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

FIRST REVIEWS FOR PIXAR’S “UP” ARE BONAFIED RAVES This is the start of a glowing review in Screen Daily: “Pete Docter’s Up is a marvel of a movie which will enchant cinema goers around the world and remain a family favorite for decades to come. A highpoint of ingenuity and storytelling in the Pixar canon and indeed the animated form, this is a fitting opening to this year’s Cannes Film Festival; indeed it will be hard for any other film there to match the storytelling genius and gorgeous 3-D imagery which Docter and his team have achieved.”

A teaser for the Hollywood Reporter’s reviewer said, “Winsome, touching and arguably the funniest Pixar effort ever, the gorgeously rendered, high-flying adventure Up is a tidy 90-minute distillation of all the signature touches that came before it.”

The Balboa’s Gary Meyer was in Cannes and says, “Up premiered and totally captivated the 3,000 people in the Palais. They were entranced, charmed and in love with what may be the best film yet from the Emeryville based company.”

THE SECRET CAN NOW BE TOLD. MICHAEL LANGAN HAS DIRECTED AN INTERNATIONAL VOLKSWAGEN COMMERCIAL IN BARCELONA, SPAIN! Most people only get to dream about events like this happening to them. Michael Langan has directed a stop-motion car commercial that is airing in Europe. Some months ago Michael told me he had a surprise phone call from a production company in Barcelona who saw his short Doxology at a festival. They showed it to an ad agency and the agency showed it to one of their clients, Skoda, a subsidiary of Volkswagen. They decided to adapt the car tango sequence from Doxology into a commercial with their new top-of-the-line model, the Superb. In late February he thought the likelihood of the project happening was pretty slim, but a few days later he got a call saying that project was approved, be on a plane to Barcelona Wednesday.

A couple weeks later he wrote from Spain, “Wrapped the shoot today... an extremely intense experience. I was on autopilot the whole time, having a blast directing a crew of 25... I've always feared working with a crew, but it just makes things easier when you have a team by your side. I think this spot is going to be really good!” He didn’t get to see much of Barcelona, nor did he get much sleep, but it was a truly amazing experience.

The ad began to run on TV in Europe in April, and is now on (search “Skoda Superbo tango”) and at (up June 8 or sooner)

George Bush on banjo plus dancers

THE SOUTH BEACH ANIMATION FESTIVAL GAVE THEIR FEATURE LENGTH AWARD TO “BYE-BYE BIN LADEN,” THE FIRST ANIMATED FEATURE TO BE PRODUCED BY UNIVERSITY STUDENTS. IT WAS PRODUCED LOCALLY! It was produced, directed and written by Scott Sublett from San Jose State. Based on his cult musical comedy that had solid runs in San Jose and San Francisco in 2004, Scott has now turned it into a 70 minute animated film. Scott calls it South Park meets The Daily Show. It’s a comedy with serious things to say about the war, media, women’s rights, and religious extremism. I’m told it makes a virtue out of bad taste, it is quite fun ny and the songs are great. Scott teaches in the Radio/Television/Video/Film department, and animation and illustration students did all of the art and animation. The world premiere was at Miami Beach’s South Beach International Film Festival March 28.

DAVID CHAI’S “LIFE ON A LIMB” IS WINNING FESTIVAL PRIZES AND PRAISE David’s extremely funny Life on a Limb was awarded 1st Prize in the Independent Films Category at the 40th ASIFA-East Animation Festival in New York on Sunday, May 3. It won 3rd Place in the Animation Category at the 2009 Be Film Underground Film Festival the day before in New York. It has also won the Audience Choice Award at the Thirteenth Annual Arizona State University Art Museum Short Film and Video Festival in April.

David teaches at San Jose State, a school with a dynamic animation program. He just wrote me, “A team of students and I are at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival this weekend, having a great time!” For spring break this year a group from their animation program spent a week in London!

FIRST CANNES AND NOW THE 66th VENICE FILM FESTIVAL TO HONOR PIXAR Venice (Sept. 2-12) will hold the world premieres of the 3-D versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, plus they are presenting lifetime achievement awards to John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Lee Unkrich and Andrew Stanton. This is the first time the festival has honored a group of directors for their shared vision rather than an outstanding individual in the filmmaking community. John Lasseter also received an honorary doctorate degree from Pepperdine University on Saturday, May 2.

ASIFA-SF NOW HAS A FACEBOOK PAGE Tara Beyhm, our cool Vice-President, is the administrator. Join the fun. Tara says, “Just follow ASIFA-SF on Facebook."


CHARLIE CANFIELD WINS HIS SECOND EMMY The award is for the animation in the documentary A Span in Time. He provided humorous relief to a serious look at the numerous problems and rising costs surrounding the construction of the new eastern span of the Bay Bridge. The footage got lots of laughs and applause when Charlie showed it at our May ASIFA-SF event.

PIXAR TO OPEN STUDIO IN VANCOUVER TO MAKE THEATRICAL SHORTS Pixar will build a 20,000-square-foot facility in Vancouver to produce shorts for DVDs, theme parks, television and theatrical exhibition. Jim Morris, Pixar’s general manager, says the focus will be on Pixar's established characters, including Buzz, Woody, Lightning McQueen and Mater. They want to keep their characters alive in the public’s minds between sequels.

Disney is scouting locations in the city, concentrating on the downtown area. It hopes to have the new studio up and running by this fall. The studio will hire 75 to 100 people, most of them Canadians, to produce the shorts. Pixar will continue to make their 3-D features in Emeryville where they employ almost 900 people. Amir Nasrabadi will run the Vancouver facility.

Why Vancouver instead of expanding in the Bay Area? “Tax incentives, a local talent base and proximity to Pixar contributed to the decision (same time zone). Pixar will receive incentives offered for animation production and research and development.”

What is in production in Emmeryville? Coming up after Up are 3-D releases of Toy Story and Toy Story 2 on October 2. The studio is working on several other 3-D features including Toy Story 3, Cars 2, The Bear and the Bow (directed by Brenda Chapman) and Newt. The studio is also developing a series of shorts based on the Mater character from Cars and theme park projects. And for computer animators, the good news is the company has just released version 2.0 of RenderMan Studio and version 3.0 of RenderMan for Maya.

PIXAR CREATED A TV AD FOR AFLAC, AN INSURANCE COMPANY The ad features Up characters and the Aflac Duck. It shows how Aflac policies help protect you when injury or illness threatens to derail your dreams. Aflac had a car racing in the Southern 500 NASCAR race at Darlington Raceway. The race and ad were aired nationally on Fox May 9.

