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

January 2012

JOHN LASSETER, DESCRIBING HIS EARLY YEARS WITH PIXAR, SAID, "WE WERE THE REBELS DOING SOMETHING NEW!" HE WAS ON CHARLIE ROSE'S TV SHOW (PBS) FOR A FULL HOUR. It was an informative, pleasant conversation that began by his talking about working for Steve Jobs and John's background. It ended with mentions of works-in-progress (Pete Docter is developing a film that goes inside a girl's mind where her emotions will appear as different characters). John talked about wanting to be an animator after finding out people could actually make a living doing it. He mentioned his education, working at Disney and joining ILM's computer department as one of their two animators. Jobs eventually bought the department for $10 million, $5 to George Lucas and $5 as seed money to what became Pixar. Pixar lost money for Jobs the first 9 years he owned it, but he believed in it and believed it would eventually become a great company. When Charlie asked about the present value of Pixar, John replied Disney bought it for $7.4 billion a few years ago.

John said he loves the technology, but story and character development are the basic reasons for the company's success. He believes in using film characters with well developed personalities and films with a mixture of emotional content and humor. He aims his stories at audiences with a high intellect rather than trying to dumb them down. His films have to be believable, but not realistic. The computer and its ability to create lots of details allow him to create that believable space. He defined his position at Pixar as the creative head and say Jobs headed marketing. They worked closely together to create the best possible films. And they did.

Fortunately Charlie Rose shows are available for free online. If you missed the broadcast see it at

Click on John's name for his Dec. 2, 2011 broadcast. Three earlier appearances are also available.

PHIL TIPPETT HAS DIRECTED A NASTY SHORT THAT IS WINNING FESTIVAL GOLD MutantLand is set in a dark ominous world full of monsters of all shapes and sizes. In the three-minute animated short hunters are lured into a forbidden zone in their search for food only to find themselves as candidates for someone else's dinner. The short is the first episode from a planned series of adventures.

MutantLand has been shown by 16 film festivals and has won "Best Short Film" awards at the British Horror Film Festival and A Night of Horror International Film Festival in Australia. It has also been shown on the Internet by Ain't It Cool News

DID YOU SEE THE WHALE FREED FROM A FISHING NET DANCING FOR JOY ON YOUTUBE? THE DIRECTOR IS ELI NOYES Congratulations Eli. Eli also designed the ecology stamps our postal service released this year. He heads the local animation company Alligator Planet, worked at Colossal developing new uses for CG technology and has received an Oscar nomination.

OUR REDESIGNED ASIFA-SF WEBSITE HAS BEEN UP FOR A YEAR - IT COULD USE SOME HELP FROM YOU It is a steady source of news and updates, but it can be a lot more with your help. We need member support to expand our database of information, to add new posts, and to comment on the shows and events that they attend. Please visit and leave a comment on any recent post. Also, let us know if you'd like to join our roster of bloggers! Contact Joe Sikoryak, creative director,

THE FORMER ILM/KERNER SOUND STAGE MAY REOPEN "SOON" The folks at Reel Directory say they have it on good authority that the legendary ILM sound stage at 3210 Kerner Boulevard, San Rafael, will be re-opening for business sometime this year. The former Lucas facility includes the buildings where years and years of ILM magic was created before they went digital.


"EVERYDAY FISHBONE," it opens Jan. 6 at the Roxie (3117 16th St @ Valencia) This is a well made doc. about the rise and fall of this punk group. It includes several nice animated segments by present or former Pixar animators that help make it an enjoyable film experience. 107 minutes, a film by Lev Anderson and Chris Metzler


Friday, Jan 13th at 7:30, ASIFA-SF PRESENTS OUR ANNUAL WINTER OPEN SCREENING FOR ANIMATED WORKS At the Exploratorium's McBean Theatre, free, public invited, anyone is invited to bring animated work (16mm, DVD, VHS tape). We also plan to show new outstanding films from Canada. See flyer for details.

Jan. 20 - 26, "FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS" at SF Film Society Cinema, 1746 Post Street. In this anime tale set in an alternate world two brothers use alchemy for highly sophisticated scientific applications.

Wed., Feb. 8, 7 pm, THE GREEN WAVE at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. This is great propaganda film that exposes a very inhumane political system that will do horrible things to stay in power in Iran including killing its people in order to stifle descent. See it by all means.

The Green Wave by Ali Samadi Ahadi (Germany, Iran). It is a part-animated film for adults about the hope people had in Iran in 2009 that a more liberal government would be elected. The film's first half-hour captures that sense of hope followed by shock, despair and anger as it becomes obvious the election results were being manipulated by the established government. The rest of the film focused on the grim events that met people who took to the streets to protest.

The filmmakers had to work with a lot of low resolution footage shot with cell phones. Determined to complete this project they worked with artists to illustrate sequences where useful live action images were lacking. The story is so powerful and gripping that it didn't bother me that much of the "animation" was simply camera movement over static drawings or that the artwork was not of the highest quality. What counted was the story of the suppression of a popular movement by a brutal regime.

What the Iranian government did was shocking, brutal and disgusting. People were treated inhumanely, tortured and killed. In the film a woman protestor tells us about the horrors she experienced in jail and that after she was set free she realized she was not free, as Iran today is a giant prison.

