Sydney Film Festival - Animation Showcase Roundup

“But what could surpass the singular mortification of The Pride of Strathmoor? Many reminiscing film enthusiasts will search their memory for an animated image that penetrated their nightmares and come up with a mere Disney villain, but Einar Baldvin, an Iceland-born alumnus of the CalArts program that has birthed the Mouse House’s best talent, finds a bleaker pit of madness and despair in John Deitman (Geoffrey Gould), a 1920s Southern pastor driven mad by racial hate and fear. In huge and blotting black brush strokes, Baldvin commits to pages and pages of grimy, crumpled cels the entrails of Deitman’s worsening paranoia at proud black men, anchored by the increasing panic heard in Gould’s whispering of excerpts from his memoir. The quivering of frame-by-frame animation, usually an innocent signifier of laborious effort and craft, come to symbolise the preacher being wracked by his own insanity. The spate of images Baldvin makes tremble in this instability is utterly awe-inspiring: visions of black suns, smiling faces, street boxers with muscles drawn in repulsive curls of flesh, all each passing through time in the discordant ebbs and flows of an unstable mind (unsurprisingly, he’s adapting an H.P. Lovecraft story next). It swept through the festival audience like a cold wind, and any chance to be hushed by its strobe-lit terror should not be missed.”