From Richmond Native and acclaimed graphic novelist Dash Shaw (Bottomless Belly Button; New School) comes an audacious debut that is equal parts disaster cinema, high school comedy and blockbuster satire, told through a dream-like mixed media animation style that incorporates drawings, paintings and collage.
Andrew Lapin of NPR writes, “You are not going to find a better title for a movie this year than My Entire High School Sinking Into The Sea; exactly as fun as its name. The film is a snarky back-of-the-class doodle about a high school collapsing on the foundation of its own stupidity, with a voice cast hailing exclusively from the cool kids table (Jason Schwartzman, Lena Dunham, Reggie Watts, Maya Rudolph, [and Susan Sarandon]).”
The Byrd Theatre hosts 2 special screenings over Memorial Day Weekend; Film Creator Dash Shaw will be present offering Q&A following both screenings.
- Saturday, May 27 at 4:30 PM; and
- Sunday, May 28 @ 4:30 PM
A RICHMOND NATIVE
Dash has been illustrating and drawing comics as long as I can recall, through our Middle and High School days shared in Richmond’s far West End. He was introduced to publishing early, where his comics earned their place in the Times Dispatch’s In Synch weekly teen supplement at the time.
Though Dash graduated with my class, he spent half his high school day at The Center for the Arts. In a 2009 interview with Meathaus he notes, “[I] didn’t socialize much… I was only really friends with the kids at the art school. [The first half of each day] I was just waiting to go to the art school.”
Accompanying his senior yearbook entry/photo, was this quote, “High School… too many characters, not enough plot.” (referenced from the Sunday Comic Strip)
Well, his recent animated film seems to redeem that sentiment.
ON HIGH SCHOOL SINKING…
THE MOST ORIGINAL
ANIMATED FILM OF THE YEAR!
A QUICK AND DAZZLING
BURST OF PLEASURE!
IT’S SOMETHING QUITE SPECIAL!
– The Guardian
A GREAT DISASTER COMEDY!
THE WHOLE THING BUZZES
WITH HAND-DRAWN CREATIVITY!
WILDLY BIZARRE AND
– The Playlist
Hailed as “the most original animated film of the year” and “John Hughes for the Adult Swim generation” (Indiewire), the film’s everyday concerns of friendships, cliques and young love remind us how the high school experience continues to shape who we become, even in the most unusual of circumstances.
Andrew Lapin adds provides great insight:
Shaw’s Fantagraphics vision is a 75-minute collage of ideas that’s also a literal collage. He mixes hand-drawn images, paintings, and Photoshop-aided animation.
Gruesome deaths abound [mixing] the economic style of Peanuts with the disaster movie cheese of The Towering Inferno and the darker impulses of manga like The Drifting Classroom. It’s grungy and tilts toward abstract backgrounds and simple, repeated movements (the film is essentially a series of GIFs). But it doesn’t cheat on the emotions, even as side characters are being eaten by sharks.
What we’re seeing with works like High School Sinking is the chance to use advancements in DIY animation to break down the financial barriers that used to inoculate this industry from the threat of independent voices. It’s the old guard sinking into the sea, and based on his killer first feature directing effort, Shaw has a good shot at emerging on top.
Read the whole review on NPR.
ON INSPIRATION FOR “HIGH SCHOOL SINKING”
Dash discusses his early influences on Criterion’s blog, and the impact of hallucinatory mind-bender, René Laloux’s 1973 sci-fi masterpiece Fantastic Planet on his film:
“I first saw Fantastic Planet when I was about eleven years old. My dad, a former hippie, had a VHS copy of it… It was really like some kind of strange glowing talisman in his collection, this perfect beaming from some other sensibility—like it must have been made on a fantastic planet. The movie was mainly designed by Roland Topor, this illustrator who drew in a moody illustrative style that’s very densely hatched, like he had maybe been looking at illustrations from the 1870s. But there was always a joke or some visual gag inside all this moody hatching.”
“When I saw that as a kid, I thought, ‘This is the coolest thing.’ You can watch the hatching change in this abstract, stoner-y way and just appreciate the drawings and the colors. It can work both as a story and as a trip. I hope my film feels that way.”
My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
A film by Dash Shaw
2016 | 75 MIN | PG-13
Saturday, May 27 @ 4:30 PM
Sunday, May 28 @ 4:30 PM
at The Byrd
2908 W. Cary St., Richmond, VA
Director/Filmmaker Dash Shaw will lead Q&A immediately following both performances.
Purchase Advance Tickets here:
Meathaus Interview by Chris McD, January 2009.
Criterion Interview “Out of This World: Dash Shaw on Fantastic Planet”
Alamo Drafthouse profile of My Entire High School Sinking into the Sea
NPR Review of “High School Sinking” by Andrew Lapin, April 2017.