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

October 2010

MILL VALLEY FILM FESTIVAL TO HONOR STOP-MOTION ANIMATOR TIMOTHY HITTLE AND WILL PRESENT THE JUST COMPLETED JAY CLAY TRILOGY On Saturday October 9 at 5 PM, they will present the world premiere of The Quiet Life with his shorts The Potato Hunter (1991) and Can Head (1966, Oscar nomination). All star his character Jay Clay. Tim worked with Henry Selick on Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. Since then he has worked at Pixar on The Incredibles and on Toy Story 2 & 3. He will discuss his work after the screening. At 142 Throckmorton.

I've seen the almost completed print of The Quiet Life and it is more exciting than Can Head. In it you will find out what happened to the previous monsters made of tin; see Jay Clay face a new adversary who has a mechanized weapon of destruction. Jay's dog Blue is back plus you will meet a new human member of Tim's repertory company (an interesting surprise) and see a great "pinecone horse."

The Quiet Life will also be shown in a program of animated shorts called 5 @ 5: Watching the Wheel. The program also includes Angry Man by Anita Killi (Norway), A Moment of Silence by Diana Jo Reichenbach (US), Lebensader by Angela Steffen (Germany), Lintscape by Caitlin Caggs (US), A Lost and Found Box of Human Sensations by Martain Wallner (Germany) and Jean Francois by Bruno Manguoko (France). The program plays at 5 PM on Mon. Oct. 11, Sequoia in Mill Valley and on Thurs. Oct. 14 at 5 PM at the Rafael.

I've had the pleasure of seeing these shorts as well and each is a fascinating work that explores new directions in style and design. Jean Francois features attractive, stylized, rounded characters in a journey into a man's memories. Angry Man is a disturbing story full of tension that may encourage kids to speak up about abusive situations. It has a happy ending, the cutout figures are really interesting looking and at times hands and other parts are 3 dimensional. Lebensader is a really handsome design piece with bold colors and quickly metamorphosing forms. Lost and Found is a very ambitious story and visually excellent work about a young man dealing with the loss of his father. A Moment of Silence is a very short, well-designed, attractive, abstract film, done in blues with flashed of red. I think the selection should have a lot of appeal to animators and I was really pleased to see every work in the program.

"BUMP IN THE NIGHT," COMPLETE SET IS OUT ON 4 DVDS This is a somewhat bizarre stop-motion TV series made for ABC-TV in 1994-'95 in the Bay Area by Ken Pontac, Dave Bleiman and friends. It was a lot of irreverent fun (Squishington is a sock monster that lives in a toilet tank), but Disney took it off the air when they bought the ABC network. 26 episodes plus extras, $29.99 + shipping from

"HOWL" INCLUDES 20-MINUTES OF EXCITING ANIMATION DIRECTED BY JOHN HAYS John, former president of Wildbrain, worked with designer/illustrator Eric Drooker (New Yorker covers), to bring Allen Ginsberg's poem Howl to life on the screen. This remarkable feature about Ginsberg and the obscenity trial captures the raw passion and spirit of the poem. I hope you get to see it while it is in theatres rather than wait for the DVD to come out.

COMING THIS MONTH - "THE LOONEY TUNES TREASURY" BY THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM'S CURATOR ANDREW FARAGO His first book, written for Insight Editions/Running Press is The Looney Tunes Treasury, and it appears in stores in October. It's loaded with concept art, background paintings, sketches, and re-creations of vintage Looney Tunes products. The text consists of first-person accounts of each Looney Tunes character's career. Andrew says, "It was an intimidating and challenging project, but it was a lot of fun to write, and I'm really pleased with the final manuscript. It's my first book, so there's an extra level of excitement with this one."

"SHREK FOREVER AFTER" IS NOW DREAMWORKS' TOP INTERNATIONAL BOX OFFICE CHAMP It has grossed over $488 million in the international marketplace, and $238.4 million in the US for a total of $726.4 million.

SHREK AND KUNG FU PANDA SPECIALS TO AIR ON TV FOR HALLOWEEN AND IN NOVEMBER ON NBC The network has partnered with DreamWorks Animation for the half-hour holiday specials Scared Shrekless to air Oct. 28 and Kung Fu Panda Holiday Special to air on Nov. 24. On Oct. 28 NBC will also re-screen Monsters vs. Aliens: Mutant Pumpkins From Outer Space created for the 2009 Halloween season and on Nov. 24 the TV special Merry Madagascar that also first aired in 2009. In Shrekless, Shrek challenges Fiona, Donkey, Puss in Boots and the other fairy-tale characters to spend the night in Lord Farquaad's haunted castle telling scary stories. In Panda Po has to choose between his family obligations and his duty as Dragon Warrior when he's ordered to host a formal winter feast at the Jade Palace.

THE "WASHINGTON POST" MENTIONS CLARISSA MATALONE The article said "SPX's (Small Press Expo) first Animation Showcase offered an eminently entertaining array of styles and story, tone and technique. Featured were more than a dozen shorts -- some stop-motion, some hand-drawn. Particular highlights were Wonders of Nature: Our National Parks Yosemite, by Clarissa Matalone and Suck It Up, by Rebecca Boensch." Clarissa is a recent graduate from SF State.

