Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)

May 2010

SF'S MARK FIORE WINS A PULITIZER PRIZE FOR HIS WORK DOING ANIMATED SYNDICATED POLITICAL CARTOONS SEEN ON THE INTERNET His work is presently seen on the Internet at, Mother, and on other sites. His submissions for the Pulitzer included "Science-gate" (run 12/09/09) that lampoons skeptics of global warming, "Obama Interruptus" (12/02/09) that portrays his trying to stay focused despite the distractions of the world around him, and "Credit Card Reform" (10/28/09) that takes on the fabulous mumbo-jumbo double-talk offers of the credit card industry.

I wrote the following in 2008. Mark Fiore - The Guru of Political Internet Animation

The political cartoonist/animator who rises above all others on the web is Mark Fiore. In 2000 Mark taught himself Flash, found two customers and started to turn out Flash cartoons. Then the "dream job" he had always wanted was offered to him, the San Jose Mercury News hired him as their political cartoonist. Being on their staff was great until he discovered his editor was under tremendous pressure to keep circulation and ad revenues up. Mark says, "It was awful." He lasted 6 months with the paper due to their restrictive editorial policy. (That translates as their not allowing him to kick ass and say what he wanted because of his editor's fear of losing income if he really allowed his staff to speak freely.) Since leaving the paper in 2001 he has been syndicating his weekly animated cartoons online.

Mark's work has earned high praise. The Wall Street Journal calls him "the undisputed guru of the form." He has received the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award and other honors. His work is syndicated weekly to numerous websites run by newspapers and other organizations and it is seen regularly by millions of people.

Fiore's cartoons are extremely well produced with excellent voice work, music and animation. More important, he is free to say what he wants. He says he gets his ideas from the daily media and that whatever upsets him the most that week often becomes the subject he makes fun of in his next cartoon. He dares to make fun of the conservative giants in Washington, the presidential hopefuls, the oil industry (Lord Petro 6/11/08 and President Petro 3/15/08), Blackwater (The Blackwater Business School 5/14/08), and any other topic that interests him (Bush, torture, Bush, Hillary, Bush. Insta-Scandal! Bush)

One brilliant Fiore cartoon, What If (6/25/08), suggests what might happen if a 3rd candidate were to enter the present presidential race. The piece is a negative hit piece attacking the candidate's ethics, patriotism, and much more. "He has never once been seen wearing a flag pin and he has spent years studying at a religious school in the Middle East. Some call him a hero for the injuries he sustained under torture, yet he would sit down and talk with those who would harm us. His tax plan amounts to making the rich poor and" At the end of the piece we find out that the candidate's name is, "Jesus Christ, not the change we want."

Another of Mark's impressive shorts is Buy America! (1/22/08). It isn't suggesting that you buy American products; it is an even bigger sale, the country. "How much would you pay for an economy like this? It comes with the world's largest collection of consumer credit cards and one of the cutest small bank interest rates you'll ever see" You can see all of his work at

There will be over 500 works on display including several not previously seen by the public. The show began in 2005 at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC and over the past five years it has traveled around the world. For the local exhibit that also shows off the museum's major remodeling work, they have updated the exhibit so it will include art from Up, Toy Story 3, Wall-E and other recent projects. Adding a sense of novelty to the show, there will be a giant "Pixar Zoetrope" that ! you can enter to see the moving images, and Artscape, "An immersive, wide-screen projection of digitally processed images that gives the viewer a sensation of entering into and exploring the exquisite details of the original artwork." The exhibit will fill about 11,000 square feet of exhibit space.

OSCILLOSCOPE LABORATORIES ACQUIRES "HOWL," A SEPTEMBER RELEASE IS PLANNED The film stars James Franco, Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker, and Jeff Daniels plus almost 20-minutes of animation directed by John Hays and designed by Eric Drooker. The directors are two-time Academy Award® winners Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. Howl was the opening night film at Sundance Film Festival 2010 and also shown at The Berlin Film Festival. Oscilloscope will release Howl in theaters and VOD on September 24.

DISNEY/PIXAR ANNOUNCED THEY HAVE SIGNED A LONG TERM CONTRACT WITH HENRY SELICK Variety announced no details except Henry will work out of Pixar (he is still commuting from Portland but plans to move back soon) and that Henry's stop-motion work could be based on either his own ideas or adaptations. They also said, "Selick hopes to benefit from the Pixar brain trust and technology, but will continue to produce toons using his trademark stop-motion style." Henry directed both Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach for Disney. After James was completed Disney decided to only produce computer-generated animation, but now after creating overly expensive cg products that were not highly profitable, they see the wisdom in returning to stop-motion (I assume it will be in 3-D).

It will eventually have about 100 animators, plus technical support, etc. working mostly on TV series for the Disney Channel and online sites. The shows will feature Pixar's famous movie stars including Woody and Buzz Lightyear. By opening a studio in Canada Disney, Digital Domain and other companies are taking advantage of Canadian tax credits for visual effects and animation work. Ubisoft, a French games maker has opened a studio in Toronto with about 800 jobs. Another new studio taking advantage of the tax breaks is Starz Animation Toronto, a division of Starz Entertainment, a TV Corporation headquartered in Colorado.

has announced Lucasfilm Animation is working on a Star Wars animated comedy series. The Daily Show's Brendan Hay and Robot Chicken's Seth Green and Matthew Seinreich will be among the writers.

DAN McHALE HAS DIRECTED A KICK ASS MUSIC VIDEO It was commissioned by a San Francisco musician called Count. His band, Inu ( is coming out with an album featuring this song, an homage to Stephen Colbert. Dan animated the video in Flash and did the camera work in After Effects.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND - TRAVELS WITH NIK AND NANCY Nancy Denney-Phelps, our representative on the international ASIFA board, left Belgium for The Hangzhou Animation Festival in China (a week earlier there was some doubt she would get there due to volcanic ash from Iceland that was in the air). She is presenting a short program on Bay Area animation and is helping organize and run the ASIFA booth at the event. After having a great time in China she is flying to Stuttgart to attend TrickFilm, Germany's big international animation festival (May 4-9).

