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

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

May 2013

This issue includes 3 feature articles:

In this issue highlights include two articles on:





ASIFA-SF members are invited Tues May 7th 7:00-8:30, TOM SITO, BOOK SIGNING AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM



THE GRAND OPENING OF THE NEW EXPLORATORIUM: MIWA MATREYEK IN PERSON by Steve Segal Miwa Matreyek is an animator and performance artist who helped to inaugurate the new Exploratorium on Pier 15 in grand style. She uses both rear and front screen projections and appears as a silhouette behind the screen or standing between projections interacting with animated creations. Her animations alone are fascinating, intriguing, and display a touch of humor rare in an avant-garde piece. But the level of interest increases greatly when she steps into her own creations. It's quite amazing how she can achieve cuts, fades and multiplane effects with her in the middle. For the Exploratorium show she began with a work-in-progress titled This World Made Itself. It featured many shots of nature and the artist interacting within. A few nice touches I recall were a shot of the beach with a silhouette of her feet walking along as if looking down at the sand and surf. She achieves this effect by lying on the floor with her legs up casting a shadow. Another interesting effect was a shadow of her arm which turned into a school of minnows, almost like a magic trick (and like any good magician she wouldn't tell me how it was achieved). She then proceeded with no break to a 2010 piece Myth and Infrastructure, which was a bit stronger, most likely because the first piece is still a work in progress. Myth and Infrastructure featured many complex interactions, turning pre-recorded pages, pushing buttons which react at the precise moment, a silhouette giantess walking through a city, and a most amazing display of a live silhouette gesturing with prerecorded hands. Here both placement of hands and timing allow for scant error. It is truly amazing and funny. My only criticism would be to show mo! re of herself. There were fleeting moments where I could see her standing just beside the screen before entering, but it was so subtle, I felt I was seeing her by accident. It was good to be reminded that the shadow was not part of the recorded projections, but a real live person.

Miwa has made a name for herself as an animator who lives inside her own creations, sometimes interacting with them. She studied at Cal Arts, a school which emphasizes cross-disciplinary studies. She enrolled in the Integrated Media program studying theater and music as well as her main focus, experimental animation. She has performed all over the world at film festivals, science museums and some unconventional venues. Her website is full of wonderful films and other things that will expand your understanding of what animation can be.


THE GRAND OPENING OF THE NEW EXPLORATORIUM: THE OPENING NIGHT LIGHT SHOW BY OBSCURA DIGITAL by KC To create this show for the science museum it was decided not to use computer generated images of stone walls coming alive and morphing into something bizarre and other digital inventiveness. Instead the show was made using all natural materials. There were microscopic images of tiny creatures swimming about, time-lapse footage of plants growing, newts and centipedes wandering through lush vegetation, rich textures using colored sand and lots of wonderful images of colored liquids swirling about. The colored oils flowed ! around a scale model of the museum's façade so streams of colors curved around window frames and the main entrance. It was a bright inventive experimental light display that covered the entire front façade of the museum. Eleven extremely bright digital projectors were used to cover the space including one or more on the roof of KGO-TV, about 2 blocks away.

A video on the making of the light show is posted online at https://vimeo.com/63614114 Clips of the show are on YouTube and should be on Obscura Digital's website soon. http://obscuradigital.com/ ASIFA-SF will be using the museum's theatre for some of our events once it is open this fall.

DAVID TART WINS TWO PRIZES IN JAPAN AND A DISTRIBUTION DEAL His The Story of Animation, which won a top prize in our 2012 spring animation festival, won Best Director and Best Producer for an Independent Short at the 13th annual Tokyo Anime Festival. It also won the Warner-Mycal prize which means his film gets shown by a theater chain across the country.

He is working on a sequel called "Into the Animation Factory." It highlights some of the problems of the animation and VFX industry in a playful way.

VINCE COLLINS' WORK WAS FEATURED ON CARTOON BREW ON APRIL 26, 2013 They featured 4 of his films, links to 2 interviews, etc. Vince is a unique local talent.


THE BERKELEY FILM FOUNDATION ANIMATION GRANT They are offering grants up to $12,000 for projects under 30 min. to people who live or work in Berkeley, Albany, Richmond, Emeryville or El Cerrito for at least 1 year. May 31 deadline, details & to apply




LATEST EVENTS NEWS AT www.asifa-sf.org

JOHN KORTY AND LUCASFILM'S "TWICE UPON A TIME" (1983) A RARE, MADE IN THE BAY AREA FEATURE, SCREENED IN LA IN 35MM FOR 3 NIGHTS Jerry Beck's new blog on Indiewire called "Animation Scoop" reports the new Los Angeles repertory cinema The Cinefamily (formerly the Silent Cinema theatre on Fairfax) screened a 35mm print of the seldom seen film. The 1983 Lucasfilm production was a Ladd Company presentation through Warner Bros. It was a rare box office failure for Lucas.

Cinefamily showed a mint vault print that had only been run twice. It is owned by the film's co-director John Korty. Co-directors Korty and Charles Swenson appeared in person on Friday April 26th for a Q&A with animator Phil Lord (Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump St., The Lego Movie). The directors also screened other rare animated shorts from their personal collections.