DHX MEDIA ACQUIRES WILDBRAIN ENTERTAINMENT DHX Media, a Canadian producer and distributor of television programming and interactive content, has acquired 100% of Wildbrain Entertainment, the LA-based, (formerly SF-based) entertainment company that began in San Francisco in 1994. DHX paid approximately $8 million for the firm and said that further money would be payable subject to the financial performance of the Yo Gabba Gabba property over the next three years. It appears DHX was after the studio's major assets, The Ricky Gervais Show (HBO) and Yo Gabba Gabba that launched on Nickelodeon in 2007 and is now a durable franchise. It appears the LA studio will continue to exist.



Sat. Oct. 9 at 5 PM, TIM HITTLE TRIBUTE world premiere of The Quiet One with The Potato Hunter (1991) and Can Head (1966, Oscar nom.). At 142 Throckmorton, Mill Valley.

Mon. Oct. 11, at 5 PM, 5 @ 5: WATCHING THE WHEEL, a program of new animated shorts at the Sequoia in Mill Valley. Also on Thurs. Oct. 14 at 5 PM the same show is at the Rafael.

Thursday, October 14. at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Jordan Belson: Films Sacred and Profane featuring new preservation prints. Belson, a local artist, explores consciousness, transcendence, and light in an extraordinary body of abstract films that has been called "cosmic cinema." Unfortunately his amazing work is rarely seen. Program includes Caravan (1952), a new preservation print of Chakra (1972), Music of the Spheres, the Bay Area premiere of Epilogue (2005), and others. Cindy Keefer from the Center for Visual Music in LA will introduce the program.

"MY DOG TULIP" OPENS OCT. 15 IN THE BAY AREA It has been held over at the Film Forum in NYC, at least till the end of this month! I'm extremely impressed with the film (see previous newsletters), as are numerous critics and fans. "I was absolutely swept away by this film. It is witty and wise and brilliantly animated "a work of art," says Mel Brooks. "Restores human feeling to animation, a post-Pixar miracle," says Armond White, New York Press. "A complex love story" One of the finest, most insightful chronicles of inter-species devotion," says The Village Voice. "A witty, honest and genuinely poignant tale filled with wisdom and humor. It's unlike any dog movie you've ever seen." - Rotten Tomatoes (they gave it a 93 ra ting). "Words are insufficient: One wants to bark with joy," says NY Magazine. Animation director Michael Sporn is so fond of it that his blog has not one but three rave reviews to emphasize how wonderful Tulip is.

Sunday, October 24, 2:00 PM, Castro Theatre, "ANIMALS UNITED 3D." The 15th Annual Berlin & Beyond Film Festival, a presentation of the Goethe-Institute SF, will host a special screening of Germany's first 3D animated feature. The plot deals with the animals of the African savannah being faced with a severe water shortage. Somehow several animals not normally found in Africa also join them in their search. They discover that a new luxury hotel has built a giant dam and is wasting the life supporting liquid. The animals "defend themselves, in what becomes the kick-off of a turbulent offensive full of beastly tricks." This sounds like a fun family feature with an ecological message.

WEDNESDAY. OCT. 27, ASIFA-SF AND ACME FILMWORKS PRESENTS "THE 12TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS" free for ASIFA-SF members who RSVP + 1 guest, includes The Mask by Bros. Quay. Seating limited.

SATURDAY, NOV. 6, 10 to 11:30 AM, Master Class: Animating at Pixar Pixar Supervising Animator, Bobby Podesta of Toy Story 2 and 3, takes you behind-the-scenes. He has worked at Pixar for over 13 years. Reservations required; (707) 284 - 1263 for cost and to RSVP. Charles M. Sc hulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane Santa Rosa.

Nov. 11-14, SF INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL At Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, presenting "bold and exciting animated films from around the world."


MUSEUM OF MODERN ART IN NYC RECOGNIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF JOHN CANEMAKER'S NEW BOOK WITH A TWO DAY EVENT On Oct. 1 at 7 PM John will present his 75 min. talk on Two Guys Named Joe: Master Storytellers Joe Grant and Joe Ranft. The talk will be similar to his recent impressive presentation here at the Disney Family Museum. On Oct. 2 at 2 they will screen films Ranft worked on and at 5 films Grant worked on including Dumbo.

SCREENINGS OF "IDIOTS AND ANGELS" IN LA AND NYC SET It will open at the IFC Center in New York on Wednesday, October 6 along with his new award-winning short The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger. Bill will make personal appearances at evening screenings on Wed. Oct. 6, and Thur. Oct. 7.

Idiots and Angels opens at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theater in LA on October 29. Bill will make appearances at the opening night screenings.

While in LA ASIFA-Hollywood will present "Tom Sito's Evening with Bill Plympton" on Oct. 27 at Woodbury College. He will also do a signings at Amoeba in Hollywood on Oct. 28, 8 pm, and at Dark Delicacies Bookstore in Burbank on October 31, 2-4 pm.

JAN SVANKMAJER HAS PREMIERED "SURVIVING LIFE THEORY AND PRACTICE" AT THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL It is described as a Czech psychoanalytical comedy starring Václav Helšus, Klara Issova and Zuzanna Kronerova. It is a mix of cutout animation of photographs and live-action segments, and tells the story of a married man who lives a double life in his dreams, where he is married to another woman. A reviewer said, "Scripted by Svankmajer himself, based on his own dreams, the story pursues the reasons behind Evzen's dual personality through Evzen's eager exploration of his own duality. Personally, I feel the story feels secondary and merely a platform for Svankmajer to shuffle his aesthetic illusions, as it has been the stills that have stayed with me the past few days rather than the narrative." It premiered out of competition in Venice, will be in the London Film Festival and then will have its Czech premiere on November. Svankmajer says it may be his last film.

