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

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

November 2013



Editor's note: I found this article to be disturbing so I contacted friends living in NYC to find out...




CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF KROKING DOWN THE RIVER: KROK International Animation Film Festival, - Odessa to Kiev, Ukraine by Nancy Denney Phelps


RIC CARRASQUILLO HAS ANIMATED "PARKAS INDOORS" FOR UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS Ric, who does the covers for our newsletter, invites fellow ASIFA-SF members to see his latest work that features some unusual "tape-based animation." It is animation made with masking, duct, and electrical tape along with other materials! His work is quite distinctive looking, if not totally unique.

Ric tells us, "I wanted the design to be minimal and modern, drawing inspiration from Saul Bass and the color palette of Tati's Playtime. There is also a nod to the furniture drawings of Saul Steinberg. Tape was an inexpensive way to animate in two and three dimensions while retaining a tactile quality and play on sticky metaphors."

One Internet article identifies Upstairs Downstairs as a folksy indie rock five-piece band from San Francisco. Another calls the video "a narrative on wistfulness told primarily with various adhesive tapes." http://vimeo.com/75135247 Ric's drawn art is quite different from this animate! d work so enjoy wandering around his website. www.squillostudio.com

DISNEY HAS CLOSED PIXAR CANADA The closing came without notice to their small studio in Vancouver that had a staff of just under 100 people. It had opened in 2010 to work on shorts and television specials utilizing well established franchises including Toy Story and Cars. The studio worked on the animation and technical aspects of several shorts including PartySaurus Rex and Small Fry.

The official e-mail statement sent to workers and the press was vague. "The team at Pixar Canada is incredibly talented and we are so proud of the excellent work we have produced there. However, as we look at the creative and business needs of our studio, we've made the decision to refocus our efforts and resources under one roof in Emeryville and will be closing the studio in Vancouver."

The lack of other details has led to a lot of speculation as to why the sudden closing. Variety said Vancouver is reducing their tax incentives, but several letters to their editor said that statement was untrue. One person added that some tax incentives are scheduled to increase next year in British Columbia, not decrease. Another unfounded rumor is that Pixar might move the Vancouver operation to Ontario or Quebec where Pixar could obtain more favorable tax subsidies. The only realistic suggestion so far is a vague "it wasn't ! financially worthwhile to keep the studio in Canada doing shorts and TV."

A few people pointed out that there will be no new film from Pixar in 2014 (Good Dinosaur is being moved to a late 2015 release date from 2014 and Finding Dory is being moved from 2015 to 2016), and that might hurt the value of Disney stock. One letter said, "The all important investors must be appeased with minimal losses as possible per quarter, if not yearly. The investors only care about money, which is all the animation business is about now anyway." Would no new release in 2014 really hurt the stock's value and would Pixar close the studio mainly to keep investors happy?

I think Pixar/Disney will probably rerelease something to keep investors feeling good about their Disney stock and Pixar merchandise from previous releases will continue to bring the corporation impressive royalty checks. Disney stock has risen sharply from a low in 2009 around $15 a share to well over $60 a share all of this year. It is also diversified into several divisions so it doesn't seem likely no new releases in 2014 will be a serious issue. KC

While closing Pixar Canada may bring a few jobs to the Bay Area, it was done in a heartless way. Disney apparently gave no advanced notice, nor did they announce they will provide their former employees a generous severance package. They also could have done a better job providing an understandable explanation for their actions.

THE EXPLORATORIUM'S NEW STATE OF THE ART SOUND SYSTEMS ARE BY MEYER SOUND The NY Times has called the new Exploratorium "the most important science museum to have opened since the mid-20th Century." Their Kanbar Forum's sound system is a Constellation acoustic system with a few extras also designed by Meyer sound. "The system can alter the room's acoustics from sounding like you are in an intimate recital hall to a vast cathedral at the push of a button." The staff is just learning how to ! operate it. I hope we get to discover what it can do for your soundtracks next year.

Meyer sound systems are also used in 11 other places in the museum from the webcast studio to the outdoor plaza. In the upstairs Bay Area Observatory Gallery at the end of the pier there are several wall-sized video displays of conceptual works and very live sounding soundtracks.

TAKE AN UNUSUAL TRIP TO OZ See Vince Collins'"The Lizard of Oz" at http://youtu.be/3I2SwJ-ilto

HELP MAKE OUR JANUARY 2014 NETWORKING PARTY AND SCREENING A SUCCESS We need your ideas on how to improve our ability to build a stronger community of students, independent animators, professionals, and animation fans. Students network in class, but after college it is harder for artists, technical people, writers and animation lovers to create social and working relationships. How can ASIFA-SF better serve the animation community both using the Internet! and our meetings/parties? Send your ideas to karlcohen@earthlink.net

ATHENA STUDIOS HOPES TO PRODUCE A STOP-MOTION FEATURE IN SAN FRANCISCO They just held a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise money to complete a sample reel of Auntie Claus the Movie. The production drawings look great, a stop-motion model with replacement faces has been created and the production crew is made up of well seasoned professionals. Apparently the story by Elsie Primavera is a successful children's book. The production company hopes to acquire financing and distribution by the end of this year so they can start in production in 2014 and can deliver the film for a holiday 2016 release. www.athenastudios.com

HENRY SELIK TO DIRECT A LIVE ACTION FEATURE BASED ON A DARK CHILDREN'S STORY The book is A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz. The story has Hansel and Gretel escaping their own fairytale and ending up being part of eight creepy stories by the Br! others Grimm. Selick told the press, "It's a hilarious, deeply inventive tale about survival in the world of fairy tales and what it takes to forgive one's parents. So it's a huge thrill to be joining the team of Kamala Films and FilmNation as the director of the film based on it."

