The annual "Festival of Animation" at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art has become a regular showcase for some of the most interesting short films from around the world.
Unlike previous shows, the 1988 edition, which opens today, offers no premieres or surprises: All of these films have screened in Southern California within the last year.
Some of the reruns are welcome. The subtle ways Raimond Krumme uses the movements of two figures joined by a red rope to create an intriguing tension between two- and three-dimensional space in "Rope Dance" (West Germany) only become apparent on the second or third viewing. Similarly, the first time an audience sees Paul Driessen's absurd "Sunnyside Up" (Netherlands), they can easily miss the tiny but significant events that divide the two halves of its bizarre, spherical world.
In "George and Rosemary" (Canada), Alison Snowden and David Fine depict a wistful, comic romance between a dumpy little old man and the equally frowzy old lady who lives across the street from him. This gently silly film may well earn the husband and wife team their second Oscar nomination in three years. The twisted vision of evolution in the "Bolero" section of Bruno Bozzetto's "Allegro Non Troppo" (Italy) remains hilarious, 11 years after its U.S. premiere.
Conversely, the moving bits of paper in Jane Aaron's inane "Traveling Light" (U.S.) have lost whatever novelty value they ever possessed, and the film is a bore. In this case, absence might not make the heart grow fonder, but it would keep the audience awake.
The heavy-handed political preaching in "Oh Dad" (Canada) by Jonathan Amitay makes the viewer realize just how long four minutes can seem. Sally Cruikshank's "Face Like a Frog" (U.S.) continues to please audiences, despite its sloppy animation and garish color scheme.
Either the La Jolla Museum or the producers at Mellow Manor should hire a proofreader: The printed program has three of the animators' names misspelled. These artists deserve more respectful treatment, regardless of how mellow the people involved may still be.
"Festival of Animation 1988" plays weekends at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, 700 Prospect Street (at Silverado), La Jolla, through March 14. Information: (619) 454-2594.