At the start of the film Svankmajer appears on screen and warns viewers that the technical choices are not down to matters of style but of budget, that the film is psychoanalytical because a psychoanalyst is featured in it and her participation is not a meta-reflection but a necessary addition due to the insufficient length of the film. He also says, "Our society no longer trusts dreams, if they can't be capitalized, but, as Georg Christoph Lichtenberg suggests, only the fusion of dream and reality can create a full human life." (Georg was a noted 18th Cent. scientist whose collection of memorable maxims or aphorisms was published after his passing.)

Look for a trailer and stills on the Internet. They suggest he has created fascinating and complex visuals using cutouts. He also has some scenes in which people are in color and the spaces they are in are in black and white. I look forward to seeing it and a short documentary, Sewing through dream (Oral Variations of the Svankmajer Dream/Film) shot during the filming of Surving Life. "It outlines the interpolations of dreams into reality and vice versa in Svankmajer's visionary world."

ADAM ELLIOT ("HARVIE KRUMPET" AND "MARY AND MAX") HAS A BOOK OF HIS DRAWINGS COMING OUT He writes, "The lovely literates at Penguin Books are going to publish my book called The A to Z of Unfortunate Dogs. It will be in Australian bookstores in a few months. It is a rhyming picture book containing twenty-six of my drawings, each about an unlucky dog. Making this book with Penguin has been a soothing experience mainly because, unlike my films, it has not taken five years and cost millions of dollars to complete. Drawing for me is such an agreeable, cathartic and above all, cheap experience. I draw when I'm feeling down, draw when I'm confused and even draw when I get angry. A fat glass of red wine, a thin piece of watercolor paper, my old wobbly ink bottl e and ink nib, is all I need to soothe my brain and make the world a little more bearable."

PIXAR ANIMATION IS GREAT, SO WHY ISN'T DISNEY'S? Although John Lasseter was given an impressive title and role in the Disney/Pixar Empire when Disney purchased the studio, there are few signs that he has been able to reverse their recent lackluster record. While there was hope of great changes, John is now spending less time in LA. He is busy co-directing Cars 2.

A while back Ed Hooks on his blog discussed Disney's problems and Cartoon Brew posted (June 22) another hint that the front office at Disney is resisting change. Amid Amidi of Cartoon Brew reported animator Matt Williams, who worked on The Princess and the Frog, wrote on his blog, "My ONLY desire (is) to see Disney recognize how far they have fallen because quite honestly I think we all care quite a lot about the studio that a guy named Walt started, don't we?" Amid then said, "Matt's thesis is that a feature animation studio should offer at least three things: a place with amazing films that challenge and inspire their artists, an environment of camaraderie (with the crew) where people are challenged and inspired to grow and an environment of active education and study. According to him, Disney fails on all three counts. Watching The Princess and the Frog makes it clear enough that there are serious institutional problems at that studio, but Matt's post adds a unique perspective to the situation. If anything, he shows that it's just as difficult for the artists working on Disney's current crop of films as it is for the audiences who are expected to watch and be entertained by them." I suspect that Disney, rather than take Matt's criticism to heart, read Matt the riot act as Matt has since removed the post from his blog.

IMPRESSIVE X-RATED ANIMATED AIDS PSA IS ON THE INTERNET Aides Graffiti is a humorous 98-second French film that has won three Lion awards at the Cannes International Advertising Festival. The director is Yoann Lemoine and it was animated using Flash and then composited in After Effects over footage shot in a bathroom. It first aired Jan. 19, 2010 and by searching for "aides graffiti" you should find it on YouTube, Vimeo, and other websites.


As a kid I was warned to avoid bad guys who lurked in dark places and introduced unsuspecting youths to the unmentionable evils of the world. While I never met any of those evildoers in person, their friends did try to tempt me into indulging in dangerous addictive substances. And just who were they? Why Willie the Kool Penguin, Joe Camel, the Hamm's Bear, Tony the Tiger, The Trix Rabbit and other innocent looking cute animals. Also getting paid to do no good were Fred Flintstone who promoted Winston cigarettes, Bert and Harry Piels (Piels Beer), Cap'n Crunch and the very sexy Muriel Lady who told me in a Mae West sounding voice to "come up and smoke me sometime."

They were all animated spokespersons for tobacco, alcohol and junk food products, now considered unhealthy substances by many people. While Congress banned cigarette advertising on TV in 1971 and a bill designed to fight childhood obesity by regulating junk food advertising aimed at kids is presently stalled on Capitol Hill, the powerful alcohol industry is still free of federal laws controlling its advertising policies.

This paper will first touch on how a powerful and effective advertising industry tries to corrupt us, and what it takes to attempt to regulate them. Keep in mind advertising income is what keeps commercial TV stations on the air. The second part of this article will discuss animated films that either are designed to prevent young people from becoming hooked on substances that are harmful or are films designed to encourage people with problems to seek help to overcome their dependencies.

Brainwashing America

TV ads seen day in and day out by people who watch a lot of TV do manipulate their buying habits. Well-advertised brands sell a lot more goods than generic versions of the commodity that may be just as good and less expensive. A lot of people place their faith in what they see and hear on TV.

