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THURSDAY JAN. 22, 8PM, KARL COHEN PRESENTS HIS ‘FORBIDDEN ANIMATION’ PROGRAM
Based on his book Forbidden Animation: Censored Cartoons & Blacklisted Animators. This is a survey of works too wild for Hollywood’s censors. At Oddball Films, 275 Capp St. 3rd floor (Capp runs between Mission and S. Van Ness, on Capp near 18th St.) The program is part of Oddball’s Cinema Soirée series. For details visit www.oddballfilms.blogspot.com.
FINAL FREE SCREENINGS OF “BIG HERO 6”
At Delancey St. Screening Room, Sat. Dec 6, 5 PM. And at Variety Screening Room, Fri. Dec 12, 7 PM, Mon Dec. 22 at 7 PM and Sun. Dec. 28 at 2 PM. RSVP www.WaltDisneyStudioAwards.com.
A NEW WEBSITE OF ISRAELI ANIMATION
Tsvika Oren, who heads ASIFA Israel, tells us, “There is a new website dedicated to Israeli animation. not yet with English translation. Still, most films included are without text so you may enjoy it.” http://moonfash.com
IN THE NEW EPISODE OF XETH’S “RANSACK RABBIT”
His mean and nasty rabbit takes on the cops. Lots of violence worthy of a Batman cartoon. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-FOJisesc4U
LOOKING FOR A GIFT FOR YOURSELF OR A FRIEND?
Visit Stuart Ng Books. They specialize in Illustration, Animation & Comic Art books and folios. (310) 909-1929. http://www.stuartngbooks.com
“SUBCONCIOUS PASSWORD” BY CHRIS LANDRETH
Was posted on Cartoon Crew October 29. http://www.cartoonbrew.com
THE 7TH XIAMEN INTERNATIONAL CYBER SOUSA ANIMATION FESTIVAL
AUGUST 15 – 19, 2014 IN XIAMEN, CHINA, BY NANCY DENNY-PHELPS
I was invited to Xiamen, China to participate in the two day Animation Pulpit and spend time at the five day Animation, Comics, and Technology Exhibition which were held in conjunction with the 7th Xiamen International Cyber Sousa Animation Festival. Professionals from around the world were brought together to lecture on “The Development of the Animation and Game Industry” with an emphasis on new media applications at the Animation Pulpit.
Two other ASIFA International Board Members were invited. Anastasia Dimitra of ASIFA Greece and Ricardo Arce Lopez from ASIFA Columbia spoke. Anastasia is an animation professor at the University of Agean as well as a producer, animator, and author of books about teaching animation to children. Ricardo Arce Lopez is a professor at the University of Bogota where he co-0rdinates animation, graphic design, and technology for multi-media.
Columbia has a tradition of animation that has grown in importance since the 1970’s. Ricardo gave me a copy of Cuadernos de Cine Colombiano (Notes on Columbian Cinema) an excellent book that he and twelve other Columbian professors, animators and film makers contributed articles to. The book covers Columbian animation from its beginnings to recent PG 13 features. It includes a comprehensive list of all animation produced in the country from 1990 to 2013. Each listing contains the name of the director, the length, a synopsis of the film, and a listing of all the festivals where the film was screened. The book concludes with short biographies of the contributors and an excellent bibliography for further exploration of the subject. Unfortunately the book is only in Spanish and even though it has been very popular in Latin and South America the publisher is not interested in printing an English language edition although the authors are anxious to do it. You can download a pdf copy of Cuadernos de Cine Colombiano at http://www.idartes.gov.co/images/multimedia/cinemateca/publicaciones/2014/Cuaderno_No_20_Animacion.pdf.
Ricardo told me that there are several animation festivals in Columbia. The primary two festivals in Columbia are LOOP in Bogota and La Truca in Cali. LOOP is for video games and animation. The last festival was in 2009 but it will return late this year. Hopefully it will remain a mainstay of Columbian animation festivals. You can find information about it at: http://www.loop.la.
http://www.cybersousa.org for more information about the Xiamen festival.
THE SAN FRANCISCO FIRM BOT AND DOLLY WON THE TOP PRIZE AT SIGGRAPH 2014 IN THEIR COMPUTER ANIMATION FESTIVAL by Karl Cohen
One of SIGGRAPH’s annual highlights is the show of computer animation in its many forms. They show short films, great moments from features, prize winning commercials and game promos. They also screened scientific visualizations, real time graphics, and elsewhere in the conference the latest animation technical advances and visionary experiments. There were 450 entries into the competition of which 34 were shown. Daytime programs included other entries.
The Best in Show Award went to Box, a unique work of art by San Francisco’s Bot and Dolly. It introduces us to a truly new way to create films, and fortunately the short is available online on several websites. It was made using projection mapping on two moving surfaces and the surfaces just happen to be attached to the arm of two giant robots that danced about during the making of the film. Confused? Just type into your computer search window Box by Tarik Abdel-Gawad and be amazed. http://vimeo.com/75260457.
The rest of the conference
The 41st annual event took place over 5 days in Vancouver in a 40,000 square foot exhibit hall with 175 companies participating. About 25% of the exhibitors were new to SIGGRAPH and 44% were non-US based firms. Over 14,000 people attended the event (6,156 were Canadians).
One of the impressive speeches (there were over 1500 talks given) was the keynote address presented by Elliot Kotek of Not Impossible Labs. His theme was “Help one, help many” and his talk focused on his work to improve healthcare. The press gave a lot of attention to his firm’s work helping Sudanese amputees to get fitted with new prosthetic limbs using computers and 3D printing technology. Key measurements of the client’s affected limb are fed into a computer, the information is processed and then a printer is told what to do. Not so long ago the process of making an artificial limb to fit a client was a far more complex and costly processes. His entire inspiring speech is online here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fuPcdLAbKI.
NOV. 14, WOMEN IN THE ANIMATION INDUSTRY
A panel hosted by Women in Animation at the Academy of Art www.womeninanimationsf.blogspot.com
Sat. Nov. 22 – JOHN CANEMAKER’S illustrated lecture on “THE LOST NOTEBOOK: HERMAN SCHULTHEIS AND THE SECRETS OF WALT’S MOVIE MAGIC at WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM
Join author and Academy Award winning animation director and designer John Canemaker for a discussion of the techniques discussed in the notebooks. They cover many of the special-effects used in early Disney films. Tickets: $18 Member | $20 non-members | $15 Youth (ages 17 and under) http://www.waltdisney.org/node/1397/0
ONE OF THE INTERNET’S ORIGINAL NASTY ANIMATORS IS BACK WITH A NEW SERIES, “RANSACK RABBIT”
It is a “twisted-anti-hero-action-adventure-biker-road-movie-american-anime-parody-thingy” by Xeth Feinberg. You can see a trailer and five short episodes of Xeth’s new work at https://www.youtube.com/distractionland
WANT TO SEE TOTALLY WEIRD SPECIAL EFFECTS ANIMATION?
Check out Malfunction by Cyriak and his other works on YouTube. You have been warned! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnWP2Emps1M
5th EDITION OF THE ANIBAR INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION, August 5-10, 2014 in Peja, Kosovo by Nancy Denny-Phelps
Anibar International Festival of Animation is truly unique. No one involved with the running of the festival is over 26 years old, they have a strong ecological bent, and the festival is primarily organized for the 60,000 residents of Peja rather than for foreign guests. The quality of the programming was quite good and it included something to please everyone.
This was my 3rd visit to Anibar and I always find their Balkan Competition to be interesting, with many films that I don’t get to see at other festivals. Along with films from Balkan countries such as Croatia, which are well known for their excellence, I had a chance to watch films from Serbia, Turkmenistan, and Turkey.