FEATURE BEING MADE IN THE BAY AREA IS GETTING A PROMOTIONAL 40-CITY WHISTLE-STOP TRAIN TOUR. VISITS OUR AREA JUNE 19 – 28 A Christmas Carol being made by Image Movers Digital in Novato for Disney opens in November, but the promotion for the film began in LA on May 22 with the opening of the train tour. There are lots of exhibits in the 4 train cars open to the public along with a portable theater where footage of the film will be shown in Disney Digital 3-D.

The train will be in Sacramento June 19 – 21 and in Redwood City June 26 – 28 at 675 Seaport Blvd. Then it goes to Portland, Seattle, etc. Ends in NYC Oct. 30 – Nov. 1.

LITTLE FLUFFY CLOUDS This local firm consistently turns out excellent sophisticated animation for clients that elevates the medium into the sphere of fine arts. Their latest projects to be released are "Make me a Millionaire," a California Lottery spot for BBDO West, and "Out of This World," an amazing, totally original looking spot for the Mercedes-Benz SLR300. This car is like no other in terms of it being sleek and sensual. The car claims to be the world’s fastest production car - top speed is 207 MPH. The abstract visuals of the ad rise to the occasion of making the car seem unique! The 30-second spot was conceived and created by Little Fluffy Clouds, created in Maya, composited in After Effects and rendered with Mental Ray. Congratulations LFC for creating a stunning work of art. (For geeks, Jerry van de Beek also used Real Viz, Trap Code and Sapphire plug-ins to animate it and it was modeled from photos. They were not given factory specifications or a cad cam version.)

LFC has also signed an agreement with Hoytyboy Pictures, a live action commercial studio, to consolidate sales representation. This will give LFC founders, Jerry van de Beek and Betsy De Fries, expanded sales representation in the US. Past clients include Lexus, Coca-Cola and IBM. Prior to forming LFC in 1996 the team worked for the late Colossal Pictures where Jerry was an animation director and Betsy a senior producer of new media and interactivity.

HAVE TROUBLE SLEEPING AT NIGHT? THEN DON’T WATCH THE LATEST EPISODE OF “HAPPY TREE FRIENDS” Ken Pontac was one of the writers on the “Wrath of Con,” another sweet, lovely short in which nothing is spared.

ACADEMY OF ART STUDENT IS A STUDENT ACADEMY AWARD FINALIST The awards ceremony will be held on June 13. The awards in each category include cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000. The nine nominated films are Cadillac '59, Hamilton Lewis, Ringling College of Art and Design; Divers, Paris Mavroidis, Pratt Institute, New York; Entering The Mind Through the Mouth, Jin Sung Choi, Academy of Art University; I Live in the Woods, Max Winston, Cal Arts; Kites, Jed Henry, Brigham Young University; Lilium Urbanus, Joji Tsuruga and Anca Risca, School of Visual Arts; Pajama Gladiator, Glenn Harmon, Brigham Young University; Scrimshander, George Smaragdis, Pratt Institute and Sebastian’s Voodoo, Joaquin Baldwin, UCLA.

GOLDEN GATE AWARD IN ANIMATION WENT TO “KANIZSA HILL” BY EVELYN LEE The film was her thesis project at CAL Arts. She received a $2,000 cash prize. The film opens with a male patient in a hospital bed discovering his head is missing. Evelyn was present at the festival and discussed the significance of her film; that the mind, capable of reasoning/thought, is separate from the rest of the body.

WILDBRAIN CLOSING STUDIO IN SAN FRANCISCO, MOVING PRODUCTION TO LA by Karl Cohen On May Day the administrators of Wildbrain had a surprise for their workers. One animator told me, “They laid off the entire creative staff. There are still a couple of straggling projects going on so a few people will continue work until those jobs are finished.” The present administrators are moving to LA to a space that is already up and running, but most of the talented staff that made Wildbrain famous is not planning to join the migration. While they might have moved to a smaller space locally, the company's local founders have been replaced over the years with seasoned L.A. and N.Y. executives.

One reason for the move is that the nature of the company’s business has changed over the years. They moved into their large multi-storied building on Alabama when they needed a larger space. They had a signed contract with the Weinsteins for a feature and had enough money in the bank to produce it. Script and other problems arose and the project eventually died. One problem “was caused by the Weinsteins leaving Miramax. We wanted BV distribution.” Loss of that project resulted in their having a lot of unused space, the root of the current problem. It became overhead they can ill afford in the present recession. Ferngully 2, the one feature they did produce, was outsourced to Asia.

Another contributing factor to the present situation is the continued lack of support of our local animation studios by locally run ad agencies. Most refuse, or make scant use of, the local talent. The record shows they prefer to take their business to LA and NY. Their shameful lack of support to home teams has put the entire Bay Area post and production community in jeopardy.

This closing will leave an enormous void in SF. Wildbrain was known for its creative and innovative work. They produced award winning TV commercials, highly rated children’s TV shows, impressive network graphics and, before the dot com crash, they were representing outstanding directors on the Internet while other studios were generally catering to the lowest common denominator. When we held annual open screenings for commercial studios, the Wildbrain show reel was always a highlight of the evening. When I visited their studio I always felt the place was alive with creativity based on the varied projects being worked on and the great work on the walls. The place was fresh and youthful. There are many companies that don’t convey that feeling to visitors.

I see the loss of Wildbrain and The Orphanage earlier this year and Pixar opening a shop in Vancouver as tragic blows to our local animation community. The companies that closed were mid-sized studios providing lots of employment opportunities. I wish the company well in LA, but I know that without the creative spirit and talent that created and sustained it, Wildbrain will not be the same once the move is complete.

OUR ANNUAL OPEN SCREENING FOR INDEPENDENT ANIMATORS AND STUDENTS WAS FULL OF SURPRISES, APPLAUSE AND LAUGHTER From audience responses and talking with people after the show there were at least five films that everybody expects to do well in international competitions. They are David Chai’s Life on a Limb which clocked the loudest and most laughs per minute, Chris Perry’s The Incident at Tower 37, an extremely well-made dramatic tale about limited natural resources (scheduled to be shown at SIGGRAPH 2009); Michael Langan’s Tango, a dance starring a full-sized luxury car as the dance partner for a fabulous looking woman in a red full-length dress; Signe Baumane’s Birth, a serious film that includes several outrageous falsehoods that are told by adults who can’t be honest when confronted by a teen who has discovered she is pregnant, and Nick Fox-Gieg, The Orange, a beautifully told story by Benjamin Rosenbaum about a humble citrus fruit that is granted absolute power over the universe.

