Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)
April 2009
by Karl Cohen

"SITA SINGS THE BLUES" HAS U.S. THEATRICAL DISTRIBUTION! FILM WILL PREMIERE AT THE RED VIC MAY 8 -- 12 This is great news for all Nina Paley friends and supporters. It is really wonderful to know the film now has a chance to be discovered by a much wider audience. Her feature will be distributed by Shadow Distribution west of the Mississippi and by GKIDS east of that river. Shadow made a huge hit out of Parrots of Telegraph Hill.

Nina says, "I am thrilled that Sita is going to be at the Red Vic, one of my favorite SF theaters. I have many fond memories of ASIFA-SF and Ideas In Animation events at the Red Vic, as well as art films. I feel so triumphant!"

"We're trying a new distribution model with Sita. The film is being released under a Creative Commons Share Alike license, and can be legally viewed, downloaded, and copied without permission. So far the free content of the film has increased demand for limited versions, like purchasable DVDs (available soon) and theatrical screenings. Many people who see a compressed streaming version online want to see it on the big screen even more."

"Shadow and GKIDS are among the first theatrical distributors to focus on service over licensing. Thanks for trying something new. And big thanks to Claudia for programming it! We're seeing that freedom and commerce can not only co-exist, but enhance each other." For more information see

Claudia Lehan of the Red Vic says, "We are excited about showing this beautiful work. Kudos to Nina! And to our friends at Shadow Distribution for another smart choice. They distribute The Weather Underground, Girls Rock, Gypsy Caravan, Touch the Sound...and several other Red Vic hits."

WILDBRAIN TO OPEN STUDIO IN LA TO PRODUCE FUTURE "YO GABBA GABBA" EPISODES The studio will be located in Sherman Oaks. Marge Dean, General Manager, says the growth of Wildbrain's work-for-hire business as well as its own production slate led to the decision to open an L.A. outpost. They are expanding their animation work in TV, film, gaming and commercials. The company is working on an animated series called Team Smithereen, is developing an animated variety show called Bubble Guppies for Nickelodeon, has a live-action/animated feature film in development through Paramount (based on Kidrobot toys), is developing a Yo Gabba Gabba! feature, plus a pilot for 20th Century Fox that stars Jeff Foxworthy.

Other news from Wildbrain includes Josh Book, who developed the CG department at Nickelodeon, is their new supervisor of CG animation. Also, Chris Staples and Michelle Papandrew (Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends) have been tapped to head the LA studio. Wildbrain's San Francisco operation will continue to serve as the studio's primary hub.

DAVID CHAI'S "LIFE ON A LIMB" HAS A LIFE AT MAJOR FILM FESTIVALS Besides being shown at Cinequest, David has been told it will be shown at the Heart of Gold Fest, the Ann Arbor Film Festival and South Beach Animation Festival in March; at the Filmfest Dresden, at Arizona State

University's Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival and at the Newport Beach Film Festival in April. In May it will play at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival.

"BUGS BUNNY ON BROADWAY" RETURNS TO SF Once again several of his films with the music performed live by the SF Symphony Orchestra, will be at Davies Symphony Hall. The concerts will be Thursday, July 2 at 8pm and Friday, July 3 at 6:30pm. Ticket prices start at $15.

KEN PONTAC'S LATEST SHOCKING SCRIPTS He tells us he recently worked on a new "classic style" Happy Tree Friends episode starring Splendid, the super-squirrel. He is presently writing for an action/adventure show being produced in the UK called Matt Hatter Chronicle. He says, "It has monsters and magic and all sorts of otherworldly fun. I love writing this kind of thing."

NICK FOX-GRIG HAS JUST FINISHED "THE ORANGE" He lived and works off and on in the Bay Area. He recently previewed the new work with 4 more of his shorts at the Rivoli in Toronto. You can learn about his orange that ruled the world at: and on YouTube.

Nick writes us that he is working on an animated short film commission by Bravo. It's called Interregnum and "it's about the guy believed to be history's first computer hacker." He also mentions that he expects to comes to SF to work later this year "so maybe I can catch a screening soon."

WILLIAM KENTRIDGE EXHIBIT AT THE SF MUSEUM OF MODERN ART William Kentridge: Five Themes is a comprehensive survey of the South African artist's work. The exhibition explores five primary themes that have engaged him over the past three decades. It features more than 75 works in a range of media--including animated films, drawings, prints, theater models, sculptures, and books.

PIXARS "UP" TO OPEN THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL Their next release will have its world premiere in 3-D as the opening night feature of the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. The story is about an old man who ties balloons to his house and flies away to South America with a young boy as a stowaway. It opens on May 29. Pete Docter and Bob Peterson directed it.!

LIPPY IS DOING A COMIC STRIP CALLED "FAULT LINES" FOR "THE MILL VALLEY HERALD" See examples of this well written and nicely drawn strip along with some of his animated work at

SEE OUR BELOVED BRIDGE DESTROYED IN "MONSTERS VS ALIENS" It is exactly what you expect from DreamWorks in terms of silly fun. The 3-D is great!

ASIFA-SF IS CO-PRESENTING A PROGRAM OF SHORT ANIMATED FILMS AT THE SF INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL The program called A Thousand Pictures features excellent unusual experimental animation for adults. Photograph of Jesus by Laurie Hill from England is a comedy about unusual requests photography archives get including, "Please send me a photograph of Jesus." Lies by Jonas Odell from Sweden illustrates three real stories (doozies!) concerning lies. The Heart of Amos Klein by Michal and Uri Kranot from Israel uses animated flashbacks that explain how Amos became a powerful anti-Palestinian bigot. Also in the program are AANAATT by Max Hattler from England, Far Away from Ural by Katarlina Lillqvist from Finland, Kanizsa Hill by Evelyn Lee, USA; and Slaves by David Aronowitsch and Hanna Heilborn from Sweden. The program is being shown Sunda y, April 26 at 9:45pm, Monday, May 4 at 1pm and on Wednesday, May 6 at 2pm at the Kabuki. 925-866-9559

The festival is showing two animated features. Willis O'Brien's silent classic The Lost World (1925) plays at the Castro, with music performed live by Dengue Fever (a Cambodian American pop band), on May 5 at 8pm. The Battle for Terra by Aristomenis Tsirbas is a "family-friendly" sci-fi feature with a social conscience. Earth is dying and the remaining humans try to make the peaceful planet of Terra their new home through the use of force. It was the center of a controversy when the judges at Ottawa 08 gave it the grand prize. A lot of people felt that prize should have gone to Sita Sings the Blues or Idiots and Angels.