Twice Upon A Time was produced using the "Lumage" stop-motion process - a combination of backlit cut-out paper and fabric with brilliant stylized design. Among the youthful animators on the film were future director David Fincher, Ratatouille's Harley Jessup and Henry Selick.

Like an updated Fractured Fairy Tale, the story is set in a fantasy world of sweet dreams and nightmares. It finds the heroes attempting to re-calibrate the cosmic clock to restore the flow of time. Voices included Lorenzo Music, Marshall Efron, Paul Frees, and Hamilton Camp. The dialogue was largely improvised.


AT ASIFA-SF'S CAREERS IN ANIMATION EVENT THE PANEL WAS REALISTIC BUT NOT PESSIMISTIC ABOUT THE CURRENT STATE OF THE INDUSTRY While one panel member did suggest people get a job outside of the animation field while seeking your dream, all indicated there are animation job openings, but you may need to adjust your plans to meet the needs of the current job market. Tara Packard switched from being a laid off staff person with a game company to doing freelance work after not finding another staff opening right away. Now she is finding temp work and, "I am swamped for the next few weeks. Then I'll be looking for more."

Charlie Canfield says he is kept "too busy" doing freelance animation on documentaries. Chelsea Walton worked for several years as a freelance artist and editor until she was hired fulltime early this year by Pixar. Justin Kohn, who lives in Marin County, finds freelance stop-motion jobs several times a year in the LA area. While the job market may be shrinking, there are jobs.

One bit of advice several panel members agreed upon was to focus on trying to find work with small studios rather than with the big companies. Trying to get your foot in the door at smaller studios is a realistic strategy. Pixar may be your dream job, but their files are already flooded with thousands of resumes. As for Tippet and DreamWorks, both are laying off people this year. On the other hand there are several small companies and startups that are expanding.

It was pointed out that the smaller companies offer their employees greater opportunities to work in different roles on a variety of projects while at big studios you may be asked to focus on just using one set of skills. Also the well established big companies work mainly on the same kinds of projects over and over while the experiences at the younger companies may be more varied, cutting edge or experimental.

While you may want a job that best utilizes your special abilities, in the present market, be willing to take whatever job a studio offers you so you are in a position to work your way up or into something more desirable. Once you are hired you can impress people with your work ethic and make friends. Hopefully your co-workers will help you move in the direction you want to go.

A friend suggested I tell students, "Follow your passion but don't expect immediate success in the form of a job when you graduate. I think too many schools capitalize on this questionable guarantee (graduate from our school and you will get a job when you graduate) to get students to sign up, but then the student endures disappointment and depression when it's not happening. While taking classes at the Animation Collaborative, every speaker I've listened to has said the same thing: there is no linear path into animation so keep going. If you keep going, people will drop off from the competition, leaving you to take the job someday. You need talent, but more importantly, you need persistence to beat out the more talented people who give up."

Michael Langan, who recently had 110 million people see his experimental stop-motion contribution to this year's Super Bowl broadcast, offers some excellent advice. He says, "Work hard. Not just at each job, but in school. Work your butt off! And take the time and care to lend production value to your work. That polish goes a long way in demonstrating that you can contribute seamlessly to a professional production. Nobody will know that you're capable of top-notch work unless you prove it to them first!"

Creating a distinguished film that gets into festivals and hopefully wins praise and awards may be the best way to jumpstart your career. A guy I know from CAL Arts won two student Oscars (1979 and 1980) and was snapped up by Disney. You know the rest of John Lasseter's story. Shane Acker created the short 9 as a grad student at UCLA. It won a Student Academy Award (2005), was nominated for an Oscar and eventually it was developed into a feature. Pete Docter (CAL Arts grad, 1990) won a Student Academy Award, got hired by John Lasseter and so far he has received four Academy Award nominations and one Oscar. Did you know that Trey Parker, who went to the University of Colorado in Boulder, won a student Oscar (1993) before he teamed up with Matt Stone to create South Park?

TIPPETT HAS LAID-OFF 40% OF THEIR STAFF On March 29th Tippett Studios, a major VFX house in Berkeley (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.

On the same day VFX Soldier reported over 30 people in senior positions at Sony Pictures Imageworks in Culver City were terminated. An unconfirmed rumor is that a Sony official encouraged people to move to Vancouver. Probably a false rumor, but it suggests the anger some workers have.

DISNEY IS LAYING OFF PEOPLE AT FORMER LUCAS OWNED COMPANIES The first cuts have been announced and the game division, LucasArts, took a big hit. Apparently they haven't released a hot product since 2010 and the game Star Wars 1313, that was supposed to come out next was going to be for mature players, not younger kids, so it may get dumped. Several writers about the game industry feel it was too dark or grim to be a Disney product so it might either be terminated or transformed into a more wholesome, family Disney product.

The LucasArts crew of game designers, about 150 people, are being terminated and in the future the rights to develop games will be leased out to outside developers. By farming out future products Disney may make less, but they do not need to be financially responsible for the enormous overhead of developing products and running LucasArts. LucasArts may continue to exist as a license department and to deal with other business decisions, or it may be absorbed by another branch of ILM or even by the Disney game division.