THE SF MUSEUM OF MODERN ART IS ACQUIRING "THE REFUSAL OF TIME" BY WILLIAM KENTRIDGE It is a joint acquisition (purchase) with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. The U.S. premiere is at the Met Oct. 22 to May 11, 2014. It was commissioned for Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany and it consists of five separate video projections, a layered soundscape played through various "megaphones," and a large kinetic sculpture - the "breathing machine" or "elephant" - an organ-like automaton with a pumping bellows. For the video projections, Kentridge collaborated with choreographers, filmmakers, and stage designers to create animations and live-action sequences, including the final "shadow procession" that ends the 30-minute work. There is stop-motion animation of charcoal drawings, paper cutout figures, original live-action film and other techniques of reversing image and speed. When the museum reopens in 2016 they will have 35 works by the South African artist in their collection. There are lots of video clips of the piece.


OUR INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION DAY EVENT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE EVENING We had a nice sized audience for our program of outstanding personal films, mostly serious mature works for adults. Martha Gorzycki and I programmed the show and we were quite pleased with the comments after the show as several films were about depressing subjects including one on sexual abuse of a young girl. Lots of older professional members of the film community attended and nobody noticed that all the films were by women. A surprise guest, Corrie Francis who created Tangled Tale, was the highlight of the evening. She fascinated us with her Q & A about creating sand animation. She talked for about 20 min. KC

JOHN TETON IS DEVELOPING "THUNDER HEAD CLEARING" TO HELP END WORLD HUNGER It will be an animated 6 min. short designed to help end world hunger. He has just begun a Kickstarter campaign:

THE ART OF STEVE PURCELL Steve has created the Sam and Max cartoons, video game and animated TV series and has worked at Lucas Arts and Pixar. His most recent credits include co-writer and co-director of Brave. The Cartoon Art Museum exhibit runs from Nov. 2 to April 20, 2014.


All ASIFA-SF members are invited to these screenings as some of us are voting in the Annie Awards and/or Academy Awards. If asked at the door, we do not issue membership cards. Show a personal ID to prove you are the person on the RSVP list.

THE WIND RISES, by Miyazaki, Mon. Nov. 4, 7 PM & Thurs. Nov. 14 at 7 PM at the Variety Screening room on Market near 2nd on the first floor of the Hobart Building. To RSVP call 323 634-7042 or e-mail rsvpwindrises@gmail or www.TheWindRisesAwards.com

MONSTER U. Sat. Nov. 9 at 3 PM at Pixar; with brief talk after by director Dan Scanlan and producer Karl Rea; and Tues. Nov. 19, 7 PM at the Variety Screening Room in SF. Screenings will be in 2D, are open to ASIFA members. You must RSVP to disneyawardsoffice@disney.com You may need to show a personal ID card.

FROZEN with GET A HORSE Nov. 3 at 7 PM and Nov. 9 at 7PM at ILM's Premier Theatre, 1 Letterman Drive in the Presidio. Also two other local screenings later in Nov. Visit http://disneystudiosawards.com/ for details and to RSVP

Two chances to attend a free award screening of DISPICABLE ME 2, Sun. Nov. 10 at 4 PM and Sat. Dec. 21 at 7 PM, both at ILM's Premiere Theatre in the Presidio. RSVP (800) 832-4396


Monday, Nov. 11, 7:15 PM. ASIFA-SF presents
at Dolby Labs, 100 Potrero Ave. SF, free
See flyer for details.

Nov 14, 7:30pm, Ralph Bakshi's X-Rated FRITZ THE CAT in 35mm at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts "This counterculture cult hit was the first X-rated animated feature in Hollywood history. After smoking some super-strong weed, our feline friend Fritz hallucinates and gets in trouble with the fuzz. Fleeing across the country in a Volkswagen Bug, he encounters biker rabbits and terrorist radicals (obvious references to the Hell's Angels and the Black Panthers). Though R. Crumb, Fritz's creator, hated it the film is a funky, anti-establishment time capsule worthy of contemporary reappraisal." (1972, 78 min, $10, YBCA members, students, seniors, teachers $8, Yerba Buena Center, 701 Mission St. http://www.ybca.org/x-rated

Fri. NOV.20, SIGGRAPH 2013 COMPUTER ANIMATION FESTIVAL, 7 to 9 pm, Independent Film Center, 145 9th St., SF, no tickets sold at the door, register in advance at www.eventbrite.com/event/869367000


WILL VINTON TO DIRECT CGI FEATURE "THE QUEST" Will Vinton, who created the term Claymation and won an Oscar for Closed Mondays in 1974, will direct The Quest, "an absurdist outer space adventure" penned by Vinton, Andrew Weise and Peter Crabbe. The Quest will be computer animated and the creative team will include production designer Bruce Zick (The Lion King, Prince of Egypt, WALL-E). Monty Python alum John Cleese will provide the lead voice. Vinton's new production company is Vinton Entertainment and they will work with Gnosis Pictures founded by Darius A. Kamali, a human rights advocate. He also was associate producer on the 2008 MGM/Weinstein Company animated film Igor. According to their website, Gnosis "aim[s] to explore the human condition, propagate communal understanding and reflect the creative potential of individual consciousness."