When the film was screened by the SF Film Festival the director noted the film begins with an optimistic view that people have a voice with their vote, but that view is shattered and the color green is replaced with the color red. The government-sanctioned horrors escalate until we hear near the end of the film a soldier admitting that the government had turned him into a savage beast.

The film is a powerful emotional experience that leaves you sorry for the oppressed and hoping they will eventually win their freedom. The director sees his film as a cautionary tale and says that what happened in Iran could happen in many countries, even in the US.


Married in Oregon, Dec. 23, 2011

NICK FOX GIEG'S LATEST SHORT IS ABOUT THE FIRST KNOWN COMPUTER HACKER Nick Fox-Gieg's Interregnum is based on the extraordinary career of Rene Carmille, history's first known computer hacker. He says, "Much of the Vichy bureaucracy, including the operation of the death camps, was automated with punch-card computers. However, the Nazis didn't understand the technology's potential vulnerabilities." See it at

HAS THE "UNCANNY VALLEY" BEEN CROSSED SUCCESFULLY? I asked Webster Colcord, who has worked with motion capture for The Orphanage, Imagemovers, and currently with Seth MacFarlane, how much of Tintin was animated. He wrote back, "It's all animated, but as far as I know most of it is animated using mocap as the base layer of the performance with animators augmenting it as per the director's wishes. There's no head replacement going on. Every part of every frame is rendered by the computer, though there may be some live action fx elements (smoke, for instance) here and there, I don't know."

"These films really are a hybrid, requiring lots of animation work that moves like live action. Like special effects shots that the audience doesn't know are effects, the animators' work is somewhat invisible."

When I saw Tintin I was convince the artists had created the heads of the five cartoony looking characters and placed them somehow on the bodies of live action actors. While Tintin's dog looks CG, I was sure the other actors, sets, etc. were real. I think the valley has been crossed successfully.

But what is the point of going to all that trouble and expense when make up artists can do amazing things. The comic book was drawn so Spielberg didn't create the same look in mocap. His main characters faces look somewhat goofy looking compared to his other characters and settings. KC

DO FILM FESTIVALS NEED TO REDEFINE WHAT ANIMATION IS? Should films that are computer generated art that imitates reality be judged in the same category as works that use animation to achieve wonderful journeys into magical spaces? How should festivals, including Annecy, the Oscars, etc. deal with this situation? While most animation is in some ways cartoony, Tintin is not, except in the design of the faces of a few major characters; the characters do not act at all cartoony. Tintin has the feel and look of an exciting live action Spielberg Indiana Jones type feature. It is realistic looking even though some of the action is over the top and may not believable. Any comments? Please e-mail them to

GENE DEITCH IS SPEAKING OUT ABOUT THE OSCARS INCLUDING FILMS USING EXTENSIVE AMOUNTS OF MOTION PICTURE TECHNOLOGY IN THE ANIMATED FEATURE CATEGORY Gene Deitch says, "Spielberg's Tintin is a whiz-bang production (totally unnecessary in 3D), but it's giving me a headache as an Academy voter. It proves more than ever that the Academy is on a crash course to category confusion. I may be about the oldest active Academy member, and I'm hurting that I spent so many years campaigning for a Feature Animation Oscar category. Where the hell does Tintin fit in? I've now realized that those of us who pushed for the Feature Animation category made a gross error. The Best Animated Feature award is mortally flawed in that no one seems to know what animation is. Every movie these days utilizes a broad range of technologies to achieve its visual effect."

"The over-sold Oscar ceremony is crippled by having only one Best Picture award. If the Academy would want to broaden its range of awards, I think that it might be better achieved by creating categories by content rather than technique! How about, Best Biographical Drama, Best Period Drama, Best Comedy, Best Musical, Best Social or Documentary Story, Best Action Fantasy, whatever? With the hurricane speed of technical advancement, I think movies should be judged according to what they are about, rather than how they were made!"

Gene later wrote me, "My only hope for the revival of truly unlimited graphics will be after the mocap and CGI folks finally achieve the perfect imitation of reality and thus will have no where left to go!"

He has also sent me a copy of the Academy Awards Official Rules from 2010. On p. 13 it says, "An animated feature film is defined as a motion picture with a running time of more than 40 minutes, in which movement and characters' performances are created by a frame-by-frame technique. Motion Capture by itself is not an animation technique. In addition, a significant number of the major characters must be animated, and animation must figure in no less than 75% of the picture's running time." KC

If you are interested in a fun read, Gene Deitch is writing Roll the Credits, a fascinating e-book about colorful people he has known and once worked with. Over half of it is already posted online at

DREAMWORKS IS CREATING TWO SPECTACULAR LIVE SHOWS FOR 2012. ONE IS BEING CREATED FOR GIANT ARENAS AND WILL FEATURE 24 ENORMOUS ANIMATRONIC DRAGONS Jeffrey Katzenberg spent part of November traveling around the world promoting the release of Puss in Boots. He then went to Australia to introduce the world to his latest friends, two full sized dragons that will be among the 24 to star in How to Train Your Dragon Arena Spectacular. The show (three years in development) will open in March in Melbourne and is scheduled to be presented in large arenas around the world. The show will be coming to the US in July.