Esurance, a local insurance company that supports animation, is sponsoring four technology and design programs. Included are 4 works that include elements of animation, The Age of Stupid, Art & Copy, The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle and Proving Ground.

The No Voice Too Small program includes Diary of a Fly by Gene Deitch, Madam President by Pete List, Mutt by Glen Hunwick from Australia, The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Oscar nominated Konstantin Bronzit and The Turtle and the Shark by Ryan Woodward.

STAND UP COMIC INCORPORATES ANIMATION INTO HIS ACT A recent program in LA featured Gene Hamm, one of our hometown boys, incorporating some of his animation into his act. Perhaps it will help him get discovered.


HOLY COW, OUR BLOG-MASTER INTERVIEWED ADAM WEST! Joe Sikoryak writes, "Last Sunday at WonderCon in San Francisco, I moderated a panel for a new independent film called Super Capers, which included none other than Adam West. Along with having interviewed William Shatner back in college, I'm on my way to closing the book on my fifth-grade heroes (I wonder what Robert Vaughn is up to these days?) Even at 80, the former millionaire-playboy and self described ‘Bright Knight' worked the crowd beautifully. My most surreal moment came when West turned to me after an unkempt 30-year old in a Superman costume asked an unintelligible question about water sports and asked, ‘Do you know what he's talking about?' All I could say was ‘Holy swim team, Batman!"

"After the panel, pal Robert Emmett told me that my short film The Cartoon Adventures of Major Mars has been nominated for Best Independent Production by the 7th Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror awards, recognizing the best in monster research, creativity and genre appreciation. The Sikoryak Bros. are excited about that. You can cast your votes at:

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the bat-computer."

ROD GILCHRIST, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM, HAS DIED Rod, who was 58, died of brain cancer on Feb. 26. He had headed the museum for 11 years through financially difficult times and from a hard to find upstairs location to their present large storefront space on Mission. He also built up the museum's programs using an excellent small staff, devoted volunteers and a dedicated board. He oversaw 11 years of really varied programming and exhibits.

Summerlea Kashar, a staff member of the museum told us, "Rod was very proud of our current location and many of the exhibits. He was a big New Yorker fan, as well as a fan of political cartoons and of the late Farley strip, which he appeared in once. In it he is lying on a couch expressing the woes of small non-profit arts organizations during the bubble. It turns out he is not on a psychiatrist's couch, but in a furniture store."



SATURDAY APRIL 4, 3:00 pm, Miyazali's "Nausica of the Valley of the Wind" i (Japan, 1984, 116 mins, In Japanese with English subtitles)

New PFA Collection Print, (Kaze no tani no Nausica). This stirring, sweeping epic by the great animator Hayao Miyazaki is set in a future where war and ecological apocalypse have turned humans into aliens on their own planet. Nausica, princess of a peaceful but threatened valley, must use her skills as both soldier and scientist in an effort to reconcile humanity with nature. This subtitled version is recommended for ages ten and up. The Pacific Film Archive Theater is located at 2575 Bancroft Way (between Telegraph and Bowditch) in Berkeley. Advance tickets are available by calling (510) 642-5249 or visiting

Sat., April 18. WILLIE ITO visits THE MANY FACES OF MANGA, an exhibit at the National Japanese American Historical Society, 1684 Post (between Laguna and Webster), free. (415) 921-5007

Thursday, April 23, 7:15 pm, SEE ALL 27 WINNERS OF ASIFA-EAST'S 39th ANNUAL ANIMATION COMPETITION, McBean Theatre, see flyer at end of this issue for details, free.


JAPAN'S ANIME INDUSTRY HAS SERIOUS PROBLEMS In a somewhat sensational article in The Japan Times Online (March 4) titled "Future of ‘anime' industry in doubt: Money, success elude; outsourcing, piracy abound," staff writer Alex Martin began by interviewing an underpaid inbetweener who has worked in the industry for 10-years. She still lives with her parents, can't afford to pay into the national pension fund, can't save any money and is working 10-hour days. The writer sums up her plight by saying her story is typical "of what many aspiring young animators face in a shrinking job market." Later in th! e article we learn that due to low pay and long working hours there is an 80% dropout rate of employees and that 90% of the in-between work is now being outsourced to countries like China and the Philippines. As a result, "aspiring animators can't find places to work."

The reporter quotes the executive director of The Association of Japanese Animators as saying that while the number of fans is increasing around the world, the old business model is crumbling. "It isn't translating into profits." Sales to TV have declined since 2006 due to the financial crisis. The crisis has resulted in lower advertising fees charged to advertisers, resulting in smaller production budgets. The director also noted that the rise of low budget late night animated shows for adults featuring violence and/or sexual images, has resulted in a lot of product that is difficult to market and merchandise.

TV series end up as DVD sets packaged with all 13 episodes plus "special features." Unfortunately, "Anime profits in the United States, especially DVDs, are dwindling...; the greatest obstacle lies in the illegal Internet sites that provide free content."

Crunchyroll, begun in January 2009 is a monthly subscription Internet site in the US, offering new shows from Japan without commercials. It hopes to be a successful new way to market anime. They hope to have 50,000 subscribers paying $6.95 a month by the end of the year. They may eventually sell DVDs and comic books on the site.

