The Hi Mom! Film Festival has always had a slight hint of chaos to it. Since it started in 1997, its creative direction as a short film festival has consisted of ... showing a lot of short films. But in anticipation of its 10th anniversary, Hi Mom! will remind moviegoers why it received a 2007 Indies Arts award.
Since the organizers weren't quite ready to tackle the big one-oh, the festival will instead celebrate its "9.5 Anniversary" on Saturday, July 14. The theme of the special outdoor screening is "Best of the Fests," a compilation of some of Hi Mom!'s most popular shorts from previous years. Most of these shorts are animated, and the result feels like not only a celebration of Hi Mom!, but of the potential of animation as a medium.
Some pieces, such as Eric Dyer's Kinetic Sandwich and Tim Finn's Limboscape, take a minimalist approach to their subjects, but others become surprisingly elaborate. Last year's Top Animation Award winner, The Fish Heads Fugue and Other Tales for Twilight, is a macabre feast for the eyes, a rotating series of vignettes designed to appeal to the Lemony Snicket in all of us.
There's some elaborate animation to be found in other entries as well. Suzanne Twining's Terminator Tomatoes is a darkly comic claymation satire on genetically modified foods, while last year's Silver Award winner, Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot, plays like one of the cute moral-lesson cartoons from Sesame Street gone very, very wrong.
There's plenty of fun in other efforts as well, from the unnerving Little Miss Pumpkin Head Eater to Jack Wenberg's hilariously crude The Grubbie-Wubbies, which still manages to be less disturbing than the children's shows it parodies.
Hi Mom!'s live-action films, from the rebellious Excursion to the old-school chills of The Gibbering Horror of Howard Ghormley, also prove to be witty and visually inventive. But the animated shorts show that in this age of wisecracking CGI-animals at the multiplex, there's still room for wit and innovation in different styles of animation ... and that has given Hi Mom! a unique identity this year.
The Hi Mom! Film Festival's "Best of the Fest" starts at 9 p.m. at Carrboro Town Center on July 14. For more information, visit www.himomfilmfest.org.