[NOTE: Posted partially unedited due to health problems]

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

November 2012

Highlights include






PLUS LOTS MORE NEWS. ETC., PLUS OUR EVENT IS THE 14TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS With special guests Till Nowak from Germany and Carlo Vogele from Pixar


Compiled by Karl Cohen

Years ago, when I was a young art museum educator, I loved showing students the Oscar winning film Why Man Creates by Saul Bass (1968, vimeo.com/27784020). Recently, after writing about lots of negative things happening in animation (the growing investigations into for-profit schools, the collapse of Digital Domain, etc.), I felt the need to wr! ite about something wonderful (more like my article on greatness (www.awn.com/articles/people/what-great-animation). I was thinking about Saul Bass' film so I decided to ask a wide variety of successful animators about what inspires them to spend countless hours, months or even years on their projects.

We sometimes seem to know what inspires a poem or song from the title or a simple phrase or a landscape image, but rarely is the source of inspiration clear in animated works. I asked animators a vague question about what has inspired them, giving them free reign to take the discussion anywhere they wanted. I wasn't sure what kinds of replies I would get, but I assumed I'd get a wide variety of responses including a few unexpected ones. I assumed inspiration for most of the artists would be joyful and optimistic, but I was also aware that for others they needed to express anger, frustrations and other negative feeling! s. I wasn't expecting at all some of the responses I received. Here is what my friends wrote:

What inspires people to animate?

Gene Deitch, who has directed hundreds of shorts including Munro (1961, Oscar, based on a Jules Feiffer story), wrote me from Prague that "I was lucky enough to have been raised in Hollywood in the early 1930s when the 'Movietown' mania was at its peak. I was especially lucky at age 8, after much pleading with my low-income parents, to get a simple hand-cranked 16mm m! ovie projector for Christmas. It was essentially a toy, but it had one advantage over a much more expensive motor-driven model: its hand-crank allowed me to project the Mickey Mouse excerpt from Steamboat Willie backwards as well as forward, and what's more, to show the animation s l o w l y, frame-by-frame."

"Suddenly, the magic of what I had seen at Saturday matinees in the local movie theater was revealed. So that's how it's done! I was hooked. I had to see if I could create the magic of movement. It began my life of crime, defacing every book in the house by trying to make stick figures dance and act by flipping the pages on which I'd drawn my phases of action. The attempt to make still drawings seem to move and live has challenged me for the following 80 years!"

Will Vinton, working with Bob Gardiner, revitalized interest in clay animation with their Oscar winning short Closed Monday (1975). Since then he has received four additional Oscar nominations for The Great Cognito, Rip Van Winkle, The Creation, and Return To Oz. He has also received numerous Emmys and Emmy nominations. He told me "For me it has nearly always been about creating magic. And more specifically, breathing life, energy and purpose into things that are inanimate-like The Great Cognito clay."

Michael Sporn began his professional animation career in 1972. He worked closely with animation directors John and Faith Hubley (Cockaboody, Letterman, Everybody Rides The Carousel), Richard Williams (Raggedy Ann & Andy) and supervised commercials and a PBS Special for R.O. Blechman. Then he formed his own award winning company. His short Doctor Desoto was nominated for an Academy Award, and other adaptations of children's books have won recognition in the Emmy and Cable ACE awards. He is currently in production on a feature about the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe.

Michael says, "I was nine years old and going to catechism classes after school. I was going to a public school, and my parents wanted me to be a good Catholic. The nun told me that heaven was whatever you liked most happening for the rest of eternity. I saw the neighborhood premiere of Lady and the Tramp back then, in 1955. Obviously, that was it. Heaven was seeing Lady and the Tramp o! ver and over and over."

"Well, I can do that today, thanks to DVDs, but it doesn't carry the same power as seeing Frank Thomas drawings for the puppet Pinocchio dancing while Gepetto operates the strings, seeing Tissa David's young couple in Everybody Rides The Carousel as she tries to explain that it's ok for her to have cut her hair without his permission or seeing anything by Yurij Norshtein. Tale Of Tales is as adult and real and human as any live action film ever done. It's magnificent. Seeing some brilliant little piece of animation by a student can be enough."

"Just thinking about the work of such masters is all I need to get inspiration. Seeing that still from Bob Thomas' The Art of Animation where Eyvind Earle is holding up the cel and a group is studying it. Seeing anything Andreas Deja posts on his site or hearing some snippet of a story at just the right moment that sparks something from long ago. It's all connected."

"Actually, just getting into a scene that I love and working on it is inspiring. Animating, coloring and compositing it can be wonderful. I remember starting out in the business working for John Hubley. I was inbetweening and inking and drawing animation, and I was getting paid for it. At lunch, crossing Park Avenue and 85th Street, I just about shouted out, "I am as happy as I ever will be." I was working on a Hubley animated! film, I was drawing animation and seeing the results on 35mm film. I was my own inspiration. No, the work, itself, is often the inspiration. That's all I need, to be working on something I enjoy."

Candy Kugel started as an intern at Perpetual Motion Pictures while still at RISD in 1971, and was one of the three partners of Buzzco Associates founded in 1983. Buzzco created work for MTV, Sesame Street and many other commercial clients along with several exceptional independent shorts. Candy says what first inspired her to take up animation was seeing "a commercial sample reel shown by Jack Zander at Brown University. I was at RISD, intending to be a children's book illustrator (there were no animation classes there yet). I loved the theater as well, and I was in dozens of productions in school, but I knew I wasn''t very good - I couldn't let myself go. But I loved to draw. In the dark auditorium of that presentation, it hit me that my drawings could act for me! And that began my lifelong work."

"In my commercial work, what inspires me is how to best show and tell the story: whether to sell a product, entertain or educate. The more interesting the concept, the more inspirational it is. And a great sound track is best of all!"

