This week’s short is much closer to home than most of the films we spotlight here. Created by Carol Beecher (Quickdraw’s first-ever paid staff person back in the 1980s and our current board president) and Kevin DA Kurytnik, with assistance from a whole host of Quickdraw alumni and other Calgary animators, it’s easily one of the most polished and successful animated shorts to come out of Calgary in a long while. But it isn’t just the local connections that make Skin for Skin a film worth sharing.
Set at the height of the fur trade in Canada, Skin for Skin is a dark allegory about the cost of greed and the true tolls of the fur trade. The emphasis on the dehumanizing nature of greed—for wealth and for power—is similar to last week’s short, Double King, but the tone couldn’t be more different. Where that film was about comic absurdity, Skin for Skin aims for mythic intensity, drawing from literary heavy-hitters like Coleridge and Melville, along with Celtic folklore, in crafting its story. It’s a cycle of death and redemption, and an attempt to grapple with the violent, bloody cost of nation-building by European settlers.
The depth of research and story development behind Skin for Skin (as you can see in this interview with AWN) is truly impressive, as is the art style, which comes as close as any film I’ve seen to fusing 2D illustrative art with 3D animation. It’s nice to see it earning recognition beyond Calgary—it has earned a number of prizes at animation festivals around the globe—and given that a couple of those festivals were Oscar qualifying, we’re crossing our fingers that the acclaim will keep coming.