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

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

April 2013

This issue includes 3 feature articles:




Our next ASIFA-SF EVENT WILL BE CAREERS IN ANIMATION with 5 guest experts on the panel.

Also included are a list of animation films that are going to be shown by the SF Film Festival, several news items, etc.

BRAVOMAN LIVES Can you stretch your limbs like Bravoman or write humorous lines like Jim Zub? Rob Pereyda, an ASIFA-SF member, tells us Bravoman "is based on the Bravoman web comic, which is something we did to revive the classic game franchise from Japan. The voice cast is Rob Paulsen, Dee Bradley Baker, and Romi Dames." Jim Zub is the writer and Rob's co-director and co-producer. See a trailer at


GENE DEITCH IS 88, BUT HE IS BY NO MEANS RETIRED He is currently putting together two new hard-cover books that will be published by Fantagraphics in time for this year's Comic-Con in San Diego. Gene says "There will be a new, expanded, and much cheaper hard cover edition of The Cat on a Hot Thin Groove and a major and definitive revelation of the birth, life, and demise of Nudnik, my personal favorite creation, in a profusely illustrated and beautifully printed book Nudnik! Revealed. An accompanying DVD of the same title will include restored HD copies of all the Nudnik films and gag spots." Nudnik was the star of his Oscar-nominated cartoon, distributed by Paramount in the 1960s, and later syndicated to TV by Sunbow. Gene will attend Comic-Con and books.

Gene has been active on the Internet for many years. His most recent project, Roll The Credits!, focuses on 65 people who influenced, supported and inspired him over the years. It covers his major projects including failures. It is well illustrated and includes movie clips never seen by the public. In his supplement, the Deitch Dungeon, he exposes to daylight previously hidden private videos! genedeitchcredits.com At awn.com/genedeitch you can download his free book How To Succeed In Animation. He says, "If you're serious about getting into this line of work, I've tried to lay down what to think about it, and how to make out. However quickly the technology changes, what it's all about still applies."

His book For The Love Of Prague is also online. It tells about his experiences working and surviving 30 years in the closed world of Communist Party controlled Czechoslovakia. There are strange stories about how he happened to be sent there, about falling in love and how he thrived there in spite of the conditions. There have been five editions of the book and printed copies may still be found on Amazon. fortheloveofprague.com

DISNEY'S LUCASFILM HINTS THERE WILL BE A NEW STAR WARS TV SERIES Lucasfilm has announced a new direction in animated TV programming, but they are giving no details. They say they will no longer supply new episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars to Cartoon Network; but they will continue on "new story arcs" that would appear as "bonus content." They are also exploring a whole new Star Wars series set in a time period previously untouched in Star Wars shows. Is that vague enough news? The NY Times suggests Lucasfilm might be planning to produce work for Disney XD, "a cable channel that Disney aims at boys and contains a large amount of animated programming." Lucasfilm also will delay Star Wars Detours, a planned animated comedy series.

GEORGE LUCAS IS OFFERING TO SHARE HIS WEALTH WITH DIFFERENT COMMUNITIES San Anselmo has accepted his offer to contribute land, development money and bronze statues of Yoda and Indiana Jones for a public park. It will cover a 8,700 sq. ft. lot in downtown San Anselmo Ave. Lucas will also pay for the demolition of an existing building and has already preserved a historic fresco that was in the building.

The park will contain three "meandering" paths that will lead to a 15 ft. circular fountain. The fountain will contain the two bronze statues. Indiana Jones will be about 6 ft. high and Yoda is about two ft. tall. Similar Yoda fountains are located at the entrance to the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco and at George's Big Rock Ranch. http://www.marinij.com/ci_22335497

George has also proposed an extremely generous gift to the nation. He is offering to donate and endow the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum. It would house his large private collection of visual storytelling art. It is one of 16 projects proposed for the Presidio's former PX building (now rented by Sports Basement) and it would be an extension of Edutopia, his educational foundation, founded in 1991 to improve K-12 learning. The competition for the space includes a proposed technology center, a cultural center, the National New Deal Museum and 12 other worthy projects.

Who will get the space will be decided by the end of 2013. Lucas has a financial advantage as he will pay for the remodeling, construction, staffing etc. and donate a large endowment when it opens and bequest more upon his passing.

ELECTRONIC ARTS BUSINESS IS SLOWING DOWN AND THEIR CEO HAS LEFT John Riccitiello, who became CEO in 2007 has left and Larry Probst who has been board chairman since 1994 (CEO from 1991 to 2007) will be acting CEO while they search for a new leader. Riccitiello said he was leaving EA over "my accountability for the shortcomings in our financial results this year. It currently looks like we will come in at the low end of, or slightly below, the financial guidance we issued to the Street, and we have fallen short of the internal operating plan we set one year ago. And for that, I am 100 percent accountable."

EA is still a giant business, but their income is dropping due to competition with mobile devices and cheap or free online games. Their adjusted revenue of $1.18 billion for the last three months of 2012 was a 28 percent drop from the same period in 2011. To add to their problems, in March 2013 they fumbled the launch of the new edition of SimCity. Many gamers were unable to log in to the online website promoting the game. That prompted some retailers to stop selling it.




Opening Friday March 29, "FROM UP ON POPPY HILL" by Studio Ghibli, at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, SF (1 Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level) and at Landmark's Shattuck Cinemas (2230 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley). The story is by Goro and Hayao Miyazaki. It is set in Yokohama in 1963, as Japan is recovering from the devastation of World War II and preparing to host the Olympics. The film tells the story of a high school couple's innocent love and the secret surrounding their births. The romance develops as they join forces to save their high school's ramshackle clubhouse from demolition. It is the top-grossing Japanese film of 2011 and it won Japan's Academy Award for Animation.

