Now that CGI is no longer a novelty, but something our eyes take for granted, the opportunity for true cinematic artistry falls to the kind that rarely unspools onto the big screen: the animated short. As the feature-length anthology “Nine Nation Animation” demonstrates, there’s no global shortage of experimentation in the field.
Equipped with a stylistically diverse mix, the multilingual collection saves you from jet lag and the trouble of locating your passport by culling the best from several prestigious film festivals, including the almighty Cannes. The results screen Thursday through Sunday at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. Finally, animation free of flatulence jokes. (Well, almost.)
Norway’s “Deconstruction Workers” kicks it off on a comic high note, as two hard-hat workers discuss the meaning of life while the construction site — and the world — collapses around them. Following is the silent, stop-motion segment “Average 40 Matches,” a Turkish offering starring an army of strikeanywhere matches and a lone cigarette.
Switching tones, France’s “Bâmiyân” utilizes a fluid, painterly quality to tell the tale of Xuanzang, a traveling Chinese monk. The free-flowing imagery is impressionistic as it depicts his odyssey and his dreams — skulls and snakes alert!
“Please Say Something,” an Irish/ German production, is a series of computer-animated sketches detailing the toxically romantic relationship between two cats. On a similar plane of jocular humor is the Belgian “Flatlife,” which cleverly breaks up the screen into quadrants to reveal the daily grind of four apartment residents putting up with — or not — one another’s noise and nuisances. By its end, things have spiraled into a foursquare dose of physical comedy involving a panda and a trampoline delivery truck.
The bleakest bit can be found in Croatia’s “She Who Measures,” a purposely dingy-looking statement on consumer culture and commercialism, as obese people wearing smiley-face masks push shopping carts across a desolate landscape. Heading their line is a clownish being who farts candy and crayons for his followers to snap up.
England’s “Home Road Movies” utilizes photos of real people plopped into faux surroundings to relay a hearttugger about a family man and his car, and its sad connection to happier times. Attempting to dry away any tears is South Africa’s “The Tale of How,” a story-song lark about a tentacled monster unleashed amid steampunk environs.
Last but most lustful is “Never Like the First Time!,” a Swedish anthology within this anthology, illustrating interviewees’ recollections of losing their virginity. The most emotional is the second, a slow seduction over a number of quiet Saturday afternoons, in which the couple is rendered only in outlines.
Although “Nine Nation”’s parts vary wildly in approach — a good thing — the quantity shares quality in common.