Gene Hamm‘s extremely short Chinese Medicine and Puncture Perfect got solid laughs from the audience, as did four films by Don Albrecht. A woman who has seen many of Don’s films over the years thought his Quasimoto, a tale about Notre Dame in Paris wanting a new hunchback bell ringer to attract tourists to the cathedral, was his best film to date. Note: Excerpts of Gene’s feature The Hat are being shown this month for free at (You can also buy it on DVD for $9.95 or stream it on your computer for 30 days for $4.95.) Segments can also be seen on YouTube, my Facebook page, and on

Jeanette Atwood’s Tea for Two, was an extremely impressive fast paced chase, fully animated like a classic Hollywood cartoon. Charlie Canfield’s showed his Emmy winning footage for A Span in Time. It provides humorous relief to the TV documentary and, even though he showed short fragments from it, the audience found them humorous. Another really humorous work was John Tupper’s On the Rise about a sheepherder that tries out a new way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It is a well-told, funny story.

As for serious, dramatic animation, Nik Phelps provided music for Andy Kaiser’s Friendly Fire, a puppet film from Germany that was probably inspired by Tutli Putli. The animation and score are exceptional, but it was hard for me to empathize with the film’s characters. The story is about a British WWI pilot who is shot down behind enemy lines.

A simpler dramatic work made with Flash is quite successful in making its point. Gene Hamm’s The Truth About Cut Flowers? uses simple gestures and images to explain why buying cut flowers from in S. America hurts the environment.

There were several works-in-progress shown that I hope will be exciting films when completed. June Kim from the Academy of Art showed a pencil test for Alice in the Kitchen. Alice is a young chief on TV whose cooking demonstration is interrupted by a nice looking frog. The audience really loved it judging by the laughter and applause.

Another promising work is Charlie Corriea’s FU-DE. He showed a trailer made at SF State that showed off his drawing ability and imagination.

From the Univ. of Southern California we saw three impressive films by MFA students: Steven Day’s IAMBR, a high-tech animated dance film, Geer DuBois’ Stranger’s Poem, and Tim Garbutt’s Mirounga, a dramatic scratch film of two elephant seals fighting. The two+ hour program also included Neil Baker’s The Cleaners, Stephanie Brock’s Tiger the Cat, Brian Cohen’s Capes, Gary Gibson and Kevin Sparks’ If I Closed My Eye, a serious poetry film; Mike Dacko’s Lightheaded, Michael Bunker’s Fishes in Love and In the Can (two pencil tests), plus four nicely designed music sync projects by teams of students from SF State.

Our British guest at the open screening was Matthew Walker who created John and Karen about a polar bear asking forgiveness from his penguin friend, and Astronauts, an award winning student film. He had been in NYC to attend the BeFilm and ASIFA-East festivals.

“VARIETY” HEADLINE: “IFFLA JURY SINGS ‘SITA’S’ PRAISES, NINA PALEY’S FILM TAKES TOP PRIZE AT INDIAN FEST” The 2009 Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles has given Sita Sings the Blues the Jury Prize for best narrative feature. Before she released the film she thought the Indian community might not relate to her amazing work, as it isn’t the traditional telling of the story.

I sent Nina the Variety news story and she wrote back, “Crazy weekend! While that was happening, I was in my hometown Urbana, IL, at ‘Ebertfest,’ Roger Ebert's film festival. I received a ‘Golden Thumb,’ a metal cast of Roger's actual ‘thumb's up’ thumb covered with shiny gold. Then I heard about this. It's all hard to believe.”

Nina’s Sita was also rated as the best-reviewed film out of all the current releases by SF Gate’s ”Critical Consensus” column. It beat out everything out there including Coraline and Monsters vs. Aliens plus every live-action feature on the list! Finally the Red Vic was quite pleased with the turnout for the five nights they showed it. It will be back.

OUR ANNUAL BUSINESS MEETING Before the May open screening Karen Lithgow presented the annual treasurers report and Karl Cohen was reelected the chapter’s president. In 2008 we spent $5,055 and received $4,819 in membership dues (not counting money that is sent to the international association) plus $1,948 from the Richard Williams benefit for ASIFA-SF at the Balboa Theater. That brought our bank balance up to $4,938 on Jan. 30, 2009 (end of the fiscal year – it began Feb. 1, 2008 at $3,226).


Sat. June 13 at 9:30 pm and Mon. June 15 at 5 pm, “X-MESS DETRITUS” with “RUN BITCH RUN.” Another Hole in the Head Festival at the Roxie is showing a very impressive 2-minute stop-motion short that is influenced by Bros. Quay and Svankmajer. Aurelio Voltaire’s X-Mess Detritus is a Christmas parable that presents a dark look at gift giving. With Run Bitch Run, a feature full of gore, sex, drugs and violence “seldom seen outside of Japenese manga… delivers some of the darkest humor imaginable with a super-sized heap of sex and depravity. Not for the meek.” The festival runs June 5 – 18.

SUNDAY JUNE 21, ASIFA-SF’S ANNUAL SUMMER POTLUCK PARTY WITH A SCREENING OF RARE CARTOON CLASSICS IN 16MM! Come welcome the arrival of summer. Network, eat, drink and laugh. Have fun with Felix, Betty Boop, Popeye, Bugs, Daffy and other great stars at Oddball Films, 6 pm, movies around 8. At 275 Capp, third floor, free, bring a friend.

June 26 – 28, DISNEY’S A CHRISTMAS CAROL TRAIN Free promotional exhibits. Some 3-D footage will be shown. Redwood City at 675 Seaport Blvd.

July 13 or 14 Toon Boom from Canada in SF demonstrating new software. Details in July issue, you’re invited.


