DONâT MISS THE TYRUS WONG RETROSPECTIVE IN THE NEW SPECIAL EXHIBIT HALL OF THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM The museum has turned a fairly large army gym into an excellent two story space for temporary exhibits that is a short walk from the building that houses the permanent collection. The first show is a major educational experience as well as a chance to see a large important exhibit honoring an artist who created the look of Bambi before going on to a career at other film studios.
The show begins with Tyrus coming from China as a boy, his lonely stay on Angel Island and his being reunited with his father. (He never saw his mother or sister again,) It touches on his familyâs poverty including his not being able to afford ink so he learned how to use the Asian bamboo watercolor brush by painting with plain water on paper. It covers his formal art school education, life as a struggling WPA mural artist during the depression and then his being hired by the Disney Studio (he never met Walt).
Wong introduced the studio to a visual approach quite different from the gothic architecture and atmosphere of Snow White and Pinocchio. He combined his love for Chinese painting with the subtle âless is more sensibilityâ and interest in abstraction found in some early 20th Century modern art. The studio used his ability to render forests and fields with a soft brushwork to create soft focus backgrounds that added to the filmâs illusion of depth and atmosphere. They didnât need to add details like individual branches or blades of grass to create lush forests.
Wong also contributed a natural look by having the sun light come through the trees, allowed for dark areas that showed little or no details. That let the audience focus their attention on the animals in the patches of light and color. By having a single source of light, the sun streaming through the trees, Wong created the films appealing look.
The Bambi portion of the exhibit consists of approximately 40 small color sketches and two video displays. One shows scenes from the film while the other features interviews with Wong, who is now 102, and others. There are more than 150 works displayed including paintings, sculptures, works on paper, delightful looking toys created for his kids, wonderful kites, and more. The show closes Feb. 3. To learn more read the exhibit notes by the showâs curator at: http://www.waltdisney.org/wong
THE EXPLORATORIUMâS KANBAR THEATRE IS AN AMAZING SPACE It is an impressive unorthodox looking hall with the walls fanning out at a wide angle from the curved stage. It can seat over 150 people on the flat main floor with additional seating on the raised curved back level. On one side of the back section is a built in lounge with a food and drink bar for catered occasions. The theatre has a complex lighting system and two sound systems. One is a sophisticated public address system and the other is a state-of-the art multi-channel system. The person in the booth can combine the two systems to utilize almost 100 speakers placed strategically around the hall. When I visited the hall they were showing a video of the South Bayâs salt ponds shot from a blimp. The sound system led you to believe the hall was actually the cockpit of the blimp and I sort of felt the sound vibrations coming from the blimpâs engines.
The glassed in booth contains a bright high definition digital projector, a new 16mm film projector and the hallâs lighting and sound controls. The booth is a room that juts out above the raised seating area at the back of the hall.
There is a lot more to the theatre. Off the stage area there is a storage area on one side and a hallway on the other that leads to a green room and a much bigger room that Liz Keim, the Exploratoriumâs Cinema Arts Program Director and a Senior Curator, uses as her office and work space. It can also be used as a reception room or food prep area for a reception in the theatre as it has a built in sink, long counter and cabinets. The office is in the south west corner of the building so Liz plans at some point to experiment projecting on the roomâs large plate glass windows so people walking or driving past the Exploratorium can watch moving images.
ASIFA-SF will use the theatre on special occasions in the future, once the Exploratorium trains techs to operate the equipment (it isnât a one person job) and they need to figure out other basics. Also a problem was created when they had to cut their budget and staff. They are presently closed every evening so our first event there might end up being on a weekend afternoon early next year.
FIVE SMALL BAY AREA ANIMATION STUDIOS Today when the public thinks of Bay Area animation studios they think of big local studios like Pixar, PDI/DreamWorks and Electronic Arts, but there are also several small companies creating impressive work. Here are five with websites that you can visit to see for yourself what they have produced.
Little Fluffy Cloudsâ website is full of lovely, beautiful work. Betsy de Fries and Jerry van de Beek run this award winning studio that has been around since 1996. Before they opened Little Fluffy Clouds they were party to some of the amazing work created by Colossal Pictures. Today their list of clients includes IBM, Toyota, BOSE sound systems, Mercedes Benz and other major corporations. More importantly they have provided their clients lovely gentle images rather than the typical aggressive images and soundtracks found in many commissioned projects. Donât miss seeing Today, a lovely short poem by Billy Collins made for the Sundance channel. Click on âmoreâ to see other fine samples of their creativity. www.littlefluffyclouds.com.