The article listed other problems hurting the industry (copyright law, lack of government support, etc.). The only success stories mentioned were the hand-animated show Sazae-san, work from Hayao Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli and in the past the mega-hits Evangelion and Pokemon.

A second article in the same publication (April 10) was on the phenomenon known as "scanlation," in which anime and manga is translated into other languages by fans. There is a potential for conflict in the future if publishers decide to take legal action against unauthorized translations distributed by fans based in the United States and Europe.

DON HERTZFELDT'S "I AM SO PROUD OF YOU" WINS TOP PRIZES AT FARGO FILM FESTIVAL Cartoon Brew reports that it not only won the Best Animation prize, but also the Best Picture and Best Screenplay honors! It won over dozens of live-action features, animated films and documentaries.

WINNERS OF THE 2008 GETTY IMAGES FILM CHALLENGE ARE WORTH CHECKING OUT The contest required artists to make shorts using images from the Getty Archive. My favorite, Photograph of Jesus by Laurie Hill, is a funny pixilated work. The SF International Film Festival is showing it.

SEE WHY SMITH & FOULKES MISSED BEING PART OF RON DIAMOND'S PRE-OSCAR CEREMONY TOUR OF SF FOR ANIMATORS They had to meet a production deadline for the Comcast "Dream Big" campaign. The ads push technology, are done without cuts and are lots of fun visually. (I'm not fond of the sound track.) See the ads at

BILL PLYMPTON'S "IDIOTS AND ANGELS" WON THE GRAND PRIZE AT PORTUGAL'S 29TH FANTASPORTO FESTIVAL It was presented both the Best Film and Best Screenplay awards. The festival shows live action shorts and features as well as animation.

In March Bill was at the Golden State Film Festival Theatre in Monterey, CA for a screening of his new feature. He also appeared at festivals in Florida and in April he flies to Oregon and Turkey.

A final exciting bit of Plympton news. You can buy two varieties of wine from the Dhaliwal Vineyards in Calif. with label art designed by Bill Plympton. The wines are their P.S. 1909 Old Vine Zin and Petite Sirah.


ANIMATOR PATRICK SMITH IS DISPLAYING HIS RECENT PAINTINGS IN NYC Show of his intertwined human figures is at the Kaufman Arcade, 139 W.35th St., NY.

SIGNE BAUMANE HAS ORGANIZED YET ANOTHER UNUSUAL PROGRAM OF ANIMATED SEX The show was in NYC in March and Signe Baumane, Bill Plympton, PES, Ruth Lingford, Pat Smith, David Lobser and Andy and Carolyn London were there in person discussing their work. Films shown were Teat Beat of Sex by Signe Baumane, Mexican Standoff and Sex and Violence, by Bill Plympton, Roof Sex by PES, Hand-shake by Pat Smith, Everybody's Pregnant by Debra Solomon, Chainsaw by Dennis Tupicoff, Letter to Colleen by Andy and Carolyn London, Mother's Day by David Lobser, What She Wants by Ruth Lingford and Berni's Doll by Yann Jouette.

ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD IS PRESENTING MONTHLY SALONS FOR ANIMATORS Woodbury University has invited ASIFA-Hollywood to host events at their newly opened Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium. Their first program was with cartoonist Eddie Fitzgerald, the creator of Uncle Eddie's Theory Corner and a story artist on Ren & Stimpy. The events will continue on the third Saturday evening of every month, public invited, free.


THE 16TH STUTTGART FESTIVAL OF ANIMATED FILM WILL HONOR 100 YEARS OF GERMAN ANIMATION -- DVD SET TO FOLLOW The festival, May 5 -- 10, will include a 6 program tribute of German classics. It will include Prosit Neujahr (1909) the first German animated film and it will end with outstanding commercials and state of the art 3D works. Among the artists included are Lotte Reiniger, Oskar Fischinger, Walter Ruttmann, Hans Richter, Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein, Tyron Montgomery, Thomas Stellmach and Gil Alkabetz. Work created during the era of National Socialism will be shown. A six-part DVD series entitled Die Geschichte des deutschen Animati! onsfilms (The History of German Animation Film) will be published by Absolut Medien in cooperation with the Goethe Institute.

WHAT DOES CREATING A HILLBILLY-SQUID WHO IS A SUCCESSFUL TV CARTOON CHARACTER TELL US ABOUT AMERICAN POPULAR CULTURE? Radical Axis, a studio in Atlanta, Georgia, produces Squidbillies. When the ocean subsided over N. America centuries ago "it left a family of squids stranded in what became the N. Georgia Mountains.

The squids are still adapting to a world of fighting, feuding, and fornication. They are the Squidbillies." This is the same studio that created Aqua Teen Hunger Force, the show that caused a bomb scare in Boston. Should anybody want to purchase the DVD Squidbillies Vol. 2, the official release date is April 21.

PHILIP GLASS TO COMPOSE AN OPERA ON THE IMAGINARY FINAL MONTHS OF WALT DISNEY'S LIFE Daily Variety reports that the New York City Opera has commissioned composer Philip Glass (Koyaanisqatsi) to pen an opera about Walt Disney, to be staged in collaboration with British theater company Improbable. It is scheduled to open City Opera's 2012-13 season. The text is based on the German novel The Perfect American by Peter Stephan Jungk. The story imagines the last months of Disney's life as seen through the eyes of a fictional Austrian cartoonist who worked for him. The premiere will honor Philip Glass' 75th birthday.

"BOUNDARY CROSSINGS: AN INSTITUTE IN CONTEMPORARY ANIMATED ARTS" will be held at the Pacific NW College of Art, July 13-24, 2009. "Innovative and intense, Boundary Crossings is a two-week immersion in interdisciplinary explorations at the leading edge of contemporary animated arts and scholarship. Participants will explore the emerging field of hybrid animated arts through a combination of screenings, lectures, and hands-on workshops led by internationally renowned scholars and practitioners in this cross-disciplinary field including Paul Wells, Suzanne Buchan, Irene Kotlarz, Rose Bond and Paul Vester. Boundary Crossings can be taken for upper division and graduate level credit and ! offers participants three strands to tailor their own unique, two-week course of study. Enrollment is limited." (503) 821-8895 crossings

HENRY SELICK TO BE KEYNOTE SPEAKER AT THE BIG NAB SHOW IN LAS VEGAS He will address the boroadcasters on April 20 on digital technology and how it was used in the making of Coraline. He will tell how it is helping revitalize stop-motion animation.

