There are two films during this year’s TIFF with the title Charlotte. One of them is a feature length animation about anti-Semitism and the other is a short animation film with a few different threads. There’s a pop star on a photo shoot. The short then follows her scenes with one about Lena Black (O-Lan Jones), an older folk singer who is a guest on a late night talk show by Sam Burton (Chas Padgett), and her clap backs against the host’s misogyny gets her cancelled, reminiscent of Chelsea Handler’s previous setbacks. The last thread is about a boy who sings and records hour long tapes for his absent father, to the disappointment of his mother and her brother who have their own history.
The short’s director and writer is Zach Dorn, an alumni of CalArts, who does his best to promote his work. A previous work includes a short about Stevie Nicks, which is in my wheelhouse. His use of clay animation has layers and he uses a mix of different surfaces, but it’s still too rough for viewers who have prejudices against the medium. Many directors can juggle story threads but this short isn’t there yet, and the juggling act here feels like it doesn’t suck viewers in. It’s also difficult to incorporate a child’s repetitive singing voice in any film of any length without making it come across as annoying. The payoff also isn’t there yet, but there’s an ambitiousness to the structure that shows potential.