A FASCINATING TEASER/TRAILER FOR "THE BOX TROLLS" IS ONLINE This is the next stop-motion feature from Laika (Coraline). It has great looking characters. Tony Staachi, the director, once worked in SF at Colossal Pictures. www,youtube.com/watch?v=xrC40fnHI9g

DISNEY TV IN INDIA HAS ANNOUNCED THEIR BOLLYWOOD FILM SLATE FOR 2014 Disney has been moving into TV in India and is positioning themselves to gain a foothold in the second most populous country in the world by introducing Disney quality into Indian films that can succeed in an international marketplace. To further position the Disney brand in India the studio is developing three Disney-branded live action tentpoles, two comedies P.K. and Jagga Jasoos, and a dance drama ABCD 2. Disney has a controlling interest in Indian multimedia conglomerate UTV that produces products for both big and small screens.

CONGRATULATIONS TO DISNEY'S "LION KING" FOR BEING THE FIRST BROADWAY SHOW TO EVER GROSS OVER A BILLION DOLLARS! And the show has grossed over $5 billion thank to 21 productions of it that have been presented around the world. It premiered in NYC Oct. 15, 1997.

JEFFREY KATZENBERG WAS HONORED AS THE PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR AT A TRADE SHOW IN CANNES The Hollywood Reporter informs the industry that DreamWorks Animation's Jeffrey Katzenberg admits he is not known for being the most personable kind of guy, but at the MIPCOM trade show in Cannes he was so honored. In his acceptance speech he said, "I have to admit that when I was told I would be receiving t! his award I had to do a bit of double take because I'm actually not used to being recognized or honored for my personality. A few things that I've been called: impatient, abrasive, aggressive, obsessive, grandiose, pushy, relentless, egotistical, brash, maniacal -- and that's just a few." Then he read from a magazine profile that described him as a "hyper-controlling, part hopeless dilettante and part-Napoleonic bully." Then he said, "After years of getting press coverage like this, I hope you understand that of all the things that one might conceivably find to honor me, I just never figured personality would be the one."

Before he accepted the honor a tribute film was shown that featured Ben Stiller, Steven Spielberg, Alec Baldwin, Angelina Jolie, Eddie Murphy, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Black and Jerry Seinfeld both chiding and complimenting him. Sounds like a roast. It was reported that Katzenberg "brought down the house" and got a standing ovation.

The article also informs us Katzenberg "expressed his hopes for the future of programming, touching on themes addressed in a keynote speech earlier in the afternoon where he talked about his long commitment to the traditional pay TV business." He said, "Linear television and digital programming will explode globally within the next decade. Everywhere we look there's nothing but opportunity."

AN "ATLANTIC MONTHLY" ARTICLE ASKS "WHY MUST ANIMATED KIDS' MOVIES PROMOTE SELF-ESTEEM MYTHS?" In Luke Epplin's article "You Can Do Anything: Must Every Kids' Movie Reinforce the Cult of Self-Esteem?" (Atlantic Monthly, Aug. 13, 2013) he raises a serious question about what unrealistic plots in Hollywood's features for kids are doing to their expatiations of life. Instead of the realistic lessons taught by Charles Schultz in his Peanuts comic strips and films where Charlie Brown faces frustrations and failures, animated features are often designed to entertain "a generation weaned on instant gratification." He points out how the lead characters of Turbo, Cars, Planes and other films face insurmountable tasks and without hard work, years of experience, etc. they achieve instant success. He traces this script construction back to Dumbo and his magic feather. Epplin knows the films are made to make money, not teach lessons about life, but he suggests they could reintroduce the notions of failure and humility. He ends by suggesting the magic-feather syndrome is about as common today in animation as the inevitable sequel.


THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA'S LATEST RELEASES ARE AMAZING! BY KC Our second annual NFB presentation of new their films was a remarkable night at ILM. Once again Noel Christine, Marketing Manager, brought works of exceptional quality to share with the audience along with two of the NFB's top animation directors.

The first director to be introduced was Chris Landreth who won the Grand Prize at the Annecy 2013 for Subconscious Password. His film Ryan won an Academy Award in 2005.

Chris began by giving a slide presentation about his thoughts on the realism that can be obtained with CG animation. One aspect of his work is how to enter the feared uncanny valley without making the work look "spooky." He then showed both his latest film and Ryan.

To approach realism in his work without making his viewers feel uncomfortable Chris does things in many of his shots to remind us we are not looking at live action film. In his new work he distorts images in many ways, by changing colors, textures, sizes and other things. A character may suddenly morph into something else. He keeps his unreal elements constantly changing so they can surprise us. We don't see his work as being predictable. While his new film introduces the film's plot and conclusion with photographic footage, it i! s pixilated to remind us we are watching a work of art unfold.