"Later, what inspired my independent work, both alone and then in partnership with Vincent Cafarelli, was real life. Something would come up: something confusing or maddening or just plain odd, and we would try to explain it in a movie - A Warm Reception in LA, Mother Goosing the News, Fast Food Matador, among others."

"My last great inspiration, if you need to call it that, was the sudden and unexpected death of my partner of 38 years, Vincent Cafarelli. People kept on asking me what I would do now, without him. All I could think of is that I wanted to make a film— tribute to the work we did together and to memorialize this drastic turn of events. I finished The Last Time at the end of last August. I was grateful that I had the time and space to do it. And that has inspired me to keep Buzzco going, to keep creating in his memory."

John Dilworth created the TV series Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002), the outrageous short Dirdy Birdy (1994) and lots of other impressive personal and commercial work. He told me, "What inspired me was my believing I could move feelings in others and create laughter. I learned ! that laughter made all the hard, cold stuff of life more tolerable." He adds "and of course meeting ladies!"

The independent artist

Dennis "Sky" David Pies says he has "an innate drive to draw and draw and draw, pencil to paper, as if touching the surface of warm skin makes the moment to moment experience of doing animation a sensuous pleasure. I discovered the doing of animation as the expression of that drive in 1972 at age 25 as an animation student at Cal Arts. It is the craft that turns drawings into living beings: a film, a cinematic performance with movement and time."

Dennis' name is as unusual as his visionary animation. He says "Pies is an Americanized version created by immigrant grandparents from the phonetic Polish/Belorussia 'Presuzkiwanie.' 'SKY' is the spelling of the code name that I used as a LRRP (Long Range Recon Patrol) with the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army in Vietnam in the late 1960's: spelling SKY would mean null threat level, spelling SKI would mean threat level 4 or above as in capture and interrogation. David is my middle name." Dennis' visionary films have been shown at maj! or film festivals and he has taught at Harvard, the San Francisco Art Institute, and the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.


George Griffin is an independent animator who lives in NYC and has produced an impressive body of personal and commercial works. He explains that "animation seized me in New York City when I tried to show people my drawings. They always wanted to linger over this or that one, while I wanted them to hurry on to the next one in the stack. So, film became the engine of control. I could determine the design, the pacing and rhythm of everything by simply clicking when and where I wanted the eye to see. And now I'm taking it all back by making cranky devices which allow the viewer to choose the direction and speed of the sequence."

David Ehrlich who teaches at Dartmouth and in China said, "In the summer of 1974, as yet another of the world's struggling artists, I was traveling through Europe on a train and began sketching on a pad of tracing paper, drawing forwards from the back of the pad. As I finished each drawing and put the next paper down over it, my next drawing varied only slightly from the last, developing it a bit. By the end of the pad of 100 sheets, the first drawing had changed very gradually into a completely new drawing. At first I thought this could make a serie! s of drawings across the wall of a gallery, and then I thought that I could film them one after another to see if they transformed smoothly as animation. When I got back to New York, I pulled out my old 8mm camera from the closet and single-framed the drawings. The film that came back from Kodak a week later was startling to me. All my previous attempts at kinetic paintings and sculpture seemed ridiculous before these beautifully moving lines. A year later, when I went to my first meeting of NY animators in George Griffin's loft, it took a lot of courage to call myself an animator, but by then, 2000 drawings later, I was one and have been since."

Mark West, who has worked commercially for several decades says, "Drawings in motion; what could be better? My dad had been trained as a fine artist and draftsman, so drawing was not an option in our house, it was a required (but happy) pursuit. I loved to draw the character designs in the Preston Blair book, and when I realized I could make them move in flipbooks, the magic really began. I also l! oved performing magic tricks as a kid. Animation and magic both depend on illusions, of course, but they both seek to entertain, inspire, or sometimes shock their audiences. I also loved watching things in motion just for the beauty of movement, and have always observed and studied people, animals, and machines as they moved. This could range from watching people dancing or performing gymnastics or sports, to cats stalking, horses running, clock interior gears turning, or aircraft flying overhead."

"I got to combine my love of animation, tigers, and William Blake's poem The Tyger when I completed a short film by the same title this year. Four years of testing, trying, sketching and experimenting was followed by about four months of actual production work. I had painted myself into the proverbial corner by trying to make something as epic as Blake's poem, and it was only when I let that go and decided to allow myself to work in the most straightforward technique (for me) that the scenes began to be completed relatively quickly."

"As for going the extra step(s) for a client, I feel it's important to 'advance the art form' when you have the chance to do so. In martial arts, make every movement as if it's your last, as I was told, and the same level of effort should be applied to creating art or animation. Give your best effort, always. That's how you get better." See The Tyger at www.youtube.com/watch?v=oF9kbTedTL8&feature=youtu.be

Sally Cruikshank, who created Quasi at the Quackadero (1976), said, "I wanted to see my drawings move. I wanted to open my own amusement park." She did just that in the film. It was added to the National Film Registry in 2009. Visit the Quackadero on YouTube.

David Chai, who teaches at As Jose State, said, "As a graduate with an illustration degree in the 90s, I had very little knowledge or interest in animation at all. But my instructors at SJSU, Bunny Carter and Courtney Granner inspired me to come back to study animation; a new addition to their curriculum. They introduced me to a world of films and concepts that I had never knew existed. The shorts of independent film makers like Bill Plympton and Paul Driessen, really inspired me to start making short films. ! Once I began, I was hooked!

Now, there are two things that keep me inspired to animate. One, is the fun I have sweating it out working with a great crew. Some of the best times I've ever had were during production. And two, the reaction of the audiences. Whether it's making them laugh or cry, it's always such a reward to find out that someone was moved by your work. A young boy from Massachusetts wrote me saying he was going into animation because of one of my films. Another family wrote that! they were so touched by another film; they named their cat after the main character. But the best review ever was from a close friend who told me her son, when watching Enrique Wrecks the World, laughed so hard he farted. Now if that's not fuel for inspiration, I don't know what is!

