing of the film and we revisited it through discussion. But it is definitely a film that deserves repeated viewings and serious consideration. Not just for its ability to please. Not just for its elegance and subtlety, or its poetry; but it’s awkwardness.

Line from Steven Subotnick on Vimeo.

It could be described as a kind of visual music. It would work as well without sound as it does with, but of course it would be a different film. Line is more of a thinking film; a philosophical meditation. The soundtrack is essential in providing the material and framework for looking at and thinking about the image. It consists of choral music and the sound of people coughing. Why?

The film opens with a horizontal line, floating in the middle of the screen. We see the beginning of the line and the end of the line. It quivers, wobbles. It is not clear how it was rendered, whether it is a hand-drawn or digital. In the course of the film we see it undergo various transformations in orientation, shape, position and scale. The line seems to be responding to a kind of magnetic force that makes it bend and twist. One line becomes many. Together they form a kind of rectangle with sides that do not meet. An enclosure with openings. The base line becomes a perfectly formed circle. Lines slide, divide, intersect and multiply. The film culminates with entanglement of animated abstract motifs, resembling some ancient indecipherable text.

It is possibly describing or referring to a kind of sacred geometry or belief system – a dialogue between open and closed systems, the finite and continuous, positive and negative – we don’t know. It is not explicit, but there is something quite profound and humbling about this work, its questions, the way it seems to reflect on the human condition – our frailty.

Jury, LIAF 2015 Abstract Film Award