Sun. April 7th, ASIFA-SF presents:

CAREERS IN ANIMATION starting at 1 PM, free, Coppola Theater, San Francisco State University. Come learn from people with experience in stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation, games and in other areas. Our experts, two staff members from Pixar, a veteran from the games and social networking industry, a stop-motion animator/director who has worked on all of Henry Selick's features and an Emmy award winning freelance animator, have worked as writers, animators, directors and in other industry jobs and will answer as many questions as possible.

See flyer for details.


Sunday April 28, 1 PM and Wednesday May 8, 9 PM, New People Cinema, "SHORTS PROGRAM #3" IS A SELECTION OF TEN ANIMATED FILMS FOR ADULTS The program includes two outstanding works that ASIFA-SF has shown that you will probably want to see again, Tram by Michaela Pavlatova and Kali, the Little Vampire by Regina Pessoa plus Bite of the Tail (Song E. Kim), The Deep End (Jake Fried), The Event (Julia Pott), Eye on the Stars (Mike and Tim Rauch), The Inn (Izu Troin), Lumerence (Miwa Matreyek), Ruckus Juice (Jennifer Deutrom) and Social Satan (Reuben Sutherland).

Sunday April 28, 12:30 PM and Wednesday, May 1 at 7 PM, Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the feature "ERNEST AND CELESTINE" FROM FRANCE, The Hollywood Reporter's Cannes review was quite favorable. It said in part, "A delightfully old-fashioned kid's flick with a meaningful message, Ernest and Celestine offers up yet another intriguing Euro alternative to your typical Hollywood 3D animated fare. Based on the popular children's books by Gabrielle Vincent, this story of an improbable friendship between a deadbeat bear and a crafty mouse reps a solid sophomore effort from Belgian filmmakers Vincent Pater and Stephane Aubier (A Town Called Panic), who, along with co-director Benjamin Renner, have designed a clever and timeless tale that should reach select territories outside Francophonia, Ernest and Celestine gradually becomes a cautionary fable where friendship tries to stand the test of bigotry and intolerance." There are 3 clips from it on YouTube.

In Nancy's festival article in this issue she praises Earnest and Celestine. She liked it so much she saw it a second time at KLIK. "It's not just for children." The second time she took Nik "who also loved it. Parents can take their children and end up enjoying it thoroughly themselves."

Saturday May 4 at 6:45 PM, Monday May 6 at 8:45 PM (both at the Kabuki) and Thurs. May 9 at 3:30 PM (New People Cinema), THE SEARCH FOR EMAK BAKIA, A DOCUMENTARY ABOUT AN EXPERIMENTAL SHORT BY MAN RAY "Far too personal and specific to entice the wider audience it deserves, this experimental documentary is a must for anyone who classes themselves as a cinephile. Rich in visually-alluring imagery and boasting an infectiously spirited approach, The Search for Emak Bakia is a surprisingly compelling love letter to an extraordinary director and his pioneering work." The classic film and the documentary includes some stop-motion footage. From a review in CineVue.com A trailer is posted at http://vimeo.com/43305669.

Sunday May 6 at 10:30 AM (Kabuki) SHORTS PROGRAM #6, FAMILY FILMS. INCLUDES "THE BLUE UMBRELLA," a new Pixar short by Saschka Unseld. He will present a workshop for kids May 4.

Saturday May 4, 10:00 AM, The Walt Disney Family Museum and the SF International Film Festival will present A PIXAR ANIMATION WORKSHOP FOR KIDS with Saschka Unseld. Includes a screening of The Blue Umbrella, a gallery visit and stop-motion activity.

Sat. April 27, 8:30 PM ANIMATION IN ACTION AT ATA with Jeremy Rourke on piano accompanying "3 extraordinary animations" including Koko Goes Ghosting, 1928; recent films by Martha Colburn, Nina Paley, Lewis Klahr and others + a Thunderbird episode. 992 Valencia, $6

Tues May 7th 7:00-8:30, TOM SITO, BOOK SIGNING AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM free ASIFA-SF members invited His new book is Moving Innovation, A History Of Computer Animation

July 8-12, STOP-MOTION ANIMATION CLASS. 11am - 1pm, for intermediate artists ages 10-14. A weeklong workshop taught by Brian Kolm of AtomicBearPress.com. Cartoon Art Museum, 655 Mission St., 415-CAR-TOON, www.cartoonart.org and http://guestli.st/154182

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New postings each week that are local events not in the newsletter


THE COLLAPSE OF RHYTHM & HUES HAS CREATED NUMEROUS DISTURBING ARTICLES ABOUT THE VFX INDUSTRY'S FUTURE IN THE US It may surprise you that even though Titanic made almost $2 billion at the box office, Digital Domain, the company that did the special effects work, lost a lot money on the project. Even though visual effects have become stars of many other tent-pole productions, Digital Domain and a large number of other companies have gone bankrupt and some went out of business because they can no longer make a profit doing this kind of work in the US.

VFX work is loved by the public and deserves star billing in most of the industry's top grossing films, but California companies doing VFX work can no longer compete with work done elsewhere. Disney alone has acquired, opened and closed several VFX houses: Buena Vista Visual Effects, ImageMovers, DreamQuest Images, The Secret Lab and Disney Feature Animation in Orlando. A Hollywood Reporter article recently asked,! "What will become of George Lucas' venerable Industrial Light & Magic now that it is a Disney-owned facility?"