Katzenberg says the show is "probably the biggest and most ambitious themed arena show that anybody has done before." Two videos of the monsters belching smoke are on YouTube and there is also a website for the show. In the videos they move like fearsome beasts. The two dragons shown to the press dwarf the tiny vehicles they are mounted on and the operator is barely visible. Will there be a strong enough story to keep the show exciting?

The Hollywood Reporter has announced DreamWorks Animation has begun storyboarding a sequel to How to Train your Dragon and they are developing Kung Fu Panda: The Arena Spectacular in China and that show should premiere there in September or October.

All the expenses and hype about this extravagant musical suggests it was warranted and it may break even someday. This technically complex production cost about $75 million to produce (other big Broadway musicals now cost between $5 and $15 million to produce), it went through serious script changes during tryouts, it got weak reviews when it finally, officially opened, and weekly expenses run about $1 million. It apparently makes between $100,000 and $300,000 a week over the break-even point. For the Thanksgiving weekend it set a box office record for the theatre, $2,070,195. The NY Times says that if the show runs for five years it will break even.

The paper's reporter spoke with the producers and says that to keep people coming to see it they are considering adding a new musical number each year so fans will come back and see the newest version. They are also talking about doing promotions with radio stations around the country where people will be flown to NY to see it and then go home to report on how great it was. They also are planning to fly in journalists from foreign countries to try to broaden their publicity. Don't be surprised if a version of the show opens in London or...

One of the producers is Michael Cohl, a former rock producer who helped create mega-tours for the Rolling Stones and other groups. It appears his outrageous ideas about producing mega-shows on Broadway could pay off in the long run and his ideas are probably influencing Disney and DreamWorks to expand the scope of their stage productions.

Viacom, Comedy Central and South Park got the lawsuit thrown out of court and then asked the judge to have Brownmark Films pay their legal fees. The lawsuit filed in Nov. 2010 was over the parody of Samwell's YouTube viral video What What (In The Butt) that the gang from South Park messed with. Brownmark claimed it was a copyright infringement, but a federal judge threw out the suit in July 2011, stating the use met all four fair-use factors. Viacom then asked to have Brownmark pay its legal fees. The judge agreed, ordering Brownmark to pay, but "taking pity on the small company" they were told to pay $31,525.23, not the $46,775.23 Viacom had requested,

Universal and Warner Bros. held a press conference to announce they will spend hundreds of millions of dollars building a Harry Potter attraction at Universal in Hollywood. It will include a Hogwarts castle. A union rep estimated there will be 800 construction jobs and it will have a positive effect on the L.A. economy. A county supervisor estimated that the Universal theme park currently generates $4.4 billion for the local economy. Gov. Jerry Brown says, "We're building the dream that never dies. We're truly a state of imagination. And the Harry Potter ride pushes us further down that uncertain road California is on." The press conference ended with a toast to the new project. Universal served "Butterbeer, a highly sugared soft drink." Universal opened The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at its Orlando resort in 2010.

DISNEY'S "BAMBI," "A COMPUTER ANIMATED HAND," A FILM BY JORDAN BELSON, A FILM PRODUCED BE GEORGE PAL AND A UNDERDGROUND COMEDY BY GEORGE KUCHAR HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY This year's list includes Ed Catmull's historic hand from 1972, a student project made in Utah that was part of the start of CG animation. Ed is now president of animation at Disney & Pixar. Belson's Allures (1961) is a historic abstract visionary film made in SF. Kuchar who made I an Actress (1977) also lived in SF. (Both Kuchar and Belson died in 2011.) George Pal was producer of War of the Worlds (1953).

The animation was projected on the facade of the Barcelona City Council building during Mercè 11 Festival (September 2011). All the strange images and sounds make it a lot of fun to watch.


VIDEO MAPPING THE NEW TEL AVIV MUSEUM OF ART This project produced for the opening of a new wing of the complex is a nice gentle abstract experience rather than an inappropriate one showing the new building exploding and falling apart or going up in flames. A group called Locomotion Animation Studio did the visuals.

AN OP ART VIDEO MAPPING PERFORMANCE IN ITALY The event, July 1 and 2, 2011 was part of the Kernel Festival in Italy. It strobes, pulses, and moves about in inventive ways. Also, unlike other projection shows, this one is in black and white.

You might be amused by these promotions on the Internet that are either an elaborate joke or a slightly absurd high tech British product. A retired teacher giggled as she watched these unbelievable videos and called it games for guys with a 4th grade mentality. It would cost a lot to develop this product, but a friend in France wrote me, "Trust free enterprise (capitalism) to find a way to make money out of anything!"


NANCY PHELPS RECOMENDS A NEW DVD FROM CANADA Nancy writes, "Check out the NFB of Canada's brand new Animation Express 2. The 21 films on the DVD include new films by such well known names in animation as Paul Driessen (Oedipe/ Oedius), Romance, a beautifully romantic saga by Georges Schwizgebel; and Academy Award Winner Koji Yamamura (les Cordes De Muybridge/Muybridge's Strings).

