Calleen Koh, an unpredictable animator from Singapore, made a bold appearance at the 19th Seoul Indie-Anifest. This time, her work was even more daring and provocative. In the past, Koh gained attention for her first film “Sexy Sushi” (2020), a fast-paced short film that delved into the world of sex work on a sushi conveyor belt. Her latest work, “To Kill the Birds & the Bees” (2021), continues her wild style with a mix of puppetry and satirical music, exposing the double standards of Singapore’s conservative beliefs.
“Hot Buns” screened at Indie-Anifest
However, previous works felt like student films due to limitations in budget or time. “Hot Buns” is Koh’s first short film after graduation, without any constraints. The story takes place in a society resembling apartheid, where Buns are controlled by Hands. Buns are lower class and forced to do menial tasks, while Hands are privileged and often exploit and consume Buns. After a viral video sparks outrage, the Buns and Hands unite in misguided attempts to seek justice, ultimately sending a lone Bun to the moon.
Overall, this short reads as an unbridled development of Koh’s maximalist aesthetic. Like “To Kill the Birds & the Bees,”, Koh and her team at Finding Pictures cobble together a delightful melange of media, but at the feverish pace of “Sexy Sushi.” A dizzy display of stop motion to 3D models to analog video-like effects motions to Koh’s nuanced sensitivity to the screenspheres that make up the 21st century content climate. In a way, because of how seamlessly the short is edited, it is almost as if watching “Hot buns” itself is a reflection of our own entirely complex media environment. And, like the rest of her oeuvre, she stays true to her explicit themes. “Hot Buns” savors her sex-laden satire of Internet warriors, processing the oscillatory nature of copulation and constipation as a (w)hole.
If you happen to come across “Hot Buns” at a festival or elsewhere, definitely consider watching it. Look out for Calleen Koh, a highly talented young animator from Singapore whose career is on the rise.