Ben Ridgway, an experimental animator who teaches at SF State, says, "In the late 80s and early 90s I was greatly influenced by a show called Liquid Television on MTV (http://liquidtelevision.com/) which was a showcase of the best animated shorts from around the world. The Maxx and Aeon Flux were two series connected to the show that got me interested in the possibility of working on something that was not like mainstream cartoon animation. Once I got into art school I was exposed to a wide variety of work, much of it experimental in nature. The film Wormholes by Steve Hillenberg (creator of Spongebob Squarepants) and Revolver by FilmTecknarna (www.filmtecknarna.se/work/#/52) were very influential on my work and helped to shape th e experimental animations that I labored over while in school."

"What has inspired me to spend months and even years on a personal project? Joseph Campbell once said, "If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Wherever you are—if you are following your bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you, all the time."

"This is the feeling I get when I am working on a film, drawing in my sketchbook, or painting. I know that this path will always lead to happiness, connection with community, and a sense of meaningfulness in my life."

An unexpected response from an independent spirit who lived in two worlds that were separated by an iron curtain

Paul Fierlinger, who directed My Dog Tulip, and hundreds of other long and short animated films, wrote, "Being raised by Americans in 1940's America between the age of 3 and 11, I was raised with the Boy Scouts of America ideals of independence and self reliance, thus instantly recognized a brick wall once I stepped off the train into postwar Prague."

"The only friends I had when living there in the 50's and 60's were painters, graphic artists and filmmakers and I was often turned off by their easy reliance on handouts given them by government committees, made of other artists, operating on a higher, conceited level of self importance. They became too softened by living off of government privileges, which wilted into mud and washed away."

"Everything in Old Europe was governed by restrictions, and deep seated resentments were made known to a kid with quirky ideas. 'You can't think of doing things like that at your age!' was everyone's warning and they looked sad and worried -- even my own peers; other 10 year olds who took on adult voices and feeling sorry for me, would say: 'You can't think of doing that at your age'. But I did think of doing a lot of things by myself and tried out everything I could think of, step by step, but always in the privacy of my head. Eventually I invented peg bars and punched papers with a light bulb underneath, because there were no books on the subject available and no one to ask."

"I kept experimenting through my military service years and once free and old enough to come out of childhood I animated and shot my first TV commercial spot, on spec with a 16 mm WWI Siemens; a German air reconnaissance camera that was designed to do just one thing which was to take pictures frame by frame."

"Owning my own means of production within a Communist totalitarian system, an antiestablishment feat by its own rite, gave me the determination I needed to bypass anything that smacked of established ways, rules, and regulations, anything run and protected by other establishment officials. Even my artist and filmmaker friends were confident of their establishment status and took pride in their grown person ways. They were baffled why I would want to make animated films all by myself and told me with perhaps well-meaning condescension that I can't expect to make films all by myself and some offered they might know someone who might help me get into Bratri v Triku, the government owned and operated animation studio."

"Ironically, it was the establishment that paid me for that initial TV spot I had made on spec. My first client was the government owned Czech TV, just born that year and enjoying its infancy by starting out with a bit of an independent mindset of its own. It was 1958 and I became a freelance independent animator for the rest of my life. And for the rest of my life I never applied for a grant or financial aid. I offered services for contracts and learned what the demand of the market was and made attempts to meet those demands. I! f I needed money for better equipment, I borrowed what I needed from the bank because I was starting all over again, still making animated films by myself, but this time I was back in America, where independence starts with borrowing money from the bank."

Paul also told me, "Another reason I wanted to become an animator was to avoid a life of physical labor -- but that's another story."

From another former East European animator, "I think it is mentally hard to adapt from government grants to market reality. It's like going from being a King to working as a janitor."

Alternate views of life

Jimmy Picker says, "I never wanted a real job." His clay animated films include Jimmy the C (1977, Academy Award nomination) and Sundae in New York (1983, Oscar winner).

Marv Newland has been known to surprise and shock people with his iconoclastic work including Bambi Meets Godzilla, the X-rated Pink Komkommer and Lupo the Butcher (producer). He says, "When I graduated from high school the continuing education counselor presented me with a profi! le based on grade history and interviews with my teachers. The profile resulted in three suggested areas in which they considered I might achieve success: dog groomer, Young Republican catamite and animator. There was a power outage during the meeting with this counselor and in the darkness I mistakenly checked the box for animator. The rest is history." (Note: You may want to look up the word "catamite.")

Vince Collins who came to San Francisco from Florida several decades ago to study at the SF Art Institute went on to win lots of honors for his visionary psychedelic animation (most of it is posted on the Internet). He has a most unusual explanation about how to know if you should become an animator. "Other than having a natural inclination and interest leading to animation, there is proof that someone is destined to be an animator. Those IQ and aptitude tests always have a section where you are given a picture of a shape, and several choices of what the result would say if that shape were rotated, fl! ipped, doubled, seen inside-out or whatever -- choose the correct one. I always did really well on those, and the test's result would be that you are suited to be an engineer, accountant or some other boring occupation -- there was no mention of 'animator' (because that occupation is too much fun) so if you score high in this section, it really means you should get into ANIMATION!" See his latest short at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvJX4M_-y7M

The article continues next month with comments by animators with strong political or social content and other artists.