The future of other Lucas products remains uncertain. Variety's recent article "LucasArts Shutdown Triggers Layoffs at ILM" was vague and contained no clear facts. Disney says they have no immediate changes planned, but there is no guarantee that ILM in SF will remain the same. Disney's bean counters might want to send more work to either ILM's offices in Vancouver and Singapore or to affiliates in Beijing and Europe.! Some of the profitable ILM work could also go to Disney companies or it might be terminated if it isn't profitable enough.

Possibly the big loser when ILM was sold is the hope that we will see another ILM produced animated feature. Disney doesn't need a third animation company at this time. Rango showed ILM could make award winning animated features for a mature audience, but does Disney want to be in that market if they are uncomfortable producing 1313 as a dark, mature product? I can't imagine a Rango type attraction in a Disney park.

DISNEY IS HINTING IT HAS LOTS OF IDEAS ON HOW TO BETTER EXPLOIT OWNING THE STAR WARS FRANCHISE All Robert Iger has told the press that Disney is thinking about lots of possible Star Wars spinoffs. I've read speculations that spinoffs could mean anything from an adventure with Yoda to absurd concepts like a feature about sex scandals at the Jedi Academy.

G-DCAST SEEKS JEWISH ANIMATORS FOR A PAID SIX DAY RESIDENCY PROGRAM IN SF G-dcast is seeking emerging Jewish animation students currently enrolled in a college or students who have graduated within the last three years for a 6-day studio residency in SF in August. They are a small animation production company in SF and they seek artists who work in any style (hand-drawn, digital 2D, stop motion, claymation), as long as you can bring your gear with you to San Francisco and can work quickly!

The 6-day residency will focus on animated storytelling, filmmaking, and mobile app production. They are going to bring 10 student/alumni animators and storytellers, plus one coder and one illustrator, to their host site, the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco, to collaborate in making five animated shorts and one mobile app. These films and apps will be screened and used by ! their worldwide partners in classrooms, festivals and online.

They expect to make 2D animations (most likely using Flash or After Effects) inspired by Jewish texts. Travel expenses and room and board are provided. This residency will be an opportunity to do collaborative, interpretive, rigorous animation work yielding a portfolio piece with high viewership. The residency will also provide an excellent opportunity for professional mentorship in the arts and an opportunity to participate in a highly innovative form of Jewish learning. Learn more at


Their latest short, The Mountain and the Cliff was produced in 48 hours at the Jewish Funders Network conference in March, 2013.


Several other shorts are on the studio's website. www.g-dcast.com


Fri. May 31, Justin Kohn's BEER NIGHT FOR ANIMATORS network at animator Scott Kravitz's bar, "The Residence," 718 14th St. near Market from 7pm till???

ASIFA-SF members are invited Tues May 7th 7:00-8:30, TOM SITO, BOOK SIGNING AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM free His new book is Moving Innovation, A History Of Computer Animation This should be an important book as Tom interviewed 75 pioneers for it and he is an excellent historian, animator and writer. He is a former Disney director and he! teaches at the Univ. of Southern California.


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." (from a review in CineVue.com) The classic film includes some stop-motion footage. A trailer is posted at


Sunday May 6 at 10:30 AM (Kabuki) SHORTS PROGRAM #6, FAMILY FILMS. Show includes The Blue Umbrella, a new Pixar short by Saschka Unseld. He will present a workshop for kids May 4.

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

Lumerence by Miwa Matreyek Wednesday May 8, 9 PM, New People Cinema, "SHORTS PROGRAM #3" IS A FINE SELECTION OF ELEVEN 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 Model Starship by Max Hattler, Bite of the Tail by Song E. Kim, The Deep End by Jake Fried, The Event by Julia Pott, Eye on the Stars by Mike and Tim Rauch, The Inn by Izu Troin, Lumerence by Miwa Matreyek, Ruckus Juice by Jennifer Deutrom and Social Satan by Reuben Sutherland.

This show is highly recommended for people who want to see a wide range of approaches to contemporary animation. There is cutting edge animation including Model Starship, a one minute long hard edge composited creation. Miwa Matreyek's impressive collage of images in Lumerence is also something new and unique (see Steve Segal's article about her in this newsletter). Tram is a fascinating erotic daydream while Eye on the Stars is a fine traditional narrative, a heart warming biographical moment in the life of astronaut Ronald McNair by the Rauch Bros. For a powerful drama of man against nature there is The Inn (the artwork, music and drama in The Inn are quite impressive.) In Ruckus Juice a rotoscoped Edwardian looking picnic turns into a wild psychedelic trip, while Social Satan is a spinning mandala of "cool" images (much too long for my taste, but probably great if you are stoned).! There are also two films The Event and Bite the Tail that have voice tracks that are bits and pieces of mundane. Is this a new direction in narratives or some sort of theatre of the absurd? On the other hand Kali is a wonderful meaningful story narrated by Christopher Plummer (co-produced by the NFB of Canada). While the styles and content of the program are so varied you probably will not like every film, all offer something unusual.

