After the numbing antiseptic perfection of big-studio digital animation—that vast uncanny valley— Nine Nation Animation, a six-day animated shorts series opening Saturday at Northwest Film Forum, is a balm for the brain and eyes. Its nine short films embrace enough visual ideas, graphic media, and emotional tones to populate an aesthetic ecosystem.

Two Danish construction workers—filmed live, then stop-framed to enhance their deadpan obliviousness—carry on a Bergmanesque dialogue on the meaning of life, at once poignant and hilarious, while the world erupts in animated riot and mayhem around them. A monk and tiger stride through a swirling, flickering, juicily painted world—fingerpainting come gorgeously to life—in what seems a conventional Buddhist fable but becomes a chilling memorial to… but you’ll have to see it.

Three young women and one old man recount how they lost their virginity—experiences by turns tepid, terrifying, triumphant, and transcendant, evoked in richly varied visual textures. David O’Reilly’s “Please Say Something” gives a whole new meaning to “cat and mouse,” in a computer-generated world that has nothing to do with 200 or Toy Story 3. Nine Nation Animation is everything an animation package should be—easy travel to other worlds.

Nine Nation Animation shows Jan. 1-6 at the Northwest Film Forum.

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