[NOTE: Posted partially unedited due to health problems ~ Curtis]

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

January 2013

This issue features lots of news about the upcoming awards ceremonies and features that have recently won best animation awards from various festivals. There are long articles about a festival in Belgrade (Serbia) and China, my article on Ron Diamond's largest edition of the Animated Show of Shows, a plug for a wonderful feature from France, The Rabbi's Cat, local news and much more.

Tram by Michaela Pavlatova




By KC. In Part One I reviewed a remarkable evening with Regina Pessoa and Michele Lemieux introducing us to their works made for the National Film Board of Canada. A few days later we presented Ron Diamond's latest edition of the Animation Show of Shows featuring prize winning shorts from around the world. This year his program of 13 films included Grand Prix winners from Annecy, Hiroshima, Zagreb and other festivals. Ron, who heads AWN.com and the production company Acme Filmworks, often picks films that also get Oscar nominations. This year two films in the show, Tram and Paperman, are on the list of ten works being considered for Oscar nominations.

The films in the program range from Paperman, a wholesome film from Disney, to Tram, an outrageous erotic fantasy from the Czech Republic. Tram by Michaela Pavlatova (Oscar nomination for Rici, Rici, Rici, 1991), illustrates several sexual fantasies that a woman streetcar operator has while doing her job. Ron Diamond later told me it was made as a pilot for a possible series so it is not as wild and crazy as her award winning Carnival of the Animals, 2006. While Carnival is an interspecies sexual free-for-all, Tram is much tamer, possibly making it acceptable for Michaela to get another Academy Award nomination.

Paperman by John Kahr is a stunning looking romantic fantasy. In this beautifully presented story of two individuals, when the man sees the young woman on a subway platform he develops a crush. They don't exchange words and he looses track of her as they ride to work, but he spots her again from his office window. The story is charming and fun although implausible. It is a solid crowd pleaser and is likely to get an Oscar nomination, but it does have a major fault for some viewers. The woman is another idealized Disney Princess and that may bother people who dislike Disney's use of stereotypes. We never learn anything about her except she is a beautiful young woman with big round eyes and she works in an office across the street from the young man.

The most inventive short in the program is The Brain Centrifuge Project by Till Nowak from Germany. Till was present to discuss the making of this most unusual "documentary." It is a live action interview with the inventor and builder of remarkable amusement park rides. Photo-realistic animation composited with live action footage of real rides shot at different amusement parks turns them into outrageous attractions. For example the colossal Ferris wheel is so enormous that it disappears into the clouds. The designer explains the attraction wasn't successful as it took hours to complete one rotation. The other outrageous rides in the film are constructed around roller coasters and other moving rides.

The inventor's acting is so natural and the rides are so convincing looking that it takes some people several minutes before they realize this isn't a real documentary. Till said the actor was an amateur who looked great for the part, but he ended up having to shoot several hours of footage to get the few minutes needed in the finished work. He had a difficult time editing that footage as he needed to match up and splice together sections of different takes of the same scene to create a convincing performance. The actor didn't gesture, etc. the same way in each take.

Ron had a second guest artist present, Carlo Vogele from Pixar. His stop-motion film Una Furtiva Lagrima is a highly inventive "music video," but it is highly unlikely it will ever run on MTV. The music is a tragic song from the Italian opera L'elisir d'amore by Donizetti. Spoiler warning: The singer on the soundtrack is the great Enrico Caruso and in Vogele's film the exceptional tenor's voice is being lipped synched by a rather large, real, plump fish.

I'll not tell you why the fish is singing a tragic song, but I will gladly share with you how Vogele achieved his exceptional performance. To animate the fish he was first frozen and then for about 20-minutes in the thawing process he was stiff enough to hold a pose, but flexible enough to manipulate. After about 20-minutes the fish had to be returned to the freezer. We also were told several fish were needed due to wear and tear.

The program included an intermission before the last three films to allow anyone offended by sexual content to leave. Besides showing Michaela's delightful Tram he presented Oh Willy! by Emma de Swaef and James Roels from Belgium (trailer at http://vimeo.com/34891933) and Tentation by Loris Accaries, Marie Ayme, Claire Baudean and Audrey Janvier from France.

Oh Willy! is a stop-motion film made with puppets covered with a soft felt-like material. Marie's website lists about 60 festivals in which the film has won major prizes including several grand prizes, audience awards and best animation honors. Part of the film takes place in a nudist colony.

Tentation is a film several prudish websites are too cautious to describe. The Annecy program guide referred to it as "Organic and mineral, here is a living and dying experience on the eroticism of women that transposes the classical nude." Living in San Francisco I can be frank and say it is a beautiful, sensual work that climaxes in what appears to be an idealized lesbian orgy. Although it appears to be animated clay sculptures it is in fact 3D computer animation and it was a student graduation film at Supinfocom, a computer animation school in Aries, France.

I felt the weakest film in the show was Daffy's Rhapsody by Matt O'Callaghan for Warner Bros. I didn't care for the 3D look of Daffy Duck and felt that while the new film was mildly amusing, the old Mel Blanc soundtrack works better for me as a record. I'd rather imagine the action than see O'Callaghan's visualization of it.