At the end of May Nancy will be off to Zagreb and in June Nik will join her at the Annecy festival where she will once again work with Bill Plympton to present Plus Annecy, an annual Friday night program of new films, and to host on Saturday afternoon Nik and Nancy's annual paddleboat race and picnic. Then in July she will be a judge at Animator 2010 in Poznan, Poland. Her fellow jurors will be George Griffin, Mariusz Wilczynski, Dennis Tupicoff and Brigitta Ivanyi-Bitter. Nik will be there too, giving a 5-day workshop on "The Science of the Soundtrack." He will also present two live concerts; one will be a Sprocket program with animation featuring his original compositions and the other a jazz concert. His quartet will consist of musicians from Belgium, flown in for the occasion.

"LITTLE THINGS: EXPLORE THE MINIATURE WORLD OF STOP-MOTION WITH SCOTT KRAVITZ" "Little Things" was the title for a show at Cella Gallery in North Hollywood in April. Scott wrote me "I've got my first solo art gallery opening. A real opening with food, drinks and stuff on the walls."

Scott has worked professionally with Will Vinton and other stop-motion directors on TV series and theatrical projects, and he is also a partner in The Residence (formerly Amber), now a nice comfortable non-smoking bar at 718 14th St. (near the intersection of Church and Market).

Justin Kohn, who holds occasional gatherings of animators at the bar, nj pointed out several times during ASIFA-SF's recent Careers in Animation program that stop-motion animators need a second line of work to fall back on when not employed as animators. Justin went from working on Coraline in Oregon to teaching at the Academy of Art. If you are interested in networking with animators at The Residence e-mail Justin at or Scott at

Ron Diamond is presenting the program "Animating Americana: Up Front and Personal." The program features A Little Routine by George Griffin, Sandburg's Arithmetic by Lynn Smith, The Doll House by Tara Beyhm, Everything Will Be Ok by Don Hertzfeld, Frank Film by Frank Mouris, Ryan by Chris Landreth, Bike Ride by Tom Schroeder, Life in Transition by John Dilworth, A Streetcar Named Perspire by Joanna Priestly and The Cow Who Wanted to be a Hamburger by Bill Plympton.

BE FILM, NYC'S UNDERGROUND FESTIVAL OF SHORT FILMS, SHOWED WORKS BY DAVID CHAI, BILL PLYMPTON AND OTHER HOT ANIMATORS The festival ran April 27 - May 1. The animation shown included The Incident at Tower 37 (11mn) by Chris Perry, The Incredible Story of my Great Grandmother Olive (12mn) by Alberto Rodriguez (UK), The Cow That Wanted To Be A Hamburger (5mn) by Bill Plympton, Pigeon Impossible (6mn) by Lucas Martell, Deconstruction Workers (6mn) by Kajsa Naes (Norway), Rinky Dink (4:30) by John Dilworth (Spain/USA), El Empleo (6mn) by Santiago Grasso (Argentina), Labyrinth (5mn) by Patrick Jenkins (UK), Yulia (6mn) by Antoine Arditti (France), Logorama (16mn) by Collective H5 (France), Variete (4:45) by Roelof Van Den Bergh (Netherlands), Prayers For Peace (7:38) by Dustin Grella, Chick (5mn) by Michel Socha (Poland), Ninjas vs. Guilt (3:40) by David Chai and Midtown Twist (1mn) by Gary Lieb.

ROBERT ZEMECKIS HAS BEGUN WORK ON "DARK LIFE" FOR DISNEY This science fiction film set in the near future will be a fall release so it is likely it will contain little or no performance capture work, but I suspect the actors will perform on blue or green screen sets and Imagemovers Digital will drop in computer generated backgrounds. In the film some humans have escaped environmental disasters by living under the sea. The studio is still set to close early next year.

DID YOU READ OR HEAR NEWS STORIES ABOUT MOLLY THE BARN OWL? Well John Atkinson, an ASIFA-SF member and animator/cartoonist, has been chronicling Molly's story as a regular online cartoon strip, which is being viewed daily by thousands of school children and adults. He is also in development on an iPhone game featuring animations of Molly and her owlet family. Sacramento's Channel 13 has interviewed John on TV and several newspapers have picked up the story. For more information contact John at john@at!


May 13-15, Oscar Nominated Short Films 2010, at the Red Vic on Haight St. Animated shorts Thurs. and Fri. at 7:15 pm, and at 2 & 7:15 pm on Sat.

Fri. May 14, 5:30 PM, ANIMATION FINALS AT SF STATE McKenna Theatre, includes the animation show at 5:30pm, reception at 6:30, special guest speakers Jonas Rivera (producer of Up) and Oscar winner Walter Murch and the awards ceremony at 7:30 and the juried Film Finals at 8:30. $5 students/faculty $10 ! general To see a cool trailer for Film Finals made by the animation students visit

Sat. May 15, "REMEMBERING PLAYLAND AT THE BEACH" at the "Underground Film Festival" at the Pavilion in Oakland. This feature for amusement park nostalgia buffs is a tribute to San Francisco's long gone Playland. It had a great funhouse, carousel, dark rides, a roller coaster and much more including Laughing Sal. See clips at

Friday, May 28, 7:30 PM at the Exploratorium ASIFA-SF'S OPEN SCREENING FOR STUDENTS AND INDEPENDENT ANIMATORS - HAVE AN ANIMATED FILM? BRING IT ON DVD, VHS OR 16MM AND WE WILL SHOW IT! Everybody is invited to come to this annual program that is always full of delightful surprises.