Special Agent isnât a San Francisco detective bureau run by Sam Spade; it is a full service animation boutique doing big things for their clients. It is run by animation director Phil Robinson (formerly a partner in WildBrain) and Any Capen (formerly a production manager at WildBrain). They represent some of the top directors and animators in the Bay Area including Ed Bell, Tim Blair, Mike Hewitt and Mike Oveerbeck. Their website shows work made in a variety of styles. There are impressive ads for Oracle, Nesquik, Starkist, Cookie Crisp and other clients. There is also a funny how to fasten your seatbelt message for Virgin America and a mini-documentary for Disney. www.specialagentproductions.com
Cartoonland run by Kevin Coffey is the oldest studio in this group. He started it in his spare time while doing animation effects on major features at ILM and animating on national commercials at Colossal Pictures. Today, Cartoonland can produce anything from very silly stuff to serious hand-drawn or computer generated 2D animation with a warm, friendly style of art. Coffey has a long list of local and national credits including Safeway, Bank of America, Van De Kamp Foods, Farmer’s Insurance, United States Post Office, Nextel, Chevron, Wells Fargo Bank and others. He also provides book publishers with illustrations for books and interactive art for iPad and iPhone apps. He fills an interesting niche today, providing smaller clients with reasonably priced work. www.cartoonlandanimation.com
Six Foot Two Productions, founded in 1992 by Robbin and Suzzane Atherly is an award winning studio that has produced TV commercials, motion picture visual effects, documentaries, music videos, interactive educational and entertainment games, web animation, museum displays and a lot of other things including multiple attractions that can be seen in the Disney Theme Parks. Their website includes ads for HP, Apple, Toyota, Iron Chef America and other clients. www.sixfoottwo.com
Ghostbot, founded in 2004, is an award winning studio working in styles that appeal to youths who grew up loving cool stuff like anime, robots and monsters. One of their first clients was Mondo Media who needed help animating Happy Tree Friend. More recent clients include Weird Al Yankovic, Zynga, EA, Samsung, Dolby and a long list of other satisfied customers. Their longer shorts include La Munkya and Sly Cooper who has a gang of thieves. Alan Lau, Roque Ballesteros, and Brad Rau founded the company after paying their dues at WildBrain, Laika, Curious Pictures and other studios. This team goes above and beyond to blend style, story, and delivery to developing strong, memorable characters in a distinctive Ghostbot way. www.ghostbot.com
If you have a cool website, contact us for a mention in a future newsletter. firstname.lastname@example.org
PIXAR WILL NOT RELEASE A FILM IN 2014 Although Ed Catmull, their president, recently told the press they want to release an original feature every year and a sequel or prequel every other year, the release date of The Good Dinosaur has been moved from 2014 to Nov. 15, 2015. The last year they didnât release a feature was 2005.
The change in the release date resulted from serious script problems that were not resolved. Bob Peterson was removed as the filmâs director. A replacement director has not yet been named.
The movie is based on the premise that an asteroid never hit Earth, and dinosaurs and humans coexist. (That sounds like a dubious premise. KC) Catmull says that nobody remembers that you skipped a year, âbut they will remember a bad film,â suggesting that the unresolved problems were serious flaws.
Pete Docter’s Inside Out, a project set inside the brain of a young girl, is still set for a June 19, 2015 release. Finding Dory was moved from that date to the summer of 2016.
Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail
CORRIE FRANCIS PARKS HAS CREATED ANOTHER FINE LOOKING SAND ANIMATED SHORT She writes, âI’d like to announce an exciting animated collaboration with my friend and writer Kelly Luce. Kelly is releasing her debut collection of short stories this October and I had the privilege of animating a few scenes from her book. With an oracular toaster, volcanoes and a woman in a shower among the plot points, this turned into a fun project. Enjoy this brief glimpse into Ms. Luce’s strange & wonderful mind.â https://vimeo.com/cfparks/hanasasaki
Corrie also says, âKelly and I met at the MacDowell Colony during the Great Ice Storm of ’08. A week without power in rural New Hampshire is a great way to start a friendship. Five years later, we finally found an excuse to work together.â
WOMEN IN ANIMATION HAS REORGANIZED THEIR BAY AREA CHAPTER The local chapter had been inactive until Lead Lighting Technical Director Angelique Reisch, Animation Producer Mary Kate Dangoia and Storyboard Artist Angela Entzminger started a new version of the chapter last fall. The chapter includes women and men involved in animation, story, visual development, production, recruitment, modeling and lighting throughout the animation industry including film, television and gaming. Their goal is to build a vibrant animation community throughout Northern California encompassing all aspects of this great industry. Some of their events have included a screening of Monsters University at PIXAR and a panel of women in animation at the Walt Disney Family Museum. Check out the following links to see what they do: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/wiasf
DAVID TART IS STARTING A SEQUEL TO âTHE STORY OF ANIMATIONâ His The Story of Animation won first prize in the professional films category in our first annual spring show. To find out about his sequel, Into the Animation Factory, visit his kickstarter campaign for details http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1782902554/into-the-animation-factory
CONGRATULATIONS TO GHOSTBOT ON YOUR BIG WIN AT THE OTTAWA INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL Written by a Kid âLa Munkyaâ by Roque Ballesteros, Ghostbot Studio in SF was awarded The Best Short Animation for Children .âBecause itâs happy and creative.â Written by a Kid âLa Munkyaâ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O_UWRUacIuk There is also a delightful making of the film at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rwn_mpCxLrs
LOUIS M. BRILL, AKA âLOUIE LIGHTS,â HAS AN ART BOOK OUT OF HIS LUMIA IMAGES For information about his unusual book, Sacred Destinations and Journeys Along the Way, visit www.sacredlumia.com
THE BAY AREA FILM COMMUNITY HAS LOST A GOOD FRIEND Ray Dolbyâs whose Dolby Labs has been supportive of ASIFA-SF and the entire local film community for many years, was 80 when he died. He suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and was diagnosed with having leukemia in July.