Ookie Cookie

LGBT FILM FESTIVAL HAS UNUSUAL ANIMATED FILMS IN THEIR LINEUP I’ve previewed six of the programs of shorts and for me the most amusing show was “Be Happy.” Ookie Cookie that uses animation in places is fun, high camp and is totally outrageous. (It stars Jackie Beat and a pickle.) Little BFFs in the same program stars Hannah Montana in what is called a “sick puppet animation cavalcade of perversions.” It uses photos of real heads placed on animated Ken and Barbie dolls. Another silly film is Galactic Sex Wars, an epic that makes no sense, but must have been fun to make. The show “Fun in Boys’ Shorts” includes The Island, a really fine, but disturbing tale of wild abandonment from Canada. The program also includes a hot, partly animated, rock video. In the “Transtastic” show Kaden Later expresses a serious point of view. In “Back to Life” Evelyn Everyone (Australia) uses CG figures and live action sequences to explore lesbian romance. In “Bi Request” Make A Mate uses bent wire to create the star. The festival is at the Castro, Roxie and two other theaters from June 18 – 28.

July 10 – 16, $9.99 at a Landmark theater in SF (probably the Lumiere). We may have an ASIFA-SF screening of the film before it opens. Details will be in the July newsletter.


TRAILER FOR CHRIS LANDRETH'S “THE SPINE” NOW ONLINE The footage suggests the new work is a continuation of his exploration of disturbed minds. Characters related to ones in his Oscar winner Ryan are seen in a group therapy session in the trailer. A press release says the film is a story of redemption following the relationship between a man and a woman trapped in a spiral of mutual destruction. Apparently the couple, married for 26 years, attends a group counseling session with other troubled participants. When Mary leaves Dan, “he unde rgoes a beautiful transformation, but what will happen when she returns?” Marcy Page, a former officer of ASIFA-SF, was one of the short’s producers. Watch the 4-minute teaser (making of short) at

“LES LESCARS,” A FRENCH ANIMATED FEATURE, WAS SHOWN AT CANNES It is based on a French TV series and was shown out-of-competition as part of Cannes Critics' Week. Nancy saw it, said it was one of the better features this year at Anima Brussels, but she did not write about it as the article was already too long.

BOLEX BROTHERS PLANNING TO MAKE GILBERT SHELTON’S “THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS” INTO A FEATURE Dave Borthwick is set to direct Grass Roots, a stoned out feature with the brothers and Fat Freddy’s Cat. It is based on a comic book of the same name. Production will star stop-motion puppets. They just announced that Creative Atlantic of Nova Scotia, Canada will co-produce the film. The first feature from The Bolex Bros. (Bristol, England) was The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb. More recently they co-produced Magic Roundabout aka Doogal (2005). A long trailer can be seen at

JOHN CANEMAKER HAS TWO HONORS BESTOWED UPON HIM The Rockefeller Foundation has awarded him a month-long Creative Arts Residency at its Bellagio Center on Lake Como. He will travel to Italy this summer to begin work on a new personal animated film. During a previous Bellagio residency in 1999, Canemaker created storyboards and a script for his Academy Award-winning animated short The Moon and the Son: An Imagined Conversation.

Canemaker was also one of six New York University faculty members to receive the 2009 Distinguished Teaching Award, presented annually for "exceptional teaching, inside and outside the classroom." He is a full professor and executive director of the animation program at the Kanbar Institute of Film and Television, Tisch School of the Arts.

3-D MOVIE POSTERS FOR “ICE AGE 3” The feature from Blue Sky opening July 1 will be promoted with posters produced by Virtual Images that utilize a unique, high-tech 3-D technology that is said to produce images of remarkable depth and clarity. The feature is being released in the digital 3-D format RealD and the posters will expand the 3-D experience beyond the theater.

ANIMATION WINNERS AT BEFILM ‘09 IN NYC 1st Place: Procrastination, Dir. John Kelly (UK); 2nd Place: Santa: The Fascist Years, Dir. Bill Plympton (USA); 3rd Place: Life on a Limb, Dir. David Chai (USA); Honorable Mentions: Birth, Dir. Signe Baumane (USA/Italy) and KJFG#5, Dir. Alexei Alexeev (Russia/Hungary). ASIFA-SF has shown three of the five films recently and we expect to show Bill’s short later this year.

AN ANIMATION WEBSITE WORTH EXPLORING Tee Bosustow’s site has an ongoing competition you can enter plus news, a blog and much more.

GRAND PRIZE AT STUTTGART WENT TO “MUTO” by Blu from Italy (15,000 Euros). This work was done in an unusual manner, painting and erasing images on walls and fences. It can be seen on the Internet. The best-animated feature award (2,500 Euros) went to Adam Elliot’s Max and Mary and Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels was honored with a special mention. Nancy Denney-Phelps is writing her review of Stuttgart for the July newsletter.

DISCOVER THE ANIMATED POLITICAL CARTOONS OF WALT HANDELSMAN AT NEWSDAY.COM A friend just told me about Walt’s West Slide Story, a parody of West Side Story. The theme is the recession. Most of his other animated shorts are not very interesting to me, but this one goes all out. Google Walt Handelsman.

OREGON HISTORY MUSEUM IS SHOWING “THE AMAZING WORLD OF CLAYMATION” This is a tribute to the wonderful world Will Vinton created. It includes his Oscar winner Closed Mondays (made with the late Bob Gardiner), his memorable California Raisin TV commercials, his TV show The PJs, and other remarkable works. Exhibit includes clay and cast sculptures, drawings, paintings, videos and storyboards. The museum is located in Portland. Show runs until Sept. 16 and opened May 15.

MORE REASONS TO GO TO OTTAWA 09 IN OCTOBER They will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the National Film Board. The retrospectives will honor Oscar nominee Don Hertzfeldt’s dark humor, Suzan Pitt’s surrealist animated films and the experimental works of Stan VanDerBeek. Animation from la belle province takes center stage, and the spotlight will shine on the works of German studio Film Bilder and animator Jim Blashfield. The festival will take a close look at contemporary Queer animation and Honorary President Otto Alder finds another 7 reasons to love animation.

SONY AND AARDMAN ARE CONSIDERING WORKING TOGETHER ON TWO POSSIBLE PROJECTS Sony has a first right to refusal contract with Aardman, giving Sony the first option to produce proposed features from the British firm. The projects under consideration are Arthur Christmas and Pirates Christmas addresses how Santa delivers all his presents in one night. Pirates is based on a book by Gideon Defoe and is described as a swashbuckling adventure with a rich vein of surreal and broad comedy. The story follows a group of pirates who journey to London and meet Charles Darwin and a talking chimp named Mister Bobo. There is an enemy looking to wipe them out. Peter Lord will co-direct with Jeff Newitt. Pirates is being planned as a clay animated film and the other is CGI.

“The legendary Prank Star is coming to win your heart.”