Sunday, May 30, 5:00 pm, "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind" by Hayao Miyazaki (Japan, 1984, 116 mins). A new print of an animated classic, with all the hallmarks of Miyazaki: a resourceful heroine, spectacular aerial scenes, and strong environmental themes. At the Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley

Wednesday June 16, 7:30 pm, "Gravity Was Every-where Back Then" by Brent Green (U.S., 2010, 80 min), Brent Green in Person. "Brent is a 'rustic savant.' His animated shorts are homegrown homilies, built around a tinkerer's craft and a folksy narration that spills from his lips like sour mash, intoxicating but crude. His bucolic style embraces the everyday, its objects and observations, and the animation technique, a herky-jerky stop motion, relies on sculpting whimsical puppets and props that, of late, have taken on enormous proportions and found their way into art galleries. Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, Green's first feature, is based on the true story of Leonard Wood, a Kentuckian who built a chaotically peculiar house meant to be a healing device for his ailing wife. Now Green has built his version of that therapeutic dwelling on his family's farm in Pennsylvania. But this is no literal translation of Wood's astonishing abode; it's a fantastical trumping of mere clapboard and nail. In Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then, Green sets playful props and real people loose in a stuttering tableau of otherworldly yearning. Expect miracles." In conjunction with the Berkeley Art Museum's exhibition Brent Green: Perpetual and Furious Refrain:


"MOHAMED GHAZALA WINS AFRICA'S ACADEMY AWARD IN ANIMATION FOR HONAYN'S SHOE" Mohamed Ghazala, who heads ASIFA in Africa, won the Best Animation Prize at the 6th African Movies Academy Awards in Nigeria. It was in competition with films from Algeria, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.

Honayn's Shoe by Mohamed Ghazala

The film's story is about a lost nomad, Honayn, who with his camel search for his shoe in the wide desert. The film is a production of the Cinema Palace in Cairo and the music is by Nik Phelps. I'm also told Ghazala has just past his orals for his PhD in animation.

The sixth annual awards celebration was held April 10 in Yenogoa, the capital of Bayelsa State, Nigeria. This year's event was attended by "hordes of celebrities." The African press calls the event "comparable to America's Academy Awards in terms of its class, glamour and importance in African filmmaking."

The paper is designed for people with "mature" tastes. There are 12 patterns to choose from and some include "metallic infused grass cloth and soft metallics printed on paper and enhanced with recycled glass beads, sand or glitter." The Walt Disney Signature Line costs $69.99 to $129.99 a roll (27" wide by 27' long). Available from York Wallcovering, said to be the nation's oldest and biggest wallpaper company.

"SOUTH PARK'S" CREATORS LIVES THREATENED BY ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS - COMEDY CENTRAL CUTS THE WORDS "PROPHET MUHAMMAD" AS A SAFETY MEASURE After the 200th episode of South Park aired in mid-April, a radical Islamic website in the US,, warned Parker and Stone they could end up like Theo Van Gogh (the Dutch filmmaker who was murdered by Muslim extremists after depicting Muhammad on his show) and even posted the address of the show's production office. The site has since been shut down. In the offending episode it "mocked the one 'celebrity' that the series has been largely unable to depict, the Prophet Muhammad.' who was hidden from view in a bear costume." In the 201st episode shown April 21, they continued the controversial Muhammad storyline, but the words "Prophet Muhammad" were bleeped out, and the character of Muhammad was hidden from view by a large black block labeled "censored," making the episode practically incomprehensible.

STUDY THE ART OF MARY BLAIR ON A NEW WEBSITE RUN BY TWO OF HER NIECES The site features photos, stories, merchandise and news about Mary, along with a few other surprises.

SEE A WEBCAST OF THE 2010 ANNIE AWARDS The official webcast of the 37th Annual Annie Awards ceremony presented by ASIFA-Hollywood is now on the Internet at William Shatner is the host and presenters include June Foray, actors Seth Green, John Leguizamo, Sean Astin and industry notables Pete Docter, Ed Catmull and Henry Selick. The webcast also features a special tribute to the late Roy Disney and the presentation of the Winsor McCay Award to three industry leaders Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tim Burton and Bruce Timm.

SONY PICTURES IS PLANNING A CG-ANIMATED POPEYE FEATURE IN 3-D No details have been released except that the traditional characters will be included. Part of the charm of Fleischer's Popeye shorts is they retained the look of the E.C. Segar comics. Can Sony create something in 3-D that will be more successful than the Robin Williams' feature?

The shorts package has been released annually by Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures for the last five years. It includes all ten of the animated and live action nominees and it is released to theaters prior to the Academy Awards. Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of Shorts International says, "Audiences for the Oscar nominated shorts jumped by 52% in the short space of a year and more than 1000% in 5 years...and this is just! the beginning." The package has also been made available on cable systems through Movies On Demand." Tom Quinn, SVP of Magnolia said, "On average, less than 50 specialized films a year cross the $1M mark, so to see our little program blossom into a big contender is a testament to the quality of these films. It's even more astounding considering that the marketing budget for the program has been the exact same year in and year out." The program is at the Red Vic May 13 - 15.


SF'S MAURICE KANBAR, WHO PRODUCED "HOODWINKED," IS SUING THE WEINSTEINS FOR FAILURE TO RELEASE HIS FEATURE "HOODWINKED TOO! HOOD VS. EVIL" The sequel was planned to come out in January, but then it was announced it would be out in February at the earliest and it still isn't out. No reason has been given for the delay. Now Kanbar Entertainment has filed suit in SF to force the Weinsteins into binding arbitration. Apparently there is more to this! mess as The Weinstein Co. cut off monthly production funds in Feb. 2009, has refused to work with Kanbar on a release strategy and has not discussed production changes. While Kanbar funded the original film on his own, the Weinsteins urged his company to partner on a co-financing deal. The Weinsteins have no comment on the situation, but one possibility is they lost interest in releasing it theatrically after seeing the work in progress. The original was funny and financially successful, but disliked by many if not most critics (the animation was certainly not Pixar quality). The film was conspicuously absent from the Weinstein's list of upcoming film releases that they posted in late March, but it has been reported that the Weinsteins included it in a DVD distribution deal that the Weinsteins signed with Sony the same month. The first Hoodwinked is said to be the Weinsteins 3rd highest grossing release ($110 million worldwide). Kanbar owns Skyy Vodka.