"Two of the 2011 Academy Awards short listed films are included on the DVD. Patrick Doyon's Dimanche/Sunday is a magical tale of life seen through a child's eyes and Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby's Une Vie Sauvage/Wild Life, set on the Canadian prairie.

The 21 shorts on two DVDs sell for $21.95 (lists for $34.85). Read more about Animation Express 2, see the trailer and order it at the NFB Store: and click on the digital boutique. You can also spend hours looking at outstanding NFB productions on this site for free.

FASCINATED BY THE WORK OF MOVIE TITLE DESIGNERS? Then check out Forget the Film, Watch the Titles! a 2 DVD set that was produced in Amsterdam. Much of disc one features recent foreign productions. Disc two contains documentaries about the designers.

"ARRUGAS" ("WRINKLES") IS AN ANIMATED FEATURE MADE FOR ADULTS THAT HAS BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN ANNIE AWARD AND HAS QUALIFIED FOR AN OSCAR! Wrinkles is a Spanish 2D production based on Paco Roca´s prize winning comic of the same title (it won Spain's National Comic Prize in 2008). It portrays the hijinks and friendship between Emilio and Miguel, two aged gentlemen shut away in an old age home. Recent arrival Emilio, who is in the early stages of Alzheimers, is helped by Miguel and colleagues to avoid ending up on the feared top floor of the care facility, also known as the lost causes or "assisted" floor. Their wild plans infuse their otherwise tedious day-to-day lives with humor and tenderness. Although for some at the home their lives are coming to an end, for them it is just beginning.

On the film's website Paco Roca says, "I haven´t really made anything up. The real anecdotes are so good they couldn´t be outdone. Emilio [the lead role] is the father of a good friend of mine... I also met a lady who spent all day sitting at a window convinced she was on a train. To get her to eat something she had to be told she was in the dining coach."

The Hollywood Reporter gave the film an excellent review, calling it an exceptional work. Most of the film takes place in an anonymous care-facility. It "tackles uncomfortable issues. Word of mouth and critical support will therefore be crucial for Wrinkles, a genuine crowd pleaser deserving of the widest possible exposure. Film festival play should be a launch pad for one of the most accomplished Spanish films, from any genre, of recent years."

Variety has also given it an excellent review saying it has "credible characters and a beautifully crafted, understated plot that emerges elegantly from their fears, fantasies and forgetfulness, this thought-provoking, universally comprehensible... Although nothing here quite matches the moving, life-in-five-minutes montage in Pixar's Up, one swooping flashback sequence comes very close... The story slips as easily between past and present as the characters do... The pic wants to show that the vividly colorful fantasies into which its characters retreat may be better places than their home, seen in often subdued tones... There is plenty of rich detail to enjoy, while clever use of reflections and shadows turns the apparently comfortable facilities into a hard place that at times evokes gothic horror."

The feature was made for €2 million ($2.7 million) according to Manuel Cristobal, the producer. While most of the animation was done in Spain, about 25% of the work was outsourced to the Philippines.

The film premiered in Los Angeles for a week in December to qualify it for the Oscars. ASIFA members were invited to see it at the theatre as the film is also an Annie contender for Best Animated Feature. According to Cartoon Brew this unusual work does not yet have a US distributor.


TEN ANIMATED SHORTS ARE ON THE ACADEMY'S "SHORTLIST" They are: Dimanche/ Sunday by Patrick Doyon, director, National Film Board of Canada; The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by directors William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg from Moonbot Studios; I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat by Matthew O'Callaghan, Warner Bros.; La Luna by Enrico Casarosa, director, Pixar; Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella, JPZtudio; Magic Piano, Martin Clapp, director and Hugh Welchman, producer, BreakThru Films; A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard, director and Sue Goffe, producer, Studio AKA; Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow, director, Platige Image; Specky Four-Eyes, Jean-Claude Rozec, director, and Mathieu Courtois, producer, Vivement Lundi, and Wild Life by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, National Film Board of Canada. In Dec. members of the Academy's Short Films and Feature Animation Branch screened the ten films and voted for the five works that will receive Oscar nominations. The nominations will be announced Tues. Jan. 24. The Oscars ceremony will be Sun., Feb. 26.

15 FILMS QUALIFIED FOR THE VISUAL EFFECTS OSCAR The films are Captain America: The First Avenger, Cowboys & Aliens, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Real Steel, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sucker Punch, Super 8, Thor, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The Tree of Life and X-Men: First Class. The field will be reduced to ten films (called the "shotlist") and from that list members of the visual effects division will select the five films to get nominations.

THE ANNIE NOMINATIONS In the feature category they nominated over half of the animated feature released in 2011 for Best Animated Feature: A Cat in Paris, Arrugas, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, Chico & Rita, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss In Boots, Rango, Rio and Tintin. The nine Best Animated Short Subject nominations went to Adam and Dog, Lodge Films; I Tawt I Taw A Puddy Tat, Warner Bros.; La Luna, Pixar; Notes on Biology, Ornana Films; Paths of Hate, Platige Image; Sunday, NFB of Canada; The Ballad of Nessie, Disney; The Girl and the Fox. Base14 and Wild Life, NFB of Canada

In the individual categories Kung Fu Panda 2 got the most nominations. Its 11 additional nominations were for special effects, character animation, character design, direction, production design, music, editing, etc. Puss in Boots has the second highest number of additional nominations with eight followed by Cars 2, Winnie the Pooh and Rio, each getting seven. Arthur Christmas got five and Gnomeo and Juliet got four. The 39th Annual Annie Awards ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 4, 2012, at UCLA.