THE “DARLING OF VRINDAVAN” IS NOW ON NICK IN INDIA Little Krishna is a new TV series that is airing in India four times a day, Monday through Friday. When I opened my e-mail and saw the child with dark blue skin smiling at me I immediately thought about the vast differences between the popular cultures of India and the US. This is probably a wonderful show, but 98% of kids in the US have no idea who Krishna is (assuming 2% of the population is from SE Asia - or is it 1% or less?) and most parents in the US have no idea who Krishna is or only think Krishna has something to do with a cult or a song from Hair. In the US Japanese animated features only earn a tiny fraction of what films from Disney and DreamWorks make, so it is unlikely the US is ready for Indian animated products. But, believe it or not, Disney and DreamWorks do not yet have a monopoly on world culture. I suspect if Little Krishna is done as well as a US animated kids show, it could open a solid niche market for people in India or from India who live elsewhere in the world. Another flyer for the show calls him “The Greatest Warrior” and a third poster calls Krishna “The Enchanting Musician.”

IS THE VILLAIN IN “MONSTERS VS. ALIENS” MODELED AFTER JEFFREY KATZENBERG, DREAMWORKS’ CEO? I know you are anxious to know what the New York Times reported after researching who was the inspiration for the villain Gallaxhar in Monsters. They asked Conrad Vernon, the film’s co-director, who acknowledged that both Katzenberg and the villain are bald, but then so is the dumb blue monster in the film. Conrad says the character was based on alien monsters found in 1950s B features, “the kind with big throbbing brains and slimy tentacles.” When Katzenberg was asked about this issue he joked, “I can see why people think Gallaxhar was modeled after me given my well-known obsession with plotting the obliteration of the world.”

GIULIO GIANINI HAS LEFT US Italian animation scholar Giannalberto Bendazzi wrote me on May 16 that that morning twice Oscar-nominee Giulio Gianini had died in Rome. He was born in Rome on February 9, 1927, and, with his lifelong friend and artistic partner Emanuele Luzzati who died last year, they created a wonderful body of work that includes The Thieving Magpie (1974, Oscar nom.), The Italian in Algiers (1968), Pulcinella (1972, Oscar nom.), The Magic Flute (1978) and several other works.

THE 4th ANIM'EST INT. ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL Bucharest, Romania, July 1 deadline

ARE YOU READY FOR A “FAMILY GUY” FEATURE? Seth MacFarlane told Wired magazine that Fox is interested and the project is in the early planning stages.

IS STEREOSCOPIC 3-D A FAD OR WILL MOST H’WOOD ANIMATED FEATURES BE MADE THAT WAY? By Karl Cohen (excerpts from an article written for Animatoon) While one can expect major animated releases to be well reviewed, the releases of Coraline and Monster also created lots of serious articles with provocative titles including “Can 3-D Save Hollywood?” (Wall Street Journal), “3-D Features: Bearish or Bullish?” (Variety), “The Creatures That Jumped Off the Screen” (NY Times), “Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D: Taking filmmaking to another dimension” (Los Angeles Times) and “3-D is a Fad” ( As you might expect these and other related articles expressed a wide range of opinions, both positive and negative.

One of the most intelligent articles is “Directors discuss 3-D” from the BBC. They interviewed Henry Selick, who directed Coraline, and director Conrad Vernon and producer Lisa Stewart who worked on Monsters. Henry began his interview by discussing his being impressed with 3-D in the past and how Coraline lent itself to the technology to better tell the story. He used 3-D in a subtle way to express the confined feeling of the ”real world,” and when Coraline goes through the tunnel she “comes out into the better version of her house.” He said he wanted to “avoid too many of the gag shots, the poke in the eye shots, and use the script and the film’s story to inform how we use 3-D. The main idea was to draw the viewer into the film, as Coraline is drawn into this other world.” Her other world is more colorful, attractive and spacious than her dull confining real world.

Henry also talked briefly about the difference in seeing the film in 3-D versus 2-D. He said, “Well there is no denying we designed the film so that the best way to see it is in 3-D. But there are trade-offs, even with the new systems that create digital projection. It’s very dark; they can’t get the projectors nearly as bright as non-3-D projectors, whether it’s film or digital. The people who get to see it in 2-D see a much brighter picture, a little better looking I’d say. But ultimately you’d want people to see it as it was planned to be seen.”

In the interview with Conrad and Lisa they also talked about how 3-D can enhance storytelling. Conrad said, “Our story deserves more than just to be overrun by a gimmick of poking things out of the screen.” He also said 3-D “is going to continue to evolve. To get people into those seats in the theatre they’re going to have to continue to push forward and make it a better experience for everybody.”

Conrad stated that Katzenberg wanted to do the film in 3-D because he had fond memories of the 3-D “B” films of the 1950s and he wanted to create an experience that people can’t get at home today. In a NY Times interview Conrad said Katzenberg told his crew that “3-D was no longer just a gimmick for reaching out and tickling (or scaring) the audience from time to time.” The reporter then commented, “Katzenberg had promised that 3-D would not be used as a gimmick, but DreamWorks ultimately couldn’t help itself. When the film was nearly finished, Mr. Katzenberg asked the creative team to add some more 3-D pow.”

Certainly a major difference between the two films is that one is a sensitive and sophisticated work of art designed to tell a great story and the other is a fun humorous romp through an outrageous tale about improbable heroes saving Earth from a mad scientist from another planet.

Other articles pointed out that 3-D was increasing box office revenue by charging extra for the 3-D experience. Another journalist said, “Well-executed 3-D movies can fulfill Hollywood’s escapist storytelling mandate by pulling an audience deeper into make-believe worlds.” That motivation is apparently behind several A-list directors presently working on 3-D features. Katzenberg is reported saying he knows of 40 3-D projects under way.

Dick Cook, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, says, “I think 3-D gives the audience an unmatched element of excitement and fun.” In another interview he said, “When you enhance the experience, people are willing to pay for it.”

Cynical Points Of View About 3-D

While Katzenberg and friends are cheerleaders for 3-D, there are vocal opponents. Roger Ebert, the noted film critic for the Chicago Sun Times, says, “3-D is a distraction and an annoyance. Younger moviegoers may think they like it because they’ve been told to, and picture quality is far from their minds. But for anyone who would just like to be left alone to see the darned thing, like me, it’s a constant nudge in the ribs saying never mind the story. Just see how neat I look.” He sees 3-D as a gimmick to raise ticket prices and make film piracy more difficult. “If its only purpose was artistic, do you think Hollywood would spend a dime on it?” He also didn’t find much humor in it “unless frenetic action is funny. Maybe kids have learned to think so.” He concluded by saying kids “under the age of reason” will like it, but would any kid seeing it in 2-D, “which is brighter than 3-D” complain about the presentation?