Fri. May 24, THE PAINTING (LE TABLEAU), opening at a Landmark theatre in SF and at their Shattuck Cinemas in Berkeley. "A wryly inventive parable" that is a love story between a Halfie and a Sketchie in a kingdom divided into the three castes: the impeccably painted Alldunns who reside in a majestic palace; the Halfies who the Painter has left incomplete; and the untouchable Sketchies, simple charcoal outlines who are banished to the cursed forest. The story is an adventure into forest. Trailer at www.gkids.tv/thepainting/

Fri. May 17, ANIMATION FINALS AT SF STATE, 3 PM in the Coppola Theatre, Fine Arts Bldg. 101

Friday, June 15, 7:30 pm, THE 2nd ANNUAL ASIFA-SF SPRING SHOW - SHOW YOUR WORK AND GET A CHANCE TO WIN AN AWARD At the Randall Jr. Museum , free, see the event's flyer for location details, etc. - come celebrate!


THE SIMPSONS" LOOK BEHIND THE SCENES AT A N. KOREA STUDIO A dark show opening by Banksy that is based on Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, a graphic novel by Guy Delisle, a French Canadian. He spent two months working in their capitol at an animation studio.


DREAMWORKS ANIMATION ACQUIRES THE RIGHTS TO EXPLOIT THE TROLL DOLLS The dolls, a fad in the 1960s -1990s, will be brought back to life again as a franchise for film and TV by DreamWorks Animation. The doll was created in Denmark in 1959 by Thomas Dann, a fisherman and woodcutter who carved it for his little girl. It is based on Scandinavian legend. I had no fondness for those ugly plastic dolls with shocks of brightly colored hair, but obviously Jeffrey Katzenberg sees financial potential in bringing them back.

Other DreamWorks' news includes their stock going up in value after the release of The Croods. The stock went up to almost $20. It has a 52-week high of $22.98, a low of $15.90.

WHILE DISNEY STOCK REACHED NEW HIGHS (OVER $60), THEY WERE ALSO LAYING OFF PEOPLE TO REDUCE COSTS In April they retired a lot of people including many of their key 2-D animators "as part of an ongoing effort to streamline operations."

A news report was quite blunt in saying that CEO Bob Iger, seeking to cut costs, ordered an internal audit and that audit resulted in layoffs as a way to cut costs. One paper noted, "The cost-saving measures come despite stellar financial performance as of late." In fiscal 2012 Disney stock rose 76 percent.

The future of 2-D animation at Disney certainly looks bleak as nine of the studio's top 2D veterans were let go. Reports online varied as to who got the axe, but apparently Eric Goldberg and Mark Henn will keep their jobs for the time being. The Animation Guild said "other veterans are being called in to meetings to discuss pay cuts and/or buyouts." So much for rumors that John Lasseter was fighting to save hand-drawn animation. Guess he lost.

ANOTHER REASON WHY U.S. PRODUCED FEATURES ARE BEING DONE ABROAD The Walt Disney Studios will film a new version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea in Australia, which will pay the studio 21.6 million Australia dollars ($22.6 million) to film there. The announcement comes after The Wolverine, starring Australian actor Hugh Jackman, recently wrapped filming in Sydney. The Australian government paid! Fox Studios AU$12.8 million to film in Australia. Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the The Wolverine created more than 1,750 jobs, contracted more than 1,027 Australian companies and generated AU$80 million in investment and she expects 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea will create more than 2,000 jobs.

It wasn't known how much the payment would offset the film's budget, but it is a major inducement compared to those typically offered in America, where states often give tax breaks to movie and TV productions to film within their borders. This has caused a loss of jobs in Hollywood as Calif. is not as generous with tax breaks as some other states.

THE PUSH TO ORGANIZE BOTH VFX LABOR AND COMPANIES CONTINUES After IATSE and The Animation Guild helped organize a video conference between people in LA, SF, Austin, Vancouver and Wellington New Zealand on March 14, a similar conference was held in London in early April. The event was organized by the BECTU, the Broadcast Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union. The concerns are similar to those of VFX workers in the US including having to do considerable unpaid overtime and jobs being underbid resulting in companies going bankrupt.

An interesting twist is the move by workers to get employers organized into an association that can collectively bargain both with labor and the studios. Having a single employer bargaining partner would be helpful both for a union instead of having to organize on a studio by studio basis, and VFX companies could collectively bargain with the studios that hire them.

REAL-D INTRODUCED A NEW IMPROVED 3D STEREO PROJECTION SYSTEM IN APRIL AT CINEMA CON IN LAS VEGAS It is being tried out at a few test theatres including DreamWorks Animation's Campanile Theater near LA with The Croods. According to RealD, its "Precision White Screen" technology for installations with RealD 3D systems combines "2D white screen performance with the ability to project polarized 3D images." White screens tend to provide a more even distribution of light with a higher gain than silver screens. In other words it is brighter and there is no hot spot of light in the center of the screen (light getting dimmer towards the edges of the picture).

