SUMMARY: A man decides to leave his village and head to Warsaw but when he makes a stop along the way he accidentally heads back in the same direction, encountering a village which he believes to be a sort of parallel universe of the one he left.
WHY IT’S HERE: Based on the humorous Jewish folk tales of Chelm, Eugene Fedorenko and Rose Newlove’s National Film Board of Canada short ‘Village of Idiots’ is a terrific film which really captures the atmosphere of an old folk tale through its dusty colour palette and earnestly narrated story. Fedorenko and Newlove were previously responsible for one of my least favourite animated Oscar winners, the supremely annoying ‘Every Child’, but ‘Village of Idiots’ is a completely different film in terms of quality and style. Combining an appealing storybook animation style with titbits of other styles such as model animation and simple line drawings, Fedorenko and Newlove tell the tale of Chelm, a village of affable but idiotic residents, with particular focus on Shmendrick, a man who leaves the village and his family behind only to stumble right back there but somehow remain unaware that this is the same Chelm he left. As Shmendrick takes over the life of what he assumes is a parallel Shmendrick who also left this carbon copy of Chelm, the story says much about the power of perspectives. Very funny but with a strange wisdom mixed in there somewhere, ‘Village of Idiots’ is a terrific short.