ED HOOKS SAYS "EVERY ANIMATION STUDENT NEEDS A HOUSE OF CURVES TIPS-FOR-STUDENTS POSTER" It contains excellent advice for students and artists searching for work. Download it for free and if you don't get his monthly newsletter sign up at -

GREG MacNICOL IS FASCINATED WITH A NEW FORM OF REAL TIME ANIMATION created with a language called Processing. He says the art is "resolution independent" and it can run from a sound track. Three examples (Relentless is easy on the eyes) are posted at

MICHEL OCELOT IS AS CHARMING AS "AZUR AND ASMAR" I feel that reviewers of Michel's feature, who are dazzled by its beauty, often miss the point that this delightful fairytale teaches tolerance. He grew up in N. Africa where much of the film is set, at a time of peace and harmony between the 3 main religious groups, Moslem, Christian and Jews. He wanted to speak out about the rising prejudices in society in recent years. While he was enjoying a hot fudge sundae at Max's Deli he surprised us when he said the symbolic prejudice in the film against blue-eyed people is actually real. Apparently there is a line in the Koran that condemns all blue-eyed people to hell and that some superstitious Moslems believe it is true. The film al! so addresses issues of class structure and the role of women.

While the film is as beautiful as the reviewers say, it is also an honest, old fashioned, straightforward fairytale free of all the things DreamWorks and Disney add. It was wonderful to not have fart jokes, pop culture references, crazy plots, overly cute animals, a rapid editing pace and an over-produced, loud soundtrack.

Ocelot is the author of both the original script and the visual design. He grew up loving Persian miniatures and much of the film is inspired by that ancient tradition. While his early films were made on almost non-existent budgets, he was able to get substantial funding for Azur and Asmar. Still, he says the script came first and then he decided on what methods would work best to animate it. He chose to have 3-D CGI characters with 2-D computer backgrounds. He loves the computer's ability to create luxurious palace interiors using cut and paste to duplicate ornate columns, Arabic arches and other architectural elements.

Like many artists who have traveled to N. Africa he loves a lively pallette of colors. He commented on too many people wearing black here and the absence of seeing bright colorful clothing.

Ocelot's animation of humans has a naive quality to it that I found stilted, but refreshing. His brothers in the film always seemed to have their chins up and shoulders back. It isn't relaxed, but I quickly got used to it and settled into enjoying his story and images. If you missed seeing Azur and Asmar, the DVD of it is out along with examples of his earlier work.

SUNDANCE OPENED THEIR FESTIVAL WITH "MARY AND MAX," ADAM ELLIOT'S FIRST STOP-MOTION FEATURE The film was selected by the festival as the opening night film because they consider it an excellent example of the art of independent filmmaking. Mary and Max is a clay animated work by Adam Elliot whose Harvie Krumpet (2003) had its world premiere at Sundance. It went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Short.

Slash's Peter Scritta wrote, "I'll admit it. I wasn't really looking forward to...;Mary and Max. Rarely do I become involved in many animated features produced outside of the Pixar campus, and claymation has never really been my thing. But Mary and Max was something magical. It is the perfect film to start off the festival, because it is everything that Sundance would like to stand for. It's handcrafted and so very unique that it would have been impossible for any studio and Hollywood to produce anything like it. They wouldn't have the guts."

After describing the story he concluded, "Mary and Max is the type of movie that you will see and recommend to at least 10 of your friends. You will not only be amazed that such a film could be created, but you will admire the heart and years of work that were clearly put into each frame. And none of it goes unnoticed."

The reviewer for said, "Mary and Max is certainly one of the more clever and inventive uses of clay, and a joyfully entertaining experience from beginning to end." He also said, "The best thing you can say about any animated movie is when you completely forget you're watching animation. That happens fairly early on as you're pulled into the world of these two odd characters, and though it's mostly told via narration and the letters between the two characters, it never gets dull, since the situations and characters around them ar! e perpetually entertaining."

The film has received dozens of favorable and mixed hx" Mary & Max is aimed at the festival circuit, not the commercial cinema." Mike Goodridge in Screen Daily wrote, "It will be a film festival favorite...; although its theatrical life will be limited strictly to the art-house. Awards recognition could drive it to a more promising life in ancillary markets." Sundance was established as! a showcase for independent filmmaking and it is disappointing that some reviewers are sent there thinking they should take a conservative attitude and should mainly be seeking commercial products that will perform well at shopping mall multiplexes.

The following is how the Sundance Festival online catalog described this feature. "Mary and Max is unique. A claymation animation by Academy Award--winning filmmaker Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet), it tells the simple story of a 20-year pen-pal friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a chubby, lonely 8-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne, and Max Horowitz, a 44-year-old Jewish man, who is severely obese, suffers from Asperger's syndrome, and lives an isolated life in New York City. It is very much a triumph of emotion, insight, and eccentricity--a complete delight. Animation's ability to capture the intricate complexity of life has never been on display in as absorbing fashion as with the storytelling of this Australian filmmaker, who truly makes you forget what you are watching. The originality of the voices in this ever-spinning kaleidoscope of innocence and idiosyncrasy comes straight from an incredibly rich imagination and complete artistic vision. This desire for acceptance and love amid the pain of existence is masterfully narrated by Barry Humphries and fleshed out by the voices of Philip Seymour Hoffman and Toni Collette. This film that explores friendship, autism, taxidermy, psychiatry, alcoholism, where babies come from, obesity, kleptomania, trust, copulating dogs, sexual and religious differences, agoraphobia, and more, and is rooted in a very personal relationship, is proof of why we go to the movies and a truly exceptional portrait of compassion and love."