The program also includes Here And The Great Elsewhere, the handsome pinscreen film by Michele Lemieux from the National Film Board of Canada, I Saw Mice Burying A Cat by Dmitry Geller from Russia (assisted by students at the Jilin Animation Institute in China), Martin Zivocky's stunning graphic graduation film The Case from the Czech Republic, 7596 Frames by Martin Georgiev from Bulgaria, the surreal comedy Le Taxidermiste by Antoine Robert, Dorianne Fibleuil, Paulin Cointot and Maud Sertour from France, and the outrageous Flamingo Pride by Israeli born Tomer Esheds. It was made as a graduation film in Germany.

Once again Ron has assembled a rich and varied show that received a great deal of applause and praise. If you are interested in seeing some of the films from the current or past programs, selected titles are available on DVDs. They sell for $5 a disc. Each disc contains three shorts. Deluxe, boxed sets of six DVDs are $30; available from www.filmporium.com.



CONGRATULATIONS TO KAREN LITHGOW. SHE HAS A MAJOR DISTRIBUTOR FOR HER ANIMATED INTERACTIVE ALGEBRA LESSONS Phoenix will distribute her educational animated program. It has already been approved by several educators, and Phoenix and Karen are now working on a test website. Invited participants will try it out and will give feedback and testimonials. After that it will go onto Phoenix's website for sale in digital download format. Their primary customers are teachers and school districts. Karen is our chapter's treasurer and the present project and her previous shorts have been made using Flash.

LEONARD COHEN IS BUSY ANIMATING IN PARIS He plans to be back in the Bay Area around March 1. He writes, "My team mate in France and I are now working on new things for a prime time broadcast on January 29 while the series keeps on going every Saturday afternoon. So that's a huge lot of work, but that's the way I like it."

MICHAEL LANGAN HAS BEEN COMMISSIONED TO DO A SECRET PROJECT THAT WILL BE SEEN BY MILLIONS! I can't write about why he is so excited except to say you may get an e-mail in January inviting you to contribute something to it (neither money nor blood).



LUCAS HAS COMPLETED THE SALE OF LUCAS-FILM TO DISNEY He has received $2.21 billion in cash and almost 37.1 million Disney shares at $50 a share. Disney now controls the Star Wars franchise, ILM, etc.

STUDY STOP-MOTION ANIMATION AT THE SF ART INSTITUTE (800 Chestnut in North Beach) The course runs 12 sessions, Thursdays, Jan. 31–April 25 from 7:30–10:30 pm, tuition: $480. Instructors are David Borengasser (www.davidborengasser.com) and Tiffany Doesken ( http://tiffanydoesken.com).



At Oddball Films
A nice selection of new films and prize winning classics!
***See flyer for details***

THE DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM IS PRESENTING TWO STOP-MOTION PUPPET CONSTRUCTION CLASSES On February 16 they present Introduction to Stop-Motion Puppet Creation with Bonita DeCarlo, Character Fabrication Supervisor for The Nightmare Before Christmas and Character Production Manager for James and the Giant Peach and Monkeybone.

On January 26, February 23, and March 16 they will present Stop-Motion Puppet Construction, Wardrobe Fabrication, and Performance with animator and independent filmmaker, Ruben Esqueda (A series of 3 classes). http://www.waltdisney.com/lectures-and-discussions


Sat. Jan. 19, The Conservation and Preservation of Animation Cells with WDFM art conservator, Martin Salazar (lecture and tour).

Sat. Jan. 19, The Disney Classics Preserving Walt's Vision with Theodore Gluck, The Walt Disney Studios' Director of Library Restoration and Preservation. It is presented in conjunction with the Museum's feature exhibition Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: The Creation of a Classic.

February 16, Behind the Magic: The Making of Stop Motion Features, ParaNorman (2012) and Coraline (2009) with Mark Shapiro, Director of Entertainment Brand Marketing for LAIKA. (Presented in conjunction with the special exhibition, Between Frames: The Magic Behind Stop Motion Animation).

March 2, Bringing Frankenweenie to Life with popular producer, director and author, Don Hahn.

March 23, 2719 Hyperion Foundation of an Empire (Exploring the History of The Walt Disney Studios, 1925-1939) with Disney historian and author, David Lesjak.

Note: the programs often sell out so order tickets in advance. http://www.waltdisney.com/lectures-and-discussions


THE RABBI'S CAT" OPENING AT LANDMARK THEATRES IN SF AND BERKELEY, Friday, Jan. 18 The Rabbi's Cat is a remarkable, intelligent adult comedy/adventure from France that captures the visual splendor of North Africa. It has the bright light, color and sense of patterns Matisse loved and the romantic mystery of Arab culture that Delacroix was fond of in his art. It stars a wonderful wise cat that can talk to and reason with humans whose minds are full of medieval superstitions, intolerance, and provincial beliefs. It is based on a graphic novel that is set in Algeria in the late 1920s or early 1930s. A quest in the last quarter of the film takes the explorers and cat to Ethiopia.

