Dallas VideoFest 31 is closing in this October with DocuFest, a section of this big festival, devoted to documentaries. On top of the big movies I’ll be reviewing and catching up on this month, you’ll be seeing several reviews on entries to the festival, leading up to its debut, October 10th-14th and possibly after as well.
What better way to start this off with two WWII survivors, one who becomes a death metal singer and the other plays with puppets. Could this be a strong, if strange opening? Let us dive in to what are two very short docs.
Death Metal Grandma (Directed By Leah Galant)
Soon as I saw this on the list, I just had to watch. A Holocaust survivor who in her 90s, decided to spend her last years on this planet as a death metal musician. Now I applaud this lady for still going out and having fun with her life late in the game, but you even see in the documentary that she exhausts her breathing doing this. I seriously worry for this woman’s health, being 96-years-old and throwing in so much energy to her performance.
This 12-minute-long doc tells you how Holocaust witness Inge Ginsberg can be encouraged to live crazy happy later on, despite how tragic her early years were, rather putting those stories into her insane music. The biggest problem though with this short is the fact that it’s just asking to be a feature-length film.
If you were going to be a less than 15 minute short, you’ve got to simplify your subject. A documentary about a near 100-year-old European lady screaming about demons, blood and sheep, is NOT simple.
You can’t just walk away with a song by this lady without me getting to know everything about her and this career. It’s great that I saw this and now know a little about Inge Ginsberg, but this feels incomplete for a short. It made me what to look her up, but I felt like the internet told more than this doc short.
Death Metal Grandma’s documentary will certainly put this musician on your radar, even if the doc itself is way too complex for its given run-time, only giving you a “Decent” watch.
Side note: Bethesda needs to have Ingo & Andrew C. K. team-up for Rage 2 or something related to it. They just fit together when you play them side-by-side,
…or maybe not.
Lotte That Silhouette Girl (Directed By White Widow, Elizabeth Beecherl)
So, in this 9-minute-long WWII survivor story, we have Lotte Reiniger recalling her childhood life in Berlin and how she became a pioneer for practical animation while dealing with the ups and downs from her life. All of this is illustrated through beautiful Silhouette paper puppet animation, giving us some dream-like visuals.
Lotte causally narrates as the animation follows her descriptions. The short doc remains to be focused on this story, so you never feel like the time was too much or too little. I would really say, I wasn’t learning anything I haven’t already about this time period or anything specific to take away from watching. That’s fine because the documentary is still enjoyable to watch, and I was interested, just not amazed (outside of the visuals).
I’m very grateful that some powerful minds can share their stories and her being one of the first to develop hand-made animation, which still lives on today despite the over-saturation of CGI. I just happened to be stuck on knowing other older documentaries like Big Sonia, which a portion of the film was a flashback to the old days, told through animation.
I know this isn’t the exact same movie, but I can’t look at this and go “that’s mind-blowing” or “creatively original”. To be honest, it’s completely okay to not be different while the subject is about someone who created a new kind of animation. Lotte That Silhouette Girl is pure eye candy bliss that even if the doc isn’t anything special, the visuals and how Lotte tells her story with them is very fascinating.
For a 9-minute film, Lotte That Silhouette Girl is a “Good” watch, something you should actually share to a class of animation students.