Dolby was born in Portland and he attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City. While in high school he was a student projectionist. He also worked after school at Ampex Corp., where he started to figure out how to reduce unwanted background noise in tape recordings. While still working at Ampex he earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at Stanford (1957). He earned a doctoral degree in physics from Cambridge University in England in 1961. In 1965 he founded Dolby Laboratories in London and he later moved the company to the Bay Area.
Apparently his first successful product was a system for eliminating the static noise on cassette tapes used for copying music from vinyl albums. Today, Dolby Labsâ technology has been built into 7.4 billion consumer electronics products, from car stereos to DVD players to high-definition televisions. Dolby is a publicly traded company with 1,600 employees.
THIS COULD BE A DELIGHTFUL EXHIBIT âComics, Cartoons, and Funny Papers: The Rube Goldberg, Phil Frank, and Gus Arriola Archives at Bancroftâ will be at The Bancroft Library Gallery, UC Berkeley from Sept. 26 -Feb. 2014. (Open 10 am – 4 pm, Mon. â Fri.) Phil Frank’s long-running cartoon strips Travels with Farley and Farley have recently joined the drawings of Rube Goldberg, one of UC Berkeley’s best-known alumni, and Gus Arriola, creator of the ever popular Gordo strip, at The Bancroft Library. In addition works by underground artist Dan O’Neill, creator of Odd Bodkins, and Lou Grant, editorial cartoonist for the Oakland Tribune from 1954 to 1986 will be on display.
The Mill Valley Film Festival
MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, Sun. Oct. 6, 12:30 PM at the Rafael and Sun. Oct. 13 at 11 AM at the Lark
Six animated shorts They are split between four â5@5â programs. The films are I Spy with my Little Eye from Germany, Luminara from Argentina, Marcel, King of Trevuren from the US, Two Chips from the US, Missing Scarf from Ireland and The Visitor from the Netherlands.
Details at www.mvff.com
COMING IN NOVEMBER Our Nov. ASIFA-SF event is tentatively a screening of a historic 1980s Tournee of Animation program of exceptional shorts.
THURS OCT. 10, NOON – 1:50 PM, WORLD WAR TWO PROPAGANDA, HOW ANIMATED SHORTS AND DOCUMENTARIES MADE BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE WAR TAUGHT US WHAT TO THINK A presentation by Karl Cohen, SF State, Coppola Theatre, Fine Arts building, room 101, free. The presentation goes from the isolationist non-intervention era to Roosevelt making the war a popular cause and finally films that influenced the aftermath. A fascinating look at how Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Daffy and other animated stars persuaded us to recycle, pay our taxes (to buy guns, guns and more guns!), to laugh at Hitler and whom to hate. The docs include Women in Defense written by Eleanor Roosevelt to encourage housewives to get involved. There is also the Oscar winner Seeds of Destiny, a plea by the UN to rebuild Europe after the war. Two of the ten persuasive films to be shown won Oscars (2 others got nominations). Caution: some films are now seen as offensive.
ASIFA-SFâS INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION DAY PROGRAM IS
OUTSTANDING ANIMATED VISIONS
Wed. October 23, 7:15 PM
At San Francisco State, Coppola Theatre
Fine Arts Building, Room 101, Public Invited, Free, See flyer for details
HAYO MIYAZAKIâS NEW AND FINAL FEATURE âTHE WIND RISESâ WAS ONE OF THE SURPRISES OF THE 2013 TELLURIDE FESTIVAL A print of The Wind Rises arrived at the townâs airport on the final day of the festival along with news that the great Japanese animator is retiring.
The film, Miyazakiâs 11th animated feature, is set between WWI and WWII. It is a fictional biography about the man who designed the Japanese Zero as a beautiful work of art. Unfortunately his dream machine resulted in the hated fighter plane Japan used in WWII to inflict tremendous death and destruction. The film also includes a tragic love story. The artwork for the wedding sequence is described as âone of the most beautiful things the director’s ever put on screen,â The Playlist.
The LA Times reports that the filmâs pacifist message has stirred controversy as Japanâs present prime minister is trying to amend their constitution so Japan can rearm itself. Apparently Japanese conservatives on the Internet are calling Miyazaki a âtraitorâ and âanti-Japanese.â
The film is being screened theatrically in Japan and by the Venice, Telluride, Toronto and New York international film festivals. It has received rave reviews as a work of exceptional art (âthe animation is a joy to behold,â The Guardian, âastonishing visuals shout that life is wonderful,â The Hollywood Reporter), but some critics have already expressed mixed feelings about the filmâs innocence in glorifying a plane that was built with slave labor and was used for kamikaze missions (not mentioned in the film). The Wind Rises will have its Oscar-qualifying run starting Nov. 8 at Landmarkâs NuArt in LA and Disney will be distributing it in North America. Disney might just end up with 3 Oscar nominated animated features this year (Monsters University, Frozen (opening Nov. 27) and Miyazakiâs film). In Japan the film remained number one in ticket sales for several weeks, beating out hit US features released at the same time for the top spot.