The film's intelligent conversations, the cat's sharp sardonic wit, a rich non-rock music track and use of subtitles may not be kid friendly (it isn't fast-paced mindless fluff), but mature audiences should be delighted with the film. Like Woody Allen films or Jon Stewart's TV work, you don't need to be Jewish to enjoy The Rabbi's Cat. The film has won grand prizes at Annecy and at the Cesar festivals and nominations for best feature at the ASIFA Annie Awards and the European Film Awards.

Upon reading the above Nancy Phelps wrote me, "I think you have clearly pointed out the big difference between European and American animation audiences. Here 'adult animation' is a given. All animation does not have to be intended for children just as all movies are not for kids."


ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD'S ANNIE AWARDS HAVE NOMINATED EIGHT FILMS FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE They are Frankenweenie, Brave, Hotel Transylvania (Sony), ParaNorman (Laika), The Pirates! Band Of Misfits (Aardman/Sony), The Rabbi's Cat (Autochenille Production/GKids), Rise Of The Guardians (Dreamworks Animation), Wreck-It Ralph).

For a full list visit http://www.cartoonbrew.com/events/annie-award-nominations-2012-74101.html

In most years one feature gets lots more nominations (various categories) than the other films and not surprisingly it wins the Best Feature prize. This year there is no front runner. Brave, Rise of the Guardians, and Wreck-It Ralph all received ten nominations each. ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania got eight nominations each.

5 ANIMATED FEATURES RECEIVED GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS – 12 WERE ON THE SHORT LIST The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's 70th Golden Globe Awards will be held on Jan. 13, three days after Academy Award nominations are announced. The HFPA can choose up to five films for the final nominee list. The five nominated films are Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania, Rise of the Guardians Brave and Wreck-it Ralph. A friend bets Frankenweenie will win here as the voters are not animation people and they vote for the biggest names.

There were 12 films on their short list. The 7 films not receiving nominations were From Up on Poppy Hill (GKIDS), Ice Age: Continental Drift (Fox/Blue Sky), The Lorax (Universal, Illumination), Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (DreamWorks/Paramount), ParaNorman (LAIKA, Focus), The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Sony/Aardman) and The Secret World of Arrietty (Disney/Studio Ghibli).

THE CRITICS' CHOICE AWARD NOMINATIONS FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE ARE: Brave, Frankenweenie, Madagascar 3, ParaNorman, Rise of the Guardians and Wreck-It Ralph.

A FEW GROUPS HAVE ANNOUNCED THEIR ANIMATION AWARD WINNERS The San Francisco Film Critics Circle Awards (25 voting members), the Washington DC Film Critics, the Dallas Ft Worth and the Chicago Film Critics picked ParaNorman as the Best Animated feature. The LA Film Critics have named Frankenweenie as the Best film of 2012 and Don Hertzfeldt's It's Such a Beautiful Day as the Runner-Up (it is a compilation of three of his shorts). The NY Film Critics Circle Awards, the Boston Film Critics, Florida Film Critics and the Kansas City Film Critics have also picked Frankenweenie. The National Board of Review has named Wreck-It Ralph as their choice for Best Animated Feature. The AFI'! s list of the 10 best films of the year did not include any animation.

WRITERS' GUILD OF AMERICA NOMINATIONS FOR BEST ANIMATED TV SHOW are "A Farewell to Arms," Futurama, Comedy Central; "Forget-Me-Not," Family Guy, Fox; "Holidays of Future Passed," The Simpsons, Fox; "Ned and Edna's Blend Agenda," The Simpsons, Fox and "Treehouse of Horror XXIII" The Simpsons, Fox.

STEVE SEGAL WRITES ABOUT THE TEN ANIMATED SHORTS ON THE ACADEMY'S SHORT LIST FOR THE OSCAR (Steve is a voting member of the Academy) This is in the order that they were presented on Dec 9 in San Francisco. The title is followed by the director followed by the length and then the description as it was printed on the handout, which I put in quotes:

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare, David Silverman, 5 min. "Maggie Simpson spends a day at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center where she is diagnosed at an average intelligence level." You all know the Simpsons and this played in front of the latest Ice Age movie. (It was generally reviewed as the best part of the package.) It's pretty much the level of humor! and animation that we've come to expect from the TV series, with the exception that the humor is almost all visual. There is no dialog; some of the gags are sign age on the screen, so it resembles the opening of the TV show. The staging of the gags is just perfect and the humor strong as usual. Maggie is enamored of a butterfly and has a run in with a destructive classmate. The animation is OK, just about what you'd expect from a Simpsons cartoon. This is the only short film presented in 3D, and the use of 3D is quite good, looking like my beloved Viewmaster pictures of old. This film credits seven writers, which works out to about 35 seconds each.

Combustible, Katsuhiro Ôtomo, 13 min. "Okawa, the daughter of a merchant family, and Matsukichi, disowned by his family, are drawn to each other." Director Ôtomo is legendary for writing and directing the anime masterpiece Akira. But this is a very different film, a story about two childhood friends, one of which whom becomes obsessed with becoming a fireman. Much of the film is dialog (subtitled) which is my least favorite approach to animation. Almost the entire story is told with extreme long shots, so you can barely see the character's faces. There is very little action in the film until the climax and even then there really isn't a proper ending, it sort of leaves you hanging.