Anibar has made great strides in its first 5 years. This year the festival reopened the city’s old cinema that closed when the equipment broke in the 1960’s. The nearest cinema is in Pristina, an hour’s drive away. The festival has a big job ahead of it to cultivate the cinema habit in the local population who is used to watching movies on their television screens. The plan is to show first run films that up to now people could see advertised but had to wait until they appeared on TV to actually watch them. It’s a big undertaking but they have already begun the renovations and the projection and sound system was very good during the festival screenings in the cinema. The festival office has also moved upstairs at the theatre. This is quite an achievement for a festival begun by two guys who were 17 and 18 years old at the time. The festival staff are all still in their early 20’s but they have proven that even if you are young and don’t have a much money you can achieve a lot if you have a dream. Visit their web site to see photos and read more about the festival: www.anibar.com
VINCE COLLINS HAS JUST POSTED *PSYCHO CITY* ON YOUTUBE
It includes a homage or two to some of our nation’s film classics. If you survive your trip to Psycho City you might be fascinated with his trip to Oz where you can journey doan a very s grange brick road. Some of his other surreal mindbenders are also posted including his Animation School Dropout. Vince is a local animator who drives a 1930 Plymouth with a V8 under the hood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S67tsQUohW4&list=UUXZhsdrSZhbWYoXhRITDH1g
THURSDAY – SATURDAY, OCT. 9, 10, 11 SATIRE FEST, PRESENTED BY THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN EDITORIAL CARTOONISTS
In San Francisco at the Marines Memorial Theater (609 Sutter). It will feature traditional editorial cartoonists, animators, web comics, comics, journalism, etc. The brilliant animator/political cartoonist Mark Fiore is one of the animators. Check the Satire Fest website for program details, etc. http://www.satirefest.com
ROCKS IN MY POCKETS OPENS AT THE ROXIE, SF, NOVEMBER 21
CURIOUS TO KNOW WHAT JOHN LASSETER’S LIFE IS LIKE?
See A day in the life of John Lasseter, a 25 minute documentary from 2011, free on the Internet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZre2MUyvoQ
KATZENBERG RECEIVED A NATIONAL MEDAL OF ARTS FROM OBAMA
The president awards the National Medal of Arts to “individuals or groups who are deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions to the excellence, growth, support and availability of the arts in the United States.” The medal was presented on July 28 at the White House, with first lady Michelle Obama attending,
Pando.com said, “Katzenberg’s political fundraising has served his own interests well, such as when Vice President Joe Biden lobbied China’s current leader, Xi Jingping, to open up China’s markets to Hollywood — and to Katzenberg’s DreamWork’s Animation in particular. The result: Oriental DreamWorks, a massive movie animation operation and $2.4 billion ‘DreamCenter’ that will dwarf its Hollywood operations.”
“SOUTH PARK” AND “THE SIMPSONS” ONLINE
The entire South Park library is available for free on Hulu before the start of the animated comedy’s 18th season. After the Sept. 24 premiere of the Comedy Central cartoon’s 18th season the old shows will be available to Hulu Plus subscribers and new episodes will be available next day on both Hulu and Hulu Plus. Comedy Central currently offers the shows on the South Park Studio’ website, but after the new season begins the South Park website will only offer a revolving selection of free episodes. Serious fans can see the others on Hulu. http://www.hulu.com/search?q=south+park
The 530 episodes of The Simpsons (24 seasons) will became available in January on FXNOW “TV Everywhere” app. See http://vod.fxnetworks.com/watch/3e848ee8-eb31-4af2-be27-cb86f282d037 for the official website for the show. See http://www.fxnetworks.com/fxnow for information about the app.
GENE DEITCH COMMENTS ON NINA PALEY’S FILM ABOUT CONFLICTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Writing about her film This Land is Mine, he says, “Nina is a genius, singing the song of truth! She tells the basic story with a sung. My hat is off to her. Beyond the clear-as-daylight meaning of her story, she is making the statement of the power of drawn animation! Now all we need is for the current singers of this deadly song, the breakaway Ukrainian Russians, to see this film and to drop their bloody swords.” http://themindunleashed.org/2014/07/ive-never-seen-israelpalestine-conflict-illustrated-uniquely.html
ARE YOU A DEADHEAD? IF SO CHECK OUT NINA PALEY’S AMAZING COMIC STRIP BASED ON THEIR CASEY JONES SONG
A mind blower! http://blog.ninapaley.com/2014/06/01/drivin-that-train/
There was no newsletter in August.
TWO INTERNATIONAL ONLINE ANIMATION MAGAZINES WORTH CHECKING OUT
DISCOVER THE HAND DRAWN ANIMATION OF JOHN HAUGSE
He got a Guggenheim in 1976. 8 works. https://www.youtube.com/user/checkeriver122337/videos
THE 16TH TEL AVIV INTERNATIONAL STUDENT FILM FESTIVAL
(Information is from Tsvika Oren who heads ASIFA in Isreal.) In the international competition two animated shorts won prizes. New Species by Katerina Karhankova from the Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts, Prague, Czech Republic won the Best Animation award. It is a seven minute drawn animation about a journey of three kids in search of a creature whose bone they have found.
Requiem for a Robot by Christoph Rainer of Columbia University, NYC won the experimental prize. It is a six minute mix of live action and animation. It is a low or no budget film with funny creative solutions to telling the story of a malfunctioning worn out robot that drowns his sorrows in alcohol. An interview with Rainer includes photos of an actor wearing a cardboard costume painted with aluminum paint. http://filmschoolshorts.tumblr.com/post/79381468116/interview-with-requiem-for-a-robot-director-christoph.
There were 250 shorts and features screened at the festival. They came from over 40 countries. The Israeli Film Critics Forum awarded a special mention to Tal Hadar’s plasticine short Lady No. 4. Tal’s film was made at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. vimeo.com/72808161.
The Tel Aviv International Students Film Festival was established by three Tel Aviv University students in 1986. It has grown into a major international event that features screenings, conferences, stimulating master classes and lots of parties. Around 150 guests from all over the world were hosted by local students this year. The competition only accepts entries from schools that are members of CILECT (International association of film and TV schools). http://www.cilect.org/
FOR PROFIT SCHOOLS HAVE FRIENDS IN WASHINGTON
In the article For-Profit Education Fraud Tied to Political Elite, about the $11 billion lawsuit against EMC (April 20,2012 TruthOut.org story posted at Alternet.org) they name a bipartisan group of the nations political leaders that have close ties to for-profit colleges. This newsletter had previously reported Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and her husband, the comer governor of Maine John McKernan, were involved with EMC. He is or was chairman of their board and a former CEO of EMC. Snowe has owned over a million dollars in EMC stock. (She has resigned from the US Senate.)
TruthOut.org claimed in 2012 in a very shrill voice, “There is a vast network of former and current government officials who actively participate in the for-profit college swindle. Some of the conspirators are well known, and include Mitt Romney, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), John Kline (R-Minnesota), Alcee Hastings (D-Florida), Trent Lott (R-Mississippi), Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Steve Gunderson (R-Wisconsin), Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Brian Moran, Snowe, Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi (D-California), and John Boehner (R-Ohio). The group also includes Obama administration officials and supporters…”
AWN.COM HAS POSTED A LOVELY TRIBUTE TO MARCY PAGE
Marcy studied animation in the 1970s at SF State and later taught there before moving to Montreal where she worked as a producer for the National Film Board of Canada. She recently retired which means she is not accepting new projects, but is still overseeing ones she started. There is a second article that is an interview with her. http://www.awn.com/animationworld/tribute-marcy-page and http://www.awn.com/animationworld/marcy-page-leaves-her-mark-nfb
DISCOVER EAT DRINK FILM.COM
The above article is available as a two-part article with several high definition color images on the new website Eat Drink Film.com. The site is the work of a wonderful friend of animation and ASIFA-SF, Gary Meyers. Gary hosted a benefit for our chapter several years ago with Richard Williams at the Balboa Theatre when he ran it. He is co-artistic director of the Telluride Film Festival, which premieres both animated features and shorts, and was a co-director of Landmark Theaters for many years. Landmark/Expanded Cinema distributed animation programs, ran the LA Animation Festival and showed lots of animation programs in their chain of theaters.
