Altötting Altötting

In this ongoing series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.

This week’s subject is the widely acclaimed artist and teacher, Andreas Hykade, whose films combine a distinctive, minimalist design with often deeply personal stories about masculinity, religion, addiction, and love.

In a sentence: Like an old blues musician (think Blind Willie McTell), Hykade’s films often use deceptively simple visuals and narratives in order to unearth the dark underbelly and complexities of everyday existence.

Where to start: We Lived in Grass (1995). Hykade’s bold and ballsy student film put him on the animation world’s map. Hykade’s rough, raw, and harrowing coming-of-age epic about masculinity in crisis, cancer, love, and rejection is told from the perspective of a young boy whose macho father develops testicular cancer.

What to watch next: Hykade’s follow up, Ring of Fire (1999), represented a major shift from his debut. While themes of toxic and troubled male behavior remain central in this Western-inspired short about two cowboys and sexual desires, gone are the vibrant colors of We Lived in Grass, replaced by a striking black and white look for a world that is anything but. Johnny Cash turned down an invitation to narrate.

Other key works: Aside from Hykade’s other outstanding shorts including The Runt (2005), Love and Theft (2010), Nuggets (2015), and Altötting (2020), he has made a number of commercial works, most notably the inspired children’s series, TOMs Band (2002).

Influences: The Bible, American rock band The Cramps, writer Carson Mccullers.

Says: “I always understand my critics, they are my most important source. With TOMs Band we got lots of criticism about how dumb it was and we used that to change the characters. I try to use my critics more than my friends. Your enemies will always keep you alert and alive.”

Currently working on: Dealing with War (2022), a brief anti-war short about the corruptive temptation of power.

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Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is a writer and Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). Robinson has authored thirteen books including Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation (2006), Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin (2008), and Japanese Animation: Time Out of Mind (2010). He also wrote the screenplay for the award-winning animation short, Lipsett Diaries.

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