This year, the Amsterdam animation festival, KLIK, celebrated its 10th anniversary. The festival has grown from a very small student-orientated festival to a six-day event with thousands of national and international visitors. In the meantime, KLIK encourages all festival goers to keep their inner child alive. Therefore, the festival’s theme this year was ‘Never Grow Up’.
This theme turned into a couple a short animation film programs and some longer animated films about the notion of age. From being young to getting old and all the good things and bad things that come along during life.
Sooner or later, we’ll all deal with it. Sexuality. The short animation film Sandy (Joseph Mann, 2013) is about a boy (made of silicone) who goes to the beach on a hot summer’s day. The innocent boy walks across the beach and looks around, enjoying the view of almost naked people. A French kiss, a slap on the buttocks, a tender touch on an upper leg… The boy gets confronted with several expressions of sexuality.
Although it doesn’t seem to bother the ignorant child, he can’t ignore to this particular kind of adult behaviour, either. After rolling out his towel, he starts to build his own girlfriend out of the sand. He copies the behaviour of the people around him and thus he toasts with her, he touches her breasts, kisses her, shares a twig cigarette, and lies happily next to her.
One detail is overlooked by the boy: The sandy girlfriend has a penis as well.
Childhood, what a beautiful time. It all becomes harder when you’re a teenager. Then comes the uncertainty about…everything, as Het Puberdagboek van Markoesa Hamer (Samantha Williams, 2016) shows. In this dairy, the Dutch actor, Markoesa Hamer, reads out loud some pages of the diary she maintained during her puberty.
The 15-year-old Markoesa complains about all the household tasks she has to do at home, her worries about her small ugly boobs and fat belly, her crush on Sander, and the first time she had sex. The voice-over is illustrated by simple black drawings on the page of a notebook. Markoesa is represented as a one-eyed monster.
But the worst is yet to come, as Uit Huis (Leaving Home, Joost Lieuwma, 2013) shows. Mum is still preparing her son’s sandwiches, while dad can’t wait to see his son leaving home. So the boy leaves, but he returns home soon because of a heavy storm. His mother spreads marmalade on his bread again, however, dad forces him to leave again.
Regardless of how hard the boy tries to stand on his own feet, he somehow returns home again and again. His parents’ house is literally following him! And that drives his father crazy, and his mother to death. After the funeral, the boy is finally able to prepare his own sandwiches. He is ready to leave home!
But no worries. Dad will secretly miss you. Really.
Besides dealing with uncertainties and problems, life offers you space for fun as well. So, time to party! And yes, even housewives are allowed to have some fun sometimes. In Girls Night Out (Joanna Quinn, 1986), an ordinary housewife dreams about a more exciting life. A life with a handsome guy dressed in only panther printed underwear on a desert island.
Well, the desert island might be a long-term plan, but the guy becomes reality during her Girls night out that same evening. She seems scared at first when the stripper comes closer, but after a couple of drinks she laughs and yells out loud. By the end of the evening, she even dares to pull the underwear of the stripper’s body. It was a night she’ll probably never forget.
Men want to have fun too, of course. But what if you aren’t able to let the inner-self out? Then you attend primal scream therapy. In Manoman (Simon Cartwright, 2015), puppet Glen is attending a primal scream therapy session. But screaming while urinating doesn’t seem to fit Glen. Nevertheless, Glen’s masculinity is addressed and a little later he throws up his inner-self.
Time to do what Glen always wanted to do! Such as satisfying a woman in the middle of a train, burning cars, dancing on a railway station, and pushing people in front of the train. Glen’s inner-self encourages him. Too much, it appears, when Glen jumps off a high building, leaving his mean inner-self behind.
So yes, you only live once, but know your limits and stay true to yourself.
And what if you have become grey and old? Well, when you watch Arrugas (Wrinkles, Ignacio Ferreras, 2011), you probably think life is over. At least, at first sight. When Emilio enters his nursing home, he immediately gets confronted with different signs of being old. Everywhere in the home, people are asleep. A man is repeating words like a parrot. A woman sees aliens everywhere. And upstairs, the unfortunate ones with dementia are safely stored, kept from view. Do not enter, is what Emilio is told.
However, Emilio gets befriended with Miguel, the only man in the home whose inner-child is still alive. He steals money from other inhabitants, makes jokes about Viagra, and visits Wednesday’s gym class only because he wants to see the boobs and buttocks of the gym teacher. And on top of it, Miguel rings the fire alarm in order to save Emilio from his mental test and organises an escape event.
But Miguel also cares about his neighbours. He gives the lady who is chased by aliens a water gun, in order to protect herself. Ánd he feeds Emilio when he isn’t able to do it himself anymore. In this nursing home, the reality check is always around the corner. Getting old with a fit mind isn’t self-evident.
So, how old you may be, have fun and act a little childish now and then as long as you can.