30 March 2013

Logan’s Power

This short movie, written and directed by Mike Lamarra, reminds me of something that Jeremy Bentham, the founder of modern utilitarianism, once said: stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet.  You could said this is true of Logan a twenty eight year old who lives with and works under his older brother, a massive comic book fan who, well, isn’t quite as emotionally mature as he might be at his age.

So, of course, there is the unobtainable Jean at work upon whom Logan has doted for a long time - a veritable car crash of emotions just waiting to happen.  One day he decides that the time is right: he has recently finished his costume for the next Comic-Con and decides to wear it to work to impress the distant, workaholic Jean in to a date.  His best friend and co-worker, Kat, tries to dissuade him, but his mind is made up: Logan sets off a chain of events which will change his life and those around him for ever – but is it for good too?

This very sweet and understated short film with strong central performances by Sketkh Williams and Krista Amigone has been doing the rounds at various film festivals where it has been very well received by audiences.  If you have ever looked in one direction for love while you should really have been looking another way entirely, this is for you.

29 March 2013

23 Degrees 5 Minutes, Starring John Hurt and Stuart Townsend

An explorer becomes lost in the wastes of the Arctic and realizes that he will soon die. He recounts the events of twenty five years before, the events which had led him, inexorably through the years, to this point. As he begins to perish from the cold he remembers his student days at Trinity College in Dublin, studying under the mysterious and inscrutable Professor Orit who had been driven to the point of borderline insanity by his life’s preoccupation – the pursuit of the unified theory…

Directed by Darragh O'Connell, featuring the voice talents of John Hurt (who will be starring in the 50th anniversary Doctor Who episode in November) and Stuart Townsend and produced by Colm Tyrrell, the film was scripted by Darragh O'Connell based on a short story by Austin Kenny. Nominated for an IFTA in 2012, '23 Degrees 5 Minutes' was funded under the Frameworks scheme from the Irish Film Board, RTE and the Arts Council of Ireland.  There is also a very cool blog which describes how the film was made.

Mondo Curio Celebrates 10,000 Hours of Photomontage

Mondo Curio is run by photographer Paul Cook. Cook takes photographs and then manipulates them to challenge our perceptions of what is original, investigating balance and equilibrium as a holistic aesthetic.

The website is now celebrating 10,000 hours of Photomontage (which translates in to three years!) and Cook has arranged an exhibition at St Andrew’s Church in Toronto to celebrate the occasion.  Take a look at wonderful photomanipulations at the website or visit the Facebook Page. The exhibition will run from May 1 and through the entire month.

26 March 2013


This didn’t make it online in time for the recent St Patrick’s Day celebrations (which would have been the ideal date to share this with you) but here it is nonetheless.  Origin tells the (visually metaphorical) tale of a young man, who due to Ireland’s straightened circumstances, has decided to leave the country in search of pastures new.  Yet when he realizes at the airport that his passport is still in his flat the dash back to retrieve it stirs an ancient spirit within him.

Created under the marvelous Short Shorts scheme funded by the Irish Film Board, Origin was scripted by Matthew Darragh and James Stacey, with an original score by Rónán Ó Snodaigh of Kíla. It was directed by James Stacey and produced by Sean Smith of Souljacker.


If you have ever wondered – as I have – when exactly the moment will come that art will eat itself then you may not need to wonder anymore.  Take a look at Joke, directed by Nickolas Duarte. It may make you laugh; it may repulse or perhaps even disgust you. One way or another I think it may usurp your expectations of what an experimental film should be by ultimately refusing to be an experimental film (and by its own genre-specific self-rejection it then becomes exactly what purports to hate).  There’s enough contradiction in Joke to make your head spin.

Enough of the arty yada yada yada from me.  Joke made me sit up and pay attention, and to (at least for a minute until my butterfly brain was drawn elsewhere) reconsider my relationship with art, particularly in its modern, audiovisual incarnation.

21 March 2013

Between Bears

Beautiful, bizarre, ethereal, captivating - some of the many adjectives which I could attach to this exquisite piece of animation by Eran Hilleli.  A graduate of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem this short has the measured pace and confident design of a mature animator but was in fact Hilleli's recent graduation thesis piece.  As such this makes the animation even more notable.

