As a programmer for Short of the Week, one of the genres I always struggle to curate is comedy. Some people like their comedy dark and shocking, whilst others may want their laughs a bit more light-hearted. How can you gauge what will make people laugh? One sure fire way, is to see a film live and see how an audience reacts. École des Nouvelles Images film Hors Piste has been killing it on the festival circuit and now after 46 awards (including the BAFTA Student Film Award for Animation), the film is online for a month, inviting audiences around the world to bask in it’s side-splitting glory.
The story of mountain rescue duo, Salami and Parmesan, as their attempts to rescue a skier stranded on the top of an imposing mountain, do not go to plan. Hors Piste is a riotous six-minute animation, following the pair as their endeavours to save the imperiled (known as The Wounded) leads them from hilarious set-piece to hilarious set-piece. From the moment their helicopter slowly slides from the top of the mountain, you know exactly how this film will play out, but it does detract from the enjoyment it brings, at all. In fact, the anticipation of ‘what next’ is all part of the fun.
Adding to the entertainment factor, the Hors Piste crew inject a bit of 80s fun (think Baywatch in snow) into their production wherever possible. From the moment the films starts, the lightning cracks and that retro title and overly-dramatic soundtrack enter our lives, you know you’re in for a good time. The production is top-notch but what really impressed me was how well the team handled the comedy throughout the film. Comedic timing is a difficult thing to get right, but they manage it time and time again in their short film. Even if you see the joke coming, which you often do, it doesn’t make it any less funny.
Created by Camille Jalabert & Oscar Malet (two-thirds of emerging French collective MegaComputeur), alongside Leo Brunel and Loris Cavalie, the film was created at the École des Nouvelles Images school in France. The MegaComputeur crew have collaborated on another film from the school, Wild Love – the tale of a romantic getaway that goes awry – which is also currently touring festivals.