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Andrew Jones' Digital Geisha projected onto the Sydney Opera House

OUR SEPTEMBER ASIFA-SF EVENT FEATURED FIVE REMARKABLE ARTISTS WHO CREATE NEW VISIONS OF WHAT ANIMATION CAN BE by KC Ben Ridgway, who recently joined SF State's cinema department, presented a program at the school that focused on the works of artists who are using stop-motion, computers and other techniques to create new kinds of wonderful images. While looking at their art, thinking about how it was made seemed secondary to enjoying the new aesthetic experiences that were unfolding on the screen. I was absorbed with the pleasure of the moment. If you visit the websites mentioned in the article, you may also be amazed by what you discover in the art of PES, Zeitguised, Max Hattler, Andrew Jones and Ben Ridgway.

Ben Ridgway

Ben Ridgway's recent works breathe life into inorganic matter. He showed Triboluminescence (2010), a remarkable looking work where shapes glow, pulsate and seemingly dance about to form complex, intricate mandala patterns. Seeing the film was a meditative experience in which I was transfixed on the beautiful forms as they subtly changed.

At a faculty exhibit a few weeks later he showed Cellular Circuitry (2011), in which his organic forms seem more cellular/plant-like. They form logical looking patterns found in nature that rotate in circular patterns.

Ben has been creating experimental animated films since 1992 and it appears his art has constantly been evolving in form, content and technique. In Tic Toc Continuum (2005) dozens of clock faces exist in a black and white landscape that might have been inspired by Salvador Dali. In Xenomycology (1998) alien plants and creatures live in an extraterrestrial world. In Oliv! e Shower (1997) olives rain down in a hand-drawn world.

Ben's films have been showcased in film festivals around the world including Annecy. Besides being a fine artist he has over a decade of experience working both as a 3D artist in the video game industry and as a professor.

www.benridgway.wordpress.com/ www.vimeo.com/user3877495


Zeitguised is German sculptor Jamie Raap and architect Henrik Mauler who have teamed up to create digital works that are breaking new ground in the realm of digital surrealism. They have created their own universe of abstract geometrical forms that defy the laws of physics. Their scenarios with objects rather than characters are the focal point of their unfolding abstract narratives. Riding the line between fine art and industry, they continue to push the boundaries in both arenas. www.zeitguised.com

Peripetics or the installation of an irreversible axis on a dynamic timeline is a bizarre series of moving surreal sculptures that were constructed for an opening of a gallery exhibition. "It entails six imaginations of disoriented systems that take a catastrophic turn, including the evolution of educational plant-body-machine models and liquid buildi! ng materials." The pieces are very strange looking forms and neither their appearance nor movements makes much sense; however, they are curious looking and fascinating to watch.


The Zoo is a strange playful work that has nothing to do with our standard concept of a zoo. Instead unusual things inhabit their "park" including a space satellite, 3 giant steam locomotives that spin around on their cow catchers and two tugboats that jump up into the air like dolphins, but they are in an urban construction site. There is an explanation of this lighthearted work as well as the film at vimeo.com/2917970

Zeitguised helps support their artistic endeavors by creating TV commercials that are quite inventive. In a 30 second ad for Banque Populaire Cooperative we see a futuristic world unfold that includes unusual looking plants, ultra modern buildings, a strange amusement ride and other eye catching creations. vimeo.com/42822965

(2 images from film goes here)

Sweethearts opens with an elaborate heart shaped, Pop-Art inspired arrangement of brightly colored candies. For the next 20 seconds it flies apart and rains candy, ending with a MTV logo in the center of the mess. vimeo.com/5420887

Rain is a Peugeot ad that is unlike any car ad I've seen before. It begins almost like a normal ad, but what are those strange things above the shiny new car in the showroom. They might be chunks of plaster and for unknown reasons they come crashing down on the car in slow motion. I don't know if there is a point to all this except to create a bizarre, memorable ad. vimeo.com/14238474

If you want to see shorts Ben didn't have time to show, visit their website. It has about 50 ads and shorts on it and hopefully you will be fascinated by it. I was. http://vimeo.com/zeitguised/videos/sort:alphabetical/format:thumbnail

Max Hattler

Max Hattler, a German video artist and experimental filmmaker, uses a wide variety of techniques: stop-motion, motion graphics, 2D and 3D computer animation and everything in between to create stunning abstract films. Some are handsome experiments in design, while others touch on serious themes. In the case of RE:AX (2011) the film evokes wartime experiences (the suggestion of bombs sailing through a night sky and exploding) and ominous feelings (rays of light coming from the eyes of a skull). vimeo.com/maxhattler/reax

In Collision (2005) the work has an abstract symbolic narrative with bold, colorful American quilt patterns and Islamic symbols meeting each other and hopefully existing in harmony. vimeo.com/maxhattler/collision

At vimeo.com/maxhattler you can find dozens of his films. In Spin (2010) computer generated toy soldiers create Busby Berkeley like patterns. vimeo.com/11021984 In Baseme! nt Jaxx: Where's Your Head At (2009), Max matches up different sounds with visual patterns. vimeo.com/9825337 His 1923 aka Heaven (2010) is an award winning psychedelic short which zooms in on a series of complex patterns of moving dots and shapes vimeo.com/maxhattler/1923

Another side of Max is his public performance art. One of his commissioned pieces, X (2012) was projected outdoors onto a curtain of fine mist. www.maxhattler.com/x/ There are also audiovisual performances he creates for concert situations. ,www.maxhattler.com/live/. Have a wonderful time discovering the many facets of Max'! s art.

Max says, "I am interested in the space between abstraction and figuration, where storytelling is freed from the constraints of traditional narrative. My work contemplates microcosms, moments, atmospheres: Close-ups as reflections on the big picture. While my films tend to be without dialogue, they explore the relationship between sound, music and the moving image." http://www.maxhat! tler.com

Andrew Jones

Andrew Jones, a.k.a. Android Jones, is a Bay Area visual artist working in the fields of concept art for movies (George Lucas' ILM), video-games (Nintendo), illustration, fashion design, body painting, and digital performances. His images are complex 2D visionary surreal works of art that you might expect to find in an art gallery or reproduced in art books.