The music, too, specially composed for the film by Ori Avni and performed by him and Daniela Spector is beautifully nuanced and perfectly balanced - being just the right combination of memorable but non intrusive.

It would be giving the story away if I were to go in to it in any detail here, but suffice it to say that Between Bears is a piece from which you can take what you want and read in to it what you will.  There is a mystery here which needs not be solved but instead pondered.  If you want your animation to be Disneyfied then this may not be for you - or if you are expecting exploding planets or angry aliens (which, OK, may be what you get on Kuriositas on your average day) then this may not appeal.

If, however, you are in a contemplative mood then go away, prepare a beverage of your choice, light up if you smoke and take this in.  Simply gorgeous.

Creep - Animated Interpretation of the Radiohead Song

Jaw, meet floor. You may have heard this musical interpretation of the Radiohead song Creep if you saw The Social Network.

It is sung by the Scala & Kolacny Brothers choir which is a rather bizarre name for one which consists completely of female singers, but there you go.  The reason why it has that name is that the choir is run by two brothers, Stijn and Steven who conduct and accompany the Belgian choir.  A haunting version of the song, no doubt, but now joined with a visual element.

The choir's interpretation of the song is different, to say the least and that is probably what attracted animator Alex Heller.  This from Ms Heller herself - My name is Alex and I am trapped in the suburbs. I have absolutely nothing better to do than fantasize about other people's lives. That's a nice (possibly tongue in cheek) introduction but take her talents as an animator, a Belgian girl's choir and a Radiohead song beloved by many and you might think that you have a recipe for disaster.

Not so.  The three come together seamlessly.  I was absolutely blown away by this animation and it just goes to show (Mr Pixar) that you don't need a huge budget to produce an animation that has class, pathos and a real heart. We all want to belong but sometimes recreating ourselves to suit others will end in more rejection and hurt than if we just remain true to what we are.  This wonderful short animation is composed of 1554 pictures, shot with a Nikon D60.  Fantastic.

If you are curious to see what theBelgian Scala & Kolacny Brothers choir look like in the flesh, here they are performing the song on a Dutch TV show.

Explore Nicaragua's Masaya National Park

Located just an hour from Granada by car and about 20 kilometers from Managua, Masaya National Park is Nicaragua’s largest and first national park and home to the shield volcano Masaya, or “La Boca del Infierno” (“Mouth of Hell”), which the Spaniards named the active volcano after planting a cross on the crater lip during the 16th century in order to exorcise the devil. The Masaya Volcano National Park includes two volcanoes and five craters within a 54 square kilometer area. The volcanic complex is made up of a nested set of calderas and craters.

Both volcanoes have erupted several times throughout history, causing the local indigenous people and the Spanish conquerors to fear the volcanoes’ wrath. The eruptions have dramatically affected the landscape of the surrounding area, and rocks and volcanic ash still cover the terrain around the volcanoes. In addition, a variety of vegetation began to form after the eruptions, helping create a rough, but tranquil setting. The park is also inhabited by many different animals, including coyotes, skunks, raccoons, opossums, deer, iguanas, and monkeys.

Although the air is overwhelmed by the stench of sulfur, which invades your nostrils and mouth every time the wind blows, the stunning views of the park and the surrounding area make this gnarly smell worth withstanding. Visitors can view the massive crater that consistently emits smoke and sulfur gas by taking a look over the edge of the Masaya Volcano.

After taking some shots at the edge of hell’s mouth, those who wish to explore the volcano can take a brief hike through the narrow trails and pathways of the volcano. Be sure to stop along the way to check out the craters and vegetation that grows in areas that were untouched when the volcano last erupted. Hikers can opt to explore the park during the day or take a night tour that begins at dusk and includes a tour of the Tzinaconostoc Cave, which was formed by lava streams and is home to over 300,000 bats.

After dark you can stand at one entrance of the cave and snap photos of these rats with wings that dwell in this underground tunnel. The hike ends with a visit to the highest viewpoint of the volcano’s mouth where flowing lava seeps through the crater opening. Looking down at the glowing, bright orange light creeping through the dark entrance of the volcano makes it easy to understand why the Spanish named it La Boca del Infierno.