LANEY COLLEGE – SUMMER WORKSHOPS
LEARN ANIMATION WITH PROFESSIONAL ANIMATOR TONY CLAAR
3 WORKSHOPS – JUNE 12, 19 & 26
Start Anytime – take sessions 1, 2 or all 3
“We will learn to draw simple objects and characters, will do stop-motion with clay and humans (you will ‘animate’ yourself – everyone loves this exercise) and you will get a crash course in Digicel Flipbook’s professional software.”
“Great animated films will be shown and all the principles and the basics of how to animate will be covered from squash & stretch to special effects like explosions, smoke and water. Students can make their own short movie and take it home if they bring their own USB Flash drive to the class! It will be a fun class, for beginning levels.”
No prerequisite – ages 14 and up.
EACH ALL DAY WORKSHOP ONLY $35!!!
Held at Laney College, 9 AM – 4 PM
Graphics Arts Dept., B, Building A, Room 152
To register firstname.lastname@example.org
FRAMELINE 38, THE SAN FRANCISCO LGBT FILM FESTIVAL
June 19 – 29 Fifteen animated shorts will be screened at Frameline 38. Eleven will be in the Get Animated! program (Roxie, Sat. June 21, 4 PM), three in the Transtastic! showcase (Mon. June 23, Victoria Theatre, 7 PM) and three in the Home Grown show Sun. June 22, Victoria, 11 AM). The Get Animated show includes lesbian penguins, Jimmy Carter, super hip moms and a lot of other cool stuff. On Sunday, June 22, 10:30 AM there will be a kid friendly feature at the Castro (title to be announced in early June – it might be Brave). www.frameline.org
READ AN AMAZING ARTICLE ABOUT THE SUCCESS AND FINANCIAL RUIN OF A GREAT ANIMATION STUDIO
Oscar winning clay animator, producer and director Adam Elliot wrote me, “Every student of animation or those who don’t know this sad tale should read this article. I have met Will a few times and he is a gentleman genius.” Special thanks to Norah Molina for telling me about this article. http://priceonomics.com/how-the-father-of-claymation-lost-his-company/
DID BART SIMPSON HELP CREATE THE WAR IN SYRIA? EGYPTIAN TV REPORTED A CLUE TO A CONSPIRACY!
The Hollywood Reporter tells us, “Simpsons Episode Stirs Syrian Civil War Conspiracy Theories in Egypt Egyptian TV network al-Tahrir stirred the Arab conspiracy theory pot this week, suggesting in a news segment that a 2001 episode of The Simpsons indicates that the U.S. might have incited the Syrian Civil War as part of a broader plot to destabilize the Arab world. In the episode, titled ‘New Kids on the Blecch,’ the always mischievous Bart Simpson, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph are recruited to form a boy band, whose first single ‘Drop Da Bomb’ is actually part of a subliminal recruitment campaign orchestrated by the Navy. In the video, the boys pilot war planes and drop bombs on an unnamed Arab country, where they also teach the local women to wear bikinis and play tether ball. The episode was uncomfortably prescient in some sense, given its broadcast just months before 9/11 (later repeat broadcasts of the same episode excised a few segments because it was believed they could be upsetting, given what was then transpiring in the world)…”
“…A key detail that the Egyptian TV network has seized on as a possible sign of more elaborate conspiracy at work. In a brief section of the video, a jeep bears the exact same flag currently used by the Syrian opposition. Before showing the segment on air, al-Tahrir’s anchor told viewers: ‘The video you are about to see shows animated figures dancing, flying airplanes and dropping bombs on what must be Syria because there are other animated figures below in Arab garb and the Syrian [opposition] flag appears on one of the vehicles.’ She then alleges that the video ‘suggests that what is happening in Syria today was premeditated’ and that U.S. likely played a role, adding, ‘This was from 2001, before there was such a thing as the Syrian opposition.’ She then notes how such theories have been trending among local Facebook users.” See the news report at www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/simpsons-episode-stirs-syrian-civil-702245?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=hollywoodreporter_international&utm_campaign=THR%20International_now_2014-05-08%2012%3A41%3A21_gszalai
YOU MIGHT ENJOY SEEING “PURPLE HAT,” A CLEVER ANTI-SMOKING PROPAGANDA SHORT FROM CANADA THAT IS NOW ONLINE
Purple Hat is one of three one minute anti-smoking shorts made by Lynn Smith in the early 1970’s for the National Film Board of Canada. The NFB also plans to post the other two, Happy Birthday and In the Center Ring, but Lynn tells us, “Happy Birthday may have to wait in the wings for a while until the copyright issue on the song (which is sung by the characters in this clip) is finally resolved in court.”
“The copyright to the song Happy Birthday is presently being legally contested by a USA documentary filmmaker who has been maintaining that the song has been in public domain for a while. Fact is: the NFB did buy the rights to the song some 40 years ago for the clip, but those rights (if they have not run out) certainly do not apply to the internet. According to Canadian law the song in Canada is already in public domain, but because the NFB beams into the USA, the USA’s later copyright cutoff dates have to be respected.” https://www.nfb.ca/film/purple_hat
INTERNATIONAL TRICKFILM FESTIVAL
22 – 27 April, 2014 Stuttgart, Germany and FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Technology 22 – 25 April, 2014 Stuttgart.
By Nancy Denny-Phelps
After last year’s 20th Anniversary celebration, I didn’t think that the 2014 edition of the International Trickfilm Festival in Stuttgart could surpass the 2013 celebration but it certainly did. Even though the festival is one of the most important in the world with over 85,000 visitors this year, it has not lost its warm, hospitable feeling for the guests. That’s why so many of the world’s best animators are happy to come to ITFS to give a wide range of workshops and presentations.
The competition programs were not just made up of serious films. There were plenty of very funny films. Daniel Moshel must have a very active imagination and a full You Tube life to have created MeTube: August Sings Carmen “Habanera.” The 4 minute film is a very funny homage to the thousands of You Tube users and video bloggers, gifted and not so gifted alike, who tirelessly self-promote on the internet. This tribute-to-bad-taste version of Bizet’s Habanera from Carmen was created as a music video for Swiss opera tenor August Schram and won the 2013 German Video award in the EPIC category. The film also screened at Sundance this year. You can watch it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2jn_lxrrPg
THE FULL ARTICLE IS AVAILABLE ON LINE
Nancy goes on to discuss programs presented by animation schools, a presentation on animation from Beirut and the Arab world, a story pitching contest, a night of animated horror films, workshops, programs for kids and a lot of other things, plus a short article about FMX 2014, The Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Transmedia, in Stuttgart. http://sprockets.animationblogspot.com/
DON’T MISS SEEING “METUBE: AUGUST SINGS CARMEN HABANERA”
It is beyond weird www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2jn_lxrrPg
BEN RIDGWAY CONTINUES TO GAIN MORE FESTIVAL EXPOSURE
Ben Ridgway’s Cosmic Flower will be in two more festivals, the Northwest Animation Fest and the Spirit Quest Festival. Also the Golden Gate Express in April ran an article about him and his work. www.goldengatexpress.org/2014/04/04/cosmic-flower-unfolding-animation-professor/
Ben has sent us links to two unusual works of interest. Man by Steve Cutts is a film that describes man’s relationship to nature. http://truthseekerdaily.com/2014/03/man-the-cruelty-of-man-represented-in-a-cartoon/ Kontrast by Ben Victor Miller is a handsome visionary film inspired by the work of Ernst Haeckel. Ben Victor Miller is a student at SF State. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z66T94SvyLE
DISCOVER THE MAGICAL, COLORFUL WORLD OF MARY BLAIR AT THE DISNEY MUSEUM by KC
An enormous exhibit honoring Mary Blair (1911 – 1978), one of Walt Disney’s most original and influential designers/art directors, has opened at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Her aesthetic taste influenced many of the studio’s post WWII classics including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella” and Peter Pan along with theme park attractions. She is perhaps best-known as the illustrator of several Little Golden Books for children.