Andrew is not really an animator, but he has worked with others who have used computers to turn his art into wonderful trips into unknown worlds. The film Lion Heart is a magical journey that combines footage of his art, shot with zooms, pans and tilts, with other footage and CG effects. The results are a beautiful breathtaking journey where you float into the unknown. vimeo.com/39431! 264

Another unusual use of his art was the company Obscura Digital projected his painting "Digital Geisha" on the exterior of the Sydney Opera House in 2011. It was part of their architectural mapping projection that accompanied a YouTube Symphony Orchestra concert. Photos of that motion graphics moment have become iconic images of this new kind of spectacular art form. www.androidjones.com


PES, a New York stop-motion animator with a whimsical sense of humor, became an overnight sensation with Roof Sex (2002), his first film. It stars two upholstered chairs making love on a New York roof. It has been in over a hundred film festivals, has won several awards and it has been viewed about two million times on YouTube. It can be found on lots of other websites including www.eatpes.com.

(image from film goese here)

This tasty dish of guacamole is served with poker chips

Since 2002 PES has created a good number of less risqué shorts and TV commercials that include humorous, ironic twists. In his Fireplace the burning logs turn out to be pretzel sticks and the animated flames that rise and fall are actually pieces of candy corn cut to different lengths. In Western Spaghetti all the ingredients are found objects including Pick Up Sticks for the uncooked pasta and bubble wrap that ! is manipulated to suggest the boiling water.

PES' creative plots/ideas derive from being an English literature major in college and from his discovering the films of Jan Svankmajer. PES is currently living in the Los Angeles area where he is developing a feature based on the Garbage Pail Kids.

Ben Ridgway's program was a wonderful exploration of new possibilities of what animation can be. Each artist presents unique experiences, suggesting animation is capable of creating endless kinds of artistic encounters. Perhaps there are no limits to what our minds can create.

WAS OUR SEPTEMBER SCREENING OF WORK BY MAX HATTLER, ANDREW JONES, PES, BEN RIDGWAY, AND ZEITGUISED AN INDICATION THAT THERE IS A GROWING NEW AESTHETIC MOVEMENT IN ANIMATION? By KC When I asked Ben if he would enjoy introducing his work to our animation community he suggested that we also show the work of four animators he admired who use a combination of old and new technology to create both commercial and personal work.

After seeing the program I realized that Ben's selection showcased what I believe is a trend in animation that I find to be highly inventive and fascinating. They are creating imaginary worlds where their abstract forms seem to exist and go about "life" normally, although that life may not be one we recognize from the world we live in. It also appears a great deal of intellectual thought goes into creating them. It seems to be a post-industrial surreal or constructivist world. While I suspect the artists are influenced to some degree by Jan Sv! ankmajer, their new visionary worlds are more peaceful.

I send these comments to Ben. He replied. "This is a trend in animation that can be traced back to a variety of artists. Oskar Fischinger, Len Lye, Norman Mclaren and John Whitney are just a few key players in the development of the movement we have today in modern experimental animation. Max Hattler, and Zeitguised work mostly with abstraction and surrealism. Andrew Jones is part of the visionary art movement. http://en.wikipedia! .org/wiki/Visionary_art PES is definitely a surrealist at heart and early surrealists like Jan Svankmajer definitely had a significant influence on his development as an artist."


The year long competition attracted entries from around the world. AniMazSpot had 54 finalists. The 12 awards that were presented in September include Third Best of the Festival going to Party in the CIA by Roque Ballesteros, from Ghostbot Studios in San Francisco. It is "Weird Al" Yankovic's parody of the song "Party in the USA." Weird Al chose Ghostbot as Roque had directed "Mole in the City,"one of Al's favorite episodes of Happy Tree Friends.

Before becoming a founding partner of Ghostbot, Roque worked for Wildbrain and Curious Pictures. He is a graduate of Rhode Design School of Design.

The Best of the Festival award went to Dust and Glitter by Michaela Copikova, from Pietany, Slovakia. Michaela received a Fulbright scholarship for one year to study visual effects as a graduate student in the VFX program at the Academy of Art University. The film is about a lonely woman who has come to SF and has taken a job in a restaurant. Made after her return to Slovakia, she sent us a copy and we showed her impressive work earlier this year. Michaela also presented our chapter of! ASIFA a program on Slovakian animation last year that include her short Socks. Since returning to Slovakia she and Veronika Obertova have formed Ove Pictures where they work on music videos, commercials and shorts. Their work includes two videos for the band Antioquia. https://vimeo.com/40647604 Their work is also posted on www.ovepictures.com

Other highlights of the week long festival included ten studio and school tours, screening of 20 gorgeous 35mm prints of UPA shorts, an educational animation forum at Woodbury University, a program of past AniMazSpot shorts and a conversation between Tom Sito, Bob Kurtz, and Fred Crippen, on the influences of UPA Pictures.

ANIMATED VICTOR MOSCOSO SPOTS ARE ON YOUTUBE Bruce Krueger, who calls Moscoso "maybe the greatest psychedelic poster artist ever," has found a series of fascinating underground spots he made for The Fine Art of Goofing Off, a TV series made for KQED in 1972. I'm familiar with Moscoso as an underground comix artist (Zap Comix) and as a poster artist, but I forgot he did animation. (He also designed an animated ad for the FM station KMEL that featured a camel.) The Moscoso spots are a rare glimpse into the ancient counter culture of San Francisco. http://youtu.be/ku5DdEYPR7E

MORE GLIMPSES OF THE ANIMATED MADNESS OF "THE FINE ART OF GOOFING OFF" ARE ON THE INTERNET The three half-hour shows Henry Jacobs created in 1972 included art by lots of people, not just Moscoso. Google the show's title to discover what delighted people 40 years ago on KQED. http://vimeo.com/17454530

When the show was presented in London a few years ago at Cinematograph, a film club/pub, the Quietus ran an article on Jacobs, he described The Fine Art Of Goofing Off as "Sesame Street for grown-ups." The article said, "The series explores the nature of time, how to make the most of it, what it means to goof off, and how best to do it. While being genuinely funny, it also poses some interesting ideas for anyone who feels the strain of the clock."