Jeffrey Katzenberg says, "RealD has been a great innovator dedicated to delivering the highest-quality movie going experience. They've now raised the bar even higher with the introduction of Precision White Screen technology. Once again, the winners will be audiences and exhibitors alike."




by Nancy Denney-Phelps

My first visit to the Fete de l'Anim, March 14 - 17 was full of lovely surprises. It was a pleasure to meet up again with my good friends Joanna Quinn and her scriptwriter husband Les Mill. They have been busy in their studio in Wales so it's been a couple of years since I have seen them. It was great to have a few days to catch up on all of their news over meals. Joanna told me that after years of commercial projects she is finally getting down to work on her next Beryl film. I don't want to give away much about their new film but I will say that after her disastrous "career" with the video camera Beryl has now decided to pursue a career in "fine" art.

I have seen Joanna's films many times and they still make me laugh and it was so lovely to see them all together on the big screen. Before showing Britannia, her biting satirical account of the rise and fall of British Imperialism represented by the country's iconic British Bulldog, Joanna said that the film had received the Leonardo Da Vinci award. It was presented to her at Buckingham Palace by the Duke of Edinburgh. It was obvious that the Duke had not seen the film when he asked what it was about. Joanna replied "British Imperialism" and the Duke frowned. His aide immediately chimed in "It's about a Bulldog, sir" and the Duke smiled and said, "Ah, quite all right then."

During her master class Joanna took us through the steps that she takes to create story boards based on Les' scripts. She also showed numerous clips from her films and commercials including the changes over the years to the bear character in her long running Charmin toilet paper commercials.

Joanna is an entertaining speaker as well as an extremely talented animator. She treated us to many funny stories about her life and career as an independent animator, such as how she draws in front of a window of her home and when she is working on facial expressions for a character she makes faces and looks at them in the reflection in the window. She said that passers-by must think that a crazy lady lives there when they see her.

It was a real treat to get to know Erick Oh. At his master class he talked about the path that led him from UCLA film school to his current work at Pixar. He told the packed audience that he was lucky enough to receive a Pixar internship and although a very small number of interns are hired after their apprenticeship, Pixar obviously saw how talented Erick is. In his three years at Pixar he has worked on Cars Two and Brave as well as the soon to be released Monsters University. He showed clips of his work on Brave where he worked primarily on the queen. He also talked a bit about the different departments at the studio and their individual roles in creating Brave.

Erick presented a separate program of his 7 short personal films which are clever, original and showcased his talent as a 2D animator of hand drawn short films. He told us that he was able to afford a large symphonic orchestra to play the music for his film Heart thanks to a $9,000.00 Matt Groening Initiative Award he received while working on the film at UCLA. His most recent short How to Eat Your Apple is an extension of his recent series of illustrations in the form of an animated poem. The surreal film portrayal of human nature and its essence in the circle of life is currently being shown at animation festivals worldwide.

The majority of the talks and screenings were held in Tourcoing, France, but there were also events 15 kilometers away in Lille. The festival provided drivers to take guests back and forth so one morning I went to see Erick Oh's exhibition entitled His Chamber in Lille. His drawings show a great depth which reflects his fine art background. The unique style of intricate lines and lack of color except for an occasional red accent or shadow of grey suits his dark inner thoughts and is very far removed from his work at Pixar. Erick says ! that he tries to draw on his personal work for an hour or so every night because in his words "I do this to survive, otherwise I might go crazy".

Canadian animator Patrick Bouchard introduced a program of his films beginning with his 1998 student puppet film Jean Levieriste and coming up to his 2012 award winning Bydlo. At his master class Patrick talked about his experiences as a stop-motion animator at the NFB (National Film Board of Canada). He went through his approach to storyboarding, set construction, lighting, and animation.

I had never seen Talon d'Argile Iclay (Talon) which Patrick created in 24 hours at the Festival Off-Courts de Trouville. The very short 1 minute film in which clay figures undergo a metamorphosis is the film which Bydlo eventually grew out of. Bydlo is a 9 minute allegory of mankind heading for disaster, a tragic vision inspired by the 5th movement of Mussorgsky's powerful Pictures at an Exhibition. The music gives the film a powerful feeling of horror and impending doom.

With programs in the two theatres at the Le Fresnoy complex in Tourcoing and events down the block at Plaine Images/Teinturies running concurrently it was impossible to see everything that I wanted to watch. Sadly I missed Dutch Animator Adriaan Lokman's master class. Adriaan and his wife moved to La Grande Server, France in 2004 after his abstract black and white film Bar Code won the Annecy Grand Prix. I know it would have been interesting to hear him speak about his new film Chase which is also winning awards and his current experiments with making 3D animations as well as his experiences working in France.

I was sorry to miss Serge Elissalde's presentations. The French animator first came to prominence when his film The Street Sweeper won the top prize at the prestigious Hiroshima Animation Festival in 1992. He has gone on to be a member of Les Trois Ours (The Three Bears) Production Company as well as teaching at the Angouleme School of Animation.