THE LOS ANGELES FILM CRITICS AWARDS NAMED "RANGO" AS BEST ANIMAION OF THE YEAR They named The Adventures of Tintin as their runner-up.

Cartoon Brew said, "It's notable in that they'd given the animated feature award to Pixar for the last five years in a row. When the National Board of Review can't bring themselves to pat Pixar on the back, you know the Oscar race is wide open."

In the competition for Best Animated Feature the nominations went to The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Cars 2, Puss in Boots and Rango. Also, the song "Hello Hello" from Gnomeo and Juliet was nominated for Best Original Song (music by Elton John and lyrics by Bernie Taupin.)

THE NOMINATIONS FOR THE BROADCAST FILM CRITICS' AWARDS Nominated for Best Animated Feature are The Adventures of Tintin, Arthur Christmas, Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango. The Best Song category includes "Hello Hello" from Gnomeo & Juliet (Elton John and Lady Gaga). Three other nominated songs are in the Muppets feature. Best Visual Effects nominations go to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Hugo, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Super 8 and The Tree of Life.

EROPEAN FILM AWARDS Their pick for the Best European Animated Feature for 2011 is Chico & Rita, directed by Tono Errando, Javier Mariscal and Fernando Trueba.

THE NEW YORK FILM CRITICS ONLINE PICKED "THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN" AS THE BEST ANIMATED FEATURE OF THE YEAR, BUT THE NEW YORK FILM CRITICS CIRCLE DECIDED NO ANIMATED FEATURE THIS YEAR WAS WORTHY OF THEIR AWARD FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE According to Cartoon Brew, "This year, they chose not to hand out an award for best animated feature. It's the first time they've withheld the honor since initiating the category in 2000, which is a bold (and arguably unwarranted) rebuke of this year's crop of animated features. Then again, the group isn't afraid to take risks and consistently acknowledges worthy animated films. The winners of their best animated feature category over the last four years have been Persepolis, WALL-E, Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Illusionist. Compare that to the Academy, whose membership has handed the Oscar to Pixar for the past four years in a row."

THE WRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA HAS ANNOUNCED THEIR NOMINATIONS FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT IN TELEVISION ANIMATION The six nominated shows are "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelt's," The Simpsons, written by Tim Long, Fox; "The Blue and the Gray," The Simpsons, written by Rob LaZebnik, Fox; "Donnie Fatso," The Simpsons, written by Chris Cluess, Fox; "Homer the Father," The Simpsons, written by Joel H. Cohen, Fox; "Moonstruck," Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, written by Len Uhley, Cartoon Network; and "The Silence of the Clamps," Futurama, written by Eric Rogers, Comedy Central. The award ceremonies will be held Sun., Feb. 19. or

SHORTLISTS ANNOUNCED FOR KIDSCREEN AWARDS 2012 Kidscreen, an international magazine published in Canada, has announced their shortlists for the Kidscreen Awards 2012 In the preschool division the nominations for Best Animated Series went to Abby's Flying Fairy School, Sesame Workshop; Babar and the Adventures of Badou, Nelvana Limited/TeamTO and to Dirt Girl World, DHX Media. In the kids division the nominations for Best Animated Series went to Rated A For Awesome, Nerd Corps Entertainment; The Amazing World of Gumball, Cartoon Network Europe in association with Dandelion Studios, Boulder Media and Studio Soi, and Transformers Prime, Hasbro Studios/The Hub TV. In the tweens and teens division the nominations for Best Animated Series went to Bob's Burgers, Bento Box Entertainment/20th Century Fox Television; Dan Vs., Film Roman/The Hub TV and Total Drama World Tour, Fresh TV Inc.


14TH INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL IN JAPAN - HIROSHIMA 2012 will be held from August 23rd to 27th under the endorsement of ASIFA and co-organized by the City of Hiroshima and ASIFA-Japan. Entry period is from Feb. 1 - April 1.

18th KROK INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION, Sept. 24 - Oct. 3, 2011 by Nancy Denney Phelps In Ukrainian, KROK means "step," but to animators, KROK means watching animation, making music, dancing and meeting friends, both old and new. For me KROK is summer camp for animators and the best ten days of my life every year.

The festival is unique. Each year an international group of animators boards a multi-decked river cruiser and spends 10 days sailing together. Every other year, the festival location alternates between the Ukraine, which programs professional films (third film and later), and Russia where the films are student works. This year we sailed down the Dnepr River and across the Black Sea on the ship Princesa Dnepr from Kiev to Odessa in the Ukraine.

With 12 competition programs, workshops, retrospectives, and daily chats with the directors, there is plenty of film activity. It is an opportunity to watch films from countries that are not represented at most other festivals. This year films from Uzbekistan, Belarus, and Equatorial Guinea were among the 37 countries represented along with a wide selection of Ukrainian and Russian animation.