Subconscious Password is a bizarre comedy about what might go on in a person's mind as they search for a missing piece of information. In the film the star is at a social function and meets somebody he once met, but he can't recall the person's name or where they met before. While the acquaintance goes off to get them drinks we go on a wild adventure through the man's mind as he tries to recall the person's name. Subconscious Password is a delightful comedic departure from Chris' last two somber films, Ryan and The Spine. It is also his first stereoscopic (S-3D) film.

The second director present was Theodore Ushev who won the Fipresci Award at Annecy 2013 for Gloria Victoria. The prize is given by the International Federation of Film Critics. Theo's mostly abstract visuals accompany dramatic music that builds and builds like Ravel's "Bolero" till it reaches a final climax. It is a powerful work of art.

Gloria Victoria completes Theo's trilogy with Tower Bawher (2005) and Drux Flux (2009). While one person told me the series focuses on the revolutionary relationship between art, industry and power using imagery reminiscent of Russian constructivist art, Theo described hi! s amazing trilogy by focusing his discussion on the composers and their music. All three films have scores by men who rebelled against the Soviet Communist government and Theo says the art illustrates the music. Each is remarkable.

Theodore Ushev has become a master of S-3D technology. His first film in the trilogy was originally filmed in 2D, a process that took a month to shoot. When he converted it into a stereoscopic film it took him three months to figure out what art belonged on what level of depth (there are three levels of space in the work).

For me Theo's films are remarkable works of fine art. Don't look for literal meanings; enjoy them as you would a concert of 20th Century Russian music in a symphonic hall. His images enhance the aesthetic moments of the music..

The evening ended with three more impressive films by other NFB directors. Hollow Land by Michelle and Uri Kranot is a fascinating surreal stop-motion work about an immigrant couple arriving in a barren land where they are constantly being watched by some sort of authority. I wasn't sure what the sculpted figures were made of, possibly a play-doh kind of material.

The End of Pinky, a S-3D film by Claire Blanchet, is a mysterious work about a criminal who is about to murder his best friend for snitching on him to the police. The last film was Impromptu also shot in S-3D by Bruce Alcock. It explores drawn lines that explore 3D space. Creating drawings in three dimensions has resulted in a lovely experimental film.

DISNEY'S HEAD ANIMATOR ON "FROZEN" CREATED A CONTROVERSY WITH A STATEMENT HE MADE ABOUT DRAWING WOMEN Lino DiSalvo, said "Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they're very sensitive to — you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they're echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry."

Time magazine asked Brave director Brenda Chapman about his comment. She told them, "My immediate reaction was that I was absolutely appalled that anyone would say that."

Filmmaker and USC professor Christine Panushka told Time that while believable humans are always a challenge to animate, it's odd to suggest that a woman character would be more difficult than a man because "in terms of skeletons and muscles and how we move, they're the same."

England's Joanna Quinn says, "It's not at all hard to draw women showing emotions. The only challenge is the notion of beauty. It's really hard to inject lots of emotion because you're always trying to keep them [as] this sort of shiny, lovely character. I am looking for strong female characters that are not always gorgeous."

SEE AN UNUSUAL UNAUTHORIZED RICHARD WILLIAMS SHORT It is a wild and silly pixilated 1 minute romp with him http://vimeo.com/54814556 and see a good article with 4 clips of his lecture at the Academy in Oct. embedded in it at: www.awn! .com/articles/people/richard-williams-presents-amazing-medium-academy

ENJOY A 90 MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH 93-YEAR-OLD JUNE PATTERSON, A FORMER DISNEY EMPLOYEE She was an ink & paint artist on Pinocchio when she was 18. She recounts locking Walt out of his own studio, working on the WW II propaganda cartoons in a secret, guarded room, and how her rookie mistake on a famous Pinocchio scenes led to the decision to have it take place during a rainstorm.

www.thecornerbooth.net/2013/08/26/tcb-podca! st6-interview-with-june-patterson/

POSSIBLY GOOD NEWS IF YOU HATE ADS IN MOVIE THEATERS BEFORE A FEATURE Researchers at a Cologne University in German say that chewing popcorn while watching cinema ads could make us immune to the brand message. Those are there findings after studying the impact of cinema advertising on popcorn-munching moviegoers.

They invited participants to watch a film in a cinema preceded by a series of ads for new, unknown products. Half the audience was given free popcorn to eat during the ads; the others got a small sugar cube that dissolved in their mouths within a minute. A week after the screening, the researchers tested the participants to analyze the effect of the cinema ads. Viewers who only received sugar were more likely to recognize and purchase one of the new brands presented in the movie commercials. The popcorn munchers were less likely to do so and the effect was significant. Only 40 percent of popcorn eaters chose to buy one of the newly advertised products a week later, while fully 65 percent of the non-chewers did so.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology under the title "Popcorn in the Cinema: Oral Interference Sabotages Advertising Effects." The study is based on a new psychological theory about how the brain absorbs brand messages. According to the theory, when we are introduced to a new brand name, "our lips and tongue begin to subconsciously simulate the pronunciation of the name. Each time the brand is mentioned, our brain practices the name with a sort of inner speech, going through the motions the mouth would need to pronounce the name. Chewing, the researchers found, disrupted this inner speech. The brand name gets blocked out."

Will this study lead to fewer ads? I hope selling popcorn is more profitable than running those annoying ads. Unfortunately a researcher says the "popcorn effect" only applies to new brands.


CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF KROKING DOWN THE RIVER: KROK International Animation Film Festival, September 1 - 10, 2013 - Odessa to Kiev, Ukraine on the MS Dnieper Star

by Nancy Denney Phelps

KROK International Animated Film Festival celebrated its 20th birthday this year and oh what a nine day birthday party it was. Breaking with the usual festival tradition of showing the first competition program at a theatre followed by a welcome dinner on the ship on opening night, we were taken to a beach club overlooking the Black Sea in Odessa. From the moment we arrived at the opening ceremony at the beautiful Otrada Beach Club, I knew that it was going to be a special year. There were welcome speeches and a special salute by Yuri Norshtein to Edward Nazaro! v, Russian president of the festival who was sadly unable to sail with us this year. Then came a live demonstration of the unique art of Hungarian sand animator Ferenc Cako, a member of the jury this year. This was followed by a screening of the French feature film The Day of the Crows directed by Jean-Christopher Dessaint, and a sumptuous feast served under the stars on the club's lawn.

KROK was not the only one celebrating a birthday this year. The renowned Pilot Studio, the first independent Soviet Film Studio, is 25 years old this year. The retrospective screening "Pilot Studio is 25 Years Old --- A story of success, struggle, and creation . . ." paid tribute to the legion of films that the studio has produced and the man whose vision and stubborn determination created this great studio again all odds, Alexander Tatarsky.

Alexander brought together a group of talented, like-minded animators to create Pilot's first film Lift 1 as well as Igor Kovalev's classic Kafkaesque Hen His Wife. Working in a dilapidated church under very difficult conditions, the studio fostered young talent and built up a stunning body of post-perestroika films.

Tatarsky's greatest legacy is The Pile of Gems project, a series of short animations based on fairy tales from all of the former Soviet Union's many diverse regions. Launched in 2004 the films are made in different styles by various top Russian and Ukrainian animators. To date Pilot has released more than 60 of these delightful films that continue to win awards at festivals around the world.

Sadly, Alexander Tatarsky is not here to see the success of his beloved Pile of Gems project because he unexpectedly passed away in 2007, but his spirit and love of life lives on in the films that Pilot Studio continues to create. Tatarsky was known for his immense sense of humor and each year since his passing, the KROK festival presents The Plasticine Crow trophy in his honor to the most humorous film at the festival. The trophy is named after Alexander! 's classic 1981 animation The Plasticine Crow, which won numerous awards.

Following the screening of a selection of Pilot's work, film historian Natalia Lukinykh's moving 2008 documentary Alexander Tatarsky --- How to Embrace the Immense was shown. Natalia's film is part of her The Restless Talents documentary series. Last but not least a group of past and present Pilot studio creators came to the front to say a few words.

For the last two decades the Shar Studio has earned the reputation as the strongest Russian school of animation. The school grew out of the workshop for scriptwriters and directors conducted by such well known animators as Edward Nazarov, Yuriy Norstein, Fedor Khitruk, and Andrey Khrzhanovsky. Current leaders of Russian animation such as Alexander Petrov, Ivan Maximov, and Mikhail Aldashin received their training at the workshop. In the early ‘90s Shar school-studio was born on the premise of "parallel production" where instructors work on their own films at the school at the same time that their students are making films so the students have the advantage of not just having class instruction but watching their professors work at the same time during the 2 year program. In the last 2 decades, Shar Studio has earned the reputation as the most important Russian national school of animation and their faculty and students' films have won more than 50 awards world-wide. One of my favourite films Caution, the Doors Are Opening was created at the school in 2005 by Anastasia Zhuravleva when she was a student of Ivan Maximov, and it was included in the school's retrospective screening. This clever film was made using ordinary things that are found in every home's sewing basket such as buttons, safety pins and a thimble. She tells the story of 24 hours in a Moscow subway station. The 12 films screened were made between 1995 and 2011, and included A Mermaid made in 1996 by Alexander Petrov.

Animated propaganda films have always fascinated me, and I was really looking forward to the Animated Propaganda program of early Ukrainian/Soviet animation. Early avant-garde animated films of the 1920's were influenced by constructivism and technological experimentation and covered such timely topics as disarmament, social construction, and bureaucracy. Beginning in 1927, animation advertisements, as they were called, were screened prior to a feature film and were often animated in the style of a newsreel, as in The Tale of General Disarmament. The Post paid homage to the organization and perseverance of the Soviet postal service to deliver a letter no matter what obstacles stood in the way and to the valour of the men who delivered the mail.

I was fascinated by Dripreistan, a 1927 propaganda film about the building of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station. The film used animation to show the flooding of towns before the dam when it was built. The flooding resulted in the building of a massive set of three chambered locks almost 2 kilometers long, which made navigation by large boats on the river possible. Our boat passed through these locks on our way up the river and it was a very impressive sight indeed.

This year the festival selection committee did an exceptional job, and there were so many wonderful films to watch that I can't possibly write about them all. One of my favorites was My Mum Is an Aeroplane, by Russian animator Julia Aronova. The colourful hand drawn celebration of the diversity of mothers is very humorous and touching at the same time. The narrative is told in poetic form and Julia told me that the poem was written by Sasha Nochin, a strolling musician with the band Pakava It, based on a story that Julia wrote. I often find the voice of a very young child narrating a film to be annoying, but the voice of the 5 year old boy who narrates this film fits perfectly. I understand that a different child's voice was used on the US version and I hope it has the same magic quality that the original voice has. My Mum Is an Aeroplane was awarded the Tatarsky Plasticine Crow award for its original humor.