Hiking trails vary in distance and can be anywhere between 1.4 and 5.9 kilometers, taking about an hour to trek. All hikes are organized by knowledgeable tour guides and aren't too strenuous or difficult; just be sure to wear sturdy shoes and comfy clothing, which can be found at retailers like Marks and Spencer. The park contains a visitors’ centre where you can get information about the Masaya National Park and its volcanoes, book a tour, and learn about other aspects of the park such as the flora and fauna that inhabit the area. Remember to check out the other volcanoes that exist in the region during your stay in Nicaragua.

18 March 2013

All Along the Skeletal Chemical

Something a little more experimental than our usual fare on Kuriositas, this animation by Russosky gives us a voyage along the chemical molecular structures.   It takes us, so Russosky tells us ‘from the infamous Aspartame to baneful Warfarin, from the comfortable Benzocaine to the inhuman Nandrolone’.  That’s some description and I found the whole experience, together with the music by Scanone quite hypnotic.

Perhaps that is why I failed to recognize a single one of the chemicals represented here – perhaps it’s really because I know nothing more about chemistry than your average 14 year old.  Ignorance is bliss, however – and this is a delight.

Race for Life Ladies Destroy a Car – A Violent but Veracious Visual Metaphor

I think you will love this. If you live outside of dear old Blighty then you may not know that Cancer Research UK's Race for Life is the largest women-only fundraising event in the United Kingdom.  Since Race for Life began in 1994, 6 million participants across the UK have raised over £493 million for the charity.  That is quite something but the participants plan to raise much, much more until cancer is consigned to history.

Until then a visual metaphor will have to make do – and so a car is cancer’s stand in here. To show they mean business a gang of women take various implements to the car and proceed to have great fun smashing the thing to bits - by the end the car is completely destroyed (of that there is no doubt!).

Anything which starts with this car represents cancer: over the next two minutes we will take it down is good for my money. This is Race for Life's answer to the Harlem Shake: the video is quite simply full of enormous joie de vivre and the ladies certainly go at the car with considerable gusto.  This year’s participants in Race for Life are being encouraged to use this video as a warm up for the race by following a dance routine to this promo.  Connection by the incomparable and much missed Elastica is the soundtrack and the video is directed by David Wilson through the Mother London agency.

Cancer - We're coming to get you!

17 March 2013

Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty

Once upon a time there was a sweet old lady, who used to tell her grand daughter charming, sweet fairy tales with happy endings every evening.  Then, there was Granny O'Grimm, an embittered old Irish woman who would tell her own version of fairy tales. Dark, wickedly funny and beautifully made, this six minute animation was nominated for an Oscar for Best Animated Short in 2009 - as well as winning a number of prestigious prizes in its own right. If you like the idea of a lovely bedside story becoming a hilarious rant against the unfairness of old age in general, then you will love this.
The film was directed by Nicky Phelan, produced by Darragh O'Connell and written/voiced by Kathleen O'Rourke (left). Brown Bag Films is an animation studio based in Dublin (Ireland!). They also have a cool blog here.

It was Established in 1994 by Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O'Connell.  Brown Bag Films produce 3D character animation, including short films, features and TV series for international markets. The studio is multi-award-winning.

The Terms

A father and son live alone in the wilds of Ireland. We might call their small family unit dysfunctional in this day and age but perhaps that wouldn’t be putting too fine a point on it. The son has just burned down the family home and the father gives him the terms of his escape. A shotgun aimed in his direction, a head start and some money to make is way in the world: a chance to live, a chance to die. That is all he is offered but events do not transpire quite as either had anticipated.

The Terms is based on the short story by Irish writer Mike McCormack, starring Gary Lewis and Ciaran Flynn. It was written and directed by Jason LaMotte.  If the Irish brogue leaves you struggling to follow the action then you can see the short film with subtitles here.

Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly's History of Ireland

Next time you’re in Dublin perhaps you should avoid The Hairy Bowsie pub, unless you have deep pockets and an ability to listen to a load of sh*te (as my Irish friends often say when they are listening to me).

This is the abridged, shortened and somewhat mutilated history of Ireland, as recounted by one of the denizens of the pub, Ding Dong Denny O'Reilly.

I can hold my hands up here and say that this is created by Irish hands, so any slight you may perceive to the Irish nation is decidedly done unto themselves by themselves. However, if you know anything about the history of the place, this will have you rocking with laughter.