Dripped, Leo Verrier, 9 min. "A passionate art lover visits museums all day long." That description doesn't tell you very much; the synopsis from IMDb is a bit better: "Jack is a strange character. He steals paintings from museums to eat them. He feeds himself with the artistic process of the painter. But one day, the museums are closed and he will have to paint by himself to survive." This is my favorite hand drawn work on the list; it's very energetic and imaginative. In an extension of the phrase you are what you eat, Jack becomes elements of the paintings. It's clever and funny, with a striking abstract section in the middle.

The Eagleman Stag, Michael Please, 9 min. "Peter's life has been absorbed with fascination and fear of his quickening perception of time." I'm not sure what this film is about, but I liked it. There is clever narration and a fascinating look, with figures seeming to be made from Styrofoam. The entire film is on YouTube, so you don't need me to describe it further.

The Fall of the House of Usher, Raul Garcia, 17 min. "Roderick Usher summons his boyhood friend to help him ease his decaying condition." Computer graphics made to look highly stylized helps tell this Gothic horror story; looking somewhat like the famous UPA film Tell-Tale Heart, which was also based on a story by Edgar Allen Poe. Despite the unique look, the charters faces have an awkward CG stretchiness, and the storytelling is convoluted! , it's a bit of a challenge to even know who the story is about, and what is really happening. The dramatic rendering of the action described in the title is suitably impressive, but too little too late.

Fresh Guacamole, PES, 2 min. "Two hands transform familiar objects into a dish of fresh guacamole." PES has developed a very original style using found objects to represent something else, as in his films Game Over and KaBoom! They are short and clever, but for all their originality, they are lacking in substance or even story, decidedly different and worthy of recognition, but maybe not an Oscar.

Head Over Heels, Timothy Reckart, 9 min. "A husband and wife have grown apart over the years: He lives on the floor and she lives on the ceiling and the marriage hangs in the balance." This student film from the National Film and Television School in the UK is definitely one of the best. It's puppet animation, the models are a bit crude but suitably expressive. I really appreciated that they made the two people look old but not an over caricatured old age. The film is an extended metaphor about how people can become distant over time. The story is sweet, funny and original. There is no dialog and very good use of sound effects and music.

Tram, Michaela Pavlátová, 9 min. "It's the humdrum daily routine for Tram's conductress." This hand-drawn computer film is in a simple, almost primitive style. It's cartoony, but not for children, like one of Pavlátová's other animated films, Repete. The conductress is buxom and bouncy and more than a little bit concupiscent. She fantasizes her male passengers as sex organs and gets a bit too excited. The film is fun and the ending is sweet.

Paperman, John Kahrs, 7 min. "Convinced the girl of his dreams is lost forever, a lonely young man gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper across the avenue from his office". This is likely the most familiar film to the average moviegoer, since it was attached to the hit Wreck-it-Ralph. It's a very successful merging of 2D & 3D and was made in stereoscopic 3D, but presented in 2D at my screening. I had seen it in the theater in 3D and it didn't make as much creative use of 3D as the Simpsons short. It's a truly charming story about a young man who tries to get a girl's attention with a series of paper airplanes. The film is in black and white with just a hint of red to accentuate the girl's lipstick color. Interestingly this year saw two B&W films from Disney after almost 80 years of all color animation. The character animation is some of the best of all the films we saw, which should not be surprising coming from the Disney Studio. The main characters reminded me of Roger in 101 Dalmatians and Ariel in The Little Mermaid, and the film is an odd mix of reality and fantasy, but the pacing and subtle humor are both excellent; the allure of the film is undeniable.

Adam and Dog, Minkyu Lee, 16 min. "A story about the first dog that was ever created and how he became friend to man." You've got to admire a film this good looking. Many of the shots are presented in dappled sunlight, often with long shadows. There is expert character animation of animals and humans and good overall design. It's mostly about a dog and his friendship with the first man. The pacing is a bit slow; the story could have been! told in about half the length. It's not surprising that the animation looks this good, James Baxter was one of the animators and Glen Keane was his consultant.

My picks for the 5 nominees (in alphabetical order): Adam and Dog, Dripped, The Eagleman Stag, Head Over Heels and Paperman.


JIM KORKIS' NEW BOOK IS "WHO'S AFRAID OF SONG OF THE SOUTH? AND OTHER FORBIDDEN DISNEY STORIES" While over half of the book is about the suppressed feature it covers other unusual subjects from Disney's shorts about VD and Picketing Song of the South, 1946 and menstruation to Tim Burton's career with Disney and John Carter's flop. There is a section on Ward Kimball and UFOs, another on Walt's FBI file and much more. I'm looking forward to reviewing it. It is published by Theme Park Press and is available from Amazon

www.amazon.com/Afraid-Forbidden-Disney-Stories-ebook/dp/B00AG6G250 -

"SHADOW OF A MOUSE: PERFORMANCE, BALLET AND WORLD-MAKING IN ANIMATION" BY DONALD CRAFTON He is the author of Before Mickey. The new book is being published by the University of California Press.