Two of the creators of Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" franchise have sued the network for more than $5 million in profits from the show. Barry O'Brien and Richard Correll say they've been denied their fair share of the profitable series. They created the show with Michael Poryes in 2005 and they are owed millions in pre-negotiated percentage-based bonuses based on their backend deals and WGA requirements for writers who receive "created by" credits. They claim Disney has denied repeated requests for payment and thwarted attempts to audit profits from the show. Correll also claims he was wrongfully terminated from the show and "blackballed" from future directing work with Disney. Poryes, the third "Hanna" creator, sued Disney on similar grounds last Oct. Disney declined to comment.

DreamWorks' stock fell when How to Train Your Dragon fell short of opening weekend predictions. It cost $165 million to make and it was expected to bring in $60 million in its first weekend. Oh no! It only grossed about $43.3 million at the box office so stocks fell $3.47 to end the day at $39.34, a drop of 8.1%. By the end of the first week it was going for about $38 a share.! By mid-April the stock was almost $39 and by the 20th it had gone over $41.50. Earlier this year it had reached a high of $44. When DreamWorks' Monsters vs Aliens came out a share of the company was down to about $18, but Shrek DVD sales and other events drove the price up. DreamWorks doesn't pay a dividend so I suspect the only point in owning shares is to gamble that if you buy low it will go up and you can sell at a profit. So how much is a share really worth?

Disney on the other hand has a stock that has gone up several dollars since Alice has come out. It recently hit a high of almost $37 a share. Last year it hit a low of under $18. Does the high price take into account that Disney's parks, cruise ships, etc. may not be as profitable as they once were?

HEIRS OF JACK KIRBY ARE SUING DISNEY FOR THEIR FATHER'S SHARE OF THE PROFITS FROM HIS MARVEL CHARACTERS Disney bought Marvel for $4 billion last year so it could own rights to Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four and other well-known super-heroes. The heirs of the artist who co-created many of them believe they were denied a share of the profits when Marvel franchised Kirby's creations. They had spent years preparing for a lawsuit using LA copyright lawyer Marc Toberoff who helped win a court ruling in 2009 that returned a share of the Superman profits to the heirs of ! one of that character's creators.

This could be a big long drawn-out fight. Toberoff is using a provision in copyright law that, under certain conditions, gives authors or their heirs the right to regain ownership of a product after a given number of years. Toberoff has sent 45 notices of copyright termination to Marvel, Disney and other studios as his first step. The notices expressed the family's intent to regain copyrights to some of Kirby's creations as early as 2014. Toberoff estimates that as much as 88 percent of Marvel's film earnings have been "Kirby related." Marvel and Toberoff entered into settlement talks, but in January Marvel surprised the Kirbys with a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the notices. The family has since filed a lawsuit against Marvel and Disney to set aside Marvel's lawsuit and to gain their share of the profits from past and future movies using Kirby's creations. If the Kirby heirs are successful, expect a lot more copyright termination actions affecting the film, music and book industries as more works reach the 56-year threshold for ending older copyrights, or for a shorter period for those created under a law that took effect in 1978.

Going up against Disney may be an impossible task. When the family of the man who shared his rights with Disney to use Winnie the Pooh characters, they decided to sue Disney for unpaid royalties. That legal battle lasted 18 years and the family eventually lost. Disney not only won, they also managed to extend copyright protection of their intellectual property.

In the Kirby case one issue is the rights of a freelance artist who created work in his own studio, not as a company employee in the company's facilities. He was selling work on a freelance basis. Apparently the legal contracts and agreements at the time Kirby created his characters were vague or non-existent and they apparently did not include film rights, computer game rights, etc.

"NY TIMES" ARTICLE "THE UNPAID INTERN, LEGAL OR NOT" REPORTS THAT STATES ARE BEGINNING TO CRACK DOWN ON LABOR ABUSES While internships are a gateway into the job market, the author of the article believes up to half are unpaid. Pixar and PDI/Dreamworks have well run paid internship programs, but other animation companies have had unpaid internships. Apparently in California unpaid internships are legal if they are educational and provide college credit, but not if they offer little training and mainly benefit the company. The article suggests current laws need to be strengthened and better enforced as many internship positions violate minimum wage laws. The article by Steven Greenhouse appeared April 2, 2010 and can be read online.

Pacific Northwest College of Art has approved a new Contemporary Animated Arts BFA program, the first of its kind in the US. It will begin with the Fall 2010 semester. The program embraces the hybrid-moving image by combining fine art practice and digital technologies. At a time when the boundaries between live action, animation, painting, photography, illustration and design are dissolving, an interdisciplinary fine art approach encourages students to re-imagine and create frame-based work for multiple platforms. The program embraces theory and practice while supporting research, risk taking and collaborative practice. The interdisciplinary approach leads students to construct images from many sources including live action, models, photography, objects and textures. Rose Bond is the department chair.

Legendary Pictures has signed a deal with Toho for the rights to produce a new Godzilla feature.

Heather Perkins, an electronic musician and composer, will develop a sound project honoring Portland musician turned voice art, Mel Blanc (1908 - 1989). She will compose a work about Bugs Bunny.

Perry Chen is only 10, but he has his own blog at and now he is designing images for a film Bill is working on. Animating art created by a kid will help children learn about the Holocaust. Beyond The Forest will be based on the experience of Holocaust survivor Ingrid Pitt, who later became a film and television star. She was 5 when the Nazis imprisoned her and other family members in the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland (1942 to 1945). The short! will depict the daughter and mother's struggle and survival.

Perry Chen saw Plympton's short The Fan and The Flower and as a film critic at the San Diego International Children's Film Festival last year he rated it 5 starfishes out of 5, the first and only animated short to receive his highest rating. When Perry met Bill at the San Diego Comic-Con he showed him his drawings and they impressed both Bill and the film's producer/director Kevin Sean Michaels. They hired Chen to design Beyond The Forest. The 5-minute film will be finished in 2011. This is the first time Bill has worked with a young artist on a film.

Perry Chen says, "The Holocaust is a horrible crime against humanity and I feel that I can do my part for the education of today's children about the Holocaust. It is great for a child to be involved in creating this film that tells another child's story."

