Not in Taipei? Sucks to be you, but here is the chef lowdown on what was up on the screen. Chances are you may be able to find the stuff on YouTube or elsewhere depending on how the artist distributes the work.

Taipei Competition 2
program schedule for Taipei Competition 2

The Ringmaster
This is the first of several films by Word Fisher Animation Studios, which is mainly a guy named Wenchung Lu. This one was pretty cool, though a bit long, and the audio was kinda distorted. It was also kind of dark at the beginning, and there is a scene where the boy hangs himself from a tree. At this time, they put a large message up on the left side of the screen, which I’m guessing meant “Don’t do this at home”, probably because Taiwan’s already had problems with people committing suicide, particularly in a copycat fashion to news events. Nothing says “THIS FESTIVAL IS AWESOME” like opening with a little-boy-suicide scene. It gets happier later I think.

The Whistle Stops
This is the first Taiwanese Taiwanesey film, which gets into stuff with symbolism and indirect hatred of the Japanese. I only say this because it clearly focuses around a retro toy robot that is both a toy from a now dead father, a troop stomping death machine, and a empathetic automaton all in the film. Also, because during the Q&A, the director wanted to focus on the fact that it was the Japanese that started this shit way back when. Kinda long for me, but it was pretty high quality and the train scenes were very Taiwanesey feelin’.

P Lee Frog
What happens when you take Crazy Frog and have him(well, I’m pretty sure Crazy Frog’s a him, with his nubbin’ ‘n all) in 4th wall breaking scenarios between film strip frames, much like the Chuck Jones classic Duck Amuck? I wouldn’t know, since what I saw was a blatant ripoff of Crazy Frog doing generally uninspired “antics” between movie frames for barely a minute. Shiny crap, basically. The filmmaker is apparently an industry veteran of 8ish years working on commercial stuff, which may explain why this will appeal to two groups of people: A) corporate people, and B) people who can’t tell this is in fact, not Crazy Frog, and paw at shiny objects.

Claw Tropolis
This was the first film I was actually impressed by, mainly due to the design of the “claw bus” in the film. It has a distinctive look and has good character design and story flow. Also, it’s about a guy who does bad things to good people because he got cheated out of going to an event he’d been waiting for – something we can all relate to.

The Shoes
This was the second film from that Word Fisher group. You know that it must be a good film if it opens with 8 or 9 different “IT WON AN AWARD” and “IT OPENED SOME FILM FESTIVAL” statements, all with pretentious wings by the statement to let you know that it’s super-film-festival-ly. And yet, the film was something like twice as long as the “OMG AWARDZ EVRYWR!”. Good, short, predictable.

Popa Family
If you could vote a film for failed potential, this would be it. I say this mainly because it has parts that come AMAZINGLY CLOSE to shoving it into a Sick & Twisted show, but ends up being super kid friendly in a drooling toddler approved sort of way. This section was super long because it was three shorts, all of which followed an episode formula of crisis, let’s see what the asshole daughter does and laugh at her cruelty, and then let’s have the wise father come up with an idea and save the day.

Joke Series
I doubt this will be a prize winner, but it was really good nonetheless. All it was was 3 jokes (kinda like “a guy walks into a bar” jokes) with animations to illustrate/explain the joke. The second one, which was about an oversexed rooster, was chock full of awesome.

The Mosquito Effect
Apparently, this was based on “The Butterfly Effect” of chaos theory, which states that “it is possible through a chain of events for a butterfly flapping its wings to cause a typhoon across the world”. In this one, they say they examine “how one mosquito can change the fate of a man”. What you get is something more akin to reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book with two fingers to hold your place so you can try a different path later. Note that this has less to do with chaos theory and more to do with what ifs. Okay film, but the “Mosquito Effect” copycatting of the “Butterfly Effect” gives it +15 to Pretentiousness and a -10% To Hit Credibility.

It’s also notable that this, like The Whistle Stops, seems to use character models that seem like they’re pulled out of Poser or some other “stock human” 3D model pack. They look good, but it looks like a higher quality version of what the news programs use to make a “re-enactment” scene of a murder, gangland killing, rape, etc. I must say though, that this film did a REALLY good job of recreating a Taipei apartment and street, from the windows to the Taiwan Beer can a drunk is holding.

Super short, super cool. Blends real-life video with realistic computer animation that’s hard to detect at first, so it looks really nifty and artsy.

Movement and Stillness
Meh. Didn’t care much for this one, which shows a still room with a piece of paper that comes to life with fishes ‘n shit. Looks like a student demo reel, what with all the wireframe fishes in an animation building layers to a fully textures and lit fish doing said animation.

Love Plug Love
Male plug tries to hook up with female outlet. Antics ensue. Short, funny.

I loved this one and wouldn’t mind seeing it again – it’s an animation going through the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, but it uses a very expressive animation style that looks like a cross between watercolors and particles(like sand). It reminds me of the fucking amazing animation The Bead Game, which is a product of Canada’s Film Board. Not as expansive or badass as The Bead Game, but similar in animation style and flow that are both playful and mesmerizing, one form evolving into another while never losing the viewer’s attention, interest, or understanding. You can’t help but be fascinated by experimental animation like this.