The show which features about 200 paintings plus photographs and other things will be on view until September 7. If you can’t get to San Francisco to see it, you can enjoy it at home as almost everything in it is reproduced in the exhibit “catalog.” Magic, Color, Flair: The World of Mary Blair with text by John Canemaker, is actually a handsome oversized 176 page hardbound book instead of a small softbound catalog. It reproduces almost everything in the exhibit in full color. For details visit: www.waltdisney.org.
THE YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS IS PRESENTING “ASTONISHING ANIMATION: THE FILMS OF HAYAO MIYAZAKI AND STUDIO GHIBLI” MAY 1 TO JUNE 1
Most of the films will be presented in 35mm and in Japanese English subtitles, but the first film shown on each Sunday will be shown in an English-language version to make the work more accessible to younger viewers. Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (701 Mission St., San Francisco), $10, $8 for members, students, teachers & seniors
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, May 1, 7:30pm and May 3, 5:00pm; Whisper of the Heart, May 3, 7:30pm and May 4, 3:30pm; Kiki’s Delivery Service, May 4, 1:00pm; Princess Mononoke, May 8, 7:30pm and May 10, 4:30pm; The Cat Returns, May 10, 7:30pm and May 11, 3:30pm; Ponyo, May 11, 1:00pm; Pom Poko, May 15, 7:30pm and May 17, 5:00pm; Castle in the Sky, May 17, 7:30pm, May 18, 3:00pm; My Neighbor Totoro, May 18, 1:00pm; Grave of the Fireflies, May 22, 7:30pm and May 24, 5:30pm; Only Yesterday, May 24, 7:30pm and May 25, 3:30pm; Howl’s Moving Castle, May 25, 1:00pm; Spirited Away, May 29, 7:30pm and May 31, 5:00pm, Porco Rosso, May 31, 7:30pm and Jun 1, 3:00pm, and From Up on Poppy Hill, Jun 1, 1:00pm. http://www.ybca.org/studio-ghibli
ENJOY “YELLOW STICKY NOTES, A CANADIAN ANIJAM” ON THE INTERNET
One of the highlights of The Center For Asian American Media’s Festival in March was seeing Yellow Sticky Notes (2013), a fast moving jam by 15 animators: Marv Newland, Janet Perlman, Chris Hinton, Cordell Barker, Jonathan Ng, Paul Driessen, Lilian Chan, Alison Snowden, David Fine, Jeff Chiba Stearns, Louise Johnson, Joel Mackenzie, Jody Kramer and Howie Shia. Each was invited to contribute a short sequence drawn on sticky yellow memo note paper about a day in their life. Some appeared to be real, others imagined experiences. The end results are lots of fun to watch. It was organized by Jeff Stearns who runs Meditating Bunny Studio in Vancouver. http://www.shortoftheweek.com/2014/04/03/yellow-sticky-notes/
AWN.COM HONORS PRODUCER MARCY PAGE OF HER RETIREMENT FROM THE NFB OF CANADA
Marcy was a VP of ASIFA-SF, studied at SF State and later taught animation here before moving to Canada. www.awn.com/animationworld/she-can-fly-anything-right-golden-touch-marcy-page?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=facebook
SEE A DEMONSTRATION OF PIXAR’S PRESTO ANIMATION SYSTEM
This is their 2nd generation animator friendly system. http://vimeo.com/90687696
THE 2014 ANNIE AWARD CEREMONY WAS A GRAND OCCASION AND YOU CAN SEE IT ON YOU TUBE
The Annie Awards are ASIFA-Hollywood’s big annual black ties event. The two hour ceremony honors the achievements of the world’s animation industry. While most of the awards go to big features and major TV shows, there are also awards for best game, best short subject, and best student film.
The first award of the evening went to an excited student from Germany who lost both her shoes going up to the stage. Thank to the work of editors the program moves along quickly, shows clips of all the nominated works and it has a fun, homespun quality to it. I found it more fun to watch this year than the Oscars and it doesn’t have commercial breaks.
If you check it out you will see June Foray and other noted members of the animation world on the stage. In honor of it being the 100th anniversary of Winsor McCay’s Gertie the Dinosaur they present Gertie on stage the way McCay presented it 100 years ago. The highlight of the night for me comes an hour into the show when they honor the Bay Area’s Phil Tippett with a Winsor McCay award. Lots of film clips of his work are shown before he speaks and in his talk he shares a few memories of Tex Avery and other greats that helped him in his career. Two other McCay Awards were presented to Katsu Otomo and Steven Spielberg. Join the fun at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FK5dqNzmJV4
RECENT THOUGHTS ABOUT NEGATIVE STEREOTYPES IN ANIMATION by KC
I was gladly distracted from doing my taxes by an article published in the Guardian, April 6, 2014. “Repressed Brits, evil Mexicans, Arab villains: why are Hollywood’s animated movies full of racist stereotypes?” It updates a section of my Forbidden Animation book published in 1997. While the article outlined both older and more recent examples of stereotypes, I was thinking about what was missing from the article, why animators should avoid consider using such images. Sure I knew the images could be harmful, but why exactly were they?
A few days earlier I was having an online conversation with an old friend about prejudice and she sent me the lyrics to You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught a song by Rogers & Hammerstein from South Pacific. I’ve heard the song many times, but never paid much attention to the message. Now after reading the lyrics and reading the Guardian article I felt that I at last really understood why stereotypes in animation can be harmful, especially to kids. It also helps me understand why prejudices are so hard to undo.
You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,
You’ve got to be taught from year to year,
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a different shade,
You’ve got to be carefully taught.
You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You’ve got to be carefully taught
Special thanks to Charles da Costa in Melbourne, Australia for sending the article (he is a scholar referred to in the article) and to Monica in Indianapolis for sending me the lyrics. http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/apr/06/repressed-brits-evil-mexicans-arab-villains-hollywood-animated-movies-stereotypes
CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF ANIMATION AND LOOKING FORWARD TO THE NEXT TEN! FETE DE L’ANIM, TOURCOING, LILLE, AND ROUBAIX FRANCE, 20-23 MARCH 2014 by Nancy Denney-Phelps (excerpted)
This year Fete De L’Anim celebrated ten years of bringing animation to Tourcoing and the surrounding towns. The event not only had a fine selection of films, it was an important meeting place for animation professionals and students from top European animation schools to exchange knowledge and ideas.
Kristof Serrand, Supervising Animator at Dream Works was this year’s guest of honor. His presentation “Trade Secrets: How to Train Your Dragon Trilogy” was excellent. As one of the key players working on the trilogy and someone who has successfully made the transition from 2D to 3D, Kristof is well qualified to take the packed audience behind the scenes and show us a lot about the conception and making of the films. Besides being an extremely talented person he is also very charming. Unfortunately I missed the first two days of L’Anim so I could not attend his first Master Class.
The Fete also featured five other master classes by well-known names in the animation world: Franck Dion, Suzie Templeton, Rosto, Andreas Hykade, and Chris Landreth.
Equally as important as the master classes are the presentations of student films from a number of European animation schools. This year schools from five regions were represented: France, Germany and German speaking Switzerland, Eastern Europe, Benelux, and the United Kingdom. For the students who came to the festival from all over Europe to participate in the special events the school presentations were not their main focus. The Master Class presentations, the Marathon, Graphic Battle sessions and the opportunity to meet with producers and studio representatives to find out about future career opportunities kept them very busy.