COMING SOON: "MOVING INNOVATION: THE HISTORY OF COMPUTER ANIMATION" BY TOM SITO, FROM THE MIT PRESS He spent seven years running around North America doing 75 interviews with the major pioneers (Catmull, Alvy, Blinn, Rosendahl, Whitney, Csuri, Knowlton, Kroyer and many more). He believes this may be the first book giving a complete overview of CG history. It includes stories that used to be told at Siggraph including sagas about NYIT, Digital-Omnibus-Abel, PDI, Symbolics, Flight-Sims, Pixar, the birth of the interactive Industry and the Digital Conquest of Hollywood with films like Jurassic Park and Toy Story. Tom says the advanced press is quite favorable and it should be available for pre-order in January and that an April release date has been announced.

TRIVIA – WHAT WAS THE FIRST COMPUTER ANIMATION PROGRAM? Tom Sito tells us that on "Dec. 2, 1951- MIT scientists booted up Project Whirlwind, the TX-0 Computer. Called the Tixo, it was as large as a bus and was the first computer that could do more than one program at a time. It also had the first computer screen and first light pen. It calculated everything from synchronizing the gunfire of battleships to how much icing to put in an Oreo cookie. The Tixo was used to write the first animation program Sketchpad, and the first interactive game Spacewar, both in 1962."

MEET PES, THE STOP-MOTION GENIUS WHO TURNS GRENADES INTO FRESH GUACAMOLE" is an informative article by Hugh Hart published in Wired.


PAUL McCARTNEY SUPPORTS ANIMATION The former Beatle has made a deal with HBO to develop an animated feature that showcases some of the songs from his solo career including "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Silly Love Songs."

McCartney is also reportedly working with Bob Shaye and Michael Lynn of New Line and Unique Films for another animated feature based on his 2005 children's book High in the Clouds. The book focuses on a courageous squirrel named Wirral who joins forces with a frog named Froggo in order to save his woodland home from the polluted Megatropolis.

In the 1980s McCartney purchased the movie rights to the popular British comic strip Rupert Bear in hopes of making a full-length animated feature. While the project didn't materialize, he did create a delightful animated short called Rupert and the Frog Song.

ED ASNER, GIVING AN ANIMATED EXPLANATION AS TO HOW THE 1% HAS SCREWED UP OUR NATION'S ECCONOMY, HAS BEEN CENSORED ON THE INTERNET! After it went online the SF Chronicle (Dec. 5) criticized the film for a six second segment where a rich guy urinates on the middle class. The paper called Tax the Rich, an Animated Fairy Tale "crass, sophomoric and at times almost laughably hypocritical garbage."' The image is from the deleted sequence. It was written and animated by Mike Konopacki and directed by Fred Glass for the California Federation of Teachers. It deals with the rich buying elections. See it at www.cft.org or at


WARNING! DON'T BUY THE DVD ""WACKY WORLD OF TEX AVERY" EXPECTING TO SEE ANY OF THE GREAT DIRECTOR'S WORK! The Tex on the DVD is a cowboy character in a made for TV cartoon show. It will be in stores in February. Paul Mular tells me, "Tex Avery only created one television show that I know of, The Kwiki Koala Show."

STUDY CG CHARACTER ANIMATION ONLINE WITH STEPHEN BUCKLEY Buckley started his career animating Gumby for the last Gumby and Pokey TV series. Following that Henry Selick hired him to animate on The Nightmare before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach. In 1999 he joined Weta in New Zealand on The Lord of the Rings. He animated Gollum and Smeagol on all 3 of the films. He is presently in Vancouver BC as a character animator on Enders Game.

Buck teaches CG character animation privately over the Internet so if you are building a reel that will impress studios, that's his specialty. He says his services are reasonably priced. buckbuckley60@yahoo.com

KHITRUK, MAN BEHIND THE RUSSIAN ANIMATED 'WINNIE THE POOH', DIES AT 95 Fyodor Khitruk, the Russian father of Winnie the Pooh, created over 200 characters for his 102 animated films and picked up some of the world's most coveted awards, including the Golden Palm at Cannes. Khitruk's love of animated cartoons began when he joined his father on a business trip to Germany. He studied animation with hopes of working at the state-run Soviet studio Soyuzmultfilm. He applied for a jo! b there, but it took three years before he was hired. He stayed at that studio for about half a century.

His first cartoon, Story of a Crime, was a success when it premiered in 1962, picking up an award at a festival in San Francisco. The cartoon marked the beginning of a new era in Soviet animation. Khitruk went on to direct films for both kids including Bonifacio's Holiday and The Lion and the Bull, and award winning cartoons for adults like Film, Film, Film and Island.

THE ANIMATED SHORTS AT SUNDANCE ARE: Benjamin's Flowers by Malin Erixon, Sweden, lovelorn and lonely Benjamin lives on the blurry borderline between fantasy and reality.

Bite of the Tail by Song E. Kim, South Korea, USA, life is a constant struggle for a husband and wife. She is suffering from stomach pain, and the doctor has no clue about a cure. Meanwhile, her husband is on a journey hunting a snake.

The Event by Julia Pott, USA and UK, love and a severed foot at the end of the world.

Feral by Daniel Sousa, USA, a solitary hunter finds a wild boy in the woods and brings him back to civilization. Alienated by his strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.

In Hanford by Chris Mars, USA, a heartbreaking true story of a town poisoned by Cold War era nuclear-arms manufacture is told through firsthand accounts and fantasy scenes, which empathize with the victim's plight.

