Frank Awards 2013: Animated, Documentaries and Chilean Films

Today we are cramming into one day a bunch of categories, all of those that aren’t best picture. There are just a few categories left, this is the day that announces the beginning of the end. Let’s take a look.

Best Feature, Animated:

The Frank Award winner in this category this year was the grotesque film from Japan ‘Gyo’ (2012), a sight to be seen to be believed, based on the manga by Junji Ito.

This year we only have four nominees in this category, and for that I’ll leave you with small descriptions/reviews of each film as they are nominated, so the nominees are:

· The Croods

“This animated film surely has a story that isn’t exactly original neither is…how to say it… brilliantly told, it’s a film that tries to tell the whole “trying is better than staying” morale that it’s been always put out there in other films that are aimed towards children and this time it’s as hammered in as any other. The difference here is that we have a spectacular team of visually inventive and intelligent filmmakers that make the whole thing much more bearable and impressive to watch, a film that truly takes advantage of the visuals that a particular era in which you are set has. I don’t know how much worth it is to watch it in 3D, but I guess surely is worth a rent for those who are into animation.” – From my Letterboxd review.

· Ghost Burger

The continuation of the short film “T is for Toilet” that could be seen in the anthology of short horror films ‘The ABCs of Death’ (2012) and now has made an independent work (and original), that goes into adventuring ways that make it maybe the most outrageous animation that you could see this year, available in youtube for anyone to see.

· Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky

“There are many beautiful moments in this hard endeavour that Michel Gondry put himself through, it does seem like a long work for an ok result. For some reason the documentary focuses a lot on the interview and on the information that has already been established instead of going into new grounds, it also seems to focus on basic information and to never achieve what it really asks. For some reason there’s a strength in this failure, as if the movie was done with what he managed to get, and that is a stance that I admire and try to explain how impressive the whole issue of how Gondry makes himself understood by other people. The animation is fantastic, and to see how Gondry did most of the work whenever he had some free time in between movies, that is something to say that he is a true artist.” – From my Letterboxd review.

· Koto no ha no niwa

“I like Makoto Shinkai stuff when he keeps it short, because his earlier full length film bored me and maintained me at the top of some visual Nirvana. I can’t deny that his guy has talent and he may become the next big thing (after Mamoru Hosoda, of course), but sometimes he just gets too heavy on the Scenary Porn, and spends maybe too little time on the script department. Nevertheless, just like in his earlier short, when he fully evolves from the genre and gets into something more romantic (so to speak) he manages to create some nice feelings for the viewer. The story is simple, a student and a teacher of the same school have never met, but they always find themselves in a little space in a garden when it rains. It’s a sanctuarium, it’s the place where their words flow, and where the beautiful landscape feels the screen. Tokyo has never looked so beautiful under the rain than in this film, that manages to choke you with its twists and turns in the plot. Garden of Words is just over 45 minutes long and it’s the best animated film that you’ll see this year, I can sign that (unless you’ve seen the new Miyazaki, in that case, I envy you).” – From my Top 20 Films of the Year post.

And the winning film is:

As you’d expect, ‘Koto no ha no niwa’ was the most beautiful visual experience that I had in terms of animation last year, and while I wish I had seen more, I’m happy with this, I’m happy that this is my animation of the year, an important one for the things I’ve lived.

Best Feature, Chilean:

Last year, the winner in this Chilean category was the documentary ‘Where the Condors Fly’, a film that might look simple in its way that it looks at the work of a filmmaker, but it turns deeper and funnier with each turn and time it passes.

So, same thing with this category, a small writing about the movie as some sort of introduction to the nominees, so they are:

· Crystal Fairy

This is the best of the two films directed by Sebastián Silva that were released in 2013, and the fact that it stars Michael Cera in the most annoying role of his career is saying something. He manages a clear validity here that doesn’t achieve in ‘Magic Magic’ (his other 2013 movie). This is about friendships going south and how and where to stand with our friends and nobodies that fill our existence.

· Il futuro

“Sadly, the only Chilean film of the list, but what a movie this is. Based on the short novel by Roberto Bolaño (chilean writer based in Mexico until his sad death a few years ago), this is more a co-production between Italy, Germany and Chile to make this seemingly faithful adaptation, capturing the themes and the paused narrativity of the writer, as well as the scenarios given here. The film is in italian, and only about three minutes of the entire film were actually filmed in Chile, but the two main actors and the director are from Chile, as is the main production (and the idea of making this movie). This seems to be an odd experiment for Scherson, who was used to more muted and narrative-less filmmaking, but here she grabs the story of Bianca and her brother, as well as the slow invasion of the jocks and the plot about the treasure at the house of Maciste, those are maybe one of the strangest elements ever to be put together in a movie made in Chile, but while it’s not Raúl Ruiz, it manages to have its own mystique, its own cinematographic elements that pop out of the experience because of their seamless treatment that make them permeate with the background, the motions and camera movements that seem almost ballet-like, this is my choice for the best Chilean film of the year.” – From my Top 20 Films of the Year post.