HAYAO MIYAZAKI SAYS HE WILL RETIRE FROM DIRECTING ANIMATION Miyazaki held a press conference in Tokyo to announce he really is retiring from directing as his eyesight is failing and at 72 he feels he is too old to start another long term project. He said that if he started a film now he might be 80 before it is finished. Also it has become hard for him to draw very much each day (almost everything he and Studio Ghibli does is hand-drawn). It is unrealistic for him think he can finish another feature or even a short; however, he will continue to go to the studio every day as long as he can continue to drive there by himself. He refused to say at the press conference if he was giving up drawing completely. âI wonât make any promises, because I might break them.â For now the future of the studio is in the hands of its younger staff.
MARSHALL McLUHANâS VISION OF THE GLOBAL VILLAGE HAS HAPPENED One example is Tencent, China’s largest Internet company has signed a deal with Disney Media Distribution to bring a collection of Disney, Pixar and Marvel Studios titles to the Chinese companyâs streaming movie service, Hollywood VIP, a Netflix-like service.
LAST MONTH CARTOON DâOR 2013 ANNOUNCED THE SIX FINALISTS AND ON SEPT. 19 THE WINNER The six nominated films, all winners from top European festivals, are Betty’s Blues, by RĂ©mi Vandenitte featuring the voice of Nancy Phelps, Head Over Heels, by Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, Am Tom Moody by Ainslie Henderson, Womenâs Letters (Lettres de femmes), by Augusto Zanovello, and Off the Track (Ecart de conduite), by Rocio Alvarez.
The Award ceremony took place in the church of Saint-Pierre des Cuisines in Toulouse. It has been turned into a modern auditorium. The winner of the Best European Short Film is Head Over Heels by Tim Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly. Ron Diamond showed it in the 2012 Animation Show of Shows.
ENJOY A LOVELY HAND-DRAWN STUDENT FILM FROM FRANCE Carl Willat sent us a link to Le Retour by Natalia Chernysheva. He said, âIt reminds me of some of my favorite John and Faith Hubley films.â http://vimeo.com/63082999#at=0
âGET A HORSEâ IN 3D CGI FROM DISNEY IS A FASCINATING THEATRICAL MICKEY MOUSE SHORT The film begins with b/w footage that looks like it was made at the beginning of the sound era, but then characters come off the b/w screen and become 3D actors in full color watching the b/w cartoon from inside a movie theatre (think Purple Rose of Cairo). Gary Meyer showed it four times at Telluride and loves it and it may hold the distinction of being the first animated Disney short to be written and directed by a woman. Lauren MacMullan created the seven minute film that begins as a musical hayride with Mickey, Minnie, Horace Horsecollar and Clarabelle Cow. Then the evil Peg Leg Pete disrupts things and the story gets exciting. Thanks to Ron Diamond we saw it in Sept. in his Animation Show of Shows program.
When the film was shown at Annecy and a trade show (D23) this year Disney/Lasseter misled the audience into believing the film was developed from a long lost unfinished film fragment from about 1928-â29. In a long Indiewire.com interview the director sets the record straight. It is a new film that starts out in the style of the first Mickey Mouse cartoons, a style she grew up loving. She used old soundtracks to build the new one so Waltâs voice is in fact the voice of Mickey. She talks about pitching the project to Lasseter and Ed Catmull before there was much of a script (Edâs reaction was âHey, letâs make that shortâ) and she talks about lots of other things. It opens with the feature Frozen on Nov. 27. The interview by Bill Deesowitz was published Aug. 26 by http://blogs.indiewire.com/animationscoop/
READ ABOUT âWALTâS FIELD DAY,â A STAFF PARTY THAT GOT WAY OUT OF CONTROL http://www.disneyhistoryinstitute.com/2013/09/walts-field-day-1938.html
DISNEY DECIDES NOT TO SEEK LEGAL ACTION NOW AGAINST A NAUGHTY HORROR FILM SHOT WITHOUT PERMISSION AT DISNEYLAND Escape From Tomorrow, opening Oct. 11, depicts Disney princesses as prostitutes and was filmed without permission inside Disney’s parks. While Disney may have a solid case against the filmâs producer for trademark infringement, etc. it appears the company will ignore the filmâs release at the present time. A legal challenge now might get lots of publicity and benefit the filmâs box office.
SEE AN IMPRESSIVE NUMBER OF MICKEY MOUSE COLLECTABLES and other rare antique characters at http://melbirnkrant.com/collection/index.html
SEE WHAT TAKES PLACE WHEN THEY CONVERT AN OLD MOVIE PALACE TO AN IMAX THEATRE See an informative time-lapse short at www.youtube.com/watch?v=guAhfPe9aPo&feature=player_embedded
âGRAND THEFT AUTO Vâ FROM ROCKSTAR GAMES GROSSED OVER $800 MILLION IN ONE DAY, BREAKING THE RECORD FOR FIRST-DAY SALES OF A VIDEO GAME The title Once again sex and violence sells! easily passed the first day sales record ($500+ million) set last year by Call of Duty II. Grand Theft Auto V had a combined production and marketing budget of $265 million, making it the most expensive video game ever made. Consumers around the world gathered in anticipation to be among the first to experience the new product! Grand Theft Auto IV was released in 2008.