The character of Ding Dong Denny O’Reilly was created by Paul Woodfull. He is a comedy writer, performer and musician. He was born in Dublin 44 years ago and spent his early days working as a draughtsman, musician and graphic designer. His career in comedy began 15 years ago. The animation is directed by Cathal Gaffney.

16 March 2013

10 Strange and Fun Facts About Ireland

With St Patrick’s Day coming up on 17 March, it is appropriate that we share with the world some fun and interesting facts about Ireland.

How to be Irish

In the spirit of the most popular and most celebrated Irish holiday - St. Patrick's Day – Kamil Krolak and his Kamera Krew (sorry, couldn’t resist adding the extra ks) went out to one of the main streets in Galway to ask people "When are they at their most Irish...?".

Here are the results – and they may not all  be quite what you expected!  However, a friendlier bunch of people you will not find.  I especially like the middle aged man - next question! - reminded me of one or two of my friends!

Image Credit Flickr User ladyb

Out of Nowhere

An old lifeguard sits by the pool each day and every day. Yet the pool has had no water in it for years. Still the old man sits and waits – but nothing happens. Then, one day, he receives an unexpected visitor, one which forces him to re-evaluate his existence.

This poignant animated short was created by Maayan Tzuriel and Isca Mayo as their graduation film from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Israel in 2012.

14 March 2013

The Sky of The Canaries

As projects go, this one by Daniel Lopez is something quite breathtaking and spectacular. Here, in beautiful time-lapse photography, are scenes taken from Tenerife.

Taken at more than 2,000 meters above sea level it took over a year to capture all possible shades, clouds, stars, colors from a unique landscape and from arguable one of the best skies on the planet.

It is the first in a series of videos of nocturnal and crepuscular Time Lapse taken in the Canary Islands which will to capture the beauty of each island. We look forward to the rest of them – if they are anything like this!

Dracula in Under Two Minutes

The Brothers Grim and Grimy have done it again. Hot on the heels of their under two minutes adaptations of The Hobbit and Dante's Inferno they have produced this - the story of Dracula and have followed their usual trademark - of telling the story in or just under one hundred and twenty seconds.

Just in time for Halloween too - great timing, brothers!  Another of their trademarks is that the story is told at a break kneck pace by their usual narrator in the form of a virtually completely air-headed valley girl who, it has to be said, certainly knows how to give the story a little modern color.  The part where she confuses the character of Jonathan Harker with Neo from The Matrix (for, well, cinematic reasons) is brilliantly done.

It reminds me of the way that my students write about Romeo and Juliet (now there is an idea for their next adaptation) and describe the various anachronistic shoot outs in their essays, having seen the Leonardo version of the play.

10 March 2013

Project Genesis

This animated short takes our world and turns it on its head.  Imagine that our pale blue dot was inhabited by computers, rather than us – and they all looked as if they were created by a certain company named after a fruit around about the 1985 mark.  In order to evolve they would inevitably turn to technology in order to make their lives easier.  In this brilliantly imagined alternative universe they come up with a solution – Human!

So, Project Genesis comes to pass and the world of the computers will never be the same again.  This sharp and knowing stop motion and traditional compositing animation was over a year in the making and was written, produced and directed by Alessio Fava and colleagues.  Although it is something of an allegory for our own existence it raises a single question (I won’t spoil it by telling you what it is) to which we may have to give serious thought in our own near future.

Everything Broken

Do you feel that technology is changing the way you live your life?  Certainly I know a number of people who have major concerns about how social media is growing and how experiences and relationships may be being usurped by an obsession with the number of friends people have on Facebook or how many followers on Twitter.

I had high hopes for social media – that it would be a companion to real life rather than a replacement.  Yet for increasing numbers of people it is becoming something akin to an addiction and its pursuit an auxiliary to the real interactions of daily life.

This double-edged dagger is shown in Everything Broken, a visual metaphor written, directed and edited by Basil Iskandrain and featuring himself and Kimberly Ann Cook (above).  Whether or not you agree with his position – that the hollow fulfillment of social media is never an adequate substitute to our real-life experiences – is, of course, your prerogative.  Without any irony whatsoever (ahem) I look forward to reading your opinion via your Facebook comments and tweets!