ANIMATOR PAUL GLABICKI IS EXHIBITING DRAWINGS IN NYC GALLERY His recent drawings can be seen at Kim Foster Gallery, 529 W. 20th St. until May 9

DISNEY SMOKING FOOTAGE Jerry Beck posted on 3/19/09 a great short from YouTube of Disney characters smoking. Some people now consider these images to be politically incorrect, so he assumes they may be banned someday. Visit

DISNEY SEES BRIGHT FUTURE (MONEY) IN GAME BIZ Their Black Rock Studio, in Brighton, England is creating a car racing game called "Split/Second" for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PCs. It is set within the world of a reality television show and a 2010 release is planned. In 2008 they released the off-road game "Pure."

They are developing games in-house believing that by creating popular game characters and game stories they can also create movies based on them. "That is the Holy Grail for video games, to see them successfully become franchises," says Graham Hopper, head of Disney's game division. The company invested about $170 million in overall game development in 2008 and plans to increase that by $40 million to $50 million this year.

3-D OR NOT 3-D, THAT IS THE QUESTION by KC While I'm delighted with the current state of the technology, I recently discovered negative reactions to it on

On Feb. 26 Amid Amidi, co-author of the website, wrote about his getting eyestrain and a migraine headache while watching Coraline in 3-D. He got a second pair of glasses to see if the first pair was defective. The problem continued. After reading the responses to his statement it seems that while most of the 67 people who responded did not have any problems viewing the film, a small number had similar complaints. Was it a flaw in the system that only affects certain people or was it improper projection?

After reading the comments it wasn't perfectly clear what caused Amid's discomfort, but one clue is from a person who wrote, "I had the same problems as Amid (minus the headache). In fact, everyone I went with did - as did a coworker who'd seen the film on another day." I think it is realistic to assume the problem was with the projection system in that situation.

Fingerprints on the 3-D glasses can cause problems. Perhaps it is also possible some people do have neurological or vision problems that cause discomfort and fuzzy images, but I assume that after years of developing and testing 3-D technology there would be some literature on this and possible warnings posted in theaters.

When I attended a Beowulf preview the projectionist did not know how to set the digital projection system to the 3-D mode so I sat in the hall for about an hour and suffered. Finally a group of us moved into the lobby and some 10 or 15 minutes later we were told the problem was corrected. Considering some theater chains hire non-union young people to run shows, I wasn't surprised that the theater didn't have anybody knowledgeable around to adjust the equipment properly. Some multiplexes just turn the projector off and give people refunds if the system breaks down.

If anybody has experienced blurred 3-D images and/or dizziness and cares to comment on the cause of problem please contact

A second issue about 3-D

Amid also pointed out that in 2007 Pixar's director Pete Docter told him, "We have looked at 3-D in the past and have come to the conclusion that there is little to no way in which 3-D can indeed enhance the quality of our storytelling or enhance the character interaction in a meaningful way." So why have Pixar and Disney and other studios announced all or most of their future animated films will be in 3-D? Amid asks, "Is it purely a response to market pressure and keeping up with Katzenberg, or have filmmakers found legitimate ways of using the technology to enhance storytelling?"

Jerry Beck, Amid Amidi's website partner, is even more outspoken when he writes, "I believe the current interest by studios to go 3-D is a smokescreen - the ulterior motive is to get theaters to change over to digital projection, which will save the studios millions in shipping, laboratory and print costs. Releasing films in 3-D gives the theaters a compelling reason to make the switch." Another person wrote to their blog that the 3-D picture is fuzzy when viewed without glasses so people who make bootleg copies of films using cell phones or other types of cameras can not make a usable bootleg print.

I don't disagree with Amid or Jerry at all since I know of corporate types who will develop and follow trends to make and save a buck. But I also know people who truly love 3-D and admire its potential. One of the latter is Henry Selick. When I asked him about why he chose to make Coraline in 3-D he noted that his interest in wanting to do a 3-D film dates back almost 20 years (or longer). He investigated doing Nightmare Before Christmas in 3-D, but that wasn't practical then.

I think we are probably entering a golden age of 3-D features, but only a few users of the technology will go beyond using it as a gimmick and realize its full potential as an artistic and/or storytelling medium. Henry has shown us he has mastered it.


15TH ANNUAL BRAINWASH MOVIE FESTIVAL This juried show held in Oakland has an "Early Bird" deadline of April 15 ($20 for Shorts. Also May 1 ($25) and a late deadline of May 10 ($35). Prizes include items from Jungle Software. For details

SHORT FILM FESTIVAL IN BILBAO, SPAIN, deadline is Sept. 1, cash prizes,

FANTOCHE 09 Entry deadline for the International Competition is May 31. This is a major animation festival in Switzerland.

KLIK-AMSTERDAM ANIMATION FESTIVAL Deadline for 3rd event is June 15. Signe tells us, "The idea of the festival to show animation for a broad audience and to make it fun again. The festival should also be a party for everyone."

The Anilogue Festival in Budapest and Vienna, Nov. 27 - Dec. 3
by Nancy Denney-Phelps

I barely had time to unpack my warm weather wardrobe that I took to China and replace it with heavy winter clothes for my trip to Budapest for the Anilogue Animation Festival. Festival Director Tamas Liszka and Programmer Kreet Paljas hosted a very ambitious undertaking with 4 days of screenings in Budapest followed by 3 screening days in Vienna. All programs were screened in both cities with films screened in the original language, with Hungarian translations in Budapest and English in Vienna.

- a great photo of Nancy goes here -

Nancy Denney-Phelps wishes you a happy St. Stupid's Day

The three competition screenings were an excellent cross section of styles, mediums, and content. There were several of my favorite films that I had seen many times this year, such as Alexei Alexeev's hilarious KJFG 5 and Glow by British animator Jo Lawrence. Glow always sends a chill up my spine. The film is based on the story of Grace Fryer, one of the "Radium Girls" who worked at the Radium Dial Company in New Jersey, during the 1920's painting clock dials with radioactive radium.