At present the spotlight is on Rhythm & Hues (R&H). Before they won the VFX Oscar this year they had to declare themselves bankrupt. That may sound crazy because they create amazing magic for some of the industry's top grossing films. Unfortunately the VFX businesses in the US create amazing things, but not amazing profits for themselves.

The general concern is summed up by Phil Tippet who posted the following on Facebook titled The California VFX Industry Is Getting Decimated. It said, "History repeats itself as with the other industries (garment, auto) thanks to engines driven by corporate greed. No one can blame anyone for going to a place where a better deal re: price can be had but has anyone really acknowledged the historical past that has been given away. Hollywood, our last great homegrown export is going the way of the dinosaur, nuked not by a rock from space but by studios (corporations) insisting that producers take work to subsidized territories thus forsaking those of us in California who reinvented what we now call Visual Effects. We, still at the top of our game, are being undermined by our very own state legislators who have turned a blind eye to a profound collection of artists and technologists who have driven the motion picture industry (not just visual effects) into the present day spectacle enjoyed around the globe.

An article in the Hollywood Reporter said, "Ex-Digital Domain CEO and founder Scott Ross says relentless cost pressure from studios is tearing the industry apart. From the robots in Transformers to the tiger in Life of Pi, no longer is box office driven by movie stars or directors. Blockbusters are full of fantastic imagery courtesy of hundreds of world-class VF! X artists that often work 70 hours a week. So why are the companies that produce these images going bankrupt? Why are digital artists so fed up that they are demonstrating on the street before the Oscars?" (Before Scott got involved with Digital Domain he was a general manager at ILM and a senior vice president at LucasArts.

Several news articles reported that before the Oscars nearly 500 people representing the visual effects community gathered on Hollywood Boulevard to urge the film industry to focus on the economic problems threatening Hollywood's VFX houses. The demonstration largely was prompted by the troubles facing R&H, the house behind many of the visual effects in Life of Pi. The company filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Feb. 13.

Ignoring Rhythm & Hues' problems

Several writers have pointed out that when Life of Pi director Ang Lee won the Oscar for best director, he failed to mention the importance of the movie's visual effects. Lee thanked his agent, lawyer and the country of Taipei in his Oscar speech, but not VFX supervisor Bill Westenhofer nor R&H that created the tiger, the flying fish, the whale, the orangutan, the ocean and the sky in his film.

Lots of people were also upset that when Bill Westenhofer from R&H accepted his Oscar for special effects, he got to thank his artists, but when he began to address the company's recent bankruptcy filing in his acceptance speech, it was cut short by the orchestra drowning him out. They played him off with the theme from Jaws. Why did the orchestra remain quiet when Quentin Tarantino ran over his allotted time when he accepted his statuette?

An open letter to Ang Lee on the website VFXSoldier expressed their being quite upset by quotes from Lee in a recent published interview. Lee apparently complained about the high cost of effects work. The blog wrote, "When you say 'I would like it to be cheaper,' as an artist I take that personally. It took hundreds of hours from skilled artists and hard-working coordinators and producers to craft the environments and performances in Life of Pi. Not to mention the engineers that wrote all of that proprietary code and built the R&H pipeline. That is where your money went. I'd say, judging from the night you just had, you got one hell of a deal."

The letter went on to point out that when the film's director of photography took credit for the gorgeous background skies, he did it "without so much as a word of thanks to those artists. And the same animated performances that helped win you the best director statue. Nice of you to mention the pool crew, but maybe you could have thanked the guys and gals who turned that pool in to an ocean and put a tiger into that boat? … Mr. Lee, I do believe that you are a thoughtful and brilliant man and a gifted filmmaker. But I also believe that you and everyone in your tier of our business is fabulously ignorant to the pain and turmoil you are putting artists through."

R&H since going bankrupt

Since seeking Chapter 11 protection for a bankrupt corporation, a bankruptcy judge has approved $17 million in loans from Universal and Fox so the company can stay open in order to complete work on Universal's R.I.P.D. (July 19 release) and Fox's Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (Aug. 16 release). R&H is also working on Seventh Son for Legendary (Oct. 27 release), 300: Rise of an Empire, 2 and Black Sky for Warner Bros. Legendary has! given R&H $5 million in financing to help them complete their project. There is no word on what Warners intends to do with their two projects. As a public relations gesture to call attention to R&H's troubles, Legendary Pictures paid for lunch on a Saturday and an ice cream treat on Sunday for employees working overtime on Seventh Son. (The union IATSE also provided lunch one weekend.)

On March 27 ownership of R&H in the US will be auctioned off. JS Communications in South Korea announced they would bid on the company, but a few days later their offer was withdrawn. People hope that whoever buys it will keep the company intact and not sell off the assets to several buyers.


On March 27 ownership of R&H in the US was auctioned off. Weeks before the auction JS Communications in South Korea announced they would bid on the company, but a few days later their offer was withdrawn. There was great concern that the company would be broken up if it was purchased by several companies.

It turns out the winning bid was submitted by a holding company that owns Prana Studios, a company that does animation and VFX work. They have offices in Los Angeles and Mumbai. Prana is providing animation for Disney's feature "Planes."

R&H has foreign partners in India, Malaysia and Taiwan that are not part of the auction. In mid-March the Taiwan studio was recruiting talent at a job fair in Taiwan. And advertising they were seeking to fill 200 jobs. It isn't clear if they are for new projects or for work that was being done in the US for Universal, Fox, Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures.