THE OTTAWA ANIMATION FESTIVALâS TOP WINNERS The Grand Prize for Best Short Animation went to Lonely Bones by Rosto (France, the Netherlands) âFor the engrossing, immersive, dreamlike experience.â The Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature went to Tito on Ice by Max Andersson and Helena Ahonen (Sweden) âFor itsâ daring use of the mediumâ and an Honorable Mention to The Boy and the World (O Menino e o Mundo) by AlĂȘ Abreu (Brazil) âBecause it was full of some of the most beautiful images we’ve ever seen.â The Best Short Animation for Children went to Written by a Kid âLa Munkyaâ by Roque Ballesteros, Ghostbot Studio âBecause itâs happy and creative.â For a full list of winners http://www.cartoonbrew.com/awards/lonely-bones-and-tito-on-ice-win-top-prizes-at-ottawa-intl-animation-festival-88848.html (posted Sept. 22)
ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD SEEKS ENTRIES FOR THEIR 41ST ANNUAL ANNIE AWARDS For entry information visit: https://submissions.annieawards.org/ for categories/ rules http://annieawards.org/award-categories/
FOR-PROFIT COLLEGES CONTINUE TO GET SUED FOR A VARIETY OF ABUSES by KC When I searched for information about the disposition of the $11 billion suit against the Education Management Corporation that runs the Art Institute chain, I found very little information. I did read that a judge dismissed a challenge to the suit by the corporation, so the legal action continues.
What I found instead was a lot of news items about other for-profit schools flaunting the laws of our land and getting into trouble. I found multi-million dollar lawsuits against individual schools in the Art Institute chain and also suits against other for-profits that do not teach art.
A former employee of The Art Institute of Tucson has filed a lawsuit in federal court this year accusing the school of discrimination and wrongful termination. At another Art Institute school in the Midwest four staff members filed an age discrimination suit saying the school has tried to get rid of better paid employees over 40.
The Career Education Corporation that runs the Culinary Academy in San Francisco and dozens of other schools has paid impressive sums of money over the years to settle lawsuits. One news item reported that in August 2013 they paid over $10 million to settle claims for their systematically deceived students with misleading advertisements and inflated job placement statistics. They apparently paid out $20 million in 2012 and $40 million in 2010 in cases against their culinary schools. Also their shareholders have sued them at least once claiming that the company doctored its graduation and job placement statistics in order to avoid losing its accreditation and eligibility for federal funding.
At Donald Trump University (not a real university, but the schoolâs name sounds impressive) they face a $40 million suit representing over 5,000 former students who claim he charges a great deal for real estate information that is available for free on the Internet. They also claim Trump U. uses false and misleading recruiting practices, etc.
If I kept digging I probably would fill the entire newsletter with news of other for-profits being sued and losing lawsuits, but Iâll stop with one last ugly item. In July 2013 Chester Career College (formerly Richmond School of Health and Technology) in Virginia paid $5 million to eight former students who claimed the school targeted minorities to get them to enroll and then the school failed to provide an adequate education.
Unfortunately it appears that a lot of students are either unaware that there are far less expensive state and city run schools or they donât have the qualifications to get into one. Many who enroll in more expensive for-profit schools probably lack the skills or aptitude necessary to complete a course of study and then to find work in their highly competitive chosen field. At some school I read about over half of the incoming students dropping out in the first year. They may be the lucky ones who just owe the cost of one or two semesters.
Potential students need to know the truth about for-profit schools. The schools often have no admission standards except the ability to pay. They rarely turn anyone away for lack of talent, education or ability to communicate in English. Students need to understand that getting accepted by a for-profit school doesnât mean you will get a great education and end up on Easy Street with a great high paying career. And for some reason the school recruiters donât stress that if you get an educational loan from Uncle Sam you have no choice but to pay it back. While some for-profit schools are well run and provide a good education, others hire recruiters that will say whatever it takes, including lying, to get kids to sign contracts. The school may or may not have adequate facilities, equipment and/or faculty. Some schools are well aware that some prospective students donât have what it takes to graduate or even pass their first year courses, but âmoney talks.â
HENRY SELICK TO BE A GUEST OF THE 5TH MONTREAL STOP-MOTION FILM FESTIVAL The festival will be held October 18-20 at Concordia University. The event will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of The Nightmare Before Christmas with a screening of the film that will be presented by the director Henry Selick.
RICHARD WILLIAMS HAS FANS EVERYWHERE Nancy Phelps told me about a young animator who was on the student film jury at ANIBAR in Peja, Kosovo. His mother once gave him a choice, to either buy new shoes or buy The Animators Survival Kit. âI bought the book although I already had a scanned version. I was so proud looking at my old shoes with holes because I knew that I made the right choice.â He also bought the expanded edition when it came out.