The festival got off to a great start with the opening ceremony and screening of the first competition program at Dom Kino in Kiev. The Kino has a beautiful theatre and is also where the Ukrainian arm of KROK has its offices. The ceremony and screening was followed by a delicious celebration dinner on the boat.

One of my favorite films at the festival was Paper Cutting by Belarus animator Mikhail Tumelya. Based on a traditional fairy tale about a young man looking for a wife, the film was created using beautiful three dimensional paper cut designs created by the famous Belarus paper artist Vyacheslav Dubinka. Mikhail combined his animation with Vyacheslav's intricate vytsinankas. Vytsinanka is the Western Belarus, Ukrainian and Polish word for both the process of cutting paper lace art and the handmade patterns themselves. In Eastern Belarus the word is vyrazanka.

The film opens with footage of Dubinka in the 1970's when he first began "cutting stories" as he called his art. These scenes are especially touching because he passed away last August right after the completion of the film.

The Black Dog's Progress is a very disturbing but powerful film. British animator Stephen Irwin uses a series of small mosaic pictures, much like a flipbook, to tell the very sad story of a dog that is tossed out of his home and onto the street by his owner. As I watched the beautifully constructed film I couldn't help thinking about the thousands of dogs worldwide who suffer the same fate. The jury must have been equally moved because they awarded the film a diploma in the "films up to 5 minutes" category. The Black Dog's Progress was commissioned for BBC Channel 4's Animate TV series in conjunction with Arts Council England.

The film that made the deepest impression on me was Keha Malu (Body Memory). Estonian director Ulo Pikkov describes his film by saying "Our body remembers more than we can expect to imagine, our body remembers also the pain of the predecessors. But how far back is it possible for your body to remember?"

Ulo used very few elements to build a strong, touching, and intelligent story. Puppets made of string represent the unraveling of persistent memories and our attempt to forget them. Shot with a stark tonal palette, the animation makes a very strong visual impression. Body Memory was produced by Tallinn based Nukufilm, renowned for their puppet animation.

Each morning "Coffee Break with the Directors" offered an opportunity to hear the animators talk about their films and ask them questions ourselves. These sessions are interesting because they give behind the scenes insights into a film and the directors motivation.


Three retrospectives were devoted to Ukrainian and Russian animators and studios. I was not familiar with Ukrainian director Iryna Gurvich. It was a real treat for me to see five of her films in a program titled "An Iron Lady of Ukrainian Animation" in celebration of her 100th Anniversary. Gurvich's 1972 film How Wives Were Selling Their Husbands, is based on humorous Ukrainian folk tales. It became a trademark of Ukrainian animation.

The 75th anniversary of the renowned Soviet Animation Studio Sojuzmultfilm was celebrated with a screening of their most beloved films. Sojuzmultifilm was home to such important names in animation as Yuri Norstein and Edward Nazarov. Both Norstein's Hedgehog in the Fog and There Once Was a Dog by Nazarov were among the 11 films shown in the "A Rendezvous with the Famous Characters" tribute.

I was particularly pleased to watch a program devoted to the Soviet director/animator Roman Kachanova. Unfortunately his name is unknown to many in the West but in the former Eastern bloc his work is revered. My friend Natalia Lukinykh, noted Russian documentary maker and film critic, showed his film The Mitten several years ago as part of a program of her favorite childhood films. I was immediately captivated by the lovely puppet animation. It is now one of my favorite films.

The Mitten tells the story of a little girl who wants a dog but her mother won't allow her to have one. Her mitten magically comes to life as a puppy in this charming film. Kachanova made The Mitten in 1967 and it is just as fresh and delightful as when it first charmed Soviet audiences. He also made many popular animations about Cheburashka and Gena the Crocodile which became symbols of Sojuzmultifilm and Soviet Animation.


Producer Max Howard presented a two part master class on "Creating an Effective Story and How to Pitch It" which was full of good common sense information and handy tips. Max certainly knows what he is talking about since he created and/or ran studios for Disney in London, Paris, Orlando, and Los Angeles. He worked on some of Disney's most memorable films including Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. He has also served as president of Warner Brothers Feature Animation and is currently producing a series of animated features for Exodus Film Group.


There was plenty of time on board The Princess Dnepr for singing, dancing, making music, and of course drinking. Nik and Belarus balalaika player Mikhail Tumelya have played together for many years at KROK calling themselves The International Brotherhood of Riverside Ramblers. A good many talented animators also play an instrument and are always welcome to join the Ramblers on deck late at night to play traditional Russian songs and such perennial American favorites as Oh, Susannah. If it is cold you can always count on finding the musicians in the bar or in the lounges at the rear of the ship.

This year we were fortunate enough to have five lovely ladies who perform under the name of Zvuchi Dochi (Daughters of Sound) sailing with us. Based in Kiev they sing Eastern European folk songs dressed in colorful traditional outfits. (The Bay Area group Kitka is one of their big influences.) Their melodic voices added a great deal to our evenings of entertainment. At one of our stops at the city of Zaporozhye they performed on shore accompanied by Nik at the House of Culture where children participate in afterschool arts and music extra curricular activities.

