Several of the films in this set leave me with a distinct “What the hell was that about?” feeling even after multiple viewings. Some of them, however, even the WTH ones, are excellent. There’s definitely an aquatic theme running through this batch of winning films.
The Night Ocean
This beautiful short film was the Winner for Judges’ Choice in 2015. It’s Spanish, but the narration is in English over animation in a style that looks like watercolor paintings or drawings in a sketchbook, just the sort of thing an artist would do, and accompanied by a melancholy piano composition.
The narration is taken from the short story of the same name, Robert Hayward Barlow’s collaboration with Lovecraft when the former was a boy of 18. It’s been edited to remove some of the more purple-prose phrases to become a series of elliptical and poetic statements, and there’s a least one addition that I can’t find in the original text.
An artist has rented a secluded house on the beach for a month’s vacation, beginning at the end of summer. At first, he enjoys swimming during the warm and sunny days, and there are late-summer parties dancing to jazz music on the pier.
Then the sunny days come to an end and the summer tourists are gone. Autumn swiftly sets in. The narrator is alone, walking on the empty beach now, and strange things begin to happen.
“I found a small creature on the beach. I’d never seen anything like it.”
One rainy day, he sees what looks like a group of people in black swimsuits out in the turbulent water and shouts to them and waves his arms. They ignore him. Another is standing closer to the shore, but does not appear to be human–then a wave crashes up on the rocks and all of them disappear.