The industry wide problem has possible solutions

From what I've read some writers fear the remaining VFX industry in the US will disappear unless the companies are better compensated for their work. The trouble is the effects studios are competing with foreign firms that can undercut their bottom line. Raising prices for work will probably result in more work being outsourced. Tariffs on foreign work might equalize prices, but the US government has done away with most tariffs.

Another solution is subsidies by local, state and or the federal government. I believe the California State government has been lobbied on film subsidies in recent years unsuccessfully, but they may have to change their votes if the industry in our state is going to be saved.

Forming a VFX trade association or union may lead to a solution. In mid-March a multi-city international meeting was held for VFX artists. About 250 people attended the Los Angeles town hall meeting and it was streamed lived to about 75 VFX artists in the Bay Area, 25 in Vancouver, five in Austin, and 10 in Wellington, NZ.

Yet another solution is a business model being used by Legendary Pictures and Rhythm & Hues. They created a partnership in March 2010 where both companies are co-investors and co-producers so both can participate in the box office performance of the film. So far they have completed two features, Yogi Bear 3D and Hop, this way and are about to finish Seventh Son, a medieval adventure starring Jeff Bridges and Julianne Moore.

Things look bleak as this is being written and are getting worse. On March 29th Tippett Studios, a major VFX house in Berkeley, CA ("Starship Troopers," "Ted," "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn") announced they have laid-off 40% of their workforce. The CEO says that if things remain the same there will be more layoffs. They had about 150 fulltime employees.

TOM SITO TALKS ABOUT WRITING HIS NEW BOOK "MOVING INNOVATION, A HISTORY OF COMPUTER ANIMATION" The online interview talks about how it began long before John Lasster's Luxo Jr., who some of the other pioneers were, how he managed to find and interview 75 pioneers and where can one find information about the book. Tom will do a book signing at the Bay Area's Cartoon Art Museum, Tues., May 7, 7:00 to 8:30 PM



DREAMWORKS ANIMATION REPORTED A 4TH QUARTER LOSS OF $82.7 MILLION In the 4th quarter ending December 31, 2012 their revenue was $264.7 million and their net loss was $82.7 million (a loss of $0.98 per share). For the twelve months ended December 31, 2012, the Company reported total revenue of $749.8 million and a net loss of $36.4 million, or a loss of $0.43 per share. Part of their loss for 2012 included a write-down of $87 million for Rise of the Guardians and $54 million spent on Me & My Shadow before it was sent back to development.

SEE A LOST "POGO" ANIMATED SHORT BY WALT KELLY Walt was one of the talented artists who went on strike at Disney in 1941. His Pogo comic strip (1948 -- 1975) included political and social satire and dangerous topics including pollution and ecology. The unfinished short We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us can be seen on Cartoon Brew. It suggests he was a really talented animator.


DISNEY HAS PRODUCED A SERIES OF 19 2D HAND DRAWN MICKEY MOUSE SHORTS FOR THE INTERNET AND CABLE One is online now and all 19 premiere on the Disney Channel and at Disney,com June 28.


BOB IGER TOLD HIS SHAREHOLDERS DISNEY HAS NO PLANS TO PRODUCE ANOTHER HAND DRAWN 2D FEATURE He did say they are experimenting further with drawing on computer tablets, a method used to make Paperman, their Oscar winning short.

THE ACADEMY IN LA IS HOLDING A TOONTOWN REUNION HONORING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF "WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?" The event is April 4th and the panel for the Q&A will include director Robert Zemeckis, animator Andreas Deja, actors Joanna Cassidy and Charles Fleischer, writer Peter S. Seaman and producers Don Hahn and Steve Starkey.

KICKSTARTER RAISED $770,309 TO CONTINUE PRODUCTION OF THE POPULAR ANIMATED SERIES "CYANIDE AND HAPPINESS" (It is also a daily web comic strip.) They found 14,242 backers who pitched in to support a project that has characters with stick figure arms and legs. It reminds me of a cross between a toned down Happy Tree Friends and the work of Don Hertzfeldt.


Other recent successful animated Kickstarter campaigns include Bill Plympton raising $100,916 for Cheatin' and Signe Baumane raising $50,790 for Rock In My Pockets.

A BIG SURPRISE AT THE JAPANESE ACADEMY AWARDS In March the Best Animation award went to Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Wolf Children Ame and Yuki) by Mamoru Hosoda, beating out the $58.2 million-grossing (5.3 billion yen) Evangelion 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo.

NY TIMES" REVIEWER WASN'T IMPRESSED WITH DISNEY'S OZ PREQUEL Manohla Dargis wrote, "Can the major studios still make magic? From the looks of Oz the Great and Powerful, a dispiriting, infuriating jumble of big money, small ideas and ugly visuals, the answer seems to be no unless, perhaps, the man behind the curtain is Martin Scorsese or James Cameron. With so much riding on this Oz it's a surprise that the results are so uninspired, or given Disney's recent run with the likes of Alice in Wonderland, maybe not."

"The bigger bummer, though, is that the studio that has enchanted generations with Tinker Bell and at least a few plucky princesses has backed a movie that has such backward ideas about female characters that it makes the 1939 Wizard of Oz look like a suffragist classic."


This article was first posted on her blog March 15, 2013


The Tricky Women International Animation Festival proclaims to be the first and only animation festival dedicated exclusively to women. From March 6-11, 138 films screened at the Hyden Theater in Vienna, Austria. As a friend keenly observed, Vienna is wedding cake of a city -- everything is covered in ornate icing, from the mirror on the ceiling of my hotel bathroom to the silk hoods of the carriage horses in the streets.