Noted animation author Jerry Beck, who with a partner runs Cartoon Brew on the Internet, loves 3-D, but he feels it is a fad that will not last. Although he wears glasses and isn’t crazy about having to wear a second pair over his regular ones to see the movie, the real reason he thinks it is just a fad is he sees the current push for 3-D as a way to get theaters to convert to digital projection systems. He thinks once that objective is accomplished the fad will end. By going digital film studios will save an enormous amount of money on print costs, shipping fees (a print of 35mm feature weighs 100 lbs. or more), and storage fees. Jerry also commented about the misleading statements being made by the promoters of 3-D today. He concluded that what we are seeing now is a business trend, not a new era of filmmaking.

By clicking on the comments button after his article one can read 78 statements, mostly by people who agree with Jerry’s belief that 3-D is a fad. Animation director Michael Sporn pointed out that 3-D is also an excuse to raise the cost of a ticket and they’ll be able to keep the price higher when the fad ends. One or two people said the fad may not last long, but it is a “fun cinematic diversion.” Four people noted that Coraline made better use of the 3-D than Monsters. One said the 3-D in Monsters seemed “tacked on and forced.” Another was impressed by the story of Coraline and felt Monsters was “mindless fun.”

My own thought is that if 3-D is to succeed, it has to be used in well-written films like Coraline that are built around great stories and go beyond being a novelty. I’ve seen several silly short IMAX productions in 3-D and many of the 1950s 3-D features. Most were poorly written and not well acted. I admit liking one IMAX film in a spooky castle because it was basically a fun 35 or 40-minute amusement park thrill ride in the dark. While novelty films can be fun, films with great writing and performances (live-action or animated) are what keeps me going back to movie theaters. I suspect the public will soon tire of the novelty of 3-D, and it will become a secondary reason to see a film. In the end, you should accept no substitutes for a great story that is well acted. It shouldn’t matter if the actors are human, drawn, stop-motion puppets or digital.

photo goes here

Nancy and Georges Schwizgebel


It is hard to believe that Monstra Animated Film Festival in Lisbon, Portugal is only 8 years old because each year the festival leaves me with a lifetime of memories. The 2009 edition (March 9 – 15, 2009) moved downtown from a prevision location in order to reach more of the community. The experiment worked with good-sized audiences for the screenings. The majority of the shows took place in the lavish Art Deco style Cinema Sao Jorge (built 1947 – 1950). Built by the British Rank Organization to showcase their films, it was once the largest movie palace on the Iberian Peninsula.

There are records of Chinese residents in Lisbon from as early as 1540, and to honor this segment of the population the Museu do Oriente (Museum of Oriental Art) was opened in the heart of the Asian Community last year. This year it was the ideal site for respected Japanese abstract animator Maya Yonnesho’s 3-day workshop. She and her students “toured” Lisbon via two wall sized pictographs in the museum. It was the starting point used to create their film Lisbon Mix. The finished film, capturing the sights and sounds of the city through Maya and her students’ eyes, was screened on closing night. Along with a retrospective of Maya’s films there were showings of Chinese animator Li-jun Sun’s Zhang Ga! and Through The Moebus Strip by Clenn Chaika from China and the US.

The Museu da Marioneta (Puppet Museum) in conjunction with Monstra mounted an extensive exhibit of puppets and sets from Jose Miguel Ribeiro’s new film Passeio De Domingo (Sunday Drive). There were also drawings and photographs used in the making of the 20-minute film, which was conceived in Lisbon, built in Montemor, filmed in Belgium and France and post production took place in Holland. I especially enjoyed the visual representations at the museum of the route that Jose traveled to work with different teams of professionals in their three different languages. It was amazing to see the attention to detail that was taken with each character and set.

I have been anxiously awaiting this film because I am a large fan of The Suspect, which won more international awards than any other Portuguese film up to the present time. When Nik and I screened The Suspect as part of our Ideas In Animation series, our audience was delighted with the puppet animation that tells the story of four people on a train that may have a serial killer on board. Several years ago Nik and I visited Jose Miguel at his workshop in Montemor and saw the first puppets being created, so I was eager to see the film, which was screened at the closing night ceremony. Passeio De Domingo (Sunday Drive) lived up to my expectations, and I am sure we will all have ample opportunity to see this touching humorous story of a family’s Sunday drive that turns into a road trip.

The Museu da Marioneta also showcased Papirossy, a “lung-drawn” animation and audiovisual installation created by Otto Alder, acclaimed animation historian, documentarian, and co-chairman of HGKL (Hochschule fur Gestaltung und Kunst Luzern) in Luzern, Switzerland. “Lung-drawn” is a confusing phrase that refers to Otto blowing cigarette smoke onto cardboard which was combined with animation to create an effect which he describes as “an installation that visualizes time through imprinted smoke on cardboards to create an effect where time is frozen, the past stays fixed, and emotions are visualized by integrating animation into a mixed media installation.” Papirossy is the first lung-drawn animation ever filmed, and the installation has traveled worldwide.

Little Monstra, created to bring quality animation to young people, was expanded this year. Special morning programs were designed for kids 3 to 6 years old, and other programs were designed to appeal to the 7 to 12 year old set. Emphasis was given to Portuguese animation, but such sure-to-please films as Oktapodi from France, Gil Alkabetz’s delightful A Sunny Day, and Germany’s My Happy End, winner of numerous audience favorite awards, were also included. A special booklet was given to each child with information about the film programs and suggestions for related activities such as how to make a simple flipbook. The morning that I visited the young people’s screening, it was full of children captivated by the images on the screen and you could hear a pin drop.

Monstra has adopted the system that several festivals have gone to, of alternating feature films and short animation competitions. This year there were 8 features in competition along with 4 programs of student films and a wealth of special events.

Swiss animation was spotlighted with many special guests and programs. Switzerland may be a small country with an area of only 40 thousand square kilometers and a population of 7.6 million people, but it has a vast, rich animation history. Renowned Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel presented a retrospective of Gisele and Ernest Ansorge films, two of the most important figures in the history of Swiss animation. Their 1967 film Les Corbeaux is one of the first sand animations to receive international acclaim. Based on a medieval ballad, the film is still as beautiful on the big screen as it was almost 50 years ago when it first appeared.