Animated ads made for TV got started in 1941 when Otto Messmer, the creator of Felix the Cat, designed and animated a lamb for Botany all wool ties. Progress in the TV industry stalled with the coming war, but took off again after it ended. As more TV sets were sold more advertisers wanted to get a piece of the action. By 1948 Shamus Culhane was animating the first Muriel Cigar ads, the Fletcher Smith studio was animating Willie the Penguin coming out from the side of a cigarette pack and saying, "Smoke Kools" and David Hilberman, who opened Tempo in 1947, told me his first commercials were made for Camel Cigarettes. Jack Zander, who ran Transfilm, was also producing Camel ads. Zander told me "no shop in town was big enough to handle all the ads" as Camel sponsored the nightly news on NBC and they had ordered enough animated and live action ads so that it would take five weeks before an ad would be repeated. Zack Schwartz, who was Hilberman's partner when the studio opened, told me at first the artwork was not fully animated. "We called it limited animation. At first, clients were horrified at the cost of animation, but when they saw how effective it could be, they ceased to complain and more and more full animation budgets were allocated."

As TV flourished so did animation studios producing commercials for tobacco, alcohol and products less questionable today. When I interviewed several pioneers of TV advertising about 20 years ago, nobody expressed regrets about creating tobacco ads. One animator thought they mainly convinced people already smoking to switch brands.

Recently I wrote Howard Beckerman, an advertising pioneer who had a NY animation studio, that I was writing this article. He wrote back, "They most certainly enticed viewers to buy cigarette products, as did the pervasive on screen smoking of popular Hollywood movie actors" Animation, when used by the unscrupulous, can be harmful, and even deadly. Show how happy cartoon characters gain our trust, but then stab us in the back. Call it Animation's Dark Side!"

It seems logical to me that constantly seeing dozens of 30-second and one-minute ads every day promoting products is a far more effective way of influencing the public than what the TV industry did to keep their broadcasts wholesome. Starting in the late 1940s, to assure the public and sponsors the medium was squeaky clean, they imposed draconian censorship rules. They censored footage from live action films and cartoons that had been OK to show when they were made and shown in movie theatres. You can learn all about the absurd things that have been cut or banned by searching the Internet for articles or by reading my book Forbidden Animation. TV censorship is not only still going on, it has become a much bigger and more complex issue.

Restrictions on advertising cigarettes

The power of corporations and advertising can be seen clearly in the fight to police the tobacco industry. The first medical study to link tobacco use with lung cancer dates from 1912, but critics said it was inconclusive. During World War I coffin nails was a slang term for cigarettes. Readers Digest published, "Does Tobacco Injure the Human Body?" in 1924 and the article concluded it does. Medical research in the 1930s in England, the US and Germany detected links between tobacco and lung cancer. In 1941 Adolph Hitler called tobacco "one of the most deadly poisons." In the late 1950s Dr. Mary Weitzman, my aunt who taught at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, sent me a cartoon of a new cigarette filter. It had a mouse in it. When the mouse dies of cancer you replace it.

It took decades to finally gather enough medical evidence and pressure, including a US Surgeon General Report in 1964, to convince Congress to pass the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act that banned tobacco ads on TV and radio. That law went into effect on January 2, 1971 and it was expanded on June 22, 2010 when the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act went into effect. The new law prohibits tobacco companies from sponsoring sports, music, and other cultural events or to use T-shirts, hats and other apparel to promote their products.

Hollywood, presumably reacting to studies that conclude youths that are heavily exposed to onscreen smoking are approximately two to three times more likely to begin smoking than youths who are lightly exposed (a similar, but smaller effect exists for young adults), has been limiting the amount of smoking seen on screen. A new study of smoking in top grossing movies in the US from 1991-2009 states that the peak year was 2005 with 3,967 incidents in top grossing films. There were only 1,935 incidents in 2009, a 51% reduction.

Restrictions on junk food ads

A second public health issue is now being debated by Congress, the growing problem of childhood obesity. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states 26.7% of the US population (72.5 million people) are obese and the numbers are rising quickly. "More people will get sick and die from complications of obesity, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer" Obesity rates have doubled in adults and tripled in children in recent decades," says Dr. Thomas Frieden of the Center.

To avoid federal legislation sixteen major food companies (they accounted for about three-quarters of the food and beverage ads on children's television) agreed in 2007 to self-regulate their advertising of junk foods. While the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative has forced Tony the Tiger, The Trix Rabbit, Cap'n Crunch and other stars off the air, which of course reduced the income of several animation studios, critics are not pleased with the way the initiative works as it allows each company to set their own nutritional standards. There are still some products loaded with sugar and saturated fats being advertised on programs aimed at children.

Due to continued lobbying by public interest groups who say the voluntary system does not go far enough to fight childhood obesity, the government has drawn up tougher guidelines. That proposed law is presently stalled in Congress and the Federal Trade Commission has suggested that to avoid a major fight over the bill that might kill it, they think industry should voluntarily accept the proposed changes. If the bill passes in its present form it would ban more ads with animated spokespersons including spots for Lucky Charms, Cocoa Pebbles and Froot Loops. All those products have more sugar than is recommended. The proposed regulations would also ban ads for products like McDonald's Happy Meals that contain too much saturated fat. Several candy makers say they will no longer advertise during kids programming hours if the law passes. It is even possible that the skinny Tinker Bell will be grounded from Peter Pan Peanut Butter ads and there will be pressure to remove the peanut butter and jelly sandwich from school lunches.

On the local level, in August 2010, a member of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco, CA introduced a bill to ban fast food restaurants from giving away toys or other free premiums if the item or meal purchased contains too much fat, sugar, salt or too many calories. Earlier this year Santa Clara County in California became the first county to pass such a law. The toys, often based on popular animated cartoon characters are not being banned. The laws simply encourage kids to consume healthier foods in order to get a free toy.

