Animation Has Grown — and Grown Up

A still from Adrià García and Víctor Maldonado's Nocturna.

Animation used to be the province of the fantastic and the impossible: dancing hippos, futuristic planets, talking rabbits, and psychedelic forests. We're still inundated with anthropomorphized animals and (less grating and more gratifying) worlds too imaginative and expensive to depict in live action. But animation has emerged in recent decades as a potent medium for depicting reality as well as evoking the littered, off-kilter landscape of the mind.

Eric Leiser's Glitch in the Grid (its trailer is above) is one such film. It opens the San Francisco International Animation Festival tonight at SF Film Society | New People Cinema. In it, Leiser imagines the neuroses and frustrations of a remote hermit lured by well-meaning relatives to pencil-sketch-shallow Hollywood. Pushing the already fluid bounds of animation, the filmmaker meshes stop motion with live action to convey his protagonist's yearnings for deeper connection and purpose.

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