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Two Enthralling Animation Shorts screen at the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 2!


By Morgan Kalmbach

originally published: 05/24/2024

Two Enthralling Animation Shorts screen at the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 2!

Much like similar filmmaking forms, stop-motion filmmaking requires careful consideration and planning from those who choose to utilize it. The product is a beautiful testament to the film’s story and its makers if done successfully. For the case of the cinematically stunning Tennis, Oranges directed by Sean Pecknold, and enchanting and enthralling Judy’s Garden, directed by Evie Metz, this is incontestably the case.

Tennis, Oranges, directed by Sean Pecknold, tells the story of a robot vacuum that leaves its job at the hospital to find purpose. Along its journey, it discovers others who feel lost and stuck and helps them find more meaning and joy in life. Pecknold’s film stuns with its careful set design and color. In an interview with the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival, Pecknold discusses how production designer Adi Goodrich utilized inspiration from places near Pecknold and Goodrich’s animation studio in Chinatown, Los Angeles. These aforementioned complex and precise sets, while not the sole focus of the film, greatly add to the exploration of this world that Tennis, Oranges inhabit. The audience is placed inside the world that this vacuum is desperately trying to find purpose in, and its display in conjunction with the lighting and color design helps shift the tone of the film.

The lighting and color in Tennis, Oranges undergoes dramatic and powerful changes that signify the change in tone. When the film begins, the audience witnesses a paler pastel color scheme as the robotic vacuum struggles to find its purpose. However, as the film progresses and the two rabbits find their purpose, we are introduced to a wonderful and more vibrant color scheme. From vivid reds and blues to gorgeous emerald greens, the colors remain enchanting and reflect the opportunity to experience new life and purpose. Additionally, the lighting within Tennis, Oranges, modeled similarly after the light on the street in front of Pecknold’s animation studio, stuns and illuminates the characters as they experience their journey. The lighting changes as the story unfolds, becoming more dramatic as the main characters look for their purpose. Similar in uniqueness, Tennis, Oranges remains abstract in its music by the fact that it features only one track. Director Sean Pecknold utilized Claude Debussy’s Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun as inspiration for the film’s dance scene. Eventually, the song became part of the whimsical and captivating soundtrack.

Tennis, Oranges stands as a testament to its creator's hard work and powerful imagination. Despite its main character’s supposed simplicity, Pecknold tells a powerful and uplifting story of how despite differences we are all looking for our purpose in life, and this desire crafts connections. In the discussion of life and how we experience and live it, Evie Metz’s Judy’s Garden brings forth the idea of the journey between life and death and our memories.



 
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Two Enthralling Animation Shorts screen at the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 2!

Judy’s Garden
surrounds Judy, an older woman, as she takes death’s hand and is guided through her memories throughout her life while tending her garden. The film itself boasts with its gorgeous cinematography, fantastical music, and extraordinary stop motion.

In her interview with the New Jersey International Film Festival, director Evie Metz discussed how in the absence of dialogue, she looked to coloring and lighting as a way of informing the audience what is occurring. This idea pays off exceedingly well for Metz as the variety of colors and frames create such a whimsical and fantastic world that Judy exists in even though the entire film takes place in the garden. To the audience, this fact is not alarming nor a threat to the film itself as our eyes are constantly mystified by the action and look the film possesses. Within the film, the colors signify the time in Judy’s life, with her youth being represented by a more yellow and greenish tint, and her elder years including a grand variety of darker colors, representative of the life she has lived. The change from the time period is marked by beautiful transitions such as butterfly wings flapping and entering through leaves.

To accompany this journey, Nick Daly created a score for the film inspired by older movies that change based on the action. In preparation for creating the music, Daly wrote down the occurrences within the film and their timecodes. After, he added sounds and mixed them to create the overall piece. The result is a playful and peculiar soundtrack that adds a new layer of enchantment along with the visuals.

Tennis, Oranges, and Judy’s Garden both beautifully discuss the journeys in life and how we are meant to live it. Tennis, Oranges describe our connections to each other and how we all have our desires and wants for something greater. Judy’s Garden deliberates how we view our past and how it shapes us. In both of these reflections on life, Pecknold and Metz deliver powerful pieces of their craft, honoring their hard work and creativity.        

Tennis, Oranges and Judy’s Garden screen at the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival on Sunday, June 2 as part of Shorts Program #1. The films will be available for screening online for 24 hours and will then be shown in-person at 5:00 PM in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ. Tickets are available for purchase here.

The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, in association with the Rutgers University Program in Cinema Studies, presents the 2024 New Jersey International Film Festival which marks its 29th Anniversary. The NJIFF competition will be taking place on the Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays between May 31 - June 9, 2024 and will be a hybrid one with online as well as in-person screenings at Rutgers University. All the films will be available virtually via Video on Demand for 24 hours on their show date. VOD start times are at 12 Midnight Eastern USA. Each General Admission Ticket or Festival Pass purchased is good for both the virtual and the in-person screenings. The in-person screenings will be held in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ beginning at 5PM or 7PM on their show date.  Note: The Screenings on June 1 will be in Milledoler Hall #100/ Rutgers University, 520 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ.

Plus, The NJIFF is very proud to announce that acclaimed singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler will be in concert on Saturday, June 15 in Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University, 71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, NJ at 7PM.  General Admission Ticket=$15 Per Program; Festival All Access Pass=$120; In-Person Only Student Ticket=$10 Per Program; General Admission Marissa Nadler Concert Ticket=$25. For more info go here: https://2024newjerseyinternationalfilmfestival.eventive.org/welcome



 
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