When I was in my teens my uncle Kenny gave me Wide Weird World, a bizarre record produced by Henry Jacobs that has Watt's Towers on the cover. I listened to it many times. Now I'm enjoying discovering more about Jacobs including his role in experimental music in the mid-20th Century. He provided the sound for experimental programs at the Morrison Planetarium in Golden Gate Park. The visuals were by Jordan Belson. KC

RAQUEL COELHO'S SHOW "SHADOW BOXES: INSPIRED BY MUSIC AND ANIMATION" She writes the 19 boxes are "fun, naive illustrations depicting Muybridge, Emile Cohl, Emile Reynaud, Windsor McCay and other early animators. They are all with puppets and objects." Raquel teaches at San Jose State and has worked at PDI/Dreamworks, Wildbrain, Blue Sky and SF State. On display till Nov. 25 at Mohr Gallery, 230 San Antonio Circle, Mountain View, CA. www.arts4all.org/attend/mohrgallery.htm

Local screening

Monday, November 5, 7:30 PM, RON DIAMOND'S 14TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS, enjoy a program of the best new animation, curated and presented by Ron of Acme Filmworks and AWN.com. See flyer for details

THE YERBA BUENA CENTER FOR THE ARTS IS PRESENTING A JAN SVANKMAJER RETROSPECTIVE INCLUDING "SURVIVING LIFE," HIS MOST RECENT FEATURE They will show: Nov 8, Alice, 7:30pm, (new 35mm print); Nov. 11, Lunacy, 2pm followed by Little Otik, 4:30pm; Nov. 15, Svankmajer Shorts, 7:30pm; Nov. 17, Faust, 7:30pm; Nov. 25, Conspirators Of Pleasure, 2pm and Nov. 29, Surviving Life, 7:30pm. $10 regular, $8 YBCA members, students, seniors and teachers, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, near the Powell and Montgomery BART/Muni stations. www.ybca.org/animating-dark-dreams-films-jan-svankmajer

National & International News

NINA PALEY HAS RELEASED "THIS LAND IS MINE," A POWERFUL SHORT, ONLINE The art is equal to Sita Sings the Blues, but the content is a powerful ugly statement about one aspect of the history of the land that has been called Israel, Palestine, Canaan and Levant. One blog calls it "gleefully offensive," another says "bleakly funny" South Park-like gallows humor" a third calls it "a work of genius," a forth "a satire on the stupidity of the whole human race" and a friend simply calls it "brilliant." www.heavy.com said, "it's a fun spin on never-ending conflict of despair. Plus, a Pat Boone and Andy Williams soundtrack! It's not everyday you can associate those crooners with the angel of death." Nina says it might be the finale of a feature she is contemplating. Her blog provides both the film and a pictorial key to the bewildering cast of characters. See it at: http://blog.ninapaley.com/2012/10/01/this-land-is-mine/

IS PSYCHEDELIC AND/OR SEIZURE INDUCING ANIMATION MAKING A COMEBACK? A few years ago flashing anime images in TV cartoons were accused of inducing seizures in some kids. A member sent us links to two recent examples of animation that he thinks might influence brain functions. Pikachu on Acid includes a fun segment that is somebody's idea of psychedelic animation. The rest of the short didn't interest me at all. http://youtu.be/X5Izm1LQfw4 It doesn't amaze me like the work of Vincent Collins from the 1970s (see his work on YouTube). Nyan Caxx, the other example I was told about, has some interesting moments in it including flashes of grotesque images, but most of it was quite boring. I'm told Nyan Caxx is about Nyan Cat, a work that became an Internet meme in 2011. There have been over 84 million views of ! it. http://youtu.be/oVfUJkYqMOU kc

A few days before I got the above information, Vince Collins sent me a link to a Superjail episode that comes closer to being inspired by Vince's brilliant late 1970s work. http://video.adultswim.com/superjail/360-degree-view.html

RON DIAMOND HAS JUST RELEASED 54 SHORTS IN HIS ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS DVDS. THEY WILL BE FOR SALE WHEN HE PRESENTS HIS LATEST EDITION AT DOLBY ON NOVEMBER 5 The collection now includes 162 shorts. The 54 new films are on 18 DVDs (three shorts on each DVD). The new films being released are The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, The Village by Mark Baker, Bitzbutz by Gil Alkabetz, The Centrifuge Brain Project by Till Nowak, The God by Konstantin Bronzit, Crossroads by Raimund Krumme, Galeria by Robert Proch, Una Furtiva Lagrima by Carlo Vogele, No Room For Gerold by Daniel Nocke, This Way Up by Smith & Foulkes, Journey To Cape Verde by Josa Miguel Ribeiro and friends, Crac! by Frederic Back, Dimanche by Patrick Doyon, The Silence Beneath The Bark by Joanna Lurie, Sinna Man by Anit! a Killi, Fiumana by Julia Gromskaya, The Lost Thing by Andrew Ruhemann and Shaaun Tan, Lavatory Love Story by Konstantin Bronzit, Maestro by Geza Toth, The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger by Bill Plympton, Guard Dog Gl obal Jam by Bill Plympton, Romance by Georges Schwizgebel, Paths Of Hate by Damian Nenow, Divers In The Rain by Olga and Priit Parn, The Renter by Jason Carpenter, Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella, Rubicon by Gil Alkabetz, Flamingo Pride by Tomer Eshed, Here And The Great Elsewhere by Michale Lemieux, The Street by Caroline Leaf, The Mysterious Geographic Explorations Of Jasper Morello by Anthony Lucas, Logorama by Franasois Alaux and friends, Ring Of ! Fire by Andreas Hykade, Temtation by Olivier Heitz and friends, La Maison En Petits Cubes by Kunio Kato, Hot Stuff by Zlatko Grgic, Zoologic by Nicole Mitchell, Let's Pollute by Geefwee Boedoe, The Case by Martin Zivocky, Esterhazy by Izabela Plucia, Wild Life by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, Muybridge's Strings by Koji Yamamura, Andrei Svitlovski by Igor Kovalyov, The Man Who Planted Trees by Frederic Back, Every Child by -Eugene Fedorenko, Mobile by Verena Fels, French Roast by Fabrice O. Joubert, Jean-Francois by ! Tom Haugomat and Bruno Mangyoku, Passage by Raimund Krumme, 7596 Frames by Martin Georgis, Love Man Who Planted Trees And Thief by Andreas Hykade and Schlaf by Claudius Gentinetta and Frank Braun. Many of these films are incredible accomplishments. They are available online in box sets and at the event at Dolby either in box sets or as individual DVDs www.filmporium.com.