Animators have addressed the subject of overeating in several films. One of the first is Pigs is Pigs (1937, on YouTube), a Merrie Melodies cartoon starring Piggy Hamhock who dreams of a "kindly" old man inviting him to a feast. He ends up strapped into a chair and forced fed by a Feed-O-Matic machine. A bloated Piggy is eventually set free, but he can't resist taking another bite of turkey and bursts! Piggy awakes, his mother calls him to breakfast and having learned nothing from his dream he begins to once again pig out.

Gluttony is also the plot of Andy Panda in Apple Andy (1946) when Andy dreams he is in hell and a devil has him strapped into a Feed-O-Matic machine. In Butterscotch and Soda (1948, on YouTube) Little Audrey dreams she is in a land of candy where she over indulges. In 1951 Goofy had outrageous problems in Tomorrow We Diet (on YouTube). Other stars who have overdosed on food include Gumby in the episode Grub Grabber Gumby (1957, based on Pigs is Pigs) and Homer in "The Devil and Homer Simpson," one of three segments that make up a Halloween special called Treehouse of Horror IV (1993). On the DVD of that Simpsons episode, Matt Groening, the creator of the series, says that his all time favorite sequence in a cartoon is the Feed-O-Matic section of Pigs is Pigs and it was the inspiration for the episode.

Perhaps the most remarkable film about gluttony is Hunger by Peter Foldes (1974, NFB of Canada, Oscar nomination, see it on YouTube). It was honored in part for being the first experimental figurative computer film of note, and also for being a horrific cautionary tale of a man who becomes a giant eating machine. He ends up dreaming that he is surrounded by hundreds of emaciated starving people with sharp teeth and as the film fades out they attack him.

Alcohol abuse

As for the powerful alcohol industry, it remains self-regulated. (It has lots of friends in Washington.) Alcohol abuse costs society billion each year in emergency room and treatment expenses, criminal justice expenditures, and lost productivity, due to either alcohol-related illness or premature deaths. It destroys families. Alcohol related diseases kills thousands of people and the beverage results in drunk driving accidents that maim and kill innocent people.

A study from the 1990s claimed that by the time a teenager reaches driving age they will have seen 75,000 ads for alcohol products. Other studies conclude that advertising is effective in getting kids to eventually drink and that advertising influences what brands they will drink. By the beginning of this century the alcohol industry was spending over 2 billion dollars a year promoting its products. Alcohol advertisers sometimes say they run their ads when at least 75% of the viewers are assumed to be of drinking age, but networks like MTV that cater to young audiences carry lots of alcohol ads. There is no federal law that prevents them from being aired or federal rules regulating what hours the ads should be run.
The result of imbibing alcohol has been a theme in animated films dating back at least to Emil Cohl's The Hasher's Delirium (1910, France, on YouTube). And Edison's trick film Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (1906, on YouTube). While there is probably little humor in actually having delirium tremens, on film we can laugh and be amazed at the inventive images of animators. One of the greatest drunken hallucination sequences is the "Pink Elephants on Parade" from Disney's Dumbo (1941). Anti-drinking films range from Fat Albert in Ounce of Prevention (1975, by Filmation, an educational story made for use in schools, to John Callahan's I Think I Was an Alcoholic (1993, on YouTube), an extremely disturbing self-portrait that reveals how disgusting his life had become before he gave up alcohol.

Preventing and giving up addictions, dependencies and bad habits

Public health experts are concerned that the media doesn't do enough to encourage people to say no to tobacco, to reduce the amount of junk food they eat and to avoid becoming alcoholics and drug addicts. The advertising industry is constantly trying to remind us their products exist, but the guardians of public health don't have the financial means to constantly remind people about how to live healthier lives.

Influencing the minds of young people is a major issue. Advertisers create ads that kids will like. Why? Studies show most people who smoke take up the habit in their early teens (fewer people begin smoking after the age of 18). While there has been a decline in the number of kids who smoke over the years, almost 20% still take up the habit, more than 46 million adults smoke and Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, estimates smoking kills 1,000 Americans a day! He calls smoking the number once preventable cause of death in the United States.

Dr. Everett Koop, a former US Surgeon General says, "One of my biggest frustrations is that we can do a lot for the already addicted adult smoker through medications, patches and other forms of treatment, but no one has ever come up with a good system for passing this important message on to kids, to keep them from starting to smoke." Health experts know they have to do more to counteract the marketing campaigns of the tobacco industry, but they've lost momentum due to cuts in their anti-smoking campaign budgets.

The National Rifle Association also understands the importance of reaching future gun owners when they are young. That is why they have developed gun safety programs for kids and have created print campaigns and animated cartoons starring Eddie Eagle. Studies say people who didn't learn to shoot when they are young are a lot less likely to buy weapons as adults.

It is easy for actors and animators to create positive role models and symbols that are attractive to kids that promote products (Joe Camel, etc.), but hard to create successful heroes that give up something. Also, a single film, poster, pamphlet, comic books, etc. is not effective in itself, but by developing campaigns that use several ways to communicate your message, the cumulative experience builds up images or knowledge that an addiction or dependency is not a positive thing in your life.

I've talked with drug rehabilitation councelors about why people take up addictive habits. The short answer is peer pressure.