Marcel, King of Tervuren by Tom Schroeder, a Greek tragedy acted out by Belgian roosters. Marcel survives the bird flu, alcohol, sleeping pills and his son, Max.

Oh Willy... by Marc James Roels and Emma De Swaef, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Willy returns to his naturalist roots as he bungles his way into noble savagery.

Seraph by Dash Shaw, USA, a boy's childhood scars his life.

Thank You by Pendleton Ward and Tom Herpich, USA, a pack of fire wolves attack a snow golem in the forest and accidentally leave a cub behind after their retreat. The golem's life is thrown into chaos as he attempts to reunite the cub with its family.

Tram by Michaela Pavlátová, France, Czech Republic, the humdrum daily routine of a tram conductress is jolted when the vibrations and rhythm of the road turn her on and take her on an erotic and surrealistic fantasy journey.

FESTIVAL OF EUROPEAN STUDENT ANIMATION BELGRADE, SERBIA by Nancy Denney-Phelps When I left you in my last article I was enjoying a 4AM meal at my good friend Rastko Ciric's home after finally arriving in Belgrade, Serbia after my 19 hour bus adventure from Peja, Kosovo. I was in Belgrade to attend the Festival of European Student Animation on 1 and 2 September.

Belgrade is a beautiful, historic city and The Main Powder Magazine of the historic Belgrade Fortress was a perfect site for the premier edition of The Festival of European Student Animation 2012 (AESA '12). Located atop a hill overlooking the juncture of the Sava and Danube rivers, the fortress was built as a defensive structure between the 2nd and 18th Centuries, and is now the Belgrade History Museum. The main powder magazine where the festival was held was built between 1718 and 1721 during the large reconstruction of the fortress undertaken by the Austrians who occupied the territory at that time. The building was a huge technical achievement consisting of two halls with nine pillars each cut into the rock and an entrance passage with massive exterior walls. Although the temperature outside was very hot we were advised to bring a sweater because the interior of the fortress was extremely chilly.

Devoted solely to student work, the festival is the brainchild of animator, illustrator, and renaissance man Rastko Ciric and Vuk Maksimovic, a master wood carver and furniture maker, who is the representative of the Fortress for this project. It also received support from the Serbian Ministry of Culture.

The festival theme was ritual, which was in keeping with the current exhibit at the Powder Magazine of sarcophagi from the Roman period and votive monuments dedicated to Roman deities that were unearthed in the city center.

The festival logo, designed by Rastko, was a little red man reminiscent of folk carpet designs, which reflected the theme of ritual in motion. Instead of one precisely designed graphic image, the logo had eight variations of one shape representing the eight phases of a stylized figure producing the illusion of movement.

The 32 films from 7 European countries in the Student Competition represented a wide array of stories and styles. My favorite film, Bear Me by German animator Kasia Wilk uses bold black outlines on a brown wash background to tell the story of a girl who finds a bear one day or did it find her? The bear stays and becomes her constant companion. The film is beautifully designed and tells a good story full of humor. Bear Me was awarded the first prize for the best student film.

Brumlik & Animuk was selected for the Best Children's Film Award. Czech student Jan Bohuslav's delightful hand drawn film follows the adventures of Brumlik the polar bear and his best friend Animuk, an Inuit girl. Set in Greenland, the white snow and blues of the ocean and sky are perfect backgrounds for the story of the two friends who help a lost seal get back to the water.

This year the biannual Danube Festival is celebrating the 300th anniversary of the first immigrants who sailed down the Danube to settle in Romania, Southern Hungary, and Serbia. In keeping with the theme of the festival, the awards jury reflected the Danube River celebration with professionals selected from 3 of the 4 countries whose capitols are located on the river.

Jozsef Fulop, who is head of the Animation Department at the Moholy Nagy Institute for Art and Design (MOME) in Budapest, introduced us to the school's animation program. He screened 17 films made by past and present students which demonstrated why they win numerous awards at festivals worldwide. I had already seen most of the films, but I was happy to watch again such lovely work as Orsolya and I am Simon. Bella Szederkenyi's tale of Orsolya who wakes up one morning to discover a strange change in her body which literally turns her world up side down reminds us that our lives can be completely changed overnight.

The script of Tunde Molnar's I Am Simon touches me when I watch it. This tale of life through Simon the Dog's eyes is not the most inspiring animation, but I always get lost in a story that will leave every dog lover a bit teary eyed.

It was a pleasure to get to know Caroline Riha and Peter Musek (known as Muzak) from the Fine Art School in Vienna. The pair presented their Children's Avant-Garde Animation in Austria and screened films made by the young participants. The workshop is part of an on going program for children of all ages in cooperation with a variety of international fine artists, filmmakers, and contemporary musicians.

The films ranged from avant-garde to experimental and narrative. Bearing in mind that the films were all made in one day by very young first time animators, it was an interesting collection of work. I was particularly impressed when Muzak told me that the participating professionals, including the musicians who create the sound tracks, are all paid for their work.