"FRANKENWEENIE" GOT OFF TO A SLOW START AND BUSINESS REMAINS SLOW WHILE OTHER FILMS ARE DOING OK Burton's name wasn't enough to motivate people to rush out and see his new work. His 3D black-and-white, stop-motion, animated feature debuted to $11.5 million, less than the $15 million to $20 million that Disney had hoped for. It came in 5th, far behind Hotel Transylvania which took in $28 million in its 2nd week in the US. Hotel Transylvania opened around $50 million. The good news is Burton's film was low budget by Disney standards. The Hollywood Reporter says it cost $39 million to make plus promotional expenses.

Disney had hopes it would attract better business as it get closer to Halloween, but as of October 21 the film had a worldwide gross of only $40 million. Meanwhile Madagascar 3 has taken in almost $700 million, Brave $531.5 million, Hotel Transylvania $187 million ($85 million budget), and Paranorman $97 million (budget not known). !

A friend in the press wrote, "I didn't walk out but it was definitely not great and I wouldn't pay money to see it. The most impressive 3D footage was the Disney opening logo featuring fireworks over the Disneyland castle."

Tim Burton fans may enjoy knowing Tim and Helena Bonham Carter have been selected to receive the British Film Institute's highest accolade, BFI Fellowships.

OSCAR DATES On January 10, 2013 the list of nominated films will be will released and the ceremony will be Feb. 24 at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Seth "Family Guy" MacFarlane will host the event.

JEFFREY KATZENBERG IS NOT ONLY ONE OF HOLLYWOOD'S NOTED HUMANITARIANS, BUT ALSO A MAJOR SUPPORTER OF OBAMA The day before Obama held a series of fund raisers in the Bay Area in October he made an unusual stop at Jeffrey's house to thank 12 major supporters of his campaign. The Hollywood Reporter did not state who the supporters were or what they had donated as the press was not invited into the house (reporters were allowed to rest in the garage that contained an electric Nissan Leaf and an Audi). Last year Jeffrey and his wife donated $2 million to Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting the Democratic Party.!

FIRST REVIEW OF DREAMWORK'S "RISE OF THE GUARDIANS" The Hollywood Reporter says, "A lively and derivative 3D storybook spree for some unlikely action heroes" A very odd assortment of mythical childhood figures, some of them afflicted with severe emotional insecurities and inferiority complexes, are thrown together as an unlikely set of action heroes. (It's) an attractively designed but overly busy and derivative mishmash of kid-friendly elements." It opens Nov. 21.

DREAMWORKS ORIENTAL HOPES TO RELEASE THREE ANIMATED FEATURES A YEAR EVENTUALLY DreamWorks Animation will co-produce Kung Fu Panda 3 in China for release in 2016. The first full Chinese production is planned to come out in 2017 and by 2022 they hope to consistently release two to three movies a year. At present the company in China is developing script concepts and building a studio that will eventually house about 800 employees.

SIGNE BAUMANE HAS A TRAILER ONLINE FOR HER FIRST FEATURE "ROCKS IN MY POCKETS" She says the film is a humorous personal film about a serious subjects, depression and suicide. The trailer has several tantalizing images in it, suggesting the film to be released in spring, 2013 will be a unique experience. www.rocksinmypocketsmovie.com/team/signe-baumane/

MAUREEN SELWOOD'S NEW FILM "DRAWING LESSONS" It is now online vimeo.com/51323037

SLIDE SHOW OF BROS. QUAYS MOMA EXHIBIT http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2012/08/10/arts/design/20120810-QUAY-11.html

MARK OSBORN'S OSCAR NOMATATED "MORE" (1998) is a fascinating stop-motion short. Mark graduated from Cal Arts, has worked on lots of SpongeBob shows and received a second Oscar nomination for directing Kung Fu Panda. http://vimeo.com/7306050

SEX DISCRIMINATION AT DISNEY? Brenda Chapman, who wrote and was later relieved of her position as director of Brave, writes candidly about her early experiences at Disney as their first female writer. She was fresh out of Cal Arts. http://brenda-chapman.com/blog/i-was-hired-b! ecause-i-was-a-woman/

READ ABOUT NANCY PHELPS BEING ESCORTED OFF A BUS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE After being an animation festival judge in Kosovo she took a bus to Serbia to visit a friend, but at the Serbian border the guards refused to let her enter their country. Find out why and what happened next on her blog (not my idea of fun). http://sprockets.animationblogspot.com/

ANDY SERKIS PLANS TO DIRECT A MOTION CAPTURE VERSION OF GEORGE ORWELL'S "ANIMAL FARM" He has performed parts in several performance capture films including Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin, Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Gollum in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and worked for half a year as a second-unit director on The Hobbit. He says he has a keen understanding of emergi! ng performance-capture tools and techniques so in 2011 formed the London based company The Imaginarium, with producer Jonathan Cavendish. The Imaginarium has secured the film rights to Animal Farm, as well as right to Samantha Shannon's The Bone Season series of books. Does Animal Farm lend itself to the realism of that technology?!

