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Animated Films by Karen Aqua cover photo

Animated Films by Karen Aqua 2012


Distributed by Distributed by Microcinema International/Microcinema DVD, 71 Stevenson St. Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94105; 415-447-9750
Produced by Producer n/a
Directed by Director n/a
DVD, color, 88 min.

College-General Adult
Japan, Popular Culture, Music Trade, Singers

Date Entered: 06/25/2012

ALA Notable:
Reviewed by: Reviewed by Mary Northrup, Metropolitan Community College-Maple Woods, Kansas City, Missouri

This collection of thirteen films by independent filmmaker Karen Aqua spans her career, from early works in 1976 to the year of her death in 2011. Ranging from four to nine minutes, each film is complete in itself, but viewing the whole collection allows a glimpse into her evolution as a filmmaker over more than three decades.

A majority of the films feature animated drawings, with strong emphasis on line, color, and motion. Simple objects or shapes become something else, with a fluidity that is a hallmark of Aqua’s work. In some films, real objects are used, such as pottery cups, hourglasses, and rocks. Native American influences imbue many of the films, as do themes of nature.

The distinctive background music features a variety of instruments, depending on the film. Most feature percussion, including xylophone and drums, although woodwinds, brass, and strings all appear in some films. Miscellaneous sound effects can also be heard.

The film Afterlife stands apart from the rest in its use of human faces and voices in the soundtrack; this film is also very personal in that it portrays the emotional pain of a fearful medical diagnosis.

The rhythm of the music and the rhythm of the artwork come together in these films. While watching all of them at once might be too much for the casual viewer, perhaps one or two at a time might be of interest for the person wishing to know more about film, animation, or modern filmmaking. Students in college art classes, especially those interested in animation, or general adults with a strong interest in animation, may want to view more of them in one sitting, or even the whole collection.