The highlight of the program from the Belgrade Animation School was Monuments by Iva Ciric. The striking black and white film with bold red accents is an homage to Iva's grandfather (and Rastko's father) Professor Milos Ciric (1931-1999). Milos was one of the foremost Yugoslav designers and heraldry experts. His woodcuts which were inspired by the texts of Serbian poets about the suffering during World War II were beautifully brought to life in Iva's 3'45" animation.

Natasa Teofilovic's contemporary computer installation S.H.E./Interface Character 0.5 was a stark contrast to the ancient walls of the Powder Magazine. Using 5 connected and synchronized computers, Natasa integrated white virtual space with 3D actresses who explore their own identity as they move from one monitor to another creating the perception that they also pass through the real spaces between the monitors making the virtual and real space overlap in our minds.

The 2-day event ended with the presentation of awards to the winning students. The special plaques displaying a scene from the winning film were designed by Rastko Ciric using a Lenticular process which made the images seem to move when turned from side to side.

Discover some of the pleasures of Belgrade

Of course my visit to Belgrade was not all about watching animation. Since I arrived two days before the festival started, I got to see a great deal of the city. I took some long leisurely walks while Rastko finished last minute festival details and enjoyed exceptionally delicious meals and late night talks.

The rest of the festival guests stayed at a floating hotel on the Danube which had stunning views of the Fortress and Old Town on the opposite shores. We were all treated to sumptuous dinners at unique restaurants which served a selection of masses of extremely tasty roasted meats.

My favorite meal was at "The ?," said to be the oldest restaurant in Belgrade. The name came about because of a dispute between the owner and the non-drinking clergy of the Orthodox Church who thought that the name Cathedral Tavern was disrespectful. The owner took so long to decide upon a new name that the sign painter got disgusted and painted a large ? on the sign. That name stuck.

Inside it is an original Balkan tavern with photos of old Belgrade on the dark wood paneled walls and a tree shaded dining patio. The large platters of beef, pork, and sausages were served family style and tasted as if mother was in the kitchen cooking.

On Saturday morning before the festival began we received a tour of the University of the Arts graphic arts and animation departments where Rastko Ciric teaches. We were also treated to a private screening of Janitor, a 30 minute animation by Nikola Vulovic. He originally made a shorter version about a school janitor whose rage at the students smoking, drinking, and loud music finally boils over with disastrous consequences as his diploma film, and later finished the ambitious project alone.

On the short walk from the school to the Powder Magazine we walked through the beautiful Kalemegden Park and were treated to a visit to Vuk Maksimovic's Studio located within the thick walls of the Stamboul Gate. Vuk is a master wood carver who is keeping the ancient art alive by carving stick hobbyhorses and traditional folk symbols while giving such ordinary items as chairs and lamps a truly modern twist.

Saturday evening after another feast we gathered at Rastko's home for a party. Rastko entertained us with his guitar and sang from his vast repertoire. After plenty of wine, beer and more food the rest of us began to join in on the familiar songs.

The first edition of The Festival of European Animation was a great success. I am sure that the festival will continue to grow and become an important connection between European animation schools, professors, and animation students.

Early Monday morning, with my head full of beautiful memories and a feeling that I had gained 10 pounds in 4 days, I boarded a plane bound for Changchun, China, on my way to attend the Third Northeastern Asian Culture and Art Week where I was to deliver a paper and attend an ASIFA (Association Internationale de Film d' Animation) International Board Meeting.

Nik, Nancy, Remi, Snowy and Tin Tin about to set off on another adventure


by Nancy Denney Phelps

The 3rd Northwest Asian Culture and Art Week, Sept. 4-7, in Changchun, China included The International Animation, Comics, and Game Forum. Attending the forum was a very abrupt switch from my previous weeks in Kosovo and Serbia. Any thoughts of long, leisurely meals with friends and watching good animation went out of my head when I was handed my schedule. Our breakfast was promptly at 7:00 - 7:30 AM, board bus to the Jilin Animation Institute, tour school from 8:10 – 9:50, welcoming speeches from 10:10 - 10:50, group photo from 11:00 - 11:20 AM, etc. After lunch (11:50 – 12:50) we gave our presentations, right up until our 6:30 PM dinner time.

The 9 year old school, located in a new industrial park, has a staggering 6,500 students in the institute's 5 departments: animation and comics, games, design, and advertising. One afternoon I was astonished to walk out of the auditorium to find a group of a few hundred students standing at attention in military uniforms. I later learned that every student, including those in the animation department, is required to undergo a month of military training along with their regular classes.

I have found that when your speech is being translated into a foreign language, it is a good idea to keep the talk short and show as much animation as possible. For my 20 minutes I chose to screen a selection of short films ranging in styles from hand drawn to puppet animation. Since the Jilin Institute concentrates on teaching computer animation and that is what the students see on television, I wanted to remind them that there are many other different styles of animation.

The Animation Forum speakers were all members of ASIFA's International Board. The most interesting presentations for me were given by Carla Foderingham from ASIFA Trinidad & Tobago and Ricardo Arce, founder of ASIFA Columbia. Both countries are new to the international ASIFA family so it was very enlightening to learn about animation in their countries.

Even though there are no animation schools in Trinidad & Tobago, there is a thriving film industry attracting productions from around the globe. Carla's company works on credits and commercials as well as shorts and they train students in the different areas of animation.