Worse, it is extremely hard to give up addictions. You may have heard people say the hardest thing I ever did was to give up" Emily Cohen, the Administrative Director and drug counselor with the Clearview Treatment Programs in Los Angeles, explained that it often takes an extreme medical or emotional crisis to "hit bottom," an experience that can result in a person getting serious about quitting. A complete rejection of that person by his family and friends or the loss of his source of funds can result in a person trying to quit. I was told people who are in denial and can't admit they have a serious problem are not likely to quit. They often blame others rather than accept responsibility for their situation or actions.

Animation director Paul Fierlinger knows how awful the results of smoking can be and about people in denial. He wrote me, "I had throat cancer as a result of my years of drinking and smoking. Every day that I went to the hospital for chemo and radiation treatments I would pass young technicians and nurses smoking outside the main hospital entrance. I'd sometimes point to the tracheotomy tube sticking out of my throat (and I had a general deathly appearance to my entire physique) and they would drop their eyes and some would nod - they understood what they are doing to themselves but couldn't stop. They did make a pitiful site" I believe that's a good part of the general campaign: keep the smokers bunched together, out in the limelight."

He also said, "When my kids were going to high school, I noticed kids outside the main entrance smoking. My son said that's the only designated area where the smokers are allowed to smoke, in front of everyone. What do you make of that rule? I asked, and he said it's OK because it shows the cool guys look like the jerks they are. It seems to me that a lot fewer college students smoke these days. They just drink themselves to death without the smokes."

Over the years animation has played a useful role in the campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of smoking. Probably the earliest anti-smoking cartoon is Wholly Smoke, an extremely impressive Porky Pig cartoon directed by Frank Tashlin in 1938 (in "Looney Tunes: Golden Collection #5," a DVD). In it Porky smokes a cigar, becomes dizzy and enters a world of nightmarish hallucinations where Nick O'Teen forces Porky to inhale far more smoke than he can handle.

There are hundreds of other noteworthy anti-smoking films. Disney showed smoking as an act of bad behavior in Pinocchio (1940) in a scene on Treasure Island, Donald Duck forced his nephews to smoke cigars till they got sick to teach them a lesson in Donald's Happy Birthday (1949, on YouTube, the kids bought Donald cigars as a present but he thought they were planning to smoke them). Goofy in No Smoking (1951, on YouTube) goes crazy trying to find a cigarette after he quits. Richard Williams produced Superman Hates Smokers (1980, on You Tube, animated by Eric Goldberg) in which Superman tosses the Nikoteen Joker into space when he is spotted offering a kid a smoke on a playground. (Gosh, Superman's x-ray vision can even see the harm tobacco does inside your body!) John Korty's Breaking the Habit (1964, Oscar nomination) was made for the American Cancer Society using a backlit cutout animation technique he calls Lumage.

Kaj Pindal's delightful King Sized (1968, is one of a series of humorous shorts the National Film Board of Canada made over a several year period for Canada's Department of Health and Welfare. Even more outrageous is Bill Plympton's 25 Ways to Quit Smoking (1989). J.J. Sedelmaier animated Mr. Butts Goes to Washington (1995, on YouTube, Mr. Butts is a character from the Garry Trudeau Doonsbury comic strip) made for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, pokes fun at a spokesperson for the tobacco industry. Dave Thomas' Not So Clever Trevor made by Wildbrain is yet another hilarious anti-smoking PSA set in a colorful carnival setting that won first place at Annecy 2000 in the advertising/PSA category. To see lots of contemporary examples just Google "animated films, anti-smoking" and have fun cruising the Internet.

One of the most exceptional anti-smoking/drug films is And Then I'll Stop" Does Any Of This Sound Familiar? by Paul Fierlinger (1989), a 22-minute animated documentary. The soundtrack is a series of interviews edited together so we hear several people telling us how they got started with their dependencies, then how their lives changed, how awful their lives got, and eventually why they joined a recovery program. The images that accompany each person's dialog are drawn differently to represent their personality (uptight, wild, etc.).

When And Then I'll Stop" was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in NY in 1990, the NY Times wrote, "A brilliant work of animation on a most atypical theme" Paul Fierlinger interviews several addicts and alcoholics and creates tremendously ingenious illustrations of what they have to say. Far from the talking-head footage that would ordinarily accompany these kinds of documentary-film disclosures, the lost weekends and shifting sands of the addict's world are vigorously and imaginatively evoked" clearly represents, for Mr. Fierlinger, both a personal and professional triumph." The film won Best Educational Film at Ottawa 1990 and other festival prizes. It is available from Pyramid Media, on VHS tape. They also sell his anti-smoking film The Quitter.

Tips for animators

There is a continuing need for creative films to inform people about the concerns of health associations. Animators between jobs might consider creating such a film for your show reel. If it is well made and effective you may find outlets for it on the Internet and with film festivals.

If you have a solid background and access to a skilled production team if needed, limited funds may be available for extremely well thought out projects. At SF State students under the leadership of an instructor have created promotional 35mm trailers for three Berlin and Beyond festivals. They were shown in local theaters to promote it and at the actual festival. In exchange the festival donated money to the animation program to cover expenses and to upgrade equipment.

George Evelyn, who has worked as an animation director at Colossal Pictures and Wildbrain, suggests one way to make professional contacts is to join local advertising clubs or associations, as they sometimes get involved with pro-bono campaigns. Having your work seen by creatives and account guys at the agencies can later result in other work. By making contacts at the SF Ad Club and through other associations he has obtained work as an illustrator for the Atlanta Zoo, the "Rock the Vote" drive, and on an energy conservation awareness campaign. (Years ago I showed my special effects reel at an Informational Film Producers Association meeting and ended up with a great job that lasted for several years.)

