For dabblers and aficionados alike, the compilation "Nine Nation Animation" is an eye-opening movie and a rare treat: The chance to see, in one sitting, accomplished shorts from around the world (all have nabbed awards at major film festivals, among them Cannes and Berlin).
As with any such collection, not every entry will be everyone's cup of visual-arts tea, but even if a film doesn't click, the next piece is at most a quarter-hour away. With a couple of exceptions, these gems of concision are persuasive reminders that whole stories can unfold in mere minutes.
To varying degrees, many of the chosen nine convey the sense of a world gone wrong. "Deconstruction Workers," the wickedly funny Norwegian short that opens the compilation, combines live-action figures and illustrations of a disaster-torn cityscape as two hard hats consider the normalcy of discontent. Photographic images of real actors have a very different effect in "Home Road Movies," a deeply felt memory piece about postwar Britain in which a simple station wagon attains a poignant symbolism.
One of the longest and most striking pieces, the French-produced "Bamiyan," uses jewel-deep, painterly imagery to tell its 7th-century saga, at heart a dissection of myth surrounding monumental works of art destroyed by the Taliban.
Whether the animation is stop-motion or cartoon-conventional, sound design is often as inventive as the visuals — notably so in the dazzlingly original showstopper "Please Say Something." The Irish-German production, set within the dystopian geometry of a future world, concerns the love-hate relationship between a cat and mouse. Vive la difference.
"Nine Nation Animation." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 22 minutes. At the Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills; Laemmle Playhouse 7, Pasadena (Saturday and Sunday).