A small festival with a single venue, Tricky Women has a very cozy feel. There were plenty of international visitors from around Europe, though I was the only one who had crossed the proverbial pond. At least two or three filmmakers were present at each program to present their films in person. It was an all-shorts programs, with 38 films in Competition, 7 themed programs and panoramas, two artist presentations and an afternoon of workshops.

The schedule was so packed that I didn't make it to all the screenings -- in fact we barely had time to grab a bratwurst from the street vendor in between shows. However, the festival took good care of their international guests, with a fancy lunch at Demel, the most famous bakery in Vienna, a Meet-the-Artists forum, where we were able to talk a bit more about our films, and most importantly, good tips on the local late night hangouts. For me one of the highlights was a walking tour of the city focused on prominent Viennese women through history.

With the exception of the jury members and a few working professionals, the majority of filmmakers in attendance were either just finishing their studies and starting their careers. Many of the films were graduation films and crowdfunding was a hot topic -- almost everyone had heard of it, but its implementation is not so pervasive in Europe for a variety of logistical reasons. Jury member Signe Baumane gave a packed workshop on her Kickstarter-funded feature-in-progress and I had several conversations with filmmakers about my own experiences with A Tangled Tale. While some countries still have a good bit of governmental funding for films, it often goes to the same list of people and the same 'type' of projects, so this new generation of filmmakers is very rightly concerned with how to transition outside the academic environment. There was much talk about how to "make it" and from my unofficial survey; it seems students in Europe, as in the US, are turning to freelance work.

One thing I noticed very quickly was that there were very few 3D computer animated films in the selection -- only 3 of the 38 in competition. This got me thinking. Of course no one wants to make broad sweeping generalizations about the sexes, but the absence of 3D animation in a women-focus festival was so noticeable it begs the question, "Why?" Signe Baumane and I theorized about this over breakfast one morning. Her theory was that perhaps in general, women are more tactile and men are more technical -- (cue outraged comments from all the women artists/programmers who DO push computer buttons all day in their creative work). There is also the possibility that the two festival directors have an unspoken preference for works outside the mainstream techniques and this is reflected in their selection. A more far-fetched theory is that ! this is a reaction to a glut of 3D box-office gambles in the commercial animation industry. But personally, I think it is a bit early to see the trickle-down of the 3D bust appearing in the independent scene.

That said the jury chose one of the few 3D films for an honorable mention, Out of Nowhere from Isca Mayo and Maayan Tzuriel from Israel. A poetic, subtle story about an ageing lifeguard, and empty pool and a single-minded chicken. The film has some beautiful moments of character animation and some unfortunate modeling mistakes, but the concept is strong and the design carries the film. It just irks me when stray polygons distract me from what otherwise is a beautiful and subtle cinematic moment. What can I say? I'm a sucker for perfection. ~sigh~

A few other films deserve a mention. One of the loveliest ladies I met was Maryam Kashkoolinia from Iran. A fellow sand animator, her film Tunnel was in the same program as A Tangled Tale -- probably a deliberate choice by the programmers to contrast these two types of sand animation. With moments of humor and tragedy, Maryam's film dealt with the underground tunnels dug to circumvent the blockade on the Gaza strip. At the Meet-the-Artists Forum, Maryam said she chose the traditional method of sand animation not only because it was an appropriate material for depicting digging through a tunnel, but because the black and white nature of the medium conveyed what she felt about life in Iran. "My life is monotone," she said. The Israelis in the audience spoke up and honestly said the film was hard for them to watch as it only presented one side of the conflict. I thought Maryam's response was both sobering and full of understanding. As an Iranian artist living in Iran, she can only present one side and in fact must look outside her country for her subject matter if she wants to speak to issues of social concern. So while she is making a film about Gaza, she is in fact saying something about Iran as well. Maryam has 2 more films planned for this series -- one about buried landmines in Afghanistan, and one about child soldiers in Rwanda.

The grand prize winner was KellerKind by Julia Ocker. While I found the film hard to watch due to its content, it's about a mother locking her monstrous newborn child in the cellar, the painterly animation and tight storytelling made this one of the more well-rounded films in the festival and I don't begrudge the judges their choice (at least not too much!).

After 4 days of watching films, I've come home with mixed feelings about the overall quality of what I saw. The majority of the films in competition were well-thought out concepts executed with careful attentive animation creating a well-rounded film experience. There were also some films, mostly in the non-competitive programs, in which the quality of the animation took the backseat to concept and design. Particularly, a few of the stop motion films suffered from over-developed scripts (i.e. too long), poorly constructed puppets and hurried animation.

Animation has become "easy" where one can take a pretty drawing, put it in After Effects, set a few keyframes and call it a film. If you have a strong social message, you can get away with even more. In the Meet-the-Artists forum, one young lady readily admitted that she animated the way she did because she was "lazy" - her words not mine! Are we now at a stage where technology had made it possible for the lazy artists to join the ranks of the careful and meticulous crafters based on concept alone?

The Austrian panorama was the most egregious offender in the case of conceptual overload. In talking with one of the festival staff, I learned that there are no major universities in Austria teaching animation. Most students making animation are doing so as part of a fine arts coursework, without the benefit of professionally trained animators. When the Tricky Women Festival gets inquiries from young women about where to study animation, more often than not they refer them to programs elsewhere in the EU. This was unfortunately evident in the Austrian panorama, which was comprised mostly of student work. While some films had good conceptual development nearly all lacked the care and attention to craft which was evident on most of the other films. Only A! chill by Gudrun Krebitz, had the production quality of a professional film, probably why she won the prize for Best Austrian animation. Ironically, the film was made at a university in Germany, which just proved the point. So are there any professional women animators in Austria? There were 2 films in competition from Austria: Transition 89, an abstract film by artist/programmer LIA and Edith Stauber's Nachbehandlung (After-Treatment), which received an honorable mention from the jury. The sound design and quirky line drawings carried the film. In this case, the limited animation added to the black hole of time one encounters in a hospital waiting room.

