Winnie Cheung (2018)
“Albatross Soup is an animated short hybrid documentary film based on an entertaining yet disturbing lateral thinking puzzle. Over 50 people have been recorded trying to guess this riddle using only ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions. The film is a visual representation of the riddle unraveling as we hear a rapid fire kaleidoscopic soundscape of questions from each participant. An all knowing God-like voice guides the story by answering ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for each question.”
Notes from the director:
My friend came back with this fascinating riddle while interviewing for his doctoral program in neuroscience and metacognition at UCLA. With only a few key pieces, we needed to complete the story by asking only “yes” or “no” questions. Though experiments like Albatross Soup are hybrids between puzzles and storytelling. I knew instantly that this stream of consciousness guessing would be the perfect premise for an animated short.
When I first played this riddle, I remember constantly asking myself, “What else am I missing? How can I think differently to find the missing link?” Examining different creative approaches has been the driving force behind this project.
With the help of Alexandra Young, a New York Times audio producer, I conducted the albatross riddle with over 50 participants. The story was then edited with a radio documentary approach.
Each frame was hand drawn by animation director Masayoshi Nakamura based on illustrations drawn by celebrated Toronto artist Fiona Smyth. The entire process for this film lasted three years from beginning to end.
Friz Freleng (1957)
Show Biz Bugs is a 1957 Warner Bros. Looney Tunes animated short directed by Friz Freleng and featuring Mel Blanc as the voices of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. The basic setting and conflicts of this film were reprised for the linking footage for the television series The Bugs Bunny Show.
Nicholas D’Agostino (2018)
“Walter’s journey from bondage to freedom and back again is an allegory for the Reconstruction Era after the Civil War which ended with the compromise of 1877. Set in an American city at the turn of the century, the piece explores ideas about religion, identity, and economics that are still being heatedly debated today. The characters in Blind Mice are a mix of human and anthropomorphic animal forms in the style of early 20th century animation. Using this aesthetic in a dramatic narrative allows for an exploration of the racial stereotypes which lie beneath the bright and bouncing forms of early animation. The look, feel, and structure of Blind Mice is that of film noir, a genre that in many ways is America’s version of the Greek tragedy. At its core, noir is about the struggle for freedom in the face of a doomed fate, which fits Walter’s story like a three-piece suit.”