Dutch animator Kris Genijn's History of Pets is a black humoured trip down memory lane as the narrator recalls all the childhood pets who met their end under most curious circumstances. The film brought back memories to me of the many four legged and reptilian members in my household that I have known and loved over the years.

One of the things that I appreciate about KROK is the opportunity to see not only Russian and Ukrainian animation but films from countries that are not screened often at other festivals I attended. DIJ Death Fails created by Dmitry Voloshin at Simpals Studio in Moldova is about a truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel and ends up in the hospital. The grim reaper arrives but as the CG film shows, being the Angel of Death isn't always easy. The film is ! a pilot for a planned series.

Ukrainian animator Vladimir Goncharov's Lita Moi took me into the world of renowned Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko. Maria spent her entire life in a very small village but she transformed her world into a colourful fantasy of naive art. Lita Moi, based on Maria's vivid images, brought life to her paintings, which I saw several years ago in Kiev at the National Museum of Ukranian Folk Art.

In Sherlock Holmes and the Little Chimney Sweeps Ukraine animator Aleklsandr Boubnov has brought the familiar characters of the great detective, his devoted companion Dr. Watson and the whole crew that frequented 221B Baker Street to life in a new case that begins with a mysterious explosion of the Admiralty Office fireplace and the theft of classified documents from the safe. I think that it is always chancy when you try to bring really iconic characters that everyone knows to life and I was a bit skeptical about the 34 minute film, but I ended up being totally charmed by it. The cut out animation gave the characters a unique look rather than trying to make them look lifelike and the story was original and charming. A friend who worked on the project told me that Aleksandr made the film as a pilot for a TV series and I think it would definitely be an entertaining show.

I was enthralled by Youri Tcherenkov's Father Frismas (Le Pere Frimas). Pere Frimas lives on the very top of the highest mountain in the Alps and Father Frismas normally controls the snow every winter, but one year nothing happened as usual. The drawn animation is full of delightful characters, two and four legged, and the intricate back ground art was the perfect touch. The 26 minute film was! made for French television and at KROK it won the top award in the Films for Children category.

When we weren't watching films there were plenty of other programs taking place. Coffee Chats with the directors gave everyone a chance to listen to the creators talk about their film and to ask them questions. The 2 hours I spent in the creative presentation by US producer and script writer Charles Swenson titled "US/International Storytelling for Animated Film and Television" was time well spent. Charles, who has received an Oscar nomination and won an Emmy for The Rugrats, certainly knows what! he is talking about when it comes to scriptwriting. He has the added distinction to have not only worked in Hollywood, but also at Pilot Studio where he was the writer and producer of Bookashkis. The 2002 film, directed by Mikhail Aldashin, won numerous awards internationally. Charles is now primarily spending his time painting and when he showed me photos of a number of his canvases, I was quite impressed. You can check out his paintings on this website:


It was great to spend time with my old friends Marcy Page and Normand Roger. Marcy, a Senior Producer at the National Film Board of Canada, has been responsible for so many award winning films such as The Danish Poet, Madam Tutli-Putli, and Ryan to name just a few, so I welcomed the opportunity to hear her presentation "Stories From The NFB: Confessions of a Producer". Being quite the lady, Marcy didn't have any really scandalous confessions, but she did tell some amusing stories about her adventures at NFB and showed us some wonderful films. Normand gave a Composer's Masterclass focusing on sound and music in animation.

As always at the festival there were several dogs and children on board. The young people were kept busy at their own workshop where, with the assistance of professional animators, the future animators created a film which was screened at the closing night ceremony.

Of course KROK is not all about watching film. There is plenty of time for fun, dancing on the top deck, and just watching the world go by from a deck chair as we drifted up the river. Late at night the action was on the top deck where there was music, dancing and lots of drink. One of the nicest customs at KROK is the tradition of bringing out food to share with everyone late at night, which is important because I have learned that when drinking vodka you need to eat a bite or two after each drink. One night the Swiss contingent threw a! fondue party on the top deck. The animators brought their own pot and cheese with them. The Swiss take their fondue very seriously!

Every night you could find groups of people gathered in the public areas inside playing music, singing and talking. Some nights the screening room was turned into the Re-Animation Club where different people performed.

When you begin to see groups of people with their heads together and they stop talking when anyone approaches you know that Carnival night is getting near. Carnival is a high point of the social life on the boat when everyone dresses up and performs for each other. On the appointed night people scurry all over searching for props and costume material. Strange noises come from behind cabin doors as acts are rehearsed.

I was a part of a six person group along with Karin Vandenrydt, programmer at Anima Brussels, Noemie Marsily and Carl Roosens from Brussels who were at KROK with their lovely film Around the Lake, Dutch animator Kris Genijn, whose History of Pets made me smile, and Mukund Bhalkeghare from Studio Eeksaurus in India. This year the carnival theme was Noah's Ark and we brought Noah's Ark Restaurant to life parading t! he regulations posted outside out shipboard restaurant such as "No outside beverages in the dining room" and the "do not change your table" rule. Mukund skilfully played a waiter and the rest of us were various unruly animals. To add to the effect the ship's restaurant kindly loaned us tablecloths and plates and the restaurant staff who came to Carnival got a hearty laugh out of our performance. Performances at Carnival are always one of those "you had to be there to see it" events. The audience and Carnival jury thought that we were quite funny and we were lucky and won a fitting prize of a whole watermelon, dried fish, and cans of beer which we took to the top deck to share with everyone later that night.