Re-Animation evenings (there were several this year) gave everyone a chance to show off their talents in storytelling, song or dance. The Big Kahuna event every year is Carnival night, where everyone performs at their very best. For days before the big event groups of people are can be found all over the ship busy writing scripts, rehearsing their songs and making props. Every time we docked groups of people went running off to scour the open air market for things that could be turned into costumes or props. Bed spreads and sheets took on a whole new life.

On the big night there is an august panel of judges who scrutinize each performance with an eagle eye before retiring to deliberate and then award the fabulous prizes. This year they were precious prizes indeed. Talented artist and designer Marina Kurchevskaya created beautiful handmade dolls which she pinned to a lovely handmade robe. Each winning term was allowed to select a doll when they were called to the stage. I am very proud to say that one of the lovely dolls was awarded to Nik for his performances (he not only sang a song but played music with several groups). His special treasure has a place of pride in our home.

The biggest thrill of the whole trip was when I was invited to accompany the jurors and some of the children up to the top deck to the captain's domain. Not only did I get an opportunity to "pilot" the boat, the captain explained the navigation charts and radar that get us safely down the river. I saw the river from the best vantage point there is. With my love of boats and water it was a thrill that I will never.

Whenever we docked there was always the opportunity to explore the town. Historic Sebastopol is a favorite city of Nik's and mine. It is the Ukraine's second largest port and former home of the Soviet Black Sea Fleet. During that time the city was closed even to Russian citizens. Now it is home to a Ukrainian Navel Base as well as a popular holiday destination.

At the Western End of the city are well preserved remains of the ancient Greek port city of Khersones which was founded in the fifth century and is now a National Preserve. The name means "peninsula" in Greek. Nik and I always take a bus out to visit the fascinating ruins on the bluff above the Black Sea. Below the ruins is a rocky beach where we always take a dip in the sea.


This year the closing night ceremony was held at the Cinema Moscow in Sebastopol. We were greeted on the theatre steps by a group of local folk musicians and vocalists as we waited to enter the theatre. The evening began with a performance from Zvuchi Dochi. Next there was a screening of the very funny films made on board ship by our young animators. Traditionally director Igor Kozijanchik documents our entire cruise and his film was also screened. The jury's decisions were revealed and the trophies, treasured KROK bells, were awarded to the winners. After the ceremony we returned to our ship for another sumptuous banquet. That evening, after two lovely days in Sebastopol, we set sail across the Black Sea to Odessa.


This year's International Competition Jury was a very impressive group. French animator and director Henri Heidsieck founded the PHAR 3 workshop in Reims and is currently animating at La Fabrique in St. Laurent le Minier.

Andrey Kurkov is a Ukrainian writer, scriptwriter and a member of the European Film Academy where he is a frequent juror for the European Film Academy Award, the Felix.

Russian born Svyatoslav (Slava) Ushakov is a multi talented director, artist, scriptwriter and cartoonist. He won the Jim Henson Prize at the 4th International Animation Celebration, Los Angeles for his work as principal artist/animator on The Hunter. He worked on Mike, Ly & Olga which is running on Cartoon Network. He is currently at Klasky Csupo Animation Studio in Los Angeles.

Joana Toste is one of Portugal's leading animators. Her films Sailor Dogs and Chicken Stew are two more of my favorite films. They show Joana's keen wit which overlays a very serious undercurrent.

The 5th member of the Jury, Argentinean animator Juan Pablo Zaramella, won both the audience and Fipresco Awards at Annecy 2011 for Luminaris. The film is currently touring with the Best of Annecy 2011 program. His very humorous film Lapsus also won numerous awards worldwide.

The jury starred in a very funny video filmed by Juan Pablo which explains, according to them, "the complex process of the jury coming to a final decision". The film was screened on closing night. Watch it at

If you have ever wondered how a jury makes its decisions or sat on a jury you're in for a hearty laugh. When they weren't hard at work on their video, jury members presented a retrospective of their work.


I always have mixed feeling when we sail into Odessa harbor and are greeted by the majestic Odessa Steps made famous by Eisenstein in Battleship Potemkin. The sad part about reaching Odessa is that it means the end of another KROK adventure. The good part is Odessa is a beautiful city that reminds me of New Orleans with its wrought iron balconies dripping with bougainvillea. It has one of the biggest and best public markets where I always find rare treasures such as hand spun and knitted wool socks. Stall after stall of shoes are enough to gladden any woman's heart and I never fail to bring home a pair. The city is home to an excellent Mexican restaurant with tasty chips and salsa, burritos, and goat enchiladas.

KROK is about so many things: children drawing on the top deck and creating their own animation, dogs running down the halls, film and fun but first and foremost it is about friendship. We are all together 24 hours a day on board ship so you make friends that you will always share a special bond with. As we take our final trip together on the KROK bus from Odessa back to Kiev I always remember that it is only 51 weeks until we sail again.

Back in Kiev on Monday night, our friend Igor Kozijanchuk arranged for Nik to play at a jazz club with Kiev jazz musicians, some of whom are professors at the Music Academy with a few of their students. It felt like we were back on the boat when lots of KROK friends showed up to share this evening of music with us.

