SUMMARY: The lives of four inhabitants of a block of flats are examined simultaneously through split-screen.
WHY IT’S HERE: Belgian animator Jonas Geirnaert’s wonderful ‘Flatlife’ is a brilliantly busy little animation which uses split-screen to simultaneously show the goings-on in four flats. The inhabitants’ actions all have consequences on those living in the other flats, at first with an amusing logic and eventually with a growing surrealism. For instance, a painter in the top left hand flat nails a picture to the wall, causing so much noise that the man in the flat below bangs on the ceiling with his broom. This causes the picture to fall off the painter’s wall, so the painter pops downstairs to visit the man and borrow his broom. Using this to sweep up the remnants of the picture, the painter then puts up another picture in its place. Hearing the banging, the man downstairs goes up to see the painter and get his broom back, which he then uses to bang on the ceiling and the cycle begins again. These comic logical progressions are gradually displaced by left-field jokes about pandas and trampolines, until the short reaches a brilliantly futile conclusion. Recalling the split-screen animations of Paul Driessen or a scaled-down version of Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ set, ‘Flatlife’ is beautifully hand-drawn, an intricate job which took Geirnaert two years. The soundtrack, which had to be added quickly in order to meet a deadline for exhibition at Cannes, also works great, reflecting the visuals with a repetitive rhythmic beat.