I will readily admit that, at present, I lack the wider context to make any judgments on the state of independent animation. I know there is a lot of top notch work buzzing around on the internet, but this is the first festival I've been to since Ottawa 2011, where I made some of the same observations to a lesser degree. Now that I have the opportunity to visit more festivals with A Tangled Tale, I will be interested to see if some of these trends are actually trending or if they are unique to my experience at Tricky Women. Until then, as the Austrians say, "Film ab!"

P.S. If you want to read more about specific films in the festival, I suggest heading over to Signe Baumane's blog for a look at 16 Films from Tricky Women!

The Eye, the new home of the Netherlands Film Institute

When I first heard that KLIK Amsterdam Animation Festival, Nov. 7 -- 11, was making the big leap from a student theatre that had been their home for several years to The Eye, a new venue that is a jewel on the Amsterdam waterfront, I was concerned that the fun that has made the festival so delightful would be lost in the posh grandeur of the new cinema museum. I am happy to say that I had nothing to worry about. For the 5th year the energetic KLIKERS put together 5 days worth of excellent screenings along with outrageous happenings. An extra bonus was the daily ferry ride from our hotel in the main part of the city to the aptly named Eye, on the opposite bank of the Ij River.

The minute that I walked into the Eye it was apparent that KLIK had not changed. Cruising around in the air were a shiver of motorized inflatable sharks (a group of sharks is indeed a shiver). The greeters at the registration desk were handing out KLIKERS, small plastic clickers which are the symbol of the festival that the audience uses to register their approval instead of clapping.

The opening night festivities got underway with guests sitting on the broad stairway leading from the ground floor to the mezzanine for a performance by Firma Zwakstroon. The Dutch multi-disciplinary trio incorporated pantomime, music, and animation as they morphed into different shapes and forms, finally ending by disappearing into what seemed like large plastic bubbles.

Once in the screening room we were given a taste of the delights to come over the next few days. For me the highlight of opening night was the premier of Super, Johan Klungel's long anticipated film that took us into the world of a hard core consumer who discovers the dark side of his local supermarket as he is sucked into the seductive world of pretty packages.

Each year KLIK travels to Russia to present a "Best Of" program in several cities. After the screenings the audience votes for their favorite film. During the ceremony Kiekje (Snapshot) by Arthur Merwijk was revealed as the winner. The humorous film about a skinny amateur nature photographer and his very large wife who go to the forest to take pictures. It is very funny even if you can't understand the language.

We also got a preview of the Animated Sequence Project. Dutch animator Arent Benthem, co-owner of the studio "in60seconds" asked animators world wide to create 10 seconds of animation using a square. Arent then edited the 300 plus entries into a story. We were treated to a small part of the film. The entire sequence was later shown in the Eye's arena during the festival.

Following the opening we were invited to celebrate with drinks and nibbles at the mezzanine bar. It was really nice to catch up with old friends over drinks and find out what they were up to. The mezzanine was also the perfect place to get a close-up view of two installations - The Bicycle Animation and Cinemacyclette.

The Bicycle Animation was created by Kathy Beveridge to help audiences understand the direct relationship between film speed and animation. Beveridge fitted a laser cut set of images onto the spokes of a stationary bicycle. Visitors could pedal the bike and watch the live video projection of the images on the wall as they peddled. If the bike was peddled at exactly the speed of a hand cranked film (1000 frames per minute) the images were projected as a fluid movie. You can see The Bicycle Animation in action and order laser cut inserts for your bike at: www.crankmychain.com

The Cinemacyclette was inspired by Eadward Muybridge's photographic sequences of the galloping horse and a zoetrope. A bicycle elevated 4 meters above the ground was linked to a carrousel zoetrope containing 40 still frames. Peddling the bike, the movement of the rear wheel put the zoetrope in motion, and you could see the picture move through the slits in the carrousel. The Cinemacyclette created by John Treffer looked amazing up close and was equally impressive when seen from the ground floor or mezzanine balcony.

The next day the festival got off to a busy beginning with two symposiums. "There Will Be (Animated) Blood" delved into society's fascination with violence, the role of violence in animation, and the relationship between humor and violence. The event was curated by American researcher Chris Bell and was made up of 5 hours of talks, films, and debate with such noted professionals as American Culture Professor Brian Dunphy, film psychologist Ed Tan, and animators Evert de Beijer, Junaid Chundrigar, and Davor Bujakovic. Running parallel to the symposium was a day long program devoted to the Dutch animation industry.

In another screening room you could get a hardy dose of short animation with the first 3 programs of the 5 International Competitions and all 3 of the Student Competitions, if you had the stamina for 10 hours of straight viewing. For those with a less sturdy constitution it was still possible to see all 8 competition screenings over the course of several days.

On Friday, Master Classes continued through the morning and afternoon. With topics ranging from "T3-D Revolution" to "3 Steps to Becoming an Online Sensation" there was something of interest for everyone in the animation industry. I opted to attend "Scrip Dating" at Mooves Studio, a short bus ride from the festival. Mooves Studio is the prestigious independent animation production studio run by Jantiene de Kroon, Remco Polman, and Wilfred Ottenheijon. The afternoon workshop was designed to give scenarists and animators the opportunity to present their projects and receive comments from the other participants and professional dramatists Jantiene de Kroon and Matthew Curlewis.