From the 19th to the 21st of March five teams of students from European animation schools along with their professors participated in the Marathon de L’Anim. Each team was given the same starting image which was created by Franck Dion this year. Using this image as their starting and ending points they then had 3 days to create ten seconds of animation. At the end of the marathon, festival staff edited the films together and the result of the student’s hard work was screened on closing night. You can see the entire piece at: https://vimeo.com/90002821
Talent Connections gave students an opportunity to “speed date” with producers and studios located in Northern France and Flanders. Representatives from eleven different studios met briefly with each student individually to answer questions, offer career advice, and talk about the recruitment opportunities and process with their studio.
Throughout the year Julie and her staff at Rencontres Audiovisuelles continue to bring short films, animation, and workshops to the Northern reaches of the Calais area as well as producing the short film festival in Lille in October. You can read more about Fete de L’Anim and all of the other events the Rencontres Audiovisuelles put on at www.fete-anim.com as well as reading more about Fete De L’Anim. I am already looking forward to the 2015 edition of the event which I am sure will hold many new treats.
BEN RIDGWAY’S “COSMIC FLOWER UNFOLDING” IS BEING SHOWN BY THE SF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
Ben’s film will be playing at the San Francisco International Film Festival on Saturday, April 26, 2014 at 9:45 PM and on Monday, May 5, 2014 at 9:15 PM at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas. See the article on this page for details about the shorts program.
Ben, who teaches animation at SF State, has had a great deal of success with this film. Cosmic Flower Unfolding recently won the Royal Reel Award in Canada at the Vancouver International Film Festival. Last month it was also shown in the Dreams and Divinities Festival in San Cristobal, Chiapas, Mexico, at the Kansas City Film Festival and at the Byron Bay International Film Festival. It, and his just finished film Tribocycle, have been selected to be shown by Currents 2014, New Media Festival in New Mexico in June. They are going to play on a giant 4k dome at the Institute of American Indian Arts- http://www.iaia.edu/academics/digital-dome-home/
It was screened last September at Cine Toro, in Cali and Toro, Colombia. In 2012 Ben attend that festival where he showed his earlier work and presented a workshop. It won second place in the independent category at the Second Annual ASIFA Spring Festival. At SIGGRAPH 2013, the computer industry’s top celebration, Ben gave a special presentation about the inner workings of Cosmic Flower Unfolding.
Ben also has had other recent successes. He tells us, “Some footage from my film Continuum Infinitum was used recently for a documentary called Neurons to Nirvana, Understanding Psychedelic Medicines. The SF premiere was in March at the Clay Theatre followed by a panel discussion from the academic community.
MICHAEL LANGAN HAS CREATED A STRIKING EXPERIMENTAL MUSIC VIDEO FOR HUNDRED WATERS
Cavity is a subtle work of art with some incredibly handsome passages in it along with several minimal moments: His art is maturing as he explores new directions. http://langanfilms.com/cavity.html
A review of the video tells us, “The director, Michael Langan, says he wanted to ‘play with the idea of hollowness, attempting to define emptiness by its edges, visually.’ The effects in the clip were made not with computer graphics, but by using ‘a single flashlight, drawn slowly over the landscape and later ‘echoed’ up to 500 times to create patterns that fill the scene with light,’ Langan says. ‘We used a projector mounted on a motorized lazy Susan to achieve the ‘sliver’ shots of Nicole.” Hundred Waters is an indie band from Florida.
“BROTHERHOOD OF MAN” CAN NOW BE SEEN ONLINE WITH SOMEWHAT IMPROVED COLOR
This important film from 1946 promoted tolerance and racial equality at a time when our military was still segregated and the civil rights movement was barely getting started. The film was attacked in Congress by racist senators who openly insisted people of color were inferior in intelligence and abilities. It was made for the auto workers union who wanted to stifle trouble before it began in new factories that were opening with integrated workforces. Unfortunately the only film prints of it that are available were made on a color film stock that faded quickly so it appears somebody either colorized this version or found an original in fairly good shape.
Gene Deitch wrote me, “Brotherhood of Man was the first UPA film I saw when I arrived there. It knocked me for a loop as a graphic wonder. It had all of the revolutionary UPA graphics and symbols that it was and remains the mothership of the UPA idea. I studied every frame of it over and over. Also, it seemed so clear and obvious that I couldn’t see why it should be controversial.” www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOjRMuuHHR4
I found out about it being online from Jerry Beck’s blog
DREAMWORKS NEW SHORT IS ONLINE
Almost Home is a promotion for their Nov. 26, 2014 release of Home, their next original feature. Steve Martain is the voice of Captain Smek. The short is playing in front of Mr. Peabody & Sherman. The alien characters in the short are simple in construction and design (somewhat like the small creatures in Despicable Me, while the backgrounds are elaborate looking. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FPCrB2EDyc
PES HAS CREATED A STRIKING SURREAL SHORT FOR AN ITALIAN JEWELRY DESIGNER
Also, his wife tells us they are making progress on the Garbage Pail Kids project. It is in the development stage. www.cartoonbrew.com/advertising/pes-black-gold-film-delfina-delettrez-96557
A DVD OF JOHN HUBLEY’S WORK IS PART OF THE MARCH-APRIL ISSUE OF “THE BELIEVER”
Green Apple Books on Clement sells the magazine ($12). To order a copy online visit https://store.mcsweeneys.net/products/the-believer-march-slash-april-2014-film-issue
“LIFE AFTER PI,” A 30 MIN. DOCUMENTARY ON THE DEMISE OF RHYTHM AND HUES, IS ONLINE
DARK, UGLY, VIOLENT ANIMATION GLORIFYING CRIMES, ANARCHY AND THE DARKEST REACHES OF HUMAN EXISTENCE ARE ON THE RISE!!! By KC
In the past there has been well-made animation for adults that briefly explored the ugly side of life including Aeon Flux, lots of anime, and the film noir side of Bill Plympton. Now it appears a new group of poorly skilled animators and writers are jumping into a cesspool that glorifies violent crimes, drug overdoses, sexual assaults and other disgusting depictions of human existence.
I recently attended a program of new Canadian animation and previewed online a selection of films from an European film festival that included works that were quite disturbing. They seemed to depict the collapse of civilization. In the Canadian show the most blatant example was Crime: The Animated Series by Alix Lambert & Sam Chou. The film is over 20 minutes long and it features a series of short episodes glorifying murder with nasty looking guns and other weapons, plus other ugly moments in a world full of decay and crime. There was no joy in this and several other films in this program that depicted deaths through violence, suicides and other negative images of human existence. I was also disturbed that whoever programmed this show seemed to include some of these films because they were raw, disturbing and poorly animated works with no apparent socially redeeming value.
A week earlier I saw similar themes in a few films from Europe in a selection promoted as the best films from a recent festival. When I previewed the films I was impressed with a 17 minute film called Junk Yard by Hisko Hulsing (http://vimeo.com/84024649) about a group of young people living on the edges of society. It too was full of ugly violence, drug abuse and other unpleasant images. The difference between Crime: The Animated Series and Junkyard was one was well written, designed and animated and the other wasn’t. Junkyard won the grand prize at Ottawa 2013 and other major awards.
It turns out Nancy Phelps knows the creator of Junkyard and she tell us, “Junkyard is based on true events from his teenage years growing up in the slums of Amsterdam. Although he was not stabbed to death by his former friend the rest is true and he did marry the young girl. The young man and the girl do look like Husko and his wife. I love his film and think it is quite moving.”
As for the films made simply to show crude pointless violence, I wonder why animators are driven to spend thousands of hours creating these works. I certainly have no interest in seeing more films in this new trend of animation, but I suspect it could be a growing movement and it will be promoted by festivals as something “cool” and “exciting.” Are these films a reaction to or a reflection of the world we live in?
ANIMA, THE BRUSSELS ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL
A PERFECT BEGINNING TO THE FESTIVAL SEASON
The 33rd edition of ANIMA Brussels, February 28 through March 9 took a giant step toward becoming a world class animation festival this year when the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences bestowed qualifying status on ANIMA. Joining such renowned festivals as Annecy and Zagreb, ANIMA’s Grand Prix winning short film Futon by Japanese animator Yoriko Mizushirl has now officially qualified for the 2014 Oscar race.
