The JIFF showed a great number of short films. Many of the works were more obviously student projects, needing to mature or without a budget that would allow them to go further; others would stand out for the ease in the direction or good performances by the actors.
Shorts are more than training for future feature films; they're also alternative ways of expression, allowing telling stories or exposing concepts which might require or work better in the context of a more condensed duration. In what concerns animation, due to the high production costs, sometimes it makes more sense to keep doing shorts than to spend years trying to finance a feature.
Comparatively, the average quality of the animated shorts was superior to the live action ones. That can be explained by what was previously mentioned: in animation it is more frequent that we are not facing school projects or first films (which shouldn't be taken to mean there aren't many good films from people with no previous directorial credits).
There was a screening with nine titles of Korean animation, which resorted to varied techniques and graphic concepts, but also with radically different narrative languages.
Four shorts were 3D, which nowadays is used for the most different visual concepts, including mimicking 2D or cut-out animation. This was the case with Dream Tapir (Komdokaepi, 10'), graduation film by Lee Yeong-seok, from the Korean National University of Arts, about a child whose nightmares are fought by a friendly Tapir.
Dirty Popin (Geoji Popin, 7') reminds, in a way, the animation and humour style of Pixar productions. It is a short story, with effective animation and character design, and it is funny. In the more serious The Chamber (or Cheimbeo, in hangeul phonetic, 5') an old man interacts with a model of a room and strange things start to happen. It's an interesting mind game, which would be improved with a stronger ending. It sort of goes down when it needs to finish.
Still in 3D, BULLET (or Beullit, 7') was the worst of these titles; a story similar with the sperms sketch from Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex..., here with a bullet refusing to be shot. The 3D is too plastic and the character design relatively unattractive.
There were a relevant number of female directors, without the requirement of gender quotas. Female sensibility produced good results in what concerns the use of 2D techniques. One of the best shorts was Mom and Me (Eommahago Nahago, 7'), by Lee Hyo-jeong, in claymation. Simple and amusing, deals with a mother trying to teach/force her son to fit the correct shapes on a box. The director used a German voice (untranslated) to reinforce the authoritarian tone, as she later explained on the Q&A following the screening.
My Small Dollhouse (Naeui Jakeun Inhyeongsangja, 8') is another work from a female director (no one was surely expecting men to make films about dollhouses), Jeong Yu-mi, being her graduation film, although already her second work. The retro art fits a somewhat surreal atmosphere which if a reflection of the loneliness of the main character.
Shin Yeong-jae (Deborah Younjae Shin) directed the poetic Lost and Found (Loseuteu en Paundeu, transcribing hangeul, 10'), the story of a young woman, her umbrella and the wave lenght between them. The film is made using pencil sketches which are a pleasure to watch once in a while, amidst the profusion of digital. It's the fourth film of the authoress.
The Stranger (Deo Seuteureinjyeo, hangeulised, 6') is more relevant by the technique used (black and white with brushes) than for its not very interesting essay about a sort-of primitive man who cuts a three and creates a woman from the wood. But she prefers to return to nature.
The Life (with the longish original title Saneun Geot, Sandaneun Geot, Salagandaneun Geot, 5'), uses crayons but some 3D. It's effective in building atmosphere around abstractions and the memories of its character. Second film by director Ryu Jin-ho.
Dream Tapir, My Small Dollhouse, BULLET, The Life e Mom and Me had their world premiere at the JIFF.