Director: Eric Leiser
Former Spongebob Squarepants prop animator Eric Leiser explores his passion for his baccalaureate major field of experimental animation with this three year effort co-written with his brother, the composer and poet Jeffrey Leiser. In this haunting work which should be of particular interest to students specializing in the various techniques of film animation, Eric Leiser draws upon his vast experience and melds together puppetry, stop-motion sketches, camera trickery and claymation that dazzles the senses and makes the live action sequences pale in comparison. Employing a story that trips the mind fantastic, the brothers craft a tale which centers on two medically challenged twin sisters who are brought in for neuropsychological testing by Dr. Reineger (Ed K. Gildersleeve) when young Anna Woodruff (Nikki Haddad) is viewed as a likely candidate for Asperger’s Syndrome. After their mother worries about the sisters’ increasingly tight bond and their tendency to disappear into the far reaches of their imaginations, Anna’s twin Sarah (Jessi Haddad) is brought in for the study after she is found to be legally blind—a condition that the optometrist predicts will worsen with time. The melancholy plot is elevated by bursts of clever animations that creep around every corner along with the sweeping score by Jeffrey Leiser that is so impressive one wonders if there will be an option on the upcoming DVD to isolate the superior music and visuals since they show off the Leisers’ considerable talent in their chosen areas. However, the existential questioning that permeates the fascinatingly chilly first half of the film soon evolves into a spiritual crisis for the doctor that doesn’t quite synch with the beginning which had called to mind the imagination run amok and lurking foreshadowing of sadness to follow evidenced in Peter Jackson’s Heavenly Creatures. Still, the proposal of the two twins unifying into one with a psychic connection is a creative idea sure to intrigue devotees of Philip K. Dick’s phantom twin motif and surrealist film fans along with lovers of animation in every form. Imagination, which was an official selection at the Tel Aviv Film Festival, the Istanbul International Animation Festival in Turkey and played in select screenings in the states, is set to be released by Vanguard International Cinema on DVD on February 26 of next year.