One sad note was the absence this year of the venerable Russian KROK festival co-director and animator Edward Nazarov who did not sail with us due to illness. He was missed by all of us. We all sent him our get well wishes and hope that he will be with us again next year when the festival will be in Russia.
It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Be sure to watch Kiev videographer and film maker Igor Kozijanchuk's video that records our 10 day adventure. It was screened at the closing night ceremony and you can experience it at . Igor says the video better expresses the spirit of KROK than any words can.

You can find out more about KROK and rules for submitting your film on the KROK website: You can also watch the delightful film made by the young animators on board which was also screened at the closing night ceremony.
Until next year, KROK ON . . .


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Gene Deitch, and Nancy Denney Phelps
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Sarah Chin
Mailing Crew: Tara Beyhm, Dot Janson, Shirley Smith and
Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thanks 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 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.
Our website and blog is:
Mail can be sent to: or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122

DID ANYBODY SEE "ARTHUR CHRISTMAS?" The only person who has mentioned it said, "I saw Arthur Christmas and wanted to like it because I usually love Aardman's work, but it was terrible. More like Arnold Schwarzenegger meets Battle Star Glactica. It would have made a lovely little 25 or 30 minute film but there was so much flash and BS in the second half -- much more like DreamWorks than Aardman." Any comments?

Enjoy a tribute to Don Allbrecht's wacky animated world at our Jan. 8 ASIFA-SF 12th Night Party

Has the uncanny valley been crossed?




At Oddball Films, 275 Capp, third floor (Capp runs between Mission and South Van Ness, on Capp near 18th St.), free, bring a friend, films start around 7:30

Come celebrate, network, eat, drink and laugh. ASIFA-SF will provide the basics. Please feel free to add to the treats. This is a great show of shorts by Bill Plympton, Patrick Smith, David Levy, John Dilworth, David Chai, Mo Willems and other fine artists. The ASIFA-East awards were presented in May in NYC.

BEST IN SHOW Accumulonimbus, Andy Kennedy
BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM Guard Dog Global Jam, Bill Plympton
BEST MUSIC VIDEO Dot Dot Dot: Around the World(And Back), Bryan Brinkman
BEST EDUCATIONAL FILM Sesame Street:Word on the Street, David B. Levy

1st Place Grandpa Looked Like William Powell, David B. Levy
2nd Place Enrique Wrecks the World! , David Chai
3rd Place Barko, Allison Craig
Excellence in Animation Masks,Patrick Smith
Excellence in Design Nosy Bear, Fran Krause
Excellence in Humor. Bunny Bashing, John R. Dilworth

Commissioned Over 2mins.
1st Place Danny & Annie, The Rauch Brothers
2nd Place Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed! , Pete List & Mo Willems
3rd Place The Human Voice, The Rauch Brothers
Excellence in Animation The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog, Pete List & Mo Willems
Excellence in Design The Buddha: Enlightenment, Asterisk Animation
Excellence in Humor Christmas Shoes, Brian Musikoff & John Kuramoto

Commissioned Under 2mins.
1st Place Chilevision La Verdad, Juan Delcan
2nd Place Midtown Twist, Gary Lieb
3rd Place, Catalyst, Bill Plympton
Excellence in Animation Farley in Thinking of You, Greg Ford, Doug Compton, Adrian Urquidez
Excellence in Design Urban Stencil, Christi Bertelsen
Excellence in Design Martha's Vineyard Film Festival Bumper 2011, Vaccese & Noelle Melody

1st Place To Have and To Hold, Jessica Polaniecki
2nd Place Book Girl and Cabinet Girl, Jane Wu
3rd Place Prayers for Peace, Dustin Grella

We will vote for the winner of our audience award after the program.


Friday, January 13, 7:30 PM
at the Exploratorium's McBean Theatre, free, public invited

Once again this looks like a great evening of new work by local artists and friends from around the globe. Anyone is welcome to bring animated/special effects work unannounced the night of the show on DVD, VHS or 16 mm and we will show it.

So far we expect to show:
Dan McHale's Spear, Fish, Boat
David Chai's Why Do We Put Up With Them?
Tom Gibbions' Still I Remain (Like a Fish out of Water)
Mark West & Barbara Bayne's (aka AnimaCrackers)Waterworks
Charlie Canfield's ads for Google and a wire transfer company called Xoom
Leonard Cohen's Plato plus To Die by Your Side (for Spike Jonze) and a surprise
Kevin Coffey's 1 minute modern retelling of Jack and Jill for a producer in Canada
and animation for the Marin County Watershed
Gene Hamm will bring work by kids at Alchemia and work by outstanding students in his Experimental Animation class at the Academy of Art
J.J. Sedelmajer is sending the 5 Ottawa Signal Films his company did for Ottawa 2010, some Speedy Alka-Seltzer spots from last year, and an ad agency reel opening.
Expect several surprises that will be brought in the night of the show unannounced.


Recent films from the National Film Board of Canada
Academy Award Winner Koji Yamamura's Les Cordes De Muybridge/Muybridge's Strings
Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby's Une Vie Sauvage/Wild Life
Patrick Doyon's Dimanche/Sunday
Georges Schwizgebel's Romance
Paul Driessen's Oedipe/Oedius

Come and enjoy a really fine show! -