Yoriko utilizes the traditional Japanese futon to take the audience into the dream fantasy world between consciousness and sleep. While wrapped up in her futon the young girl in the film sinks into thoughts of life’s pleasurable waking hours – a piece of sushi, warm covers, a stretch of her body are all portrayed in sensual images using a soft color pallet.
This year the Short Animation Competition programs were very strong. I have seen Spela Cadez’s beautifully intricate puppet animation Boles several times and I am always touched by this tale of loneliness and the creative process. Adapted from the Maksim Gorky’s short story Her Lover, Boles is the story of a struggling young writer and his next door neighbor, a prostitute, both of whom long to escape their miserable existences in the poor neighbourhood.
Nancy’s article continues online and it includes information about some of the festivals special programs and other activities. She talks about Song of the Sea by the Iris team that created Secret of Kells, animation from Central Africa, a tribute to those who died in WWI on the 100th anniversary of that horrible war, a retrospective of the work of Theodore Ushev, a program of Austrian Post-Avant-Garde Animation, the open screening party with live music between films, and other screenings, an are exhibit and happenings. http://sprockets.animationblogspot.com/
The 34th edition of ANIMA will be held February 13 – 22, 2015. For information about submitting films to the next ANIMA Brussels visit www.animafestival.be
SEE “ANIMATION SCHOOL DROPOUT” BY VINCE COLLINS ONLINE – IT IS QUITE AN EXPERIENCE!
His new film “Animation School Dropout” is a really amazing 99 second trip. Vince is a rather mysterious San Francisco animator who has lots of works online including his viral hit “Malice in Wonderland.” He is a graduate of the Art Institute and you might just spot him as he drives a 1930 Plymouth (caution, it packs a hot V8 engine under the hood). When I congratulated him on his new work he replied, “By the time I graduated, the dropouts had taken all the jobs.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N9AtLVPjPLw The film was seen by around 25,000 people in the 1st week.
WILL VINTON COMMENTS ON THE PASSING OF SAUL ZANTZ AND “VANZ KANT DANCE”
In our recent obituary about Saul Zaentz we mentioned that Tom Fogerty changed for legal reasons the name of his song from “Zantz Can’t Dance” to “Vanz Kant Danz.” Will writes us, “I directed at Vinton Studios the music video of Vanz Kant Danz for Fogerty. The truth is, I liked Saul who had been good to me and when we began the project I was unaware of the first stages of that controversy. A bit embarrassed about that, we encouraged John to make Vanz a little Oliver-like, pick-pocketing pig. The video turned out great and was not at all an obvious slam to Saul.” See Will’s exceptional music video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAEd_U7TEEM
“FROZEN” WON FIVE ANNIE AWARDS
The Annies presented by ASIFA Hollywood are the U.S. animation industry’s largest and most important event with voting in 30 categories this year. This year the Annie Awards nominated seven features for their top honor. They were A Letter to Momo from Japan, Despicable Me 2, Earnest & Celestine from France, Frozen, Monsters University, The Croods, and The Wind Rises (distributed by Disney in the US). The Annies also give awards to individuals for best directing, best animation, etc. People working on Frozen, Monsters U and The Croods got the most nominations followed by Turbo, Epic and Earnest & Celestine.
Frozen won five category prizes including Best Animated Feature, Best Directing and Best Music. Pixar won two Annies for Monster U (Best Storyboards and Best Editorial) and Pixar’s made for TV Toy Story of Terror! won for Directing, Storyboarding and Character Acting in TV Animation. Hayao Miyazaki won the Best Writing award for The Wind Rises. The Croods won for character design, effects and character animation. Disney TV shows won four TV awards. ILM got a prize for the special effects in Pacific Rim.
Turning to awards for best short of 2013, there were several exceptional works to choose from. The two ceremonies in the U.S. that give best awards for animated shorts, nominated completely different slates of films. The Annies nominated Despicable Me 2 – Puppy (Illumination/Universal), Gloria Victoria (NFB of Canada), My Mom is an Airplane (Acme Filmworks), The Numberlys (Moonbot) and Get a Horse! (Disney) The winner was Get a Horse!
The Annies also present several honorary awards. This year they gave Winsor McCay Awards to Katsuhiro Otomo, Phil Tippett and Steven Spielberg. A full list of the Annie nominations and winners is on the ASIFA-Hollywood website, www.asifa-hollywood.org and at www.annieawards.org.
DISNEY PUTS ANOTHER KIND OF LOOKING CGI MICKEY MOUSE SHORT ONLINE
SEE “THE SCARCROW,” MOONBOT’S ANNIE WINNING STOP MOTION SHORT
Moonbot won an Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore in 2012. The Scarcrow was made for Chipotle Mexican Grill. It won The Best Animated Special Production at the 41st Annie Awards. http://blogs.indiewire.com/animationscoop/moonbot-creates-the-scarecrow-for-chipotle
SEE “DOLBY PRESENTS SILENT, A SHORT FILM”
This delightful gem stars the Buster Keaton-like man from The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore. The short by Moonbot premiered at The Oscars Scientific and Technical Awards ceremony held in LA on Feb. 14. www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA6azZALMiE
LISTEN TO LOVING MEMORIES ABOUT FREDERIC BACK ON CANADIAN RADIO
The interview is with Normand Roger who composed music for Frederic Back’s award winning films. www.canadiananimationresources.ca/?p=9019 The page also has a link on it to his 2nd Oscar winner, The Man Who Planted Trees.
READ ABOUT THE FIRST ANIMATION CLASS AT CAL ARTS
THE “VANITY FAIR” ARTICLE RESULTED IN A NPR INTERVIEW WITH NANCY BEIMAN ABOUT HER BEING IN THAT FIRST CAL ARTS CLASS
You can listen to it and/or read it at: http://www.npr.org/2014/02/16/277882145/disneys-first-crop-of-trained-animators-profiled?ft=1&f
AUSTRALIAN CHARITY POSTS AN ANIMATED ANTI-BULLYING SHORT
The Smith Family supports disadvantaged Australians through various efforts and activities, all aimed at helping the most vulnerable members of their society – kids. Working with a creative agency in Sydney, they have launched Alice and the Giant Emptiness, the first animated short in their “One in Ten” series about kids who overcome adversity. www.youtube.com/watch?v=7SRUIF528ik
BEWARE: MONDO MEDIA WILL RELEASE A LOW BUDGET ACTION FEATURE ONLINE AND ON DVD MARCH 11
Aachi & Ssipak, which took seven years to complete in Korea, was made for $4 million. It was a flop when released in Korea in 2006, but it “has built a cult following owing to its well executed action sequences and bizarro scatalogical story.” Cartoon Brew ran 2 segments on Feb 14 or see them at MondoMedia.com.
INTERESTED IN WORKING IN THE GAME INDUSTRY? READ “THE BIRTH AND RE-BIRTH OF KLEI”
It acknowledges the loss of several computer game companies and about 2000 jobs in the industry in 20012-’13. Then it talks about the success of a Vancouver games company that created an unusual, successful game that was made on a reasonable budget and by working normal hours (not burning people out) and at fair wages. http://www.polygon.com/features/2013/5/29/4362838/the-birth-and-re-birth-of-klei
TRIBUTE TO ANIMATION LEGEND JIMMY MURAKAMI June 5, 1933 – February 16, 2014
On of February 16 the animation community lost another brilliant legend. Teruaki “Jimmy” Murakami., who was 80, leaves a vast and varied legacy of films and a complex personal history that it is impossible to sum up his achievements in a few sentences.
He was born June 5, 1933 in San Jose, California. He was a Japanese-American, and at the age of 9 he and his family were interred in a WW II concentration camp along with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast of the United States. This tragic event left lifelong deep scars and changed his life forever, which was sometimes reflected in his films.