Wildbrain pitched and won a sub-contract to produce the animation for the anti-bullying web campaign Stop Bullying Now. It was from the group that received the overall contract from the US Department of Health and Human Services. (Normally advertising agencies went to them with job proposals).

If you decide you want to pitch a project to an ad agency, to a non-profit health association or to a local, state or federal health department, be up-to date on your vocabulary. I recently wrote a short piece about an animation project with handicapped clients. I showed the teacher my article before it was finished and he told me his clients now consider themselves as having "different abilities" and they prefer not being called handicapped.

When I was writing about depicting mental health in animated films, Adam Eliot informed me not to assume all people who have what we often call mental problems see those issues in a negative light. He pointed out some, including the real Max that Max in Mary and Max was based on; see their differences from the general population as "gifts." While they may not be skilled in the same ways as many people, they are special in other ways and are quite content with whom they are.

Also be careful about the images you show. Paul Fierlinger wrote me, "I made a TV spot around 1972 that features a little man facing the camera while taking a deep, pleasurable drag on a cigarette, followed by slowly blowing the smoke towards the ceiling while a serious narrator reads a litany of terrible statistics connecting deathly diseases to smoking. It was an ad for the American Lung Association. I noticed a strange thing whenever I showed the reel to a room full of people at ad agencies. Every single time at least two or three people lit up right in the middle of the spot, often including myself. The animation was so suggestive that it made us smoke and we were so deep in our addiction denials that none of us saw the irony in the picture nor listened to the narrator."

I had a friend who thought he had made a great anti-heroin short. It contained ghastly footage of somebody preparing his fix and shooting up. You saw the needle go under his skin and blood. I found it hard to watch, but when he showed it to a test audience at a drug treatment center their reaction was not what he expected. Nobody wanted to talk after they saw it so the meeting broke up. A few days later he was told the audience was so fascinated with the footage that they had relapses and had gone home to shoot up.

I also saw an anti-marijuana PSA by Hanna-Barbera on the Internet that used psychedelic artwork. On a blog somebody wrote that it was so cool he wanted to smoke a joint. So avoid using what you consider negative images that inadvertently might be viewed as quite positive to somebody attracted to your subject matter.

It is ironic that there is a lot of animation suggesting people might enjoy consuming tobacco, junk foods and alcohol, but it is quite difficult to find ways to create "cool" and convincing media to prevent people from trying potentially harmful substances and/or to seek help in breaking bad habits. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) spent $1.4 billion between 1998-2006 on anti-drug campaigns including the controversial Above the Influence program, and both critics and the Government Accountability Office concluded the programs have largely been a waste of money. Google "Above the Influence" and decide for yourself if the films work. Also there are links to somewhat amusing parodies.
If you want to be on the cutting edge think about making a film warning about the dangers of meth, an addictive drug that destroys people quickly and it is a hard addiction to treat. Due to its low cost it is reported to be almost everywhere in the US, from tiny rural communities to major cities.

To combat meth use the ONDCP and several non-profit groups across the country have been funded anti-meth campaigns. Probably the largest one is in the state of Montana. Their website says that they are the largest advertiser in the state and through saturation advertising 70 to 90% of the state's teens sees their messages three times a week. The ads are quite frank and disturbing to look at. They show that meth disfigured users who tried it just once. They can be seen on the Internet.

Some critics say these shocking ads are not reaching enough kids, as their friends who have used the drug just once or twice are not messed up like the kids in the ads. Apparently when the drug is first used people feel euphoric and may not be aware that the drug can do serious damage to their body. With continued use the euphoric pleasure vanishes, skin eruptions occur and you have a nasty addiction. Critics are calling for new approaches to combat the drug.

Animation should be effective in convincing young people that they don't want to risk making their lives miserable for a few quick thrills. It can tell an audience in an entertaining rather than scary way that risking your future for the sake of fitting in with friends that drink and/or use drugs can lead to disastrous consequences.

How? One way can be seen in the plot structures of films like Wholly Smoke, King Sized, Pigs is Pigs and Hunger. Each has a star that is interested in smoking or overeating and they become trapped in a nightmare situation that becomes ever increasingly intense. In the first two films the star enters a world where they are forced to constantly smoke, cough and choke until they escape it. In the last two films the eating binges continue until the stars explode. Animation exaggeration can go far beyond what you can do in live action films. That surreal quality fascinates people while it gets your point across; that it isn't wise to overeat, smoke, or to mess with alcohol or dangerous drugs. Have fun thinking up the craziest nightmare you can imagine.

An unusual approach to undermining tobacco advertising is seen in Mr. Butts Goes to Washington. Mr. Butts is an un-cool, fast talking spokesman for the tobacco industry that answers questions before a Congressional committee with stupid gibberish. While Mr. Butts is a copyrighted character, you might create your own character and claim they were once a famous animated cartoon star that had promoted junk food or tobacco. Show them as an older depressing looking character as they tell how they ruined their own or other lives selling stuff on TV. I can also imagine somebody interviewing Mrs. Camel about her son Joe's bad habits or perhaps about how he got her hooked on tobacco (cough).

Have fun thinking up concepts about how animation can be used to combat meth, tobacco, junk food or other harmful substances. Creating a short film isn't easy, but you can feel good about doing one that hopefully will help others avoid or overcome an addiction.