As a film critic Perry has appeared on the CBS Evening News, National Public Radio's Weekend Edition, and on other programs on Fox, NBC, ABC, and CBS. He appears on local San Diego television regularly to review G/PG-rated family movies, and he hosts a monthly radio talk show "Perry Previews the Movies." His movie reviews have been published in San Diego newspapers, he was a presenter at the 37th Annie Awards and he co-hosted the San Diego IndieFest. As an artist he has won awards at the San Diego International Music & Art Festival (2010), and an Outstanding Creativity prize at the San Diego City Hall in 2009. You can read Perry's blog at What were you doing when you were 10?

Although the business has been hit by the recession, the business seems to have turned a corner in March. Video game sales climbed 6 percent from the same month a year ago, to $1.52 billion. Strong sales of Nintendo's gaming systems, new Pokemon games and Sony Corp.'s God of War III helped boost results. Software sales jumped 10 percent to $875.3 million, well above what most analysts were expecting. In addition to God of War, which sold more than a million copies, two Pokemon games from Nintendo and Final Fantasy XIII from Square Enix and Battlefield: Bad Company 2 from Electronic Arts were among the month's strongest-selling games. Industry had expected software sales to grow about 3 percent.

Hardware sales dropped 4 percent to $440.5 million, in part because game console prices are lower than they were at this time last year. Nintendo systems led in hardware sales. Sales of video game accessories rose 11 percent to $206.8 million.

ONE MEASURE OF THE QUALITY OF AN ANIMATION PROGRAM CAN BE JUDGED BY HOW WELL THE STUDENTS' FILMS DO AT FESTIVALS Peter Parr, who heads the animation program at The Arts University College at Bournemouth, recently wrote me, "My student's film Lullaby recently won the Royal Television Society Regional Student Award and has been nominated for a National RTS award to be decided in London in May. Our film Train of Thought won at Animex 2010 and has been selected by most festivals including Annecy. We have three other films, Broken Wave, Paradis and Lullaby, also screening at Annecy this year. Sol was selected for the children's festival at Redcat in LA. Overall this cohort of student films has been very warmly received by the festival selection committees around the world."

Peter is also justly proud of the recent achievements by people who graduated from the program. He points out, "Alumni James Norman, one of the development team at Rock Steady Studios Ltd., has won two BAFTA Awards; Game of the Year and the Game Play Award. They were presented in March 2010 to the game Batman: Arkham Asylum. Last year Francis Pang (class of 1998) from Media Molecule won the Game of the Year and the Artistic Achievement awards at the BAFTAs for Little Blue Planet and the character Sack Boy."

Peter is not only an exceptional teacher; he is also a distinguished artist. Nancy Denny-Phelps recently wrote a fascinating well worth reading account of his career that is on her blog.


The judges

YOUNG AT HEART IN ANTWERP, THE 22nd HET JEUGDFILM FESTIVAL by Nancy Denney-Phelps When I received the invitation to sit on the International Jury of Het Jeugdfilm Festival (European Youth Film Festival, 13 February 13 - 21) at the Cinema Zuid in the FotoMuseum in Antwerp, Belgium I was extremely pleased since it was the first time I had been invited to sit on a jury in my adopted country, Belgium. The festival includes several animated films, but first a word about my fellow judges. The five-member jury was a very diverse group and I felt in very good company. The name William Thijssen may be familiar to many of you. He produced Father and Daughter, Michael Dudok de Wit's classic film for which Willem won an Academy Award (2000). He also received an Oscar as producer of Nicole Van Goethem's A Greek Tragedy in 1986 making him the only Flemish person to win two Academy Awards. His current project, slated for completion this summer is An Angel in Doel with director Tom Fassaert. The live action film tells the tragic story of Doel, Belgium, a village on the River Scheldt, slated to be flooded. Located inside the ever expanding Antwerp Harbor area, the last inhabitants of this once thriving farming village were given their final notice to leave in September 2009 to make way for the enlarging of the harbor. Nik and I visited Doel several years ago and it was very sad to see that a once thriving town is now half deserted and falling into ruin in anticipation of it being flooding.

Director Giedre Beinoriute from Vilnius, Lithuania had a film, The Balcony, out of competition at the festival. Giedre also gave me a copy of her film Grandpa and Grandma, a partly documentary based on the life story of her grandparents who were exiled from Lithuania to Siberia by the Soviets in 1948. Told with family photographs, National Archive material and animation I found the story very moving and completely absorbing.

Michael Brongers from Amsterdam makes documentary films, a number of which are for children. He showed me his award winning The Dr. Doowop Show, the poignant portrait of the host of the only doowop radio show in Europe which is a study in loneliness of a man who chooses to dance to a different beat.

Kevin Bellemans is well known to young Belgian television views as De Pretman, a character on Flemish television. He is the "sex symbol" of the pre teen set and whenever the jury went out together Kevin had young fans asking him for his autograph.

The festival, which is a mixture of animation and live action, opened with the animated feature Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms by Danish director Thomas Borch Nilsen. Barry, a worm occupying the lowest position in the food chain in his garden, discovers his true destiny when he finds an old disco record. His quest to start a band and become a star by winning the annual talent scout competition made everyone in the audience want to dance along with Barry to the disco beat. The film got the festival off to a rousing start.

Jury duty began on Monday morning with a short animation. While we watched lots of live action shorts, I am only going to talk about the animation. The animated short film that stood out for me was The Hours. Noted Swedish artist, children's writer and animator Johan Hagelback used a strong design style in his original approach to answer the age-old question "Where do seconds come from?" The Hours is the tale of what happens when a clock hour marker falls in love with the minute hand. The International Jury awarded the film the Best Short Film prize.

Carlos Fraiha made the 2-minute 3D This Is Not A Fly in two months as his post grad project in character animation at Central St. Martins College, University of Arts London. The film is a humorous look at a man in an art gallery and a painted fly that seems to be playing mind games with him. Frustration boils over when an angry security camera will not let him get close enough to the painting to find out what is going on. The project, jointly sponsored by The National Gallery and the College, was inspired by a painting of Sainte Catherine of Alexandrie by Carlo Crivelli.