ANIBAR, AN ECOLOGY CONCIOUS FESTIVAL, IS EVEN BETTER THE SECOND TIME AROUND (ANIBAR ANIMATION FESTIVAL, August 9 â 24, 2013 in Peja, Kosovo) by Nancy Denny Phelps Sometimes when you attend an animation festival for the second time it isnât quite as exciting as you remember, but this is certainly not the case with the Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo. This year the film programming was excellent and the staff so warm and gracious and I returned home with many happy memories.
Anibar not only brings excellent animation to the community, the festival also has a strong emphasis on ecology as Peja, located at the edge of a plain with beautiful mountains rising above it, is a festival concerned about protecting the earth. The mountains are a popular rock climbing area in the summer and are known for skiing in the winter. The stream running through the center of the city flows down from pristine springs in the mountains.
To educate people to the importance of caring for their beautiful surroundings, to promote sustainable living and to lower the impact of the festival on the environment, Anibar has inaugurated a series of down to earth programs that festival goers could participate in called Earth. To manage waste and promote local products everyone that brought empty aluminium cans for recycling to the information booth received local organic tea as a reward.
The number of visitors travelling to the festival from outside Peja increases every year. People were encouraged to bicycle to the festival instead of driving to help reduce the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Everyone who peddled from their city to Peja was rewarded with free admission to screenings based on the number of kilometres they biked. Free water was available so that visitors didnât have to buy bottled water. There was also a daily workshop for kids using a variety of materials that are usually thrown away to create animation.
This year Nik and I were invited to arrive two days before the festival began so that Nik could give a Master Class specifically for the volunteers about the relation between music and animation. It also was Nikâs turn to serve on the International Jury along with our old friend Andrea Martignoni, Italian sound designer, and Albanian graphic artist Ilir Kaso. With ten programs to watch the jury had their work cut out for them because even though the programs were short, the quality of the competition films was very high. Along with films that have already won numerous awards such as Dutch animator Hisko Hulsingâs Junkyard and Feral by Daniel Sousa from the United States, there were also many new delights.
In keeping with the festival theme Earth, Spanish animators Joseph Prim and Fernando Maldonadoâs Shave it was screened as part of the opening night ceremony. The five minute film is the story of a monkey in a jungle where bulldozers are destroying the trees and vegetation. The monkey finds a razor and uses it to shave his body. With a human appearance, he moves to the city and sets out to conquer the world of business and gain political power. When he is elected President he is ready to make changes. The other two opening night films were
the twenty-five second film Performance and Feral.
Capturing a convincing portrait of Alzheimerâs from the afflicted personâs point of view is very difficult. Polish clay animation master Izabela Plucinska made a very good portrayal of it with her latest film Liebling (Darling). The film is a close personal view of a personâs descent into a world of fear where your closest loved one becomes a stranger and familiar objects turn into a trap. Izabela has
created a captivating picture of the feeling of being lost and alienated, as a woman attempts to put pieces of her life together without success. The jury seems to have agreed with me because Liebling received the Grand Prix.
French animator Augusto Zanovelloâs Womenâs Letters touched me deeply. Zanovello used stop motion to tell the story of a medic on a World War One battle field who has run out of bandages and uses love letters to patch up shattered bodies. The emotional story is beautifully animated and very fitting this year because the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War is being remembered all over Europe. Womenâs Letters has been nominated for the 2013 Cartoon DâOr. The Cartoon DâOr winner will be announced on 19 September at Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France.
Egyptian animator Mohamed Ghazala, Fatmir Gjevukaj , character designer and painter from Prestina, Kosovo, and Serbian animator Krunoslav Jovic did double duty as jurors for the Balkan films and student animation. This year there was a big improvement in the quality of the Balkan films. Greece, Serbia, Albania, Turkey, Croatia, and Bulgaria were all represented on the screen.
The Unfinished Painting by Rositsa Vangelova from Bulgaria stood out from the other films to me. Her student film combines classic animation with live action to tell the story of a young surrealist artist trying to complete a painting. The eyes are the last missing piece of the womenâs face. No matter how many sketches he draws, his attempts to finish the picture are futile.
The style of the film was influenced by the 20th Century Italian artist Giorgio De Chiricoâs work. In his art De Chirico evoked the hidden meanings behind everyday life. His scenes of empty cities, mysterious menacing statues, and strange combinations of everyday objects inspired the artists of the Surrealist movement.
In the Student category German animator Gottfried Mentorâs Oh Sheep is a favourite of mine. You can read my comments about the film in my 2013 Anima Brussels article.
Israeli animators Liran Kapel and Yael Dekelâs film Nyosha is based on the recollections of Liranâs grandmother during World War II. The true story of Naomi (Nyosha) Kapel, a Polish holocaust survivor, is told by Nyosha herself. I felt that mixing the puppets with drawn animation scenes distracted from the story rather than adding to it but I could overlook that as I listened to the elderly lady recall her dream as a ten year old girl to buy a pair of shoes with shiny buckles on them. The 12 minute film was Liran and Yaelâs graduation project at Sapir College in Gaza and I look forward to seeing more interesting, advanced work from them.