He has said in the documentary Jimmy Murakami – Non-Alien, “I was very, very bitter to be an American citizen to be treated this way. My older sister died in the camp and the rest of us came out pretty bad.” The film by Irish film maker Se Merry Doyle premiered at the Stranger Than Fiction Film Festival in Dublin in 2010.
At the time of his passing he was preparing his new feature about Hiroshima. My sympathy goes out to his wife Ethna and their two daughters Dee and Claire on their sudden, unexpected loss. . A tribute that includes links to some of his work was posted on 2/16 at: www.cartoonbrew.com/rip/when-the-wind-blows-director-jimmy-murakami-rip-96140.html
Jimmy with Nancy at Annecy 2012
TWO NEW LOCALLY PRODUCED ANIMATED FILMS ARE ONLINE.
Loco Motion by Tony Claar, shown at our January winter party is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rSBQoKrmDg4 and Ben Ridgway’s Tribocycle is https://vimeo.com/76771149 Both animators have several other films online.
INDIE FEST WILL INCLUDE BILL PLYMPTON’S LATEST FEATURE by KC
This year’s festival (Feb. 6 – 20) will include 3 animated features and a program of shorts. Bill Plympton’s hand-drawn Cheatin’ stars a couple that meets as a result of an auto accident. I’m told they fall in love, but unfortunately the relationship includes the ghost of another woman who drives a wedge of jealousy into the “perfect courtship.” There is also a not so honest magician and former lovers that add to confusion in this messy relationship.
The festival’s February 6 opening night film is The Congress by Ari Folman. He is from Israel and his best-known work is Waltz with Bashir. His new feature combines a bizarre live action story of an aging Hollywood actress (is 44 really over the hills in LA) with an animated second half of the film. She is being terminated by her studio with an unusual contract. Her image will become an avatar, a computer generated actress. The second half is a very strange futuristic film, a disturbing science fiction animated nightmare about the entertainment industry. It isn’t a sweet work full of the cute ducks and bunnies that parents expect to see in Hollywood animated features. I left the press screening of The Congress feeling my mind had become numb. The plot is full of jarring twists and noise. It is an ugly, unpleasant bumpy ride. Folman has announced he plans to write and direct an animated feature based on Anne Frank’s life.
Also being presented by Indiefest from Feb. 6 – 20 is a program of animated shorts that I know nothing about and “an autobiographical psychedelic animated road movie” from Canada titled Asphalt Watches. The feature is based on an underground comix by Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman. While a description of the main characters, Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat and the unusual the people they meet along the way may sound interesting in print, the execution of this homemade computer generated film leaves much to be desired. It probably can be called outsider art.
There is an audience for Asphalt Watches, but you might not be part of it. I guess many of the film’s fans will be young hip adults who find MTV a bit too square and are seeking something really unusual. One writer said of the film “there is something South Park about this… but trippier.” So if you are looking for a traditional looking narrative feature, look elsewhere. A much safer bet for a fine non-Hollywood animated film experience is to see Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’.
You can watch trailers for Asphalt Watches, The Congress and Cheatin’ online. For detail about all the programs and special events at this unusual festival, visit http://sfindie.com.
RECEPTION FOR MATT JONES AND PRESENTATION ON THE RONALD SEARLE EXHIBIT HE CURATED WILL TAKE PLACE SAT. FEB, 22 AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM
Searle in America focuses on his drawing assignments for major magazines. The exhibit was organized by Pixar story artist Matt Jones who runs a blog about all things Searle. It will be on display through March 30, 2014: Admission to the special 6 tp 9 PM event is $10, free to members. http://ronaldsearle.blogspot.com/
Sunday, February 2, 2014, 3 PM, “ZARAFA” (France/Belgium, 2012) at the Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley
It is a delightful animated tale about a ten-year-old boy and his best friend, the first giraffe to ever set foot in France. One wonderful sequence is flying from Egypt to Europe with the giraffe in a hot air balloon. The trip to Paris also includes dangerous pirates and slave traders. I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual adventure, based on a true story that happened in 1826. Co-director Jean-Christophe Lie was the supervising animator on The Triplets of Belleville and has worked on Disney features. The feature is in 3D FigaroScope (whatever that is.- I saw it on a 2D DVD) and is recommended for ages 7 & up. The trailer on GKIDS website has English sub-titles. http://www.gkids.tv/zarafa/
DUSTIN GRELLA ANIMATED “THE NIGHT WITCHES” FOR THE “NY TIMES”
Dustin’s new film made with pastels on a slate, honors a largely forgotten group of Soviet women pilots in WWII who convinced Stalin to let them fly combat missions. They were given old unarmed bi-planes designed in 1928 and originally used as flight trainers and crop dusters. The women used them on night bombing raids on the Germans. As they neared the targets they would idle their engines, glided in, hit their targets and then powered out. The squadron got their nickname from the whooshing sounds their planes made as they arrived over the targets. Apparently the Germans thought of the wind noise the planes made as they attacked as witches’ brooms scraping the clouds.
The squadron flew about 23,000 sorties between 1942-’45 and according to Wikipedia lost only 30 members in combat. The two women crews often flew multiple raids in one night as the planes could only carry two bombs!
The animated short honors Nadezhda Popova who died in 2013. She flew 852 missions and was shot down more than once. Since they flew low level raids they didn’t carry parachutes. While the squadron won numerous awards during the war, after it ended the flyers were largely forgotten as war heroes. Sexist attitudes apparently played down the roles Russian women played in combat. Nadezhda died in 2013, living to be 91.
Note: the US Air Force banned women from flying fighter jets and bombers until 1993. The Army is just now considering how to use women in combat. www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/07/night-witches-the-female/277779/
ANIMATED FILMS BY DISNEY, JOHN AND FAITH HUBLEY, AND WALTER LANTZ HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY
The 25 new additions to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry include The Hole (1962) produced by John and Faith Hubley. John Hubley directed this film with an improvised dialogue track about an accidental atomic war and other things by Dizzy Gillespie and George Matthews. The animation is by Bill Littlejohn and Gary Mooney. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short. www.youtube.com/watch?v=PGB3eudJwOU
SEE “THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ANIMATED MOCKBUSTERS.”
Cartoon Brew.com ran their guide on Jan. 8, 2014. It shows the covers of almost 40 dubious low budget animated features made to profit on the successful work of major animation studios plus the original big budget covers or posters. http://www.cartoonbrew.com/dvd/animated-mockbusters-list-94032.html
A TIP ABOUT AN ANIMATED LSD FILM LED TO A RARE ANIMATED CLASSIC
A friend suggested I look at what YouTube labeled “Trippy LSD Animation.” It turned out to be a cosmic zoom through non-animated, surreal art work. I is OK, but more interest to me was seeing in the column to the right of the video was a series other films YouTube recommends that are related to the video just watched. There were abstract computer generated LSD films, an old documentary on drug plus Andreas Hykade’s amazing Ring of Fire (2000). It is a remarkable award winning film from Germany that depicts the strange adventures of two cowboys including several very bizarre erotic sequences. It has been years since I last saw this wild fantasy. It still amazed me.
I’ve seen other works by Hykade including The Rrunt (2006), Zehn kleine Jägermeister (a music video about reindeer from 1996) and a TV series Nancy Phelps has written about, Tom and the Slice of Bread with Strawberry Jam and Honey (2008). The other films are good, but Ring of Fire is his most remarkable work. www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-gaBVLPrIs. The zoom film is www.youtube.com/watch?v=TuN3XAHZ80A.
