Bad Seeds takes us to a bizarre world populated by carnivorous plants that can change shapes the way a chameleon changes colours. The film deftly connects growth with rivalry and evolution with competition, crafting an increasingly shocking duel that’s peppered with allusions to the Western, the Cold War, board games, and much more.
Written, animated, and directed by Claude Cloutier
Canadian filmmaker Claude Cloutier has crafted another gem with his latest animated short, Bad Seeds. This modern-day fable explores our fatal obsession with progress, as played out in a battle between two carnivorous plants. Deftly connecting growth with rivalry, and evolution with competition, Cloutier has constructed a stunning work that’s peppered with nods to iconic historical figures and a wide variety of pop culture references.
Named as an official selection at over 27 film festivals, Bad Seeds has already garnered the Best of the Fest and the Comedy Short awards at the Los Angeles Animation Festival, the Audience Award at the Sommets du cinéma d’animation in Montreal, Canada, and Best Animated Short at the New York City Short Film Festival, along with awards at other prestigious venues.
Under the guise of a pretty fairy tale, this animated short makes a strong political statement. Animated paper cut-outs enact a drama in which a dictator imposes his delusions on his unfortunate subjects. The humour is black and, despite the absence of dialogue, the message is crystal clear.
A giant statue of the letter “E” arrives in the park. One man sees it as “B”; they are preparing to cart him off to the looney bin when a doctor arrives and determines the man needs glasses. Then the king arrives; he also sees “B”. He tries on the glasses, sees “E”, and pins a medal on the doctor then has his goon squad come and bash on everyone’s head until they too see “B”.
This 1949 animation by Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren is a moving vision of jazz activity. Featuring a soundtrack by the Oscar Peterson Trio the film ebbs and flows in unison with the energy of the performers. This is the explosion of color you’ve been waiting to hear.
Norman McLaren was a Scottish Canadian animator, director and producer known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB). He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and filmmaking, including hand-drawn animation, drawn-on-film animation, visual music, abstract film, pixilation and graphical sound.
His awards included an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject in 1952 for Neighbours, a Silver Bear for best short documentary at the 1956 Berlin International Film Festival for Rythmetic and a 1969 BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film for Pas de deux.
Neighbours is a 1952 anti-war film by Scottish Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren. Produced at the National Film Board of Canada in Montreal, the film uses pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop motion objects. McLaren created the soundtrack of the film by scratching the edge of the film, creating various blobs, lines, and triangles which the projector read as sound.
Neighbours has been described as “one of the most controversial films the NFB ever made”. The eight-minute film was politically motivated:
“I was inspired to make Neighbours by a stay of almost a year in the People’s Republic of China. Although I only saw the beginnings of Mao’s revolution, my faith in human nature was reinvigorated by it. Then I came back to Quebec and the Korean War began. (…) I decided to make a really strong film about anti-militarism and against war.”
— Norman McLaren
The version of Neighbours that ultimately won an Oscar was not the version McLaren had originally created. In order to make the film palatable for American and European audiences, McLaren was required to remove a scene in which the two men, fighting over the flower, murdered the other’s wife and children.
During the Vietnam War, public opinion changed, and McLaren was asked to reinstate the sequence. The original negative of that scene had been destroyed, so the scene was salvaged from a positive print of lower quality.
The term pixilation was created by Grant Munro to describe stop-motion animation of humans in his work with McLaren on Two Bagatelles, a pair of short pixilation films made prior to Neighbours. During one brief sequence, the two actors appear to levitate, an effect achieved by having the actors repeatedly jump upward and photographing them at the top of their trajectories.
Pixilation is a stop motion technique in which live actors are used as a frame-by-frame subject in an animated film, by repeatedly posing while one or more frame is taken and changing pose slightly before the next frame or frames. The actor becomes a kind of living stop-motion puppet.
Haida are an Indigenous group who have traditionally occupied Haida Gwaii, an archipelago just off the coast of British Columbia, Canada for at least 12,500 years. The Haida are known for their craftsmanship, trading skills, and seamanship. They are thought to have been warlike and to practice slavery. Anthropologist Diamond Jenness has compared the Haida to Vikings while Haida have replied saying that Vikings are like Haida.
The National Film Board of Canada produces and distributes documentary films, animation, web documentaries and fiction. Their stories explore the world we live in from a Canadian point of view. Watch more free films on NFB.ca → http://bit.ly/YThpNFB
Despite his mounting desperation, old Mr. Johnson just can’t get rid of a tiny, yellow cat. Directed by Cordell Barker, 1988.
The Cat Came Back is a comic song written by Harry S. Miller in 1893. It has since entered the folk tradition and been recorded under variations of the title—”But the Cat Came Back”, “And the Cat Came Back”, etc. It is also a popular children’s song.
In this National Film Board of Canada animated short, Ruby the pig seeks affirmation in the city around her after witnessing the accidental death of a stranger… and finds it in surprising places. With deft humour and finely rendered detail, When the Day Breaks illuminates the links that connect our urban lives, while evoking the promise and fragility of a new day. Winner of over 40 prizes from around the world, the film also features singer Martha Wainwright.
Synchromy is a 1971 National Film Board of Canada visual music film by Norman McLaren utilizing graphical sound. To produce the film’s musical soundtrack, McLaren photographed rectangular cards with lines on them. He arranged these shapes in sequences on the analog optical sound track to produce notes and chords. He then reproduced the sequence of shapes, colorized, in the image portion of the film, so that audiences see the shapes that they are also hearing, as sound.
McLaren had experimented with this technique for creating notes through patterns of stripes on the soundtrack area of the film in the 1950s, working with Evelyn Lambart. Their technique was based on earlier work in graphical sound by German pioneer Rudolf Pfenninger and Russian Nikolai Voinov.
The creation of Synchromy was documented by Gavin Millar in 1970 in a film called The Eye Hears, The Ear Sees. In McLaren’s production notes, he stated that “Apart from planning and executing the music, the only creative aspect of the film was the ‘choreographing’ of the striations in the columns and deciding on the sequence and combinations of colours.” The film received eight awards, including a Special Jury Mention at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
In this animated short, Sleeping Betty is stuck in bed, victim to a strange bout of narcolepsy. The King calls on his subjects to rescue her and they all respond to the call: Uncle Henry VIII, Aunt Victoria, an oddly emotional alien, a funky witch and a handsome prince. But will a kiss really be enough to wake the sleeping princess? The film, drawn in ink, is a classic example of the anachronistic and playful world of Claude Cloutier.