After a strong festival run, the 2020 short Lachsmänner (Salmon Men) from Bern, Switzerland’s YK Animation has been posted online.
The film’s festival run included stops at Fantoche, Animateka, and Anima Brussels, among two dozen festivals. At the Locarno Film Festival, the film’s directing trio – Veronica L. Montaño, Manuela Leuenberger, Joel Hofmann – won the best Swiss Newcomer award for their sexed-up and anthropomorphized tale of salmon reproduction.
The film’s official synopsis reads, “The salmon want to reproduce. While the salmon men are swimming upstream in a testosterone-driven race, at the source the women indulge themselves in a fertility dance. But the roles aren’t set as clearly as the men expect.” But the description doesn’t quite do the film’s bulging visuals justice.
Without crossing into the explicit, Salmon Men is full of swollen genitalia, seductive dancing, and all the joys and frustrations of the mating ritual, human or fish. Would-be mother salmon congregate around a clutch of future fish and dance seductively, alluring the one-track-minded males with gyrating movements and suggestive glances.
Meanwhile, male fish of all body and personality types work hard to move their way upstream in a race that is both relatable to anyone who has ever felt lust, and comedic to anyone who has ever watched someone else act nonsensically because of the emotion.
Who will get to the end-line first is never quite clear and the final result comes as a rewarding surprise to viewers invested in the ultimate outcome.
Lukas Pulver produced the film, which was made in co-production with SRF Swiss Radio and Television.