Along with the competition screenings and three programs for children, there was a tribute to the great pioneer of Serbian animation Nikola Majdak who passed away earlier this year. In 1963 he made the films The Soloist and The Chalk-Man that were the first animated films made in Belgrade. Nikolaâs work on over 300 documentary, feature, and animated films as director, scriptwriter, director of photography, and camera man has influenced a generation of young film makers and he had been honoured with numerous awards world wide.
Nikola was Head of the Department of Film and Television Camera at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and head of the Animation Department at Dunav Film School. He was also my colleague on the ASIFA International Board (Association Internationale du Film dâAnimation) representing Serbia for many years, and I considered him a close friend.
Mohamed Ghazala presented a program of African animation. Many people are surprised to discover that animation thrives all over the African continent. As Mohamedâs program proved this culturally diverse continent has been creating animation since the late 1930âs when the Frenkel Brothers made their first film in Egypt. Moustapha Alassane from
Nigeria is one of the most widely known African film makers with more than thirty animated, live action, and documentary films to his credit. He has sat on numerous festival juries as well as winning numerous awards for his work. Mohamedâs program included Moustaphaâs 1963 film Bon Voyage Sim as well as The Tale of How by South Africaâs Blackheart Gang which has won numerous awards worldwide.
Honaynâs Shoe which earned Mohamed the 2009 Animation Award at the African Academy Awards, with music composed and played by my husband Nik Phelps, was also part of the screening. As well
as creating animation
Mohamed is an assistant professor at Minia University and has recently published Animation in Africa, the only serious book about African animation. (*see note at end of this article) Mohamed is also founder and International Board Member of ASIFA Egypt.
Unfortunately I did not get to see Animated New Wave, the program of contemporary Italian animation present by Andrea Martignoni. I had already seen several of the films and Andrea gave us 2 DVDâs of Italian animation that have all of the films on them so I will be able to enjoy them at home.
Andrea gave a two day workshop. On the first day he showed films, many of which he had worked on as sound designer and composer, and talked about the art of combining sounds with film. On the second day the workshop members had the opportunity to put what they learned the previous day in action as they took to the streets to record sounds to incorporate into an existing short film.
I presented Stories Women Tell tracing the history of women animators from Lillian Friedman, the first woman to animate at a major animation studio down to the present. Lillian animated and directed at least fifteen films at the Fleischer Brothers studio although she was only credited on six of them. I showed her 1936 Betty Boop â Be Human, a lesson about animal cruelty.
Mary Ellen Bute, who lived in NYC, is another early unsung heroine. She was a pioneer in mixing music and electronic animation to create what she called âvisual musicâ where abstract images moved in sync with music (similar in concept to Oskar Fischingerâs work about the same time). Symphony # 4 â Escape (1937) is the example of her work that I opted to screen.
Everyone is familiar with the brilliant films of Joanna Quinn but Elles (1992) is not shown frequently. I think her hand drawn depiction of two of Toulouse Lautrecâs models taking a lively and boisterous break from posing is a classic.
I ended my screening with the 2005 Mind the Gap by Russian animator Anastasia Zhuravieva. This creative depiction of a busy twenty-four hours in a Moscow subway station created using ordinary sewing supplies such as buttons, safety pins, and a zipper is a true classic.
With three cinemas, two of them outdoors, workshops, master classes, daily directorâs chats, and nightly parties there was plenty to see and do every day. There were also a lot of volunteers to answer questions or help at the information booth. Even though Anibar is only four years old it is full of great young energy. None of the organizers are over twenty-five years of age and two are still at university. The seventy-five enthusiastic volunteers chosen from the one hundred fifty that applied ranged in age from thirteen to eighteen years old.
Once again this year an open air theatre was created by volunteers at the hill top parkâs lake. Unfortunately due to the drought the lake was too low for us to be able to watch the films from rubber boats, but it was still a lovely setting for a film screening. Following the evening screenings at the lake there was a nightly dance party with live bands ranging from reggae to Balkan rock. The bands were followed by DJâs for late night dancing. The festival provided a camp ground for visitors in the parkâs forest. There was a nightly campfire at the camp which was the perfect place to relax and have conversations under the stars. The staff prides itself on cleaning the camping area thoroughly after the festival and leaving the park exactly as they found it.
I was invited to host the directorâs chat every afternoon at the Exit CafĂ©, the official festival meeting place. I was already friends with many of the guests I interviewed but I had not met Fatmir Gjevukaj prior to Anibar so I was particularly interested to talk to him one on one and hear what questions the audience had to ask him.
Born in Peja, Fatmir lived in Austin, Texas for several years working as a character artist in the video game industry. He is also a very accomplished painter and when he showed us his work I was particularly taken with how expressive the eyes were. It seems to me as if Fatmir looks into the soul of his subject through their eyes.
Gjevukaj told us about the high school he attended in Peja which at the time was the top school in the Balkanâs for the arts. Sadly during the war its quality declined but it is slowly regaining its former prestige. Fatmir and his family returned to Pristina, Kosovo, the capital city, in 2012 where he is founder and co-owner of the new School of Visual Arts KAP, the first 3D and animation school in Kosovo. There were no short animations at the festival from Kosovo this year but hopefully with Fatmirâs new school this will soon change.