The opening night ceremony highlight was a retrospective of George Schwizgebel’s beautiful films. I have seen the 14 films that were presented many times, but his work always looks fresh and vibrant to me. More than any other animator I can think of, George merges painting, animation and music into a beautiful art form. After I have watched a program of his work I can never hear the music that he has animated to without seeing his beautiful images in my head, nor can I imagine his films without their lush musical scores. A side note is that his son is a pianist and plays on some of his father’s films.

The cinema lobby showcased an exhibit of paintings by Georges, who has been called one of the greatest painters in the history of animation. It was fascinating to see the still version of images that he so artfully brings to life. Following the screening the Swiss Ambassador hosted a lovely reception where wine flowed and lovely canapés were plentiful.

Works by three of the country’s most important up and coming animators, Isabelle Favez, Claude Barras and Cedric Louis, were shown. A new talent program gave me an opportunity to see work by 10 young artists who are the future of Swiss animation. Max & Co, the Swiss, Belgian, French co-production from twin brothers Samuel and Frederic Guillaume, was in the feature film competition.

Georges Schwizgebel gave a master class, as did the Brothers Guillaume who offered behind the scenes glimpses into the making of Max & Co. The duo has always worked together, with Samuel being responsible for the animated “decoupage” and editing and Federic acting as artistic director.

Student competitions are usually one of the most interesting parts of any festival. It is an adventure to see what fresh young minds have to say, and the films at Monstra offered several nice surprises. I was very impressed with Chaibreak, a sand animation that takes us on a walk to get a cup of tea. Ten Indian students made it in an experimental animation workshop. Delwyn Remedios was at Monstra representing the film and he turned out to be not only talented, but a charming and fascinating young man. Delwyn told me that the reason that he likes to work with sand is that it is formless, so movement becomes much more important than the formations of images. Over dinner he also talked about creative animation in India. I usually only hear about the industrial work coming from that vast country.

Another student work that caught my attention was In Our Home by Iranian animator Martam Kashkoolinia. In this visually delightful film a little girl introduces her family members, comparing them with animals. In stark contrast, Anja Kofmel from Lucerne University of Applied Arts and Sciences, used black and white in Chrigi, to accent the story of a woman recalling her childhood and her mysterious cousin, Chris, a journalist murdered in Croatia in 1992.

The student competition jury, composed of Carmen Lloret, Spanish professor of Movement in Fine Arts at the University Politecnica de Valencia; Heliana Vilela, Regional Director of Lisbon and Tagus Valley of the IPJ; and animator Joana Bartolomeu, seemed to agree with my opinions by awarding an honorable mention to Maryam Kashkoolinia for In Our House. Much to my delight the Best Student Film award was given to Chaibreak.

While I arrived at the beginning of the festival, Nik flew in from Belgium later, just in time to introduce Sita Sings the Blues. He also conducted a Q & A session after the screening. Since I have already seen and in many cases written about the eight feature films in competition, so there is no need to write more about them.

The international jury awarded the Jury Prize to Sita Sings the Blues, which Nik was delighted to accept on Nina’s behalf. The festival’s grand prize went to the Israeli/Australian co-production $9.99 by filmmaker Tatia Rosenthal. It is being shown in SF in July. The jury consisted of Georges Schwizgebel, Maya Yonesho, Portugese musician and actor J.P. Simoes, Duscha Kistler and Lisbon journalist Joao Paulo Cotrim.

Along with the anticipated announcement of the award-winning films we were treated to the screening of four new Portuguese films. Tiago Albuquerque’s Dario De Uma Inspectora Do Livro De Records (Scenes From The Life Of A Woman Responsible For The Verification Of The Guinness Book Of World Records) recounts her trials and tribulations in an animation style that evoked images of Prince Achmed. Nuno Beato showed another side of bull fighting with in Mi Vida En Tus Manos. In the delightfully drawn Un Degrau,

A set from Sunday Drive was exhibited at Monstra

Pode Ser O Mundo (One Step Can Be The World) by Daniel Lima, a woman discovers her sexuality while an artist finds his true vocation. The evening ended with the much-anticipated screening of Jose Miguel Ribeiro’s Passeio De Domingo (Sunday Drive). After a week of good conversation and excellent films the closing party was a bittersweet chance to say goodbye to friends.

While we go to festivals to watch films, there is an added bonus of seeing old friends and making new ones. The festival bar is always a good place to hang out, but even better is the hotel breakfast room, especially at Monstra where most invited guests stay in the same hotel. I am not a big breakfast person, but who could resist when your table mates are such good conversationalists as Georges Schwizgebel, Maya Yonesho, and Duscha Kistler, noted animation historian and director of the acclaimed Swiss animation festival, Fantoche in Baden, Switzerland.

The morning screenings were for school kids. The panorama and competition programs didn’t begin until 3:30 PM so there was plenty of time for 2-hour breakfast chats and long treks around Lisbon, which is one of the most walkable cities in the world. In every article In past articles about Lisbon I have talked about the beauty of the city and the many fascinating places that you can stumble upon. I won’t take you on my long daily rambles around the city this time except to say I did have one very special morning at the Lisbon flea market. I saw so many treasures that I thought about buying another suitcase to get them home. Luckily the voice of reason, my husband, was there to keep me from spending every cent that I had with me.

From the moment I was discovered Portuguese animation I became intrigued with its unique character. Although more and more films from Portugal have reached the major European festivals thanks to Jose Miguel Ribeiro, Regina Pessoa, Joana Toste, and Abi Feijo, I never get the feeling that the Portuguese make animation for the world. They use their special, often dark, sensibilities to tell stories for themselves. When you watch animation from most countries, even if you can’t understand the language and miss finer points, you can get the humor. Not so with work from this country which, isolated at the far end of the Iberian Peninsula for centuries, has developed its own culture independent from its Spanish neighbor or the rest of Europe.

Monstra is a festival for the Portuguese people and doesn’t invite a great number of foreign guests, but if you are lucky enough to be invited, it is a very special experience that you won’t soon forget. Fernando Galrito, the festival artistic director, is a most gracious host who knows his city well and treats his guests to wonderful meals and good conversation. The festival staff all went way beyond the bounds of normal hospitality to make sure that we were well taken care of. I am already looking forward to Monstra 2010.

