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Friday, 23 January 2015

Liftoff (2013)

Director: Nir Yaniv
This film was an official selection at the 10th annual International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in Phoenix in 2014. Here's an index to my reviews of 2014 films.
Liftoff was as great a choice to start the Sci-Fi Shorts B set at the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival in 2014 as Library was to start the equivalent A set for exactly the same reasons: it's a short, silent, eye-grabbing animation. Yet while they appear so close as to both have seven letter titles beginning with the letter L, they're otherwise very different indeed. Library was very stylised from the outset and it played a lot with colour to highlight tone and change, while Liftoff is primitively drawn in black and white, almost entirely in lines with a occasional attempt at shading. I don't mean to denigrate the artistic talent of the creator with that statement, as it's certainly done well; it's merely far more in the vein of a newspaper cartoon strip rather than a painting. This is appropriate because of where the story takes us and the lead character, who never gets a name, but that would take me into spoiler territory so I'll resist the urge and let you discover the film's direction yourself on YouTube.

The man behind Liftoff is Nir Yaniv and, if the about page on his blog is remotely truthful, he's a busy and talented man. He's a published novelist and writer of short stories, a columnist and a critic, the founder and editor of the first online Israeli science fiction magazine. He's a multi-instrumental musician and an acapella vocalist with his own studio, neatly named The Nir Space Station. In the world of film, he's acted, written, composed, directed... and, of course, animated. His Achilles heel seems to be that he can't cook his way out of a paper bag, but hey, everyone has their flaws. Somehow Yaniv found the time to create a little four minute animation about a rocket that lifts off from our planet and finds its way rather quickly to the Moon, where its astronaut climbs out and bounces around the surface having a whale of a time. The story doesn't stop there, but the inevitable twist isn't close to being a gut wrenching one, just a calm and polite way to wrap things up. It's simple and unthreatening but it's thoroughly enjoyable.

Liftoff can be watched for free on YouTube.

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