There were some delightful new surprises. I am constantly amused and delighted by Estonian animation. Lovesick by Spela Cadiz tells of a couple truly made for each other. Dialogues by Ulo Pikkov is an absurdly humorous film drawn directly on film. It is a burst of color combined with absurd figures.

I was extremely pleased to see a new film by Swedish animator Jonas Odell. His previous work Never Like the First Time told 4 different stories of first sexual encounters and his new film Lies, which looks at 3 liars - a burglar, a boy, and a woman, is based on documentary interviews.

The opening night screening was held in the magnificent Urania National Film Palace, a sumptuous Moorish hall. It makes you feel that you are at a very special first night event, and indeed it was.

The opening night feature was the real highlight of the festival, Pony On the Cliff by the Sea, Hayao Miyazaki's new film. It is a delightful flight of fancy about Ponyo, a young goldfish girl and Sosuke, a 5-year old boy who befriends her. The little gold fish girl, daughter of the Queen of the Ocean and a human father, longs to be a human girl. It is a charming tale of desire and longing. The strong family theme is a new route for Miyazaki. We are never told why her father lives under the sea, but his struggle to force her to return to the ocean where she belongs is the focus of the picture.

The film opens with an ecological message as we see the bottom of the ocean where a gigantic net is trapping its catch along with a vast array of trash that humans have discarded into the sea. Ponyo barely escapes capture, but her head is wedged inside a glass jar. She is washed up on the beach where young Sosuke finds her.

More than in any of his previous films, Miyazaki uses humor and the theme of the strong bond of family love to portray not only the friendship between the two young people, but also the relationships between Ponya and her parents.

The great master of Japanese anime created lush visual effects with special attention to the depiction of the sea. Japanese maestro Joe Hisaish, who has scored 8 other Miyazaki features, has composed a beautiful musical score that matches its visual flights of fancy. He has created a rich and varied music woven thoughout the film in numerous variations on his main themes ending with a piano solo of Ponyo's theme performed by Hisaish. He also utilizes full orchestrations, solo violin, and a haunting soprano solo for the Mother of the Sea theme. Ponya's Lullaby emphasizes the childish innocence of the film.

As the end credits roll the film's theme song is sung again. When the film was released in Japan the song became a great hit, rising to number 3 on the charts. There seems to be no neutral opinions about it. I have heard it called everything from one of the most annoying sounds ever heard to naively charming. Decide for yourself, but I was not charmed, nor did I come out of the theatre humming that tune. The movie, made up of 170,000 hand-animated images, is slated to open in theatres in the United States later this year.

Following the screening a reception was held in the lovely theatre bar, which was used throughout the festival as a place to gather between films for a drink and conversation. Screenings were also held at the nearby Toldi Art Cinema, an excellent screening location with a casual and comfortable bar. It was the setting for another festival party.

Nina Paley's award winning Sita Sings the Blues received a warm reception. Nik introduced the 4 screenings, 2 in each city. He also conducted a Q & A following each screening.

Along with the 32 films in competition and the feature films screened, there were many special presentations. I had been anxiously awaiting the new film by my friends Priit Parn and his lovely wife Olga Marchenko, so Life Without Gabriella Ferri was on my must see list. The dramatic story is about love, locked doors, a faceless thief, a wounded stork, a lost laptop, the O'Key Sisters (2 virtual prostitutes) and Gabriella Ferri who is never seen in the film. All of this is packed into 35 minutes full of entertaining animation that definitely did not disappoint me.

The World Panorama program was packed full of films that have garnered honors at major festivals around the world, ranging from Kunio Kato's The House Of Small Cubes which won the 2008 Annecy Crystal and most recently the Academy Award, to French animator Jeremy Clapin's very funny Skhizein, winner of the Annecy 2008 Audience Award. We had all seen the Sony Bravia Play Doh commercial on TV with hundreds of colorful bunnies running all over Manhattan, but it was delightful to see it on a big screen in the Panorama program.

I thoroughly enjoyed the program of award winning Hungarian animated short films, and the prestigious French animation school La Poudriere was showcased with a selection of their most acclaimed films. The Red Bull Animated Night, an all-night marathon, screened in both cities. It had something for everyone, with over 40 films from the 4 corners of the globe.

Michaela Pavlatova and I were friends when she lived in San Francisco before returning to Prague, her native city, but I had not seen the Academy Award nominated Czech animator in several years. I was delighted to find out that she was a member of the jury and thoroughly enjoyed the retrospective of her films that she introduced. It was followed by a Q & A session.

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Nik Phelps in Budapest -- photo by Nador Grosck

Nik and I presented a screening and talk on the history of music driven animation. Nik also conducted a 5-day workshop on composing music for animation. One of his students brought a film that he had made so that Nik and the group could work on composing and recording music for it. The work area upstairs in the Urania National Film Palace Building was perfect for the workshop. The festival also provided Nik with a very nice and very competent tech person to help him set up equipment.

Budapest and Vienna are beautiful cities. Screenings did not begin until late in the day, so while Nik held his workshops all day, I spent my free time taking long walks that included a stroll along the Danube.

Not only was Anilogue an impressive animation festival for me it will always hold a special place in my heart for its warm hospitality, fabulous meals, and a very special outing that Michaela and I were treated to by the festival staff. Budapest is the home of several fabled hot spring baths and the Szecheny Spa is one of largest spa complexes in Europe. Built in 1913, this luxurious water palace features indoor and outdoor pools of various temperatures, as well as steam rooms and saunas. The large circular outdoor hot pool features three concentric rings, the large outer one for soaking and paddling in, a small center soaking ring, and a wonderful whirling corridor where currents of hot water propelled us round and round a circular route. Michaela ! and I felt like two young girls as we sped around giggling and gossiping. It was cold and rainy, but I felt completely relaxed sitting in the outdoor pool with clouds of steam rising from the water. The amazing therapeutic effects of the water stayed with me for days.