JAPANESE ANIMATION LOST TWO EXCEPTIONAL DIRECTORS IN AUGUST Satoshi Kon, who was 46 and died from pancreatic cancer, is best known in the US for his film Paprika, 2006. Paprika was full of wonderful and complex images that often took on unexpected lives of their own. He was in post-production on The Dream Machine that he called "a road movie for robots." The other features he directed are Perfect Blue, 1998; Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfather.

Kihachiro Kawamoto (1925-2010), who was 85 and died of pneumonia, was Japan's brilliant master of stop-motion puppet animation. His career as a stop-motion artist started in Japan in 1950. He co-founded his commercial studio to do work for TV in 1958. In 1963 he studied with Jiri Trinka in Prague for a year. Returning to Japan he began to create a series of impressive shorts based on great Japanese and Chinese literature. Among them are Breaking of Branches is Forbidden (1968), The Demon (1972), House of Flame (1979) Briar Rose, or Sleeping Beauty(1990) and two features Rennyo and His Mother (1981) and The Book of the Dead (2005).

BILL LITTLEJOHN, A REMARKABLE ANIMATOR, WAS 96 WHEN HE DIED IN HIS SLEEP Bill started his career in NYC at Van Beuren in the early '30s, got a degree in aeronautical engineering in the mid-30s, but found engineers boring so he went back to animating for Haerman-Ising (MGM) in LA. He supported the strikers at Disney and the former Chicago mobster Willie Bioff tried to take him "for a ride" (he got out of the car). He became a test pilot during WWII while freelancing for MGM and Lantz. After MGM he worked for a lot of other studios (Melendez, J. Ward, etc.). He worked on many of the Hubley films as well as on Peanut specials.

His love of animation included his fondness for work from other countries. He was a founder of ASIFA-Hollywood and the Tournee of Animation. He attended early Annecy festivals and was active with the international board of ASIfA. He was a president of the Screen Cartoonists' Guild and was on the Academy's Board of Governors from 1988-2001.

DON'T MISS JOANNA PRIESTLY'S "MISSED ACHES" ON THE INTERNET It is quite funny unless you are an English teacher. Nicely animated by Priestly and a great soundtrack (written and read by Tailor Mali, sound design by Normand Roger and Pierro Yves Drapeay).

Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Animations Dark Side was written for Animatoon, published in Korea. Contributors to it include George Evelyn, Howard Beckerman, Julie Murphy, Paul Fierlinger, Paul Mular, John Hays, Adam Eliot, Emily Cohen and several other friends.
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 the SF State Animation Club for hosting our Sept. event, to The G Man who sends 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 - to Tara Beyhm our VP and to our treasurer Karen Lithgow.
ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world.
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or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122

the first festival she entered it in!


Coyote and Roadrunner star in Coyote Falls
with special guests
Wednesday, Oct. 27 at 7 pm, free
Current ASIFA-SF members can bring one guest, please RSVP by Oct. 26
Final confirmations will be sent out before the 19th or on Oct. 26 as I will be out of the country Oct. 19 - 25
RSVP to to attend this event
If you wish to join visit for membership information
At Dolby Labs 100 Potrero Ave. SF - arrive early to sign in

Once again Ron Diamond has selected an exceptional program of 8 films (plus he might just show an extra surprise), to be shown in 35mm and in high-resolution digital formats. Ron has consistently featured films that have gone on to be considered for Oscar nominations. To date 18 have received nominations and five in the first 11 shows received the award (Father and Daughter, 2000; Harvie Krumpett 2003; Ryan, 2004; The Danish Poet, 2006 and La Maison en Petite Cubes, 2008) program:

THE SILENCE BENEATH THE BARK, Joanna Lurie, France, winner of 5 first prizes, this nocturnal tale brimming with tenderness combines 3D characters & photography GALERIA, Robert Proch, Poland, funny, often grotesque situations based on male-female relationships seen in shopping malls. TvPaint and pen drawing tablet MASKA, Brothers Quay, England and Poland, an "it" is created piece by piece and becomes an automation disguised as a beautiful Duenna sent on a mission in a courtly kingdom to track down and kill" stop-motion and 3D

THE COW THAT WANTED TO BE A HAMBURGER, Bill Plympton, USA, a fable about the power of advertising, the meaning of life and ultimately the test of a mother's love, 2D, hand-drawn LUIS, Cristobal Leon, Niles Ata and Joaquin Cocina, Chile, awards at Zagreb & 4 other festivals, stop-motion and hand drawn 2D

LOVE AND THEFT, Andreas Hykade, Studio Film Bilder, Stuttgart, Germany, 4 festival prizes (Annecy, Fantoche, Zagreb and Poznan), based on lyrics by Bob Dylan, 2D, Hykade produced Ring of Fire and The Runt

COYOTE FALLS, Matthew O'Callaghan at Warner Bros. Animation with Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote, USA, Coyote thinks he has a foolproof plan using an Acme bungee cord" 3D and in stererscopic 3-D in select theatres

THE LOST THING, Shaun Tan & Andrew Ruhemann, Australia & UK, best short awards at Annecy, Melbourne and Australian Effects and Animation Festival, based on an award-winning picture book, a boy finds a strange creature on a beach and decides to find a home for it in a world where everyone believes there are far more important things to pay attention to, 3D

Hard to find DVDs of international animation, including many of the films in past Animation Show of Shows, will be available in the lobby before and after this program. There are three films on each DVD and individual DVDs are only $5. Deluxe, boxed sets of six DVDs are $30. A total of 36 different DVDs are available; They are also available online at

"A treasure trove of inspiration and animation magic." Nick Park

Karl Cohen