Cartoon Brew published on Monday January 20, 2014 details on 10 obscure naughty feature, several of which I had never known about. They all date from between the late-1960s and late-1970s. http://www.cartoonbrew.com/classic/10-animated-sexploitation-features-from-the-sixties-and-seventies-nsfw-95048.html
“XOCHIMILCO 1914” HAS STRONG VISUALS
The short commemorates the first meeting of two of Mexico’s great revolutionary leaders, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. It combines cut-outs, drawn animation and other techiques. http://vimeo.com/14989467
WILL VINTON IS RAISING MONEY TO TAKE HIS STAGE SHOW “THE KISS” TO BROADWAY
If interested his Kickstarter promo explains what the project. www.kickstarter.com/projects/willvinton/the-kiss-on-the-road-to-broadway
JOE MURRAY IS TEACHING A MASTER CLASS ONLINE
In the 1990s Joe lived in the South Bay, worked as an illustrator/cartoonist and took animation classes at DeAnza. He move to LA and had two successful TV series, Rocko’s Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Since then he has penned Creating Animated Cartoons with Character and has taught a series of master classes in LA. Now you can study with Joe online. He has three different classes available: “Crafting a Cartoon,” “Pitching a Cartoon Series,” and “How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist.” Each class has over 6 hours of lectures plus downloads. For details visit JoeMurray.com.
NAG ANSORGE, THE DEAN OF SWISS ANIMATION, HAS CONCLUDED THE LONG FILM OF HIS LIFE
He leaves us a rich, diverse body of work, created wife Gisele who passed away in 1993. Ernest a.k.a. Nag Ansorge died on December 26 2013 in Lausanne. He would have been 89 this month.
The couple gained worldwide recognition for their ten shorts that were animated with blackened quartz sand. Less well-known but as highly esteemed are his work with long-term patients at a psychiatric clinic where he taught for nearly two decades. He and Gisele also contributed to many commercial projects including newsreels, educational films, documentaries, TV series for children and features for adults.
Luc Plantier and Michel Froidevaux wrote a book about the Ansorge, Pris dans les sables mouvants – Captured In Drifting Sand, published in French and English by Edition Centre International du Cinema d’Animation, Annecy 1995, at the occasion of a tribute to Gisele after her passing in 1993 (ISBN 2-908079-05-4).
The animated sand works are available on a double DVD of the same name (Gisèle & Nag Ansorge: Pris dans les sables mouvants), released by Nag-Film & Association Films Plans-Fixes in 2005, including all of the Ansorge’s personal sand films, two short documentary clips and a 50-minute interview portrait of Nag (English subtitles).
Both items are available on Asifa Switzerland’s web shop (www.swissanimation.ch/fr/boutique/). Special thanks to Rolf Bächler, ASIFA Switzerland, for his extensive notes on Nag. That were the basis for this article.
BEN RIDGWAY’S “TRIBOCYCLE” WAS RECENTLY SELECTED AS A VIMEO STAFF PICK
See it here: https://vimeo.com/76771149 and on a big screen at our ASIFA-SF Winter Party in January. Ben, who teaches animation at SF State, was interviewed for The Creators Project (Vice Magazine). http://thecreatorsproject.vice.com/blog/ben-ridgways-abstract-forms-contort-and-enchant-ad-infinitum
His work has been shown at the Detroit Institute of Arts in a program of avant-guarde animation, from Oskar Fischinger to Ben Ridgway (last showing is January 5). www.dia.org/auxiliaries/event.aspx?id=4055&iid=4952&aux_id=14&cid=100
LEONARD COHEN UPDATE
He is currently directing the second season of an educational series he started last year for Canal+ in France. He lives part of the year in the East Bay and we have shown his award winning films at past ASIFA-SF events including Plato (2011, Annecy Best Student Film, etc.), La parabole des Tuileries, (2012) and Mourir Auprès de Toi (To Die by Your Side) by Spike Jonze. See his work at http://vimeo.com/leonardcohen
WEBSTER COLCORD HAS CREATED NASTY CLAY MONSTERS INCLUDING BEELZEBUB FOR LES CLAYPOOL’S “BEATS ANTIQUE,” A LIVE STAGE CONCERT TOUR AND MUSIC VIDEO
Webster tells us, “Numerous visual artists, under the direction of Ivan Landau, contributed work to Beats Antique’s concert production, which involves projection mapping by Obscura Digital (http://www.obscuradigital.com) during the live performance. Each piece of music has its own unique visual motif that follows a loose storyline over the entire concert, sort of a rock opera. So in addition to being a standalone music video, ‘Beelzebub’ is projected during the band’s live concert onto a screen behind the musicians. There are also geometrical pieces in the foreground on which an additional clay element is projected, so the band is immersed in clay for the duration of the song.”
Webster has several strange photos on his blog www.webstercolcord.com. There are also fan-posted videos from the live concert that shows the foreground projection-mapped elements and how they play with the flat projection of the music video behind the band at http://youtu.be/7m7-dMIKN2Y and www.youtube.com/watch?v=yl58QllW2QM
RONALD SEARLE EXHIBIT IS AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM
Searle in America focuses on his drawing assignments for major magazines. The exhibit was organized by Pixar story artist Matt Jones who runs a blog about all things Searle. It will be on display through March 30, 2014: http://ronaldsearle.blogspot.com/
CORRIE FRANCIS PARKS HAS A LOVELY SAND ANIMATED HOLIDAY MESSAGE
THE ANNIE NOMINATIONS
AN ARCHIVE OF GREAT, BUT FORGOTTEN INTERVIEWS ILLUSTRATED WITH ANIMATION BT PATRICK SMITH AND OTHERS
The online collection includes Jerry Garcia talking about the acid test, Janis Joplin discussing rejection, Dave Brubeck on fighting communism with jazz, Kurt Cobain on identity, Grace Kelly on JFK, Tupac Shakur on life and death, a young Fidel Castro on Cuba, Jim Morrison on why fat is beautiful, Maurice Sendak on being a kid, and Ray Charles on singing true. So far 26 animated interviews have been made in the two seasons of “Blank on Blank.”
New York’s outstanding Patrick Smith has directed and animated several the shorts. In an e-mail he noted it takes him about a week to actually do the animation. His personal shorts include Puppet (2006), Handshake (2005) and Delivery (2003). His work is included on the DVDs Avoid Eye Contact, volumes 1 and 2. http://blankonblank.org/pbs/
A RARE LOTTE REINIGER INTERVIEW IN ENGLISH
The conversation includes her early career that led to her creating the animated feature The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) using silhouette animation. It was recorded in 1976. www.uschefnerarchive.com/project/lotte-reiniger-recording/
JOSH RASKIN’S “I MET THE WALRUS”
His John Lennon interview from 2007 is online at vimeo.com/11661493
JOANNA QUINN CREATED A WONDERFUL OPENING FILM FOR THE 2013 BRADFORD ANIMATION FESTIVAL
It stars Beryl baking a cake. http://www.skwigly.co.uk/exclusive-beryls-back-joanna-quinn-animates-2013-baf-ident/
OY, WAS BAMBI JEWISH?
On December 4 Cartoon Brew informed us that the original Bambi story by Felix Salten was an allegory about anti-Semitism. Walt probably wasn’t interested in that aspect of the author’s work, but he liked the writer’s work. Two later films including The Shaggy Dog were also based on Salten’s writings. www.cartoonbrew.com
KLICKING BACK TO THE FABULOUS ‘50’S AT THE KLIK AMSTERDAM FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION by Nancy Denney Phelps
KLIK was held November 12 – 17, 2013, at the Eye Film Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
This year KLIK, the Amsterdam Festival of Animation, took us back to the fabulous Cartoon Modern era and the classic designs of the 1950’s. The retro theme was also seen in the vintage furniture and accessories in the upstairs KLIK lobby at the Eye. We sat on the furniture and could play the vintage games and read the magazines as though we were in a ‘50s living room while we talked and drank.
There was so much packed into the six day festival that I could write pages about this wonderful event and I had to touch what were the highlights for me but to read more, see lots of photos from this year and learn how your film can be submitted to KLIK 2014 go to: www.KLIKAMSTERDAM.nl
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