The ASIFA chapter in Trinidad & Tobago is working in prisons to help the large population of incarcerated young men tell their very personal stories. Since animation is a wonderful way to deal with difficult stories and emotions that can't be portrayed in live action, it is an ideal medium for prison inmates.

Ricardo spoke about animation in Columbia and the work his chapter is doing to bring the art form to remote parts of his country. As there are no animation schools in Columbia or government support for animation, everything must be created by using local resources. Hand drawn and found object animation are the most common forms. Even though we all take computers and on line access for granted, Ricardo said that access to them is almost non-existent in remote parts of his country so ASIFA Columbia brings animation to these areas and teaches young people how to tell their stories with the material! s available.

The main reason that I made the trip to Changchun was to attend the ASIFA International Board Meeting. With almost 40 chapters throughout the world it is not easy for us to meet face to face. Thanks to the generous invitation from the Jilin Institute to provide all of our air fares and complete hospitality, many of us were able to make the trip from faraway places.

As board members we communicate via e-mails. It was a real pleasure to see old friends and to get to know our new board members. I look forward to their bringing new enthusiasm and ideas to the board.

There were formal banquets with speeches and many toasts, but to me, the most interesting part of my visit was the street market that I discovered on a wide street around the corner from our hotel. In the late morning hours the street came alive with vendors selling everything from a vast array of fresh produce to reading glasses.

The smells of the food being cooked mingled delightfully in enticing aromas and made me wish that our plentiful meals at the hotel were a little less delicious so I could sample everything in front of my eyes. I was intrigued by an ingenious homemade corn on the corn cob roasting "machine". I am used to seeing ears of corn roasted on an open grill but this contraption was unlike anything I had ever seen. The roaster's hands flew from one ear to the other, rotating them up and down to position them at different distances from the coals.

In the warm evening the vendors were replaced by neighborhood cafes which spread out their tables and chairs onto the tree lined street. It was delightful to sit there with some of my colleagues with a cold beer and watch the world go by. In case we hadn't eaten enough, the cafe kept bringing plates piled high with delicious grilled meat.

Changchun is located in the Northeast corner of China near the South Korean and Mongolian borders. A reminder of the USSR's former influence is seen in the large cement block apartments that are throughout the city next to modern high rise buildings. If you look behind the buildings and massive glittering neon signs you can still find one and two room homes with tin roofs and no plumbing. I think these little neighborhoods will soon be replaced with modern high rise buildings and I wonder where the people who live there will go, probably not to the new apartment buildings going up.

Changchun is known as China's auto city. When I first visited China almost ten years ago the streets were full of bikes. Now cars and busses have taken command of the roadways.

I stayed an extra day to see the Imperial Palace of Pu Yi, the last Emperor of China. His abdication in 1912 marked the end of dynastic rule in China. His astounding 43,000 square meter palace was designed as a miniature version of the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Bernardo Bertolucci received permission from the Chinese government to film scenes for his 1987 film The Last Emperor at this palace. It was amazing to stand in rooms that I recognized from the film. Even after hours of wandering through the vast complex of buildings and gardens it was impossible to see everything. I particularly enjoyed the Emperor's private formal garden which housed his personal bomb shelter.

It was a packed four day whirlwind visit to China. I truly enjoy meeting people and discovering the wide cultural differences between the Chinese and Western ways of thinking.

I returned home just in time to do laundry before heading off to Lille, France for the 12th edition of the Festival International du Court Metrage. More soon from Lille.


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Steve Segal and Nancy Phelps.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Dot Janson, Shirley Smith, Dan Steves and
Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Joe Sikoryak
Special thank 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 Dan Steves who keeps our mailing list 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. Local membership is $26 a year or $42 for joint local & international membership.
Our website and blog is: www.asifa-sf.org

Mail can be sent to: karlcohen@earthlink.net
or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122




At Oddball Films, 275 Capp, third floor (Capp runs between Mission and South Van Ness. Oddball is 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. Once again this looks like a great evening of films by local artists and friends from around the globe. Anyone is welcome to bring your animated/special effects work unannounced the night of the show on DVD or 16 mm and we will show it.

So far we expect to show:

David Chai's A Knock on My Door, a biographical tale about his father's experience growing up during the Korean War and his struggles moving to and living in America. It was inspired by a cross-country road trip they took.

Tony Claar plans to premiere Whim Cycles. The "Skyscrapper Snail" image is from the film.

Gene Hamm was asked to animate one of Keith Knight's comic strips. He will show it plus new work by his Alchemia students

Michael Ocelot creates charming work in France using silhouette animation.

Peter Parr's Summer Dream, music by Debussy, Peter founded the animation program at Bournemouth College in England. We will also show and 2 or 3 impressive shorts by his students.

And whatever films people bring in unannounced.

Plus a selection of grand prize winners from past Zagreb Animation Festivals (as time permits) including:

Jumping, Osamu Tezuka, 1984, Japan

Mt. Head, Koji Yamamura, 2002, Japan

Diary, Nedeljko Dragic, 1974, Yugoslavia

The Wrong Trousers, Nick Park, 1993, UK

Dreams and Desires, Joanna Quinn, 2006, UK

Come and enjoy a really fine evening!