The 18 award-winning shorts in The XXII International Tournee of Animation don’t simply range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Quite often, they’re both at once. That’s the glory of good animation — it puts the fun back in profundity and turns silliness into something visually delectable.
Among many other eye-popping delights, this Tournee offers the chance to see beach sand (Sand Dance, U.S.) and wire (Vykrutasy, U.S.S.R.) transformed into human beings andn the Beastie Boys turned into explosions of abstract-expressionist color (Shadrach, U.S.). Also included are the Oscar-winning Balance (from West Germany), which is an eerily beautiful parable of human progress and pettiness; the hilarious black-comic vignettes of Bill Plympton (many of which already have been seen on MTV), who’s a deadpan wizard at literally stretching reality into Silly Putty; and a Canadian comedy called Juke-Bar, which manages to make household roaches as irresistible as the California Raisins.
Incidentally, one longtime staple of animation festivals — the Eastern European antitotalitarian parable — is conspicuously absent this year. Maybe that sort of earnest, humanitarian cartoon is no longer necessary, but it’s nice to think that the animators who kept making them all those years had their tiny effect after all.