Another member of Les Trois Ours, Olivier Catherin, is not only a noted producer but also an animation historian who is frequently invited to conduct interviews. During the master classes he kept the discussions flowing with his insightful questions and observations. His talent as an interviewer really showed through in his ability to let guests lead the conversation while making sure that it flowed smoothly.

I really enjoyed the Visual Design Focus Brunch which gave me an opportunity to hear five studio and independent artists talk about their work in an informal atmosphere. The session was led off by British animator Mikey Yes Please (and yes, he assured me that it really is his name) who screened his film The Eagleman Stag. The film takes us from Peter Eagleman's childhood to old age as Peter grapples with his realization that the longer we live, the faster time passes.

Mikey showed us detailed pictures of the monochrome models and sets and told us about the creation of the thousands of hand-crafted models and 115 sets as well as the intricate lighting effects. I wish that he had brought a sample of his models so that I could have seen the fine details of his figures. It is easy to understand why The Eagleman Stag, which premiered at Sundance in 2011, has won a BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts, their equivalent of the Oscar) and was short listed for the Oscars.

Mikey also gave us a preview of his new short film Marilyn Miller. He developed the script during his 3 month residence in Tokyo. From the short clip showed it looks as if it will be very interesting.

Next up at the Visual Design session were Joris Oprins and Marieke Blaauw, 2 members of the Dutch studio Job, Joris, and Marieke. The studio specializes in illustration, animation, character and toy design as well as creating the music for their projects in house. The trio rose to prominence when they created the music video for well-known Dutch rapper Gers Pardoel's mega hit Ik neem me (I resolve). At the session they screened the video which has received over 14 million hits on You Tube.

On opening night we were treated to a selection of films from the best European schools, represented by work from France, The United Kingdom, Germany, the Benelux Countries, and Eastern Europe. The program assured me that short animation in Europe has a bright future. The impression was strengthened when I watched the individual school presentations over the next three days.

A film that stood out was Dipendenza (Dependence) by Panna Horvath-Molnar and Virag Zomboracz who study at Moholy-Nagy Muveszeti Egyetem (MOME) in Budapest, Hungary. The 13 minute film took the audience into the world of Buba, a sweet, very large but simple-minded worker at a fish factory and his beloved Angela, a fellow factory worker. Angela is fragile and has artistic ambitions. All is well in their happy home until a handsome stranger comes to work at the factory. The black and white line drawings, with small accents of color fits the story perfectly, the character design is charming, and the story of the eternal triangle is told with delightful twists.

I think that Anima Docs are a perfect way to tell personal stories. Ruben Monteiro's master graduation project from AKA St. Joost in Breda, The Netherlands O Meu Nome (My Name) certainly tells a compelling story. In an on stage interview Monteiro told the audience that Ruben is an unusual name for a Portuguese man and the film tells the story of how he got his name. His family's history and the unfortunate events portrayed in his film had dramatically shaped who he is as a person. Later he told me that when he told his relatives that he was going to tell their story on film they strenuously objected and insisted that he leave out certain events. He respected their wishes but to audiences who don't know all of the details it doesn't interfere with the story. Ruben used stop-motion with rotoscoped footage and laser-cut silhouettes of each movement which gives the end result an even more personal feel.

The 4 day event brought together animation professionals and students for hands on projects such as the Animation Marathon. 20 teams of 3 students each were given 48 hours to create 10 seconds of animation. Each group started with an image created by the noted Belgian animator Raoul Servais. At the end of the 2 days the films were edited together to form a 3 minute film. Each group of students from animation schools throughout Europe were accompanied by a professor from their academy who could advise them but the animation was all the students' work.

The closing night festivities started with the presentation of the students' marathon film. I was sitting next to Raoul Servais when the finished film was screened and he told me he was very pleased with what the students had done to bring his hand-drawn image to life. You can see the students' Servais' art for the student film along with photos of the film marathon festival at


You didn't have to be a child to enjoy playing at the Children's Village in The Imaginarium located in a renovated textile factory building next to the festival office. The 2 floors were crammed full of animation related workshops and activities. From creating basic zoetropes to story boarding, stop-motion or an introduction to 3D animation the Children's Village was a bee hive of activity every time I visited. Each area had students and professionals to guide the young people through their animation adventures.

Although the workshops and school presentations were primarily of interest to the animation community, 5 well known Pixar films were screened to attract the community. Hopefully between these screenings and the Children's Village the local people will become curious about other festival screenings and events. There was a nice turnout of adults with their children at Erick Oh's Pixar master class.

The fun continued late into the night on Friday and Saturday. From 11 P.M. to 4 A.M. a wide array of techno pop and hip hop/electro dj's and live musicians took to the stage in a cavernous building that is a former postal terminal in Lille. The space was so large that you could dance to the music in the front and still be able to hold a conversation in the bar area. Vibrant visual images were projected by Kiego Izzok (Glowing Bulb), a collective group that grew out of the thriving underground techno scene in Budapest, Hungary. Along with their creative projections in clubs and concerts the group has performed at outdoor festivals in numerous countries.