Circus Ernesto from Belgian directed by William Pirquin tells the story of an old circus manager who tries to get the attention of his lone spectator by performing more and more daring feats. Failing to please his solo audience he delves deeper and deeper into his bag of fantastic tricks. Unfortunately the animation was sadly lacking in technique. With no dialogue the musical score by Tim Janssen was the most engaging part of the film.

The New Washing Machine, Winfried Bellman's tale of two hamsters looking for the ultimate running wheel was humorous but once again I found the animation lacking in quality and with no dialogue that Alexander Roder's music couldn't carry the film.

Kurt Turns Evil was the only animated feature film in competition. Norwegian Rasmus A. Silvertsen adapted the story from two books by Erlend Loes. The theme of the film is desire for status. Kurt, a truck driver, aspires to the status of his architect wife and next door neighbor, a doctor. Striving for status is what ultimately turns Kurt evil. "The theme is relevant to both children and adults" according to Silvertsen. Unfortunately I thought that the animation was created for very young children while much of the humor and dialogue was way over a six year old's head not holding the interest of either children or their parents. I saw the film in competition at Annecy last year and I was even more bored the second time around.

Unfortunately, due to the needs of the jury to be elsewhere, I did not get to see the program of short European animation for young children or The Snowman directed by Diane Jackson of the UK that were not in competition. They both sounded like interesting programs. I would also like to have been able to see Pettson and Findus: Forget Abilities. This film is fourth in a series of films about Findus the cat and Pettson his owner. Animated by Jorgen Lerdan, the films are based on the popular Swedish children's books by Sven Nordqvist. I have seen other Pettson and Findus films and find them delightful films for the younger audience.

Het Jeugdfilm Festival designs programs for kids from 3 year old, seeing their first movie, to teenage audiences. The youngest audience members received a certificate to commemorate their first cinema experience. A program titled Cut the Crap, designed for 12 year old and older dealt with serious problems and decisions that confront teenagers. Topics ranged from young love and self-image to the lure of being an escort girl to earn "easy" money.

There were several films centered on the desire for acceptance and love, loss, abandonment, or divorce for 8 year old and older. It is important for young people to see reflections of the selves on the screen with characters who are the center of the story dealing with issues relevant to them. It is unfortunate that most parents in the US would probably find these films unsuitable for their 8-year old kids.

The festival offered numerous workshops where participants could create real cartoons, make puppets and perform a puppet show or could transform a 2D picture into a real life 3D scene.

In the theatre lobby young and old alike could perform with the Digital Puppetry Installation. By moving pink post-it notes up and down before images that floated across the top of the screen you could pull down items such as animated sunglasses, underpants or even grow a mustache onto your image on the screen. This was the Belgian premier of the installation that has already visited Berlin, New York and Amsterdam.

The festival had make-up artists on hand to transform young filmgoers into all manner of beasts and princesses. There were even big wheel races down the museum hall.

The festival is held simultaneously in two cities, Antwerp and Bruge, which are 83.67 kilometers apart. Although we watched most of the films in Antwerp we were taken to Bruge for one day to watch movies with their Junior Jury. The theatre in Bruge was lovely and after the screenings Giedre, Michiel, and I took the opportunity to walk around Bruge because she had never been there. The city is one of Belgium's top tourist attractions known for is scenic charm, authentic style old houses and the swans.

Sitting on a jury is always a serious matter and when it came to the distribution of the awards it required several hours of intense but good discussion. Although we only had to select one feature and one short film, the job was not as easy as it sounds. After a lot of give and take we reached a decision.

The film distribution award for best feature went to the live action film Max Embarrassing directed by Lotte Svendsen. We felt that this Danish film dealt with problems of growing up that every young person and parent could identify with. The film also reached a successful end with an unexpected solution.

The Province of West Flanders Award for short film (an award of 1.250,00 Euros or approximately 1,080.00 US dollars to finance a future film project) went to The Hours. Johan Hagelback's animated film was a quirky original story executed in nice style. A list of winners selected by all 3 juries and the audience award are at the end of the article.

The Festival team, Mieke Vanderhaeghen and Iris Verhoeven in Antwerp and Tom Van de Velde in Bruge and their efficient staffs did everything possible to make our job easy and pleasant. As well as the festival this hard working trio also has year round programs designed to take films into the schools and parks in Antwerp, Bruge and other cities.

To learn more about the films screened at the 2010 festival and their year around activities visit:

By KC Nancy told me that while the professional jury gave their prizes to Max Embarrassing and The Hours, the children's jury in Antwerp selected The Crocodiles by Christian Ditter from Germany as the best feature film and The New Washing Machine by Winfried Bellman from Germany as the best short film, the children's jury in Bruges selected Book of Masters by Vadim Sokolovsky from Russia as the best feature film and Anna Lovenstein by Pauline Bureau from France as the best short film. Both the audiences in Antwerp and Bruges voted for The Crocodiles as the best feature film.

MONSTRA ANIMATION FESTIVAL MEANS SPRING IS HERE AT LAST by Nancy Denney-Phelps I know that spring is on the way each year when it is time to travel to Lisbon for the MONSTRA Animation Festival (March 11 through 21). After the long, hard winter in Northern Europe, the prospect of Portuguese sun was doubly appealing. To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the festival, Artistic Director Fernando Galrito dedicated the first four days of screenings to showcasing Portuguese animation. Opening night traced the history of Portuguese cinema, beginning with the 1923 political satire O Pesadelo de Antonio Maria (The Nightmare of Antonio Maria) directed by Joaquin Guerreiro.

Comic strip characters inspired most Portuguese animated films until the 1960s. The rise of domestic television advertisements took the work in a different direction. Then in 1974, after the death of Salazar, a very cruel dictator, came the Carnation Revolution that opened up new opportunities for the countries animators.

Two of the major influences after the 1974 revolution were the TV series hosted by Vasco Granja and the founding of the Cinanima Animation Festival in Espinho. Gramja introduced his television audiences to animation ranging from Eastern Europe to North America on his show Film Animation that ran for 16 years. He was greatly influenced by Norman McLaren who became his close friend after they met at Annecy. Gramja strove to carry McLaren's message of peace to his viewers.