ON THE PASSING OF ROMAN KROITOR He was a remarkable man who had a long career as a Canadian filmmaker, was a co-founder of IMAX and was the creator of the SANDDE animation system where you wear alternating shutter goggles and move a hand-held wand around to see what you are drawing in space while looking at a large TV screen. He also appeared in a video that George Lucas saw. In it he talks about his concept of "The Force," a concept George used in the Star Wars films.

The earliest film that he worked on that I recall seeing was the cinema verite Lonely Boy, a look at the unexciting off stage life of rock/pop star Paul Anka (1960, it influenced the style of A Hard Day's Night). His more recent films I saw were The Rolling Stones At the Max (1990, IMAX, co-director) and Cyberworld (2000, co-producer, a CG animated IMAX feature).

Marcy Page, a NFB animation producer, who was part of the Bay Area animation world for many years, writes us about his contribution to stereoscopic animation. She first met Roman at his lakeside home in the mid nineties when she was invited to check out his progress on the SANDDE system. She says it took "one session in the then primitive drawing environment where I could create an immersive hand-drawing in space and I was hooked. I knew he was on to something wonderful with this stereoscopic drawing/animating tool. He said he ha! d seen animators like McLaren at the NFB hand-drawing animation in their lively gestural way and found by comparison the early stereoscopic CG modeling systems clunky and stiff, so he wanted a more direct way to create stereoscopic animation for large format films" I volunteered in a heartbeat to beta-test the system on condition that once he got it viable, that a station could be installed at the NFB where I produced animation. True to his promise we were able to eventually experiment at the NFB Animation Studio with SANDDE on a number of films starting with Falling in Love Again and June by Munro Ferguson and Moon Man by Paul Morstad. Animation on SANDDE continues to be made by us."

"I loved my halcyon visits to the country to create drawings on the SANDDE system and to see its steady progress. My memory is that I would draw most of the day and they (Roman, son Paul and sometimes another visiting programmer) would improve the thing all night, only interrupted by the most amazing meals and spirited conversation around the table with Roman, his lovely wife Janet and their remarkable family. I was honored by their generosity and trust."


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Shirley Smith, Dan Steves, Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thank to all who made our Canadian Film Board event a remarkable night to remember at the Disney Museum including Mary Beth Culler, Marty McNamera, our five guests from Canada and a great audience.
ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world. Local membership is now $26 a year, International $42. Our website and blog is: www.asifa-sf.org &n! bsp; Mail can be sent to: karlcohen@earthlink.net or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122


(3 images go here)

Una Furtiva Lagrima Trama Daffy's Rhapsody
With special guests Till Nowak from Germany and Carlo Vogele from Pixar

Monday, Nov. 5, 7:30 pm, free

Current ASIFA-SF members can bring one guest, please RSVP
to karlcohen@earthlink.net (say if you are bringing a guest, RSVP will be confirmed)
Not a member? Visit www.asifa-sf.org for membership information
At Dolby Labs 100 Potrero Ave. SF - arrive early to sign in at the guard's desk

Thurs. Nov. 8, 7:30 PM, RSVP to David.Chai@sjsu.edu
SJSU University Theater, located in NW corner of campus in Hugh Gillis Hall. http://www.sjsu.edu/map/

Once again Ron Diamond has selected an exceptional program of 13 films and possibly a cool surprise. All are in high-resolution digital formats. Included are grand prix winners from Annecy, Hiroshima, Zagreb and other festivals. The event has consistently featured films that have gone on to be considered for Oscar nominations. To date 23 have received nominations and seven in past shows received the award (Father and Daughter, 2000; Harvie Krumpett , 2003; Ryan, 2004; The Danish Poet, 2006; La Maison en Petite Cubes, 2008; Lost Things, 2010; The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore 2011)


John Kahrs' inspiring romantic Disney short PAPERMAN (USA)
Till Nowak's hysterical THE BRAIN CENTRIFUGE PROJECT (Germany)
Michele Lemieux's NFB dazzling pinscreen masterpiece HERE AND THE GREAT ELSEWHERE (Canada)
Pixar's Carlo Vogele's independent operatic fish tale UNA FURTIVA LAGRIMA (USA)
Russian Dmitry Geller's enigmatic short made with students at Jilin Animation Institute I SAW MICE BURYING A CAT (China)
Martin Zivocky's stunning graphic graduation film THE CASE (Czech Republic)
Martin Georgiev's intense 7596 FRAMES (Bulgaria)
Antoine Robert, Dorianne Fibleuil, Paulin Cointot and Maud Sertour's surreal comedy LE TAXIDERMISTE (France)
Israeli born, Tomer Esheds' 3D phenomenal and over the top 3D HFF graduation film FLAMINGO PRIDE (Germany)
Warner Bros. newest 3D short made brilliant by Matt O'Callaghan DAFFY'S RHAPSODY (USA)
Plus three films that need a PARENTAL ADVISORY - not suitable for children
Emma de Swaef and James Roels OH WILLY! (Belgium)
A Supinfocom's graduation film by Loris Accaries, Marie Ayme, Claire Baudean and Audrey Janvier TENTATION (France)
Michaela Pavlatova's sexual fantasy on a TRAM (Czech Republic)


Hard to find DVDs of international animation, including many 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. They are also available online from www.filmporium.com.

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