The finale of the closing night festivities was 5 recent films produced in France. Izu Train's Ceux D' En Haut (The Inn aka Those Above) based on a Guy du Maupasssant's short story The Inn and Octobre Noir (Black October) by cartoonist Aurel and writer Florence Corre. Both were sobering stories. Black October was based on events that occurred on 17 October 1961 in Paris. A peaceful protest against a curfew imposed on Algerian residents ended with violence when the police attacked the (cut) demonstrators beating and shooting them without any provocation from the crowd. The appalling slaughter has never been acknowledged by the French government.

Bruno Collet's touching Son Indochine (It's Indochina) recounts another dark period in French history. The film is centered around events at a family meal celebrating the grandfather's birthday. He had served in the French army during the Indo China war. Unwelcome questions from his granddaughter trigger horrible memories, shown in flash backs of the terrible atrocities committed in Indochina during the war.

The five distinctive works included Czech animator Michaela Pavlatova's Tram. It is a delightful look at female sexual desires and eroticism. I have already written about Tram which was produced by Sacrebleu Productions in France. At the party following the screenings I talked to producer Aubane Fillon who told me that Tram is the first part of their project Sexperiences, a collection of short animations about sexual fantasies as seen through the eyes of different female animators.

The delight of the evening for me was Mademoiselle Kiki Et Les Montparnos (Miss Kiki of Montarnos). Amelie Harrault's first film tells the story of Mademoiselle Kiki, the muse of many early 20th Century avant-guarde artists. Her rise from being a mere artist's model to designer, writer, singer, painter and finally the Queen of Montparnasse is told in vivid colors and 2D images that propels the viewer back in time to the heyday of Bohemian French art and café life.

The film's enjoyable original music is by French composer and musician Oliver Daviaud which captures the feeling of the era. Daviaud also created the scores for The Rabbi's Cat and Serge Elissaddi's The Man in the Moon. The 14½ minute film was produced by Les Trois Ours and Olivier Catherin was on hand to represent the film. Mademoiselle Kiki is so rich in detail that I am looking forward to watching it again and again.

What a wonderful festival! I hope that I will have the opportunity to visit the Fete De L'Anima again.


by Nancy Denny-Phelps



One of the special feature of ANIMA are the This Is Belgium screenings which showcase new Belgian animation. Last fall I did some voice work on director Remi Vandenitte's Betty's Blues and it was really nice to see the film on the big screen. Vandenitte showed a real understanding of the Southern United States and segregation in his portrayal of New Orleans in the 1920's. The story of a young black musician and his girlfriend who are attacked by the KKK is deftly told in song. The musician is blinded and his girlfriend killed in the encounter, but from the horror of the attack the musician learns the power his music has to move everyone regardless of the colour of their skin.

The Belgian jury seemed impressed by the 2D/puppet animation film because they awarded it the RTBF -LaTrois Award, which insures the purchase of broadcast rights for Betty's Blues. The film was also awarded a Special Mention as the Best Belgian Student Short Film.

It was obvious that Oh Willy, Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels' amazing puppet animation, was the best film in the Belgian Competition. The film has won numerous awards at festivals worldwide including the prestigious Cartoon d' Or. Unfortunately the top Belgian award at ANIMA, Le Grand Prix de la Federation Wallonie-Brussels is sponsored by the French (Wallonie) speaking half of Belgium and as a result only films made by French speaking Belgians are eligible. Oh Willy was awarded the SACD (a Belgian author's rights organization) Award.

For anyone not familiar with Belgian politics, I'm afraid that I cannot quickly explain the situation here. There have been countless articles written about the complicated situation and there is still no solution in sight. I do hope that in the future some Flemish organization will step forward and give an award so there can be two separate but equal Best Belgian films.

Deux Iles (Two Islands) walked off with not only the Wallonie Grand Prix but the Best Belgian Student Short as well. The five minute film was the co-operative work of eight students for Laboratories Images and produced by Cargo Film and Canal+.

The Laboratories Images challenge was for the group to bring the work of an illustrator to life. They selected the well-known author and Belgian comic illustrator Eric Lambe. All of Lambe's illustrations are created from frames of blue and black overlapping pen drawings. The catalogue synopsis says "In a curious field of blue ink, vibrant scratches, and electric opacity, two people meet, intersect, bind, untie, merge, and intermingle without ever meeting". That is as clear a description as I can give.

Unlike so many animated features, the Northern Spanish 3-D stop motion El Apostal (The Apostal) is definitely an adult film. Based on a story rooted in folklore, tradition, and Northern Spanish history, director Fernando Cortizo weaves terror, humor, and fantasy to tell a tale that held my interest until the very end. The film's main theme composed by Philip Glass sets a perfect tone for the story of an escaped convict who returns to a remote village to retrieve his loot. What should be a simple thing to do turns into a real life nightmare for the convict, involving a strange priest, wandering spirits, and odd disappearances. El Apostal is slated for commercial release in Spain, Latin and South America, but unfortunately so far there is no US distributor which doesn't surprise me since there seems to be almost no market for intelligent adult oriented animation there.