All too soon it was time to leave Budapest and board a bus for a 240 kilometer ride to Vienna, another breathtakingly beautiful city. The Vienna leg of the festival screened a repeat of the Budapest programs at three theatres with the exception of Ponyo On the Cliff by the Sea, which was not shown. Several of Nik's composition students traveled to Vienna with us where the workshop continued. Unfortunately, the back bar area of the Schikaneder theatre was not very conducive to work. Since it was not only a bar but also the festival headquarters people were constantly coming and going, which made it difficult for Nik's group to stay focused.

The center of Vienna was alight with Christmas decorations. Each block or two had row after row of colored lights in different complex designs strung down the center of the streets and store windows were gaily decorated. While Nik continued his workshop, I took advantage of the free days to explore the city.

Quite close to our hotel was one of the most wonderful open-air markets that I have ever seen. From early morning until well after dark, it has everything that you could ever want with row after row of fresh spices, beautiful fruits and vegetables, and a number of stalls with magnificent displays of fresh fish. The sights and smells overwhelmed the senses and the market cafes were the perfect place to have a glass of wine and people watch.

The festival staff continued to treat us to exceptional hospitality. One evening they took a group of us to one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I have never had calamari prepared in such a delicate manner as I had at Beograd, a local Serbian restaurant. Of course there were copious amounts of wine to accompany the meal.

It was a great pleasure to spend time with my fellow ASIFA International Board Member, Thomas Renoldner, who lives in Vienna. Thomas arranged a reception for us sponsored by ASIFA Austria at the chapter's exhibition space, ASIFA KEIL in the central museum corridor, Museumsplatz. It was a lovely chance to meet chapter members in a relaxed atmosphere.

As an added treat Nik played music with percussionist Don Reitz. Don, who works in the exhibition department of the Kunst Museum of Modern Art, invited us along with our friend Thomas to tour the museum that featured a retrospective of Austrian artist Peter Kogler. His most impressive piece of work is a large 3-dimensional installation created for the Kunst exhibition. It comes to life through computer animation and video projections that keep the entire room in vertical motion. The sound installation interacted with the projected images to create a mesmerizing effect of moving walls. After dark, Kogler's trademark, larger than life projected white rats, moved across the outer facade of the museum building in labyrinthine paths.

The closing night award ceremony was held at the Film Casino. This year's Anilogue jury was composed of Adam Wysiwyz of Poland, Hungary's foremost sand animator Ferenc Cako and Michaela Pavlatova. They awarded the Grand Prix to Muto, an ambitious, surrealistic animation painted on walls in Buenos Aires and Baden, created by Italian artist/filmmaker Blu. (You can see it on YouTube and other web sites.)

Each juror also awarded a Special Award to the film of his choice. Ferenc Cako selected French filmmakers Nicolas Pawlowski and Alexis Ducord's Cracks, the tale of a man who has one passion in life, a potted plant. Michaela chose Alexei Alexeev's very clever KJFG No. 5, and Adam Wyrwas gave his award to Weiss by Florian Grolig from Germany. Grolig describes his black and white animation as, "In the middle of white is monotone balance, jolly blasé marking time. One definition of space is the absence of embarrassing contact. Yet gridlock is definitely death." I'm not sure that I get anything like that from the film, but I did find it visually intriguing.

Audience members in both cities voted for the Audience Award. The combined tally voted Lovesick by German animator Spela Cadez the winner for her tale of a couple who are the perfect example of the old adage that there is someone perfectly suited for everyone.

Following the announcement of winners, the 5 nominees for the Cartoon d'Or were screened. Sponsored by Cartoon, the European Association of Animated Films, it is the only European prize specifically for the animation industry. The nominees for this prestigious prize are the winners of the top nine Animation Festivals in Europe. The evening ended with a closing party in the theatre lobby.

Kreet and Tamas, the festival directors, far exceeded the bounds of hospitality, treating us to many lovely meals and an almost endless supply of beer and wine. The enthusiastic volunteers were always cheerful and very helpful.

Anilogue was founded in 2003, and the 4-day Budapest leg of the festival ran seamlessly, at least from the viewpoint of a guest. Although the festival has a 6-year track record, this was its debut in Vienna, and invariably every new festival is a challenge to launch. Given the massive task of moving staff, guests, all films and equipment in one morning with the first Vienna screening starting at 4:00 PM, it's a miracle that there weren't serious problems. When I asked festival director Tamas Liszka why he had decided to take on such a Herculean task, he replied without a moment's hesitation "I love a challenge" and he definitely got it. This was a learning year, and I know next year will be much easier for the! entire staff.

The festival generously arranged for Nik and I to stay 2 more days in Vienna after they returned home. For our one free day we walked out to the beautiful Belvedere Museum that was built in 1722 for state occasions and to display works of art. It is home to an outstanding collection of works by Austrian painter Gustav Klimt as well as art treasures from Medieval and Baroque periods down to 21st Century works. We spent 4 glorious hours strolling from room to room soaking it all in.

After a walk around the beautiful formal gardens we went to the Lower Belvedere that was built as Prince Eugene's magnificent private living quarters. The Baroque building completed in 1716, with the Hall of Grotesque, Marble Gallery and Golden Room, were enough to take my breath away, but the special exhibit was what I really came to see. Gustav Klimt and the KunstschauI overwhelmed my senses with beauty and creativity. The exhibit commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Kunstochan project, which had a pioneering influence on the development of Viennese modernism. Several of the original 54 rooms from the exhibit had been reconstructed in minute detail even down to the original wallpaper designs. The exhibit made it easy to see ! why Klimt and his colleagues have had such a lasting influence on the world of art and design.