There were group excursions at various ports of call but having been on this trip several times I opted for my own adventures. KROK means step in Russian and this year our boat left from Odessa as we began our steps up to Kiev. No matter how many times I have been there I always have my picture taken on the 192 stairs of the Odessa Steps which Eisenstein made famous in his classic film Battleship Potemkin.

Odessa more than deserves its nickname of The Pearl of the Black Sea. The wide boulevards are lined with sycamore and chestnut trees and the beautiful classic architecture make an elegant impression. Odessa has a massive outdoor market full of all sorts of unexpected treasurers. On every visit I get a pair of thick woollen socks, made by the Bubas who sit in their stalls knitting, which I use inside my winter slippers. All through the cold months I think of sunny Odessa as I put on my slippers. I was glad to see our favorite Mexican restaurant was still there as they make some of the best Mexican food I have eaten in Europe.

Sailing into Sebastopol's elegant harbour is always breath taking. During the Soviet era Sebastopol, home to the Soviet navy, was closed to non-residents who had to apply to the authorities for temporary visitor's permits to enter the city. Now it is a prime holiday destination and as you stroll the broad main street, you hear a wide variety of languages spoken.

Once again I took the local bus out to the old Greek ruins where my favourite beach is located. As I walk through the ruins of Chersones it always amazes me to realize that the tile work I am walking over is more than 2,500 years old. This year the weather was cool and windy but I did brave the elements for a quick dip in the Black Sea.

Sailing into Kiev was a bittersweet moment. As the giant titanium Motherland statue followed by the golden domes of the Kiev Perchersk Lavra came into view, it meant that another year of KROK was almost over; but a day in the beautiful city of Kiev lay ahead before the closing ceremony that evening. The ceremony was held at the House of Cinema where the Ukrainian office of KROK is located.

The ceremony began with the screening of the young people's film followed by a video documentary of our 9 day adventure. Igor Koziyanchuk. seemed to be everywhere on board, catching everything with his camera. It was delightful to relive our adventure there on the screen. The film will be shown again next year at the opening ceremony of KROK 2014. Hungarian sand artist Ferenc Cako also gave us another live demonstration of his fascinating art of sand animation.

Finally it was time for the jury to take the stage to announce their decisions to the audience full of animators and dignitaries. This year's jury was composed of Evgueni Delioussine, Russian born director who now lives in the United States; Ukrainian director Stepan Koval; Maria Mouat, Russian Director; Estonian cameraman and scriptwriter Janno Poldma; and Hungarian animator and sand animation master Ferenc Cako. The 2013 Grand Prix was awarded to Feral by Daniel Sousa from the United States.

Following the ceremony we returned to the boat for our farewell feast. Amidst all of the delicacies we were served, including the eating of the traditional Chicken Kiev in Kiev and lots of vodka and wine, we partied the night away with no one wanting to remember that it would be our last night together.

It is said that the friends that you make at KROK are your friends for life and after many years sailing on the KROK boat I know that this is very true. I never think of it as goodbye to everyone but just see you soon, and I am already looking forward to KROK 2014 which will be the student year sailing in Russia. You can learn more about KROK International Animation Festival on their website: A complete list of the winning films is at



Editor's note: I found this article to be disturbing so I contacted friends living in NYC to find out if Corrie's description of her experiences at the festival were shared by other people. I'm sorry to say the people I contacted confirmed the director of the festival has little interest in respecting/honoring/promoting the artists whose work he shows. Two animators told me the director doesn't even introduce the artists to his audience (stand up and take a bow after your work is shown is a common courtesy at international festivals) and one animator recalled a conversation when the festival's director actually told him that his audience doesn't need to see or meet you, the animator.

I was also told some major NY area animators boycott the ABP as a result of negative past experiences and that that the ABP programs include lots of not so good works. The following article is why ASIFA does not endorse a lot of festivals, especially ones where animators and their works are not treated properly.

The United States has long been in need of a professional, internationally-minded animation festival. What better potential to fill this role could a festival have, than being located in one of the most accessible and international cities in the US, New York? The Animation Block Party is, according to its website, "the premier animation festival on the East Coast". It's also the only animation festival on the East Coast, and while there were some very enjoyable moments to my visit this past July, I can't in good faith recommend any animator that isn't local to spend the effort and money to attend.

The festival is centered in one of the creative hotbeds of animation, Brooklyn, NY, where many independent artists, designers, and fashion-conscious hipsters call home. From the bit of festival history I knew and the programmer's choices, I gathered that the festival was a bit "bootstrappy", with a crew of volunteers and a hearty focus on their local crowd. All this could have the makings of a vibrant, small festival; however, there were a couple red flags. One was the somewhat hasty and impersonal nature of the correspondence surrounding my festival acceptance and attendance. Emails lacked critical details, like the addresses of festival venues, which made figuring out how to get around unfamiliar Brooklyn a bit of a headache. No help with finding accommodation was offered, which made me think that the festival really didn't expect out-of-town visitors to bother. Also, I found out that some of the established movers-and-shakers of the NY animation scene don't bother to support the festival with their attendance. But, since I like any excuse to visit to New York, I decided to go and see for myself.

