The Toronto Images Festival, North America’s most expansive film and media art event, returns for its 27th year this Thursday. Featuring 10 days of installations, performances, gallery exhibitions, and screenings of experimental shorts and features, it…
Fear is the worst, and I’ve got loads of it. I’ve got an inordinate fear of yoga—actually, I have a fear of being terrible at yoga. I can’t touch my toes, and I fart when I try. Plus I think about all of the pretty girls who go to yoga, which makes the whole thing even more problematic for me, because I’m afraid of talking to pretty girls. They’re either terribly mean or terribly dumb. I can’t even get started on my fear of talking to people whose names I have forgotten, because it’s everyone’s. Everyday fears like these run rampant through my brain, alongside making rent, eating properly, and trying to remember if I locked the door when I left the apartment. It gets worse when my inner voice starts fretting over things of note, like succeeding at my job, love, and life.
Tom Moody has these same problems. Part of Tom is filled with major self-doubt, part of him is super-confident, and both parts won’t stop fighting each other. He suffers from delusions of grandeur and inadequacy. I guess that’s what happens when your mom sleeps with the ice cream man and your dad refuses to be patient with you (probably because his wife is sleeping with the ice cream man). Thirty-two years later, when Tom intends to make his debut musical performance at an open mic, all of these fears of inadequacy come rushing back. Of course, Tom is working with corny pop songs instead of a downward-dog yoga position but he’s still dealing with what pretty girls might think of him.
The short film is animated beautifully with awkward characters by Ainslie Henderson. You can see and feel the struggle, which is voiced with humor and sincerity by the very underrated Mackenzie Crook. There are aspects of the character we all know too well. “A person finding his voice” is something that’s been done 1,000,000,000 times, but it remains a timeless story. And although this one shows its symbolism all too obviously and things pan out all too conveniently, there’s so much heart and genuine anguish in this animation, that it’s hard to fault. Facing your fears is an important lesson to learn and action to take. I’m sure if I finally went to yoga, I’d feel better—not just because that’s the point of yoga, but because I would have gotten off my ass and looked at some girls.
Ainslie Henderson completed I Am Tom Moody for his graduation film at the University of Edinburgh. It was recently nominated for a BAFTA award for Best British Short Animation. It won the 2013 Slamdance Grand Jury Prize for Animated Short as well as many other awards and nods from international festivals. If you like it, you should check out his making-of video, which is basically a companion piece to I Am Tom Moody. It showcases Ainslie experiencing all of the torment and insecurities of his main character, while painstakingly animating his main character.
Jeffrey Bowers is a tall, mustached guy from Ohio who’s seen too many weird movies. He currently lives in Brooklyn, working as an art and film curator. He is a programmer at the Hamptons International Film Festival and screens for the Tribeca Film Festival. He also self-publishes a super-fancy mixed-media art serial called PRISM index.
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