I was totally charmed by Mamoru Hosoda's Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Ame and Yuki, Wolf Children). The Japanese animator weaves fantasy and realistic settings to tell the story of the two children, Ame and Yuki, and their mother, Hana. The three of them live a simple, happy life in a quiet corner of a big city until it becomes harder and harder to conceal the dark family secret that their dead father was a werewolf. Hana and her children move to the countryside by a beautiful forest where the children are free to express both sides of their true nature.

Wolf Children is a film that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike with a lovely message for both. Children should not be forced to conform to their elders' expectations, and parents must allow their children to be who they really are and give them wings to fly free...

My favourite feature for young audiences, The Day of the Crows, was a very pleasant surprise for me because I hadn't expected to really enjoy it. The hand drawn film is based on a novel by Canadian writer Jean-Francois Beauchemin and directed by French director Jean-Christophe Dessaint. The story revolves around a boy growing up deep in the forest with his father where they lead a tough, wild life with only the forest ghosts as companions. The boy's accidental discovery of love in an unexpected place leads him on a search for why his gruff father is hiding his love for his son.

From the moment the opening credits appeared I was captivated by the beautiful forest ghosts and backgrounds, but the character design of the father and especially the son just didn't seem to fit the overall design of the film. As the plot unfolded and I began to understand the complexities of the story and the forms of the two main characters slowly began to make perfect sense. The film moves at a leisurely pace but when all is revealed at the end it turns out to be an excellent story with characters that I cared about.

On opening night they showed the much anticipated Italian/Belgian/Luxemburg co-production of Pinocchio by Italian director Enzo D'Alo. The first half seemed to drag, but it came to life in the second half when Pinocchio reaches Donkey Island. Suddenly the screen lit up with characters that looked straight out of the American/German artist Richard Lindner's paintings, bursting into song and dance as the wayward boys get lured into the dungeon where they are slowly turned into donkeys. Lorenzo Mattotti's brilliant talents as a noted comic book artist and graphic designer are shown to their fullest in this sequence. Unfortunately this was an all too short an interlude.

ANIMA Brussels is such a wonderful festival because of the quality of the screenings but even better, each year it gives me an opportunity to informally meet the top names in the animation world.

I was delighted to see my friend Sekhar Mukherjee from India who was on the International Competition Jury. Sekhar is a comic book artist, illustrator, graphic designer, animator and he supervises the animation department of the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India. Most of the Indian animation that I have seen has not been very good, with poor animation and content. Sekhar told me that most of the animation created in India is for outsourcing, especially for American studios, which has greatly influenced what students are taught in animation schools. A few schools such as NID are fighting hard to create original, locally based film. His impressive Indian Animation Today screening provided a good overview of the creative work that is being done in some schools and by independent animators in such areas as commercials, ethnic, and satirical animation.

Journey to Nagaland which took Aditi Chitre two and a half years to complete is a beautifully drawn animation that tells a personal story. The film is about a young girl from Bombay who is haunted by the ghost of a woman in a red shawl. Searching for her families' roots she is guided by an eagle, carrier of the dead woman's spirit, to Nagaland where the mystery of the apparition is revealed to her. ! Woven into the story are Naga folk songs, customs, and beliefs which have continued even after the tribe adopted Christianity.

Nagaland is in the remote mountainous North-Eastern corner of India. The natives were known as t fierce headhunters and Sekhar told me that it is even difficult for Indian residents to visit there.

The Magic of Stop-Motion Animation exhibition gave me my first opportunity to see the beautifully crafted puppets and sets from Oh Willy. They were meticulously created out of felt down to the smallest detail like the toilet seat. The extensive exhibition gave film fans a behind the scenes glimpse at how puppets are constructed and brought to life.



YOU MIGHT ENJOY A HANDSOME VISUAL MEDITATION Simon Haiduk just posted an impressive six minute abstract cosmic journey.



Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Nancy Denney-Phelps.
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
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

So far we expect to show Tony Claars' Loco Motion (pictured above) and work from TUSC (Josey Gist), David Chai and Peter Parr



SUNDAY, JUNE 23, 1:30 PM

At the Randall Jr. Museums' Theatre
free, public invited, lots of free parking

There are no forms to fill out and no entry fee. Just send us a DVD or bring it the night of the show.

Please limit your entry to less than 10 minutes so all works submitted can be shown. We will show all works on DVD. If you are thinking about entering a film, let Karl know before May 22 and your name and film title will be on the flyer listing expected contestants. karlcohen@earthlink.net You do not have to be an ASIFA member or even live in Northern California to enter, but you are invited to become a member (details at www.asifa-sf.org) and we hope you can be present to enjoy the applause.

Mail work in advance to: Karl Cohen, 478 Frederick, SF, CA 94117

There will be prizes: A small cash grand prize and certificate awards for best student film, best independent and best professional work plus second prizes, honorable mentions, etc. Certificates of appreciation will be given to pre-college animators. Last year we also presented jury awards for the funniest film, the best experimental work and the best educational work.

The Randall Jr. Museum is at the top of Corona Heights, right in the geographic center of the city, but it is sometimes hard for newcomers to find; if in doubt, call (415) 554-9600 for assistance. 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114.

www.randallmuseum.org gives instructions on how to find it by car, Muni and on foot.