· Naomi Campbel

“The film manages to come across as a message on the conformity of the mixture of everything, how nothing is pure and sacred nowadays, how Paula’s own identity as a transsexual being is put in question and at the same time accepted as natural, how the mixture of the cultures in her cults and life make her who she really is, all that added to the figure of Naomi, who strives so hard to stay the fresh and funny person that she is on the inside, and be someone else on the outside.This is maybe the most important Chilean film of the year, and while it’s not the best, it’s maybe the one that most clearly shows that the new filmmakers are making more interesting and bold films than the now old new Chilean filmmakers of the new wave. There’s a new new new wave coming, and it’s going to kick everyone’s asses” – From my review.

· Soy Mucho Mejor que Vos

This might be the first time that a sequel/spin-off made in Chile is actually succesful in some way. Following the debut movie of Che Sandoval from over 5 years ago, this movie follows the sex crazed Nasa that goes around trying to fuck every woman that he sees because of his own disatisfaction. In a way it’s a serious portrayal of the people who find themselves cowering away from reality and the precission that it deserves and the way that they act outside of the box.

· Ver y escuchar

“With gorgeous black and white cinematography and a stupendous direction, this movie works more like an experiment, in which Torres Leiva tries to find beauty in the denial of the senses. He wants to be closer to the social reality of certain groups of society, yet he still finds more interesting topics and pure filmmaking moments, such as the beauty of describing the sound of a rock hitting the water.” – From my review.

And the winning movie is:

Obviously ‘Il futuro’ steals away the prize because of its own profound sense of a story that moves along, a movie that always expand every time you think about it, with every performance it seems to grow on you, with every moment it tries to make you wonder how we end up in the situation we live in.

Best Feature, Documentary:

The winner of this award last year was the masterpiece ‘Indie Game: The Movie’ (2012), which managed to make you feel creative without having to even try to do it. An amazing feat to me.

So, just like with the other two categories, this time for documentaries. As you might find, there are some repeat nominees, there won’t be a description/text for them, as you can refer to the previous one. So, the nominees are:

· 20 Feet from Stardom

“Well, I’m not sure now. Why is this documentary any different from every other well made documentary about music? I mean, it’s not bad, it’s actually really inspiring, it has some incredible interview subjects, it has Velvet Underground as the first song, yeah, it’s a winner, but it’s also an interview documentary like about another couple of thousands that get made every year, and while I’m not allergic to the genre, I am quickly going the D’Angelo way and finding them less and less original every time. Here though they do come forward with some interesting elements, like the songs and the music and how they sing for the documentary at times, as well as how the whole thing is edited in an interesting enough manner for it to be kinda compelling. It does make you want to be a singer, and that’s sad for me, because my voice sucks.” – From my Letterboxd review.

· Is the Man Who Is Tall Happy?: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky

· La Maison de la radio

“The film is a pretty sight, with a bright and serviceable cinematography that doesn’t take any risks in terms of portraying the reality of the place that was entered into with respect and reverence. Even though there’s a tacit compromise of telling the truth about the place, even though the filmmakers were given the chance to film inside of it, it doesn’t shy away from the coldness of certain journalists regarding tragedies, or the mood of others, as well as the ridiculousness of some of the shows that are playing late at night.” – From my review at

· Narco Cultura

“This documentary knows exactly what it’s doing, where it’s going and what it needs to address. With a particularly conventional point of view, it nevertheless manages to create some amazing questions about how this documentary was made, the access and the things that were filmed. There are two stories, or at least perspectives flowing here, there’s the events in the city of Juarez, a city I don’t know how it stands up nowadays, how it even manages to be alive and survive, much like the people who get killed left and right by the people of the drug cartels. And then there’s a band based in the USA that sings “Narco Corrido” a song sometimes commisioned or in tribute of the bands or specific people from the narco mobs, glorifying their killings and the deaths that they use to achieve it. It’s incredible to see that juxtaposition of euforia with ultimate sadness, it gives you a lot to think about, a lot.” – From my Letterboxd review.

· Ver y escuchar

And the winning documentary is:

‘Narco Cultura’ is a strong documentary, like a mixture of CSI and a normal tour musical documentary. One of the strongest in years.


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