The next day we were invited to give a workshop at the University (akademie der bildenden kunst [Academy of Fine Art] and institut fur bildende kunst [Institute for Visual Arts]), where our friend Thomas Renoldner teaches. Nik and I screened animation and talked with his students and guests about a wide range of subjects from copyright laws to the most effective way for an animator to work with a composer. We received a very enthusiastic reception and 2 students stayed to talk with us about their work long after the formal presentation was over. Thomas also gave us a tour of the school's workspaces and gallery so that we could see firsthand the high quality of the work that the students are producing.

As the sun set, Thomas, Nik and I shopped in the open air market a few blocks from the university. Ladened with a great variety of fresh fish and vegetables, Thomas drove us to his house where his wife and two daughters gave us a lovely, warm welcome. It was a pleasure to scrub mussels and chop vegetables with them as we talked and laughed. After many days of restaurant food it was a treat to have a home cooked meal. Thomas is a superb chef and the meal was beyond our wildest expectations, only equaled by the good conversation. The time flew by and all too soon the wonderful evening was over.

Very early the next morning we were on the train back to Budapest, where our old friend Susanna Szabo met us. We became good friends several years ago at KROK and she has repeatedly asked us to visit her in Budapest. After an evening of walking around the city under her excellent guidance we ended up for dinner at a charming restaurant with the unassuming name of M. The only thing more charming than the food was the décor. Every inch of the walls and ceiling were covered in brown wrapping paper with black line drawings of home furnishings. Piles of books, lamps, a parrot in a cage, a phone on a stand and flowers in a vase, all of the little homey touches, were there down to a drawing of a ceiling fan with a real cord hanging from it, ready to! cool you on a hot summer evening. Kreet and Tamas joined us later for drinks and a final farewell.

The next day Susanna had a special treat in store for us. In marked contrast to the luxurious water palace I had visited the week before she took us to the 400 year old Kiraly Thermal Bath, one of the best remaining examples of a Turkish Bath House, with domed cupolas topped by the Turkish crescent moon. A good long hot soak in these beautiful surroundings got us ready for our next adventure.

Susanna had asked us to give a presentation at the Arts Secondary School where she teaches in Bodajk. We stayed in Mor, where the school has a guesthouse for visiting faculty. It is a totally charming village with a winery and art center. Nik and I were immediately reminded of Napa Valley before it became so chic and overdeveloped for tourists. We fear that Mor will soon suffer the same fate since it is only an hour from Budapest and is thoroughly charming.

After an evening of good conversation and wine in front of a wood-burning stove with Susanna we woke in time to take the bus a few kilometers down the road to Bodajk where the Art Secondary School is located. Nik and I screened a program of animation to a packed auditorium of students and faculty with Susanna acting as our translator. For a group of students in a small rural town whose knowledge of animation is limited to Cartoon Network, they proved to be an avid audience and asked a myriad of good questions.

Nik spent the afternoon with Susanna's animation class screening more films and talking about how to select music for their works. We ended our visit by viewing the students' sketchbooks and storyboards. Nik and I always enjoy visiting animation classes and this was an especially rewarding experience. Many of the students told us that they had never met anyone from outside of Hungary; much less an American, and they had many questions to ask us about our life, which seemed so foreign to them.

That night we took the bus back to Budapest to be ready to catch an early morning train back home to Gent. The ride through Austria and Germany was beautiful. We arrived back home late that night with a head full of beautiful memories of a fantastic two weeks.


At The Exploratorium's McBean Theatre

Public invited, free, arrive up to an hour early to see the exhibits. Please check in at the ASIFA-SF table in the lobby for free admission to the museum (no charge to our guests either). The museum will be open for After Dark, another special event. Beer and wine will be for sale.


2008 Opening Film, Celia Bullwinkel

The award winning student films:

Doxology, Michael Langan

The Scritch-Scratch of Busy Little Hands, Joy and Noelle Vaccese

The Ballad of Thaddeus Lowe, Kelly Jones

Shark: The Musical, Stephen Neary

Hedgehug, Dan Pinto

The award winning commercials

Esurance: "Homeowners," Wildbrain Animation Studios, Phil Robinson

Pick It Up, Willy Hartland

Idaho Lottery: "Twister," Acme Filmworks, Chris Hinton

Powershares: "Escape Average," Acme Filmworks, Dave Wasson

Bonnaroo Trailer, Bill Plympton

Bronx Zoo: Ad Campaign, Dancing Diablo

The award winning sponsored films

Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Mo Willems, Weston Woods

Virgin America Safety Video, Wildbrain Animation Studios, Gordon Clarke

I Can Add, Dave Cowles and Adam Sacks

The Upstate Four, Fran and Will Krause

Maraka, Wachtenheim/Marianetti Animation

The Seven Days of the Week, Dave Cowles and Sean McBride

Adventure Time, Nickelodeon

The award winning independent films

Compost, Visual Voice

Sensorium, Karen Aqua and Ken Field

A Letter to Colleen, London Squared Productions

Last Time at Clerkenwell, Figli Migli Productions

Veternarian, Signe Baumane

Teat Beat for Sex, Signe Baumane

Germans in the Woods, Rauch Brothers Animation and Story Corps

Hot Dog, Bill Plympton

Fantasia in Bubblewrap, Metcaff Loves You

a list of the awards presented in NY is at


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors: Nancy Denney-Phelps and other friends of ASIFA-SF.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Tara Beyhm, Shirley Smith, Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe the Calif. Kid Sikoryak, assisted by Ricci

Special thanks to our exceptional panel for a really informative Careers in Animation event: Carlos Baena from Pixar (, Josh Book from Wildbrain, Jim Conrads from PDI/DreamWorks, Dawn Haagstat from Pixar and Eric Pavey of Electronic Arts (! Thanks also to SF State's animation program for co-hosting the event. Also thanks to our vice-president/secretary Tara Beyhm, to our treasurer Karen Lithgow, to The G Man for sending out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Patricia Satjawatcharapjong who posts excerpts from our newsletter on the International ASIFA website

ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film dAnimation with almost 40 chapters around the world.

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