Autobiographical animation is a fairly boring genre because, let’s face it, if you’re an animator, you probably don’t have lots of time to indulge in crazy adventures. Robert Valley’s powerful 35-minute film Pear Cider and Cigarettes is among the notable exceptions.
Valley has seen some shit…and so has his friend, Techno. In Pear Cider, Valley’s life becomes tangled with Techno’s in a sketchy tale of addiction, violence, brotherhood, and organ transplants on the opposite side of the planet. It pushes animation storytelling into gritty territory that it rarely ventures into.
Animated entirely in Photoshop, Pear Cider and Cigarettes is a remarkable directorial debut for an artist who has spent a fruitful career working on other people’s animation; Valley has contributed his hyperstylized drawing skills to memorable animated projects, among them Aeon Flux, Gorillaz, Beatles Rock Band, and Tron: Uprising. Seeing those skills applied to his own personal stories is a revelation.