Nik and I were due in Bilbao for Anima Basauri in six days. Even though it looks like my life is one vacation, it isn’t really because at festivals I can’t just lie in bed and read a book or do nothing. We hadn’t had a real vacation in years so we took a few days for ourselves on the beautiful beaches an hour north of Lisbon. I didn’t watch any animation the entire time we were there! The next episode of our travels will come from Spain where a tanned and rested Nancy goes back into the screening room.



CHARLES RIVKIN, FORMER CEO OF WILDBRAIN, APPOINTED AMBASSADOR TO FRANCE BY OBAMA, MICHAEL POLIS IS THE NEW CEO. Polis joined Wildbrain in 2007 as chief marketing officer. Prior to that he had that position at The Jim Henson Co.


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

Special thank to everyone who brought films to show at our May event. Also to Tara Beyhm our VP, 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.

Our website and blog is:
Mail can be sent to: or to: PO Box 14516, SF, CA 94114



At Oddball Films, 6 pm, movies around 8,
275 Capp, third floor, free, bring a friend

Come welcome the arrival of summer. Network, eat, drink and laugh. Have fun with Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Popeye, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and other great stars. ASIFA-SF will provide some of the basic needs of this party; please bring special treats to share with others.

Oddball Films is located at 275 Capp St. between 17th and 18th Street. It is a giant 3rd floor warehouse loft full of rare 16mm films. Stephen Parr provides historic footage to filmmakers and runs a great film series in this space. Capp runs parallel to and between Mission and Van Ness. The warehouse is near Muni, the 16th St. Bart Station and the Victoria Theatre. Volunteers are needed to clean up after the party, greet guests and to set up for the party. If you can help contact Karl Cohen at (415) 386-1004 or

Hayao Miyazaki in Berkeley
Miyazaki events image

The Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley is proud to award internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki with the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize, which honors individuals from all disciplines and professions who have, over a lifetime influenced the world's understanding of Japan. In conjunction with his in-person acceptance of the award, Hayao Miyazaki will be honored with a series of events held on the UC Berkeley campus, celebrating his timeless body of film work.

Hayao Miyazaki is the second recipient of the recently inaugurated Berkeley Japan Prize; the 2008 winner was novelist Haruki Murakami.

Hayao Miyazaki

For nearly fifty years, Hayao Miyazaki has been enchanting the world with fantastic, meticulously composed and emotionally soaring films, making him one of the world's most respected and revered animators and directors. Among the dozens of films he has written, directed and animated, his best-known and beloved include: My Neighbor Totoro (1988); Kiki's Delivery Service (1989); Princess Mononoke (1997); Spirited Away (2001); and Howl's Moving Castle (2004). What makes Miyazaki's work especially unique is, in a genre overpopulated with technology and robots, his films have a deeply nostalgic, ecological soul that conveys the critical message of caring for our planet and a global need for spiritual nourishment.

Miyazaki founded his now legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli, in 1985, shortly after the release of his second major film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. After Studio Ghibli became a household name in Japan, it sought to bring their films overseas and built a partnership with the Walt Disney Company. In 2002, Miyazaki's masterpiece Spirited Away won the Oscar for best animated feature film ? the first Japanese animated film ever to win the award. Audience reaction to Spirited Away was unprecedented. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times heralded Spirited Away as: "..enchanting and delightful in its own way, and has a good heart. It is the best animated film of recent years... the Japanese master who is a god to the Disney animators."

July 12, 14, 19, and 21, 2009
A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki
Pacific Film Archive

In anticipation of director Hayao Miyazaki's in-person appearance at Berkeley, the Pacific Film Archive will host a retrospective, which will showcase four special screenings of his films. Even if you already treasure Miyazaki's films on DVD, you won't want to miss this chance to appreciate their beauty as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen. All films will be shown in the original Japanese 35mm prints with English subtitles.

Sunday, July 12, 4:00 PM
My Neighbor Totoro / Tonari no Totoro

Tuesday July 14, 7:00 PM
Porco Rosso / Kurenai no buta

Sunday July 19, 2:30 PM
Castle in the Sky / Tenku no shiro Laputa

Tuesday July 21, 7:00 PM
Princess Mononoke / Mononoke Hime

For film descriptions and to purchase tickets, please visit

These events are cosponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies and the Pacific Film Archive.

Friday, July 24, 2009
San Francisco Bay Area Premier of Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo
Wheeler Hall
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Ponyo event image

"PONYO" (L-R) Ponyo, Sosuke
© 2008 Nibariki - GNDHDDT. All rights reserved.

The Center for Japanese Studies, in conjunction with the Pacific Film Archive, is pleased to present the Northern California premiere of Hayao Miyazaki's latest film, Ponyo, to be screened at Wheeler Hall on Friday, July 24, 2009. Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) follows the adventures of an intrepid goldfish and a young boy named Sosuke, who rescues her from a bottle among debris that human beings have inflicted upon the ocean. In this playful story of Ponyo's rebellious desire to become human and of the relationships between children and parents, the great director again proves his peerless ability to connect with the keen perception and heart of a young child, while creating a world that speaks truths to adults as well. Among the many brilliant passages achieved through Miyazaki's hand drawn animation are the artist's irresistible depiction of a paradisal undersea realm and a wild tempest caused by Ponyo's willfulness. The English-language version features the voices of Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus (Ponyo), Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas (Sosuke), Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White. Executive Producers are John Lasseter, Kathleen Kennedy, and Frank Marshall; the film is released in the U.S. by Walt Disney Pictures.

Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) was Japan's biggest box office hit in 2008. Ponyo also won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animation of the year and, by special invitation, was screened at the 2008 Venice Film Festival.

For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit

This event is cosponsored by the Center for Japanese Studies and the Pacific Film Archive.

Saturday, July 25, 2009
The Hayao Miyazaki Symposium
2223 Fulton Street, 6th Floor conference room
10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Free and open to the public

Leading scholars of Japanese popular culture, literature, and film will discuss Hayao Miyazaki's work and his international influence in a roundtable panel discussion.

Saturday, July 25, 2009
Hayao Miyazaki in Conversation
6:00 PM to 7:45 PM
Zellerbach Auditorium

For this extremely rare, U.S. appearance, Hayao Miyazaki will be interviewed on stage, followed by a question and answer period with the audience. Join us for an opportunity to engage Miyazaki in a conversation about more than just anime ? the social issues and ideas that his films champion, including the future of Japan and the role of the artist in a rapidly evolving world.

For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit

Karl Cohen

Valid CSS!Spacer Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional SpacerLink to