The first serious criticism I have for ABP is that they do not offer filmmakers a festival pass. My film was in competition and the festival offered me 2 free tickets to my Saturday afternoon screening, which also included entry to the party that night. I was also invited to the special filmmakers meet-n-greet mimosa brunch. That all sounds very nice in writing, but the brunch consisted of Dunkin' Donuts and mimosas at a trendy clothing store in Brooklyn. Oh, and the trendy clothing store happened to be having "Mimosa Saturday" at all their locations around the city that day. As I tried to avoid spilling my free mimosa on the neatly folded $30 T-shirts surrounding me, I couldn't help feeling like we were a group of freeloading college students instead of professional filmmakers networking at a festival.

Back to the lack of a festival pass, I can understand that a festival has a budget, especially in a place like Brooklyn where venue fees must be killer. There were plenty of local films programmed in the festival, and maybe ABP was worried about lost revenue if they gave all these locals free passes. But the practical result of me not having a festival pass was that I didn't actually go to the festival. I went to my screening and bought tickets to another screening for me and my guest. A few of the other screenings looked interesting, but for the two of us, the price tag quickly became too high.

There is nothing wrong with low-budget. I've been to grassroots film festivals. I've stayed in people's homes, watched a DVD copy of my film using crappy projectors in a school auditorium and thoroughly enjoyed the enthusiasm of a small crowd of film-lovers. At those festivals I feel like everyone appreciates the creative work that goes into making a film and having a filmmaker present is a privilege. At ABP I felt like I was an expendable commodity. There was no Q&A or even a stand-up-and-bow with any of the attending filmmakers. I'm pretty sure the! festival could've cared less that I was there.

Because I didn't actually go attend much of the festival, I can't speak with authority on the quality of the films. The first night, an outdoor screening of shorts, was jointly sponsored by the incredibly popular Rooftop Films Summer screening series. The line-up was full of strong films, including some festival award winners like Dan Sousa's Feral, and Ainslie Hendersons I Am Tom Moody. I also really enjoyed Kalte by Reda Bartkute and Passer, Passer by Louis Morton. I left the screening with high hopes that this trend of high-quality animation would continue.

The second screening I attended disappointed me because about half the films lacked a sophisticated application of the principles of good motion. There seem to be many, many designers and artists who are getting into animation without fully understanding that it is the art of movement. Having a pretty design that moves is not the same as carefully choreographed and patiently executed movement. More and more often at festivals I feel like I am sitting through a series of glorified Powerpoint presentations.

What really shattered my experience of ABP was watching my own film at the festival. There is no better way to destroy a filmmaker's spirit than to completely ruin her work of art before a public audience and make no apology.

How do I begin to explain how terrible the film looked? If you took a Polaroid of a Picasso, then printed it in a newspaper and THEN blew that image up to a wall-sized print that might come close to the degradation my film suffered. There were so many compression artifacts the credits were illegible.

After the screening I cornered Casey, the festival director and asked him to explain what could possibly have gone wrong. He said they probably took the DVD submission copy of the film, recompressed it to a new format and then blew it up to DCP. What??? I asked him why the festival didn't request an HD file from which to make the DCP. His response was, "Well, I think we sent an e-mail out at some point and if we didn't hear from you we just used the submission copy." I went back and checked my ABP email thread and spam folder for that e-mail and found nothing. ! I also asked every filmmaker I talked to that night, and none could recall said e-mail (and several were worried about what their films were going to look like since they had not sent in a replacement copy either). There was no follow-up, no cross checking and seemingly no one technically savvy enough to look at what was going up on the screen and realize it was sub-par. My film was not the only one that looked degraded and compressed.

Casey's brief apology was hardly reassuring that something like this would not happen again, "Well, I wouldn't worry too much about it. Most people probably didn't even notice." After the festival, I tried to follow up with an e-mail to him, in hopes of washing out the bad taste in my mouth (I really want to like ABP!), but received no response.

After the screening I was so steamed up that any thought of going to see another show was out of the question. My husband and I got a beer and late lunch and then walked to Prospect Park for the rest of the day. By the time the evening party rolled around, I had cooled off enough to want to talk to some of the other animators and compare experiences.

And this, at least, lets me end on a positive note. Brooklyn does know how to construct a unique party, and the 10th Anniversary Party at the BAM Fischer had a casual throwback atmosphere reminiscent of a G-rated frat party. Carnival games, a 10ft long foosball table, 4-person Pacman, and a massive drawing wall were all clearly designed to bring strangers and friends together and break the ice. Someone must have run to Costco for the party food, which included giant bowls of Doritos and Cheetos, chocolate covered pretzels and those irresistible brownie bites. The real ice-breakers were the bottomless mixed drinks by Brooklyn Gin and Brooklyn Brewery. ! ; One thing the festival did get right was their sponsors. There was a decent crowd and some decent conversations to be had. We didn't stick around long enough to see if the DJ (or drinks) would eventually draw people to the dance floor. We were too eager to ride our CