Monday, July 12, 2010

Short Film: Smile (Israel, 2005)

In Hebrew with English subtitles, Smile was made by Noam Abta and Yuval Markovich in 2005 while they were students at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design Jerusalem. The film is a highly effective, mature and individualistic product for a student film, and features an interestingly weird combination of live action and 3D animation: the scenes were shot with the actors Yuval Segev, Adar Parnas, Yaara Gotlieb and Michal Fish, and then their faces and other details were modified or replaced by computer graphics. But for the bizarre aspect of the animation, Smile is a straight horror film, an edgy tale of the everyday slowly twisting into a situation of increased paranoia and fatal danger.
Abta & Markovich have some other highly entertaining shorts on YouTube—namely Sarge, Episode 1: Happy Birthday Sarge; Sarge, Episode 2: Family Matters; and Urbunnies. All three are extremely hilarious examples of multi-violent black humour. For Smile, wisely enough, they dumped their humour for an unsettling visual surrealism.
Noam Abta, whose hobby (among others) is “naked horseback riding” and who counts Deep Throat (1972 / opening credit sequence) among his favourite films, and Yuval Markovich, about whom I can find very little info on the web, went on after art school to found the animated short-film portal, which they left to move from product and technology into game design. The result is and the popular aiPhone app, Rasta Monkey.

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