The second influence has been Cinanima, founded in 1977 and held annually in Easpinho, Portugal. It is not only a major festival presenting and nurturing Portuguese animation, but over the years it has become recognized as an important world-class event.

Portuguese animation has a distinctly unique character all its own. I have always felt that because of its isolated position on the western side of the Iberian Peninsula, the native animators have created works primarily for their fellow countrymen, strongly influenced by their intense connections to their literature and the sea.

Portuguese women working in animation show a special sensitivity toward the way they view life. In the last few years they have become prominent on the international scene as a screening at Monstra honoring 14 women working in a variety of mediums and styles pointed out. Regina Pessoa's Tragic Story With A Happy Ending has won international awards including the 2006 Annecy Crystal and the Best Animated Short Film at Cinamino the same year. Joana Toste's films are appreciated world wide for her ability to tell everyday stories that have quirky, humorous twists.

To round out the picture of Portuguese animation, Monstra paid tribute to producers, musicians and scriptwriters with three programs highlighting their achievements. They are all too often the unsung heroes of animation. It was pleasing to know that in Lisbon large audiences turned out to see their heritage on the big screen.

For many festivals four days packed full of film would be more than enough, but not for Monstra. On the fifth day of the event the International Jury members and festival guests began to arrive and the festival took on an international flavor. Priit Parn, Michaela Pavlatova and Bill Plympton each introduced a program of their films. Retrospectives of Canadian, French, Russian, Polish, Finish, and Brazilian animation were screened along with the short film and student competitions.


Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life

As part of her National Film Board of Canada presentation, NFB producer Marcy Page showed a clip from her latest project Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life (her co-producers were Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay). The 25-minute film is adapted from Maurice Sendak's book of the same name. Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, the duo that made Madame Tutli-Putli, brought the story of Jenny, a Sealyham terrier who sets out in the world to find experience and adventure. The animated Jenny is perfect, just as I pictured her when I read the book, one of my favorite! stories. I did feel that Meryl Streep's voice didn't capture Jenny's personality, though. I am looking forward to seeing the entire film. The Warner Brothers, NFB co-production has since then been released directly to DVD as a short with Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are. Note: Marcy says the NFB will release its own DVD of the short sometime this summer.

Marcy's husband, the extremely gifted composer Normand Roger, screened films for which he created the music. His melodic sounds have added to the atmosphere of such memorable works as Alexander Petrov's Old Man and the Sea, Michael Dudok De Witt's moving Father and Daughter, and Regina Pessoa's Tragic History With a Happy Ending.

Special treats for me were programs of the legendary Czech puppet animator Karel Zeman. I had not seen his feature length The Tale of John and Mary in a long time so it seemed as creative and entertaining as the first time I watched it. This time I was particularly aware of how much Karel Svobado's music added to the film. A selection of Zeman's shorts was shown included the classic The Christmas Dream (1945) that he made with Hermina Tyrlove. It won the Best Animation award at the 1946 Cannes Film Festival.

Czech animator Jiri Barta has had a long career creating stop-motion films that have received critical acclaim. At long last Barta has returned to the screen with In the Attic: Who Has a Birthday Today? The stop-motion film, aimed at a young audience, reveals the secret lives of old and forgotten toys that come alive when humans aren't watching.

I have become increasingly interested in animated documentaries. The possibilities of telling painful, difficult stories that would often be unbearable in live action films for both the viewer and storyteller are unlimited. The 2 ani-doc programs covered the full range of human emotions.

I was delighted to see three of my long time favorite ani-docs, A is for Autism, Never Like the First Time, and His Mother's Voice. Commissioned by BBC's Channel 4, Tim Webb's A is for Autism is a collection of live action sequences that offer insight into different aspects and forms that autism takes. The film gives a very rare glimpse of the private, personal world of autistic children and adults.

Animator Jonas Odell's Never Like the First Time looks at four people's first encounter with sex while Australian Dennis Tupicoff told the story of a mother's anguish when her son is shot in the emotionally wrenching His Mother's Voice.

I had not seen Andy Glynne's moving My Blood is My Tears before. His look at what causes some young people to turn to self-harm is beautifully animated, but very painful to watch. His exploration into the relief that physical pain seemingly provides from emotional pain is a perfect example of the power the ani-doc possesses.

Jury members had their work cut out for them. The short film competition jury was composed of Portuguese actor Filipe Duarte, Normand Roger, Polish animator Michaela Pavlatova, Brazilian filmmaker Marcos Magalhaes, and Deb Singleton, Director of the Bradford Animation Festival. They watched six programs of films in competition. The five programs in the student competition were viewed by Estonian animator Olga Parn, Portuguese director Sandra Ramos, Wilson Lazaretti of Brazil, Burak Sahin Turkish animator and Humberto Santana, Portuguese director and cartoonist.

Even though I had seen many of the films in competition, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Olga and Priit Parn's evocative Divers in the Rain that garnered the Monstra Grand Prix award.

Of course there were new films to discover. The biggest treat for me in the competition was 7 Brothers, the new Paul Driessen film. This is his first film made in conjunction with his son Kaj. The film, a mixture of animation and live action, reveals that contrary to popular belief there were actually 7 Brothers Grimm and that the stories they wrote end differently than the tales we are familiar with in books and films. Kaj studied live action film and Paul's work does not need an introduction. Working together the team has created a most original, humorous short.

Canadian Patrick Beregron created Loop Loop from a 33 second video sequence that he shot from a train bound for Hanoi, Viet Nam. He then stitched the images together into one long panoramic image, integrating other moving images into a smooth video loop. The 5-minute film, a mix of animation, abstract film, and documentary, is a feast for the eyes.

The festival presented "The Little Monster Around Lisbon." programs of animation from around the world for school children each morning at several locations including the Cinema Sao Jorge, the Museum of Ethnology, at local elementary schools and in two other movie houses in other parts if the city. The festival is trying to make it easier for people to see animation with their outreach screenings.