After all the talking at the Directorâs Chats, many of us stayed at the Exit for a cold beer. A word about the beer, Peja brand beer which is the only beer brewed in Kosovo, is very refreshing and made with the clean, clear water from the mountain springs. August in Peja is extremely hot, sometimes reaching close to 40 C. (close to 100 degrees) and nothing tastes better that an ice cold beer when it is that hot. Kosovo also has excellent red wine which is perfect for the warm evenings.
One afternoon the festival took the guests up into the mountains to see first-hand the majestic beauty of the Rugova Gorge where the high sheer walls of the gorge are a rock climberâs delight. Anibar Executive Director Vullnet Sanaja is also an avid ecologist and belongs to a group that builds and restores mountain trails. After a drive up the curvy paved mountain road we walked up a dirt road to a trail that Vullnet and his friends are responsible for maintaining. The trail followed a babbling stream up to two waterfalls. Wild life abounds in these mountains and we were told that bears are reported to still live there although no one from Peja in our group had ever seen one. After the walk we were treated to a meal of traditional local specialities at a lovely rustic restaurant in the mountains. The large platters of assorted grilled meat had some of the best goat I have ever eaten on them. Eating outside with views of the mountains added to the experience.
The biggest problem with Anibar is that I eat too much. One of my nicest memories from last year was the delicious food that Executive Director Vullnet Sanajaâs mother Nevryze with the help of his cousin Qefsere cooked for the festival guests and staff every evening. It was a special treat to eat home cooking which is quite different from restaurant fare. Once again we were all treated to her special evening meals and it was just as delicious as I remembered.
Nik and I were honoured to be invited by Nevryze to lunch at the Sanaja family home. It was so nice to get to know Nevryze and her husband over a delicious, relaxed meal. She is a charming and gracious lady who is a teacher but loves to cook.
Last year Rron Bajri, festival Artistic Director, introduced me to the Qebaptore Te Gega restaurant and I ate lunch there every day. The restaurant serves some of the best grilled meat and peppers that I have ever eaten. The festival staff remembered how much I loved Qebaptore Te Gega so after the hour long drive from Prestina airport Nik and I were taken there for a late night welcome feast. Rron ordered the largest platter of assorted grilled meat that I have ever seen with cold Peja beer to wash it down and Nik finally got to taste the food I had talked about all year. I introduced my good friend Mohamed to the delights of the restaurant and we ate lunch together almost every day. The chief even let Mohamed grill meat and peppers on the open grill in the front window.
When Mohamed and I are at the same festival we make it a point to visit the local market or bazaar together. Peja has a large bazaar surrounding the historic Bajrakli Mosque. The date that the mosque was built is unknown but it is believed to be from the first half of the 15th century. The architecture is beautiful. Nik, Mohamed, and I spent many happy hours wandering through the narrow street stalls of the bizare. Nik and Mohamed bought matching pairs of plaid short pants and I came home with pink high top tennies along with the several extra kilos I gained.
Fiona Beqir, Rron Bajri, and Vullnet Sanaja were the perfect hosts and I canât thank them enough for inviting me to Anibar again. I saw a big improvement in attention to detail this year but the staff has a lot more work ahead of them as they are trying to build a local audience in a community where there is no cinema. The only theatre closed during the Communist era. The projector and sound system were so terrible that people stopped going. Now it only opens for special screenings such as the festival. Hopefully in the future Anibar will be able to schedule monthly film shows of animated features so that when the yearly festival happens there will be a larger local audience.
I encourage anyone who is invited to Anibar to accept the invitation. You will see lots of good films, explore a fascinating city, and have an experience that you will never forget. I am already looking forward to next year at Anibar!
I am off to KROK in the Ukraine next and will give you a full account of my adventures when I return.
*Note: Mohamed Ghazalaâs book Animation in Africa covers works from N. Africa to South Africa. There is a forgotten film that dates from 1915, several short films made before WWII and more recent work including features, theatrical cartoons, work made for TV and personal films. I was fascinated by several parts of the book including a discussion of how Europeans depicted black Africans in animation and cartoons including Hergeâs Tin Tin.
The limited first printing is almost sold out and the English edition has flaws. Nancy Phelps is working with Mohamed on revising the text for a revised edition that could be available in 2014.
MAJOR SEQUELS TO BE RELEASED IN 2015 Universal will release the fourth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise, Jurassic World on June 12, 2015. Warner Bros.’ tentatively-titled Batman vs. Superman, will open July 25. Disney’s schedule for 2015 includes Star Wars: Episode VII, another Avengers movie and Pixarâs Inside Out and late in 2015 The Good Dinosaur. The next installment in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise will be delayed beyond its planned summer 2015 release date. It might be a 2016 release. Script problems are stated as the reason for the delay, but after Disneyâs Lone Ranger disaster, possibly a $190 million loss, they might be rethinking the budget. The last Pirates movie, 2011âs On Stranger Tides, grossed $1.04 billion