We broke into 2 groups and set to work taking turns presenting our scripts which were in various stages of completion. After each person spoke we all had an opportunity to comment and then Matthew, our group leader, added his ideas and summed up the comments. I can't speak for the other members of the group but I feel that the session was a great help to me. After 4 hours of serious discussion both groups adjourned to the kitchen for informal conversation over beer and wine.

South Park and KLIK are a match made in heaven. The South Park extravaganza got off to a start with the documentary 6 Days to Air: The Making of South Park. The film gave a behind the scenes peek into the professional lives of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. American academic and South Park expert Brian Dunphy who was an expert advisor on the documentary was on hand to answer questions from the audience.

One of the most fun events all week was the South Park Tribute Night and Sing Along. If there is one thing better than watching South Park, it's enjoying it with other fans as we all swear along. KLIK knows that animators and journalists are not shy when given an audience and we were only too happy to share our favorite South Park moments, clips, and songs.

I was honored to be asked to be one of the illustrious group invited to participate. "Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo" has always been close to my heart so I instructed the audience on how to make their own Mr. Hankey, or better yet to give as a special present to that special person for the holidays. I ended by leading the audience in the Mr. Hankey song. The South Park Tribute Night was a very raucous event that resulted in several people losing their voices.

Adventure Time with Cartoon Network gave us another chance for riotous laughter with some of our favorite misadventures. Cartoon Network generously gave the festival a carton of Finn and Jake hats. Everyone who came to Adventure Time could choose a hat. I have been happily wearing my warm bright yellow Jake hat ever since and it always brings smiles wherever I go. Just in case we hadn't had enough of Cartoon Network yet, the next day we could watch a program of Adult Swim favorites.

Of course KLIK did have serious moments. It was fascinating to watch the documentary De Duivendrechtse Disney about the beginnings of the Dutch animation studio Geesink --Toonbder Terkenfilm Productie in 1942. Founded in the small Dutch town of Duivendrecht, Martin Toonder and Joop Geesink were able to keep hundreds of draftsmen and animators working. Ultimately the partnership collapsed as Toonder became interested in producing cartoons while Geesink wanted to create puppet animation. The film used interviews with! former employees and film clips to tell the story of this important chapter in the history of Dutch animation.

An exhibition of William Kentridge's Black Box/Chambre Noire was organized in conjunction with the Jewish Historical Museum. The Black Box is a mechanical theatre in which six clockwork figures perform against a projected background of animated charcoal paintings. ! The images deal with German colonialism in 1904 Africa. Along with the theatre piece, fifty drawings Kentridge made during the creation of the Black Box project were on exhibition. The short trek to the Jewish Historical Museum was well worth the effort.

The Animated Works of William Kentridge was the perfect accompaniment to the Black Box exhibition. The internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary South African artist has used animation to denounce apartheid in his country during the '80's and '90's. Along with six of his insightful commentaries on South African society Journey to the Moon Kentridge's homage to Georges Melies was also shown.

The Adventures of Prince Achmed is one of the great classic films of animation. German animator Lotte Reiniger created the first European feature film using a cut out silhouette technique similar to Balanese shadow puppets. Based on the classic Arabian fairy tales One Hundred and One Nights, the 1926 silent film was accompanied by live music performed by the Sonja van Hamel Trio.

3-D animation has become commonplace in animated features and now it is coming into its own in shorts too as the 3-D Stereoscopic Animated Shorts Competition proved. The 9 films in the program covered a wide range of topics. Miss Daisy Cutter by Laen Sanches from France was described in the catalogue as "what would have happened if Walt Disney took some bad acid". The jury selected Italian/German Florian Werzinski's Luigi's Pizza Ride as the best 3-D animation. The wacky tale of a pizza delivery boy who leads the police on a wild goose chase as he makes his deliveries definitely used 3-D to full advantage.

The jury bestowed the Best Political Animated Short statute on Roman Klochkov from Gent, Belgium for his black humor treatment of illegal immigrants. I was very pleased with their decision as Roman is a good friend and I appreciate his very sardonic sense of humor that always comes through in his films.

For the younger set there were 2 KLIK for Kids screenings. The first program showed a selection of films from all over the world for children 6 years old and their parents. The second program, designed for 8 year olds, showed 5 films that were longer and had more complicated stories.

A special treat was having two live voice over artists provided the Dutch dialogue for foreign language films such as The Gruffalo's Child by German animators Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschotter. The young members voted for the Young Amsterdam Audience Award and I was not at all surprised that they selected The Gruffalo's Child, the delightful sequel to The Gruffalo.

After being inspired by the films, young animators could create their own animations. Two professional animators were on hand to help cut cardboard and wield hot glue guns but the ideas all came from the young animators. Adults also had a chance to have fun at the Cardboard Animation Workshop.

My favorite KLIK tradition is the boat trip. For 2 lovely hours the festival guests relaxed on a long boat exploring the Amsterdam canals. This was a wonderful opportunity to have conversations over refreshments. I love boats and the traditional Dutch long boats are wonderful. The canal trip gives you a glimpse at the beautiful flowers and architecture normally hidden from view, a glimpse of Amsterdam you can't see any other way.

I found time to make a trip to the Amsterdam Floating Flower Market. Stall after stall built out over the canal were brimmed full of baskets of every color and variety of tulip bulbs in the world. There were many other flower blubs and plants for sale but the undisputed star of the show were the tulips. Anyone planning a trip to Amsterdam should be sure to visit the floating flower market. It was wonderful in November and I can only imagine how spectacular it must be in the spring.