For older students several festival guests gave workshops. My husband Nik Phelps and Serbian animator/illustrator Rastko Ciric led a daylong workshop where students created a simple film with a spoken word sound tract. For some of the participants this was their first foray into animation. When I visited the workshop, they were all hard at work. Their film was going to be shown on closing night, but for some reason it wasn't. I felt very sorry for the students who came that evening specifically to see their completed work on the big screen. Latvian director Vladimir Leschiov's workshop took his students on the exploration of the metaphor as the fundamental dynamic in animation. Michaela Pavlatova, Normand Roger, and Priit Parn led other master classes. Bill Plympton gave a master class on creating films with little funding to a packed audience who hung on to his every word.

An exploration of the basic concepts of animation was designed as a parent/child workshop led by Wilson Lazaretti. Wilson is well qualified in this area since he is the founder and director of the Nucleo de Cinema Animacao de Campinas in Brazil, one of the oldest existing children's animation workshops. He has also launched an ambitious project of taking animation workshops to indigenous children and adults in the Amazon Rain Forest.

The 10th edition of MONSTRA was also a celebration of dance and music. They showed the highly regarded documentary about Russian chirographer Alexander Shiryaev who used animation to aid in planning his intricate ballet steps as early as 1900. I saw the Shiryaev documentary and films in Annecy a few years ago and their intricate techniques are a visual delight. There was also a program of his films and two other programs of shorts that explored the intimate relationship between animation and dance.

On opening night Festival Artistic Director Galrito conceived of a unique presentation. Five architects who had never animated before created a film that was screened as a live dancer interacted with the images. Musicians accompanied the images and dancer. Even though the piece did not always work, it was an interesting experiment.

On another evening Portuguese film composer Manuel Tentugal, animation director Jose Miguel Ribeiro, and digital technology expert Victor Student created sounds to the moving image of a single beam of light.

The cinema Sao Jorge lobby became an art gallery. There were original artworks used in the Portuguese films shown at the closing night ceremony. Work by festival guests shown included original drawings from Vladimir Leschiov's sensitive film Wings and Oars and a collection of Priit Parn's drawings. These works gave a firsthand look at the remarkable talents of these two brilliant animators. Two large windows displayed sets from director Andre Letria's television series Foxy and Meg.

The Museu da Marioneta in conjunction with MONSTRA hosted a display of sets and characters from Desassossego, a new Portuguese film directed by Lorenzo Degl'Innocentti. Desassossego was one of a group of new Portuguese films that were premiered as part of the closing night ceremony. Unfortunately all of the premier films were in Portuguese with no English subtitles that made them very difficult for me to totally understand. I look forward to seeing subtitled versions of the films in competition at another festival soon.

The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Monstra awards. The honor of the best Portuguese film went to the very talented Zepe (Jose Pedro Cavalheiro) for Candido, a tale of misspent love and manipulation. Gregor Dashuber from Germany received the Best Student Film for Never Drive a Car When You're Dead. I met Gregor and his equally talented composer/sound designer Marian Mentrup at Stutgart's festival and was immediately attracted to their film about an awkward hero who stumbles across a long forgotten piano that changes his world. It leads him outside to play a final funeral march to all of the deadbeat figures on the sidewalk.

A new feature invented by MONSTRA was the interactive flipbook. If you flipped the pages in one direction you saw a complete work. Flipped in the opposite way some parts of the animation are missing so that each person can complete and customize their book.

After 10 days of magic at MONSTRA it was hard to think about returning to the real world. There are no words sufficient to thank MONSTRA for all of their generous, warm hospitality. Festival Artistic Director Fernando Galrito is the perfect host. Production Director Ines Lampreia and her hardworking staff made sure that everything ran smoothly.

There are lots of other wonderful memories of Monstra 2010 from delicious long meals with festival guests to seeing Adam Elliot's brilliant Mary & Max again with a packed audience. I also love my memory of the night Nik and Rastko performed songs in the festival café.

Galrito, Inez, and the staff deserve great praise for the generous hospitality that they extended to their guests. Good film programs and wonderful hospitality set to the backdrop of a beautiful city makes MONSTRA a not to miss festival each year.

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, Dot Janson, Shirley Smith and Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe "the Calif. Kid" Sikoryak
Special thank to Michaela Copikova for presenting her exceptional program on Slovak animation and Samuel Sharkey of the Exploratorium. 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, and to Patricia Satjawatcharapjong who posts excerpts from our newsletter on the International ASIFA website -
ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world.
Our website and blog is:
Mail can be sent to:
Or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122

Storyboard images from an animated logo sequence for ASIFA-SF being created by Tony Claar


****WORK WANTED**** If you want to show an animated film show up with it unannounced the night of the show and it will get shown.

Friday May 28, 7:30 PM at the Exploratorium,
Free, open to the public

So far we have been told the following people plan to bring work.

*Tony Claar
has completed a new work (shown in January without a soundtrack) and will preview an ASIFA animated logo that we can use on the Internet, at local events and it will be made available for use by other chapters.

*Tom Arndt
plans to show his latest, traditionally animated film, Bloom.

*Charlie Corriea from SF State will show Fu-De (The Brush). Last spring he won a Princess Grace Award that was used to finish it.

*Gene Hamm will present what has been called his "commie pinko" short Freebird, a slideshow of his webcomic Hell Toupee, and from his animation class at Alchemia, a special needs school, You Can't Park Here and Space Explorer.

*Don Albrecht
has plans to show Rachmaninoff Revisited, Jiggles, and Totem Pole.

*Patrick Lake's Pirate Spawn is a 5-minute long digital/hand drawn animated work.
*SF State will be showing the first-year music synch projects and the Berlin & Beyond trailer made by graduating seniors.

*See one or two animated films made at the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Bratislava, Slovakia. These were shown at our April event and were
met with applause, laughter and appreciative comments after the show.

*We also expect several works will show up unannounced including student films from San Francisco State, San Jose State, the Academy of Art, the Art Institute, DeAnza and possibly other colleges.

Karl Cohen,

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