Fish Bellies Lights Up Texas

There is only one thing better than interactive art, in my opinion: interactive art that lights up. Blessing Hancock and Joe O’Connell, an artistic duo based in Tuscon, Arizona have recently given the students of Texas State University a very large toy with which to play. As well as being a serious piece of art with an equally serious message it looks like great fun too.

Black and White

Perhaps the most famous examples of animals being used in literature to make a political point is Orwell’s Animal Farm – but there are many others in this tradition of political allegory too which goes back all the way to Plato.  Joining them is Black and White, a stunning visual metaphor on segregation – which doesn’t have quite the ending you might expect but it is certainly in the sub-genre’s dystopic tradition.  A young badger attempts to get to a political meeting hosted by a pacifist black bear. Yet forces are afoot which will change their world forever...

Black and White (Noir et Blanc) was created at Supinfocom by Alexandre  Cuegniet, Estelle Charleroy, Benjamin Corbel, Nicolas Crevon, Laura Paiardini and Paul Serrell. It was created with the Autodesk Maya and The Bakery Relight.

3 March 2013

Wiggle Room

One would hardly expect the kitchen to be a place where epic adventures occur when we are not watching but that is exactly what happens in Wiggle Room by Joey Shanks.  In this stop motion escapade a slug makes its way in to the kitchen, drawn by the bright lights and the tempting smells.  Yet there is a singular menace awaiting our hero – and it is something which slugs the world over fear: salt!

Whereas most stop-motion movies are shot at 12 frames per second many of the action sequences in Wiggle Room were shot at up to 60 frames per second. This is why you may think that a lot of the short is extremely super smooth for this particular medium.  It’s no surprise to learn that Wiggle Room was one of only 56 films to be screened for Academy Award consideration in 2012.

Kuriositas Is Three

Today marks the third birthday of Kuriositas.  I would like to take this opportunity to thanks everyone who has supported me over what has proven to be a very interesting 36 months. 

I have to say that in some ways it doesn’t seem like five minutes since I pressed the publish button for the very first time.  At the same time I must admit to scratching my head – Kuriositas seems to have been a major part of my life for a lot longer than three years!

So – thank you to everyone who went with the idea that a blog can be as eclectic as it wants to be and still have an identity and – marketing term coming up – a brand, even though most people still aren’t sure how to pronounce Kuriositas at first (and I still say however you want). 

I am really looking forward to what the next year will bring in terms of the site content and building on the successes (and learning from the fails) of the last three years.  Please keep the comments coming in - all suggestions as ever are gladly received.

Image Credit Flickr User soapylovedeb

2 March 2013

Space Bar

A number of the astronauts who stepped on to the surface of the moon have admitted, over the years, that they believe in the existence of extra-terrestrials.

Well, here is one little guy on the way to his favorite space bar who has his/her/its night’s revelry stopped before it even begins by a visitor from planet Earth.

Space Bar was created by Vancouver Film School student Nicholas Hogan through the VFS 3D Animation & Visual Effects program. It has a very neat little twist at the end which I for one wasn’t expecting – even though, even though….

ABCinema - Take 2

A little while ago we brought you the ABCinema created by Evan Seitz, a freelance editor and animator living and working in Atlanta.

Here is his latest and final take in his movie related series which give you only the briefest of visual and aural clues to an entire alphabet of famous films.  Can you get them all?

I certainly didn’t get them all on the first go – but am hoping to get most of them over the next… five months or so!

850 Meters - Complete and Ready for the Circuit

850 Meters is a 14-minute, animated epic comedy – a Belgian production by Thuristar in coproduction with Lunanime, produced by a very small and passionate team over a period of almost four years  – and is now coming to festivals and on TV in 2013.

It tells the story of Roger Flambe a knight on a mission – one that he is willing to go all the way (well, 850 meters) for. The animated short follows his misadventures as he attempts to find the invincible sword, slay the enormous dragon and rescue the princess.  Well, that’s what knights do in fairy tales, isn’t it!?

The movie was produced almost entirely single-handedly by Joeri Christiaen who no doubt is now undertaking therapy to help him get over both the massive undertaking and the fact that the production is now finished.

So, here is the trailer – yes, I know I promised no more trailers but this is a project which pre-date my undertaking not to tease you with movies that have to do the festival circuit and won’t be available online for a year!  I am looking forward to seeing the movie in its entirety and sharing the joy when the awards start to pile up!