Saturday evening the Award Ceremony was held. The International Jury who watched the International Shorts and 3-D competitions was composed of noted producer (The Triplettes of Belleville among other films) Viviane Van Fleteren, film critic Andre Waardenburg, and Alexander Lentjes, 3-D specialist.

All day there had been a flurry of activity on the mezzanine level by the Cardboard Robot Workshop. As a mass of human cardboard robots swarmed down the wide main staircase into the Eye Arena the esteemed jury tried to select the winning dancer, but the entire dance quickly evolved into a full fledge robot fight. In true KLIK fashion cardboard heads, arms, and swords were soon flying all over and the audience became part of the fun. I had to fight off the flying body parts while mutated robots pulled observers on to the dance floor. The Eye will never be the same.

Meanwhile Studio 2 came alive with rock n' roll courtesy of DJ Brother Boogaloo. As good old '50s and '60s classics spun and couples took to the dance floor the Dutch video duo VJ Glitterende Eenhoorn and Menah drew eerie pictures that were projected onto the movie screen. Their drawings were based on audience answers to the pair's question "What happened in your favorite violent film scene?"

Sunday there was a full day of screenings. Aside from the 2 children's programs there was Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. The screening featuring such all time favorites as Super Jail: Gay Marriage and Moral Oral: Be Fruitful and Multiply. They illustrated why Adult Swim has become such a big hit on American TV. Since its inception in 2001 it has continued to develop ground breaking animated series' for adult audience.

The Emerging Animation Countries program showcased work from countries that are just beginning to appear on the International animation scene. Many have no animation schools or industry and animators are often self-taught. Work from Columbia, Ecuador or Ethiopia cannot be juried by the same standards as countries that have a long rich animation tradition but it is important for festivals to screen these works in special programs.

My personal treat on Sunday was to take Nik to see Ernest Et Celestine, the delightful French film by Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, and Stephane. I had already seen this charming feature film about the orphan mouse Celestine and Ernest the bear and I enjoyed it just as much the second time. This story of two loners overcoming all odds and prejudices to become friends is beautifully told in a lovely hand drawn style with soft, warm watercolors. Unlike most animated features made today this is a sweet, simple film that is sure to have you walking out of the theatre smiling.

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end. The Sunday night Closing Ceremony was a chance to relive some high points of the week. The Young Amsterdam Audience Award was announced and the films made in the workshops were presented. The evening ended with a screening of the Best of Klik2012.

My love affair with KLIK began when I was invited to be on the jury of the 3rd edition of the festival several years ago. I have followed their progress with great interest and this year I was delighted when they invited me to come to Amsterdam for a week to be part of the selection committee which was an awesome task since they received almost 1,200 films from 71 countries.

After KLIK I actually had a couple months at home to enjoy cooking, writing, and enjoying the holidays. In the next few days I am off to Brussels for 10 days at ANIMA Brussels and I am definitely ready to be back in the theatre watching animation.


Let us know if you plan to show a new work and we will mention it in the upcoming publicity. Show is open to work by kids, college students, independent animators and professionals. No entry fee, prizes!

Also do you know of an interesting location where we might hold it in SF? We need a space that will seat about 80 to 90 people that also can project DVDs, T! he new Exploratorium theatre will not be finished until late summer.

Plan to show work or know of a space? Contact: karlcohen@earthlink.net


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Corrie Francis Parks and Nancy Phelps.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Sarah Chin
Mailing Crew: Shirley Smith, Dan Steves, Denise McEvoy & Dot
Web Crew: Joe Sikoryak, Steve Segal, Randy Bravo-Chavez, Patty Hemenway and Dan Steves
Special thank to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Dan Steves who keeps our mailing list up-to-date, to our treasurer Karen Lithgow and The G Man who sends out our e-mail updates.

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

ASIFA-SF and SF State's Animation Program invite you to a discussion with people working in the industry, not with sales people fill of hype

SUNDAY, APRIL 7th, 1 PM, Free
Coppola Theater, San Francisco State

Come learn from people with experience in stop-motion, 2D and 3D animation, games and in other areas. Our experts have worked as writers, animators, directors and in other industry jobs and will answer as many questions as possible including how they find work, about creating or joining a start-up, etc.

The panel will include:

CHARLIE CANFIELD, an Emmy award winning freelance animator who presently says he has too much work to do on several documentaries.

JUSTIN KOHN, a stop-motion animator who has worked on all of Henry Selick's features. He is animation supervisor for Fonco Creative Services in Marin and works frequently with Althoe in LA. His credits include lots of commercials and long format projects (Moral Orel, Hell and Back, etc.) He is producer and VFX director on a Steampunk version of War of the Worlds.

TARA PACKARD is presently working as a freelance animator on 2D art and animation for apps in addition to animating demos for new tech. She has worked in most areas of games including PC, console, MMO and social games. Some of well-known game titles include The Sims and The Sims 2 games series, John Madden Football and Lego Island (the first digital Lego game). She has spent a ! good deal of time in virtual world spaces, including MTV's virtual Lower East Side (LES) along with virtual Pussycat Dolls Lounge, Tyra Bank's virtual Studio.

MARK WALSH is a PIXAR animator and director. His credits include directing on Finding Nemo, directing Tom Hanks in recording sessions for a number of Toy Story Toons episodes, directing the new short film Partysaurus Rex, etc.

CHELSEA WALTON is a PIXAR editor. Her credits include editing several independent films by Bay Area filmmakers. She graduated with a MFA from San Francisco State University.

For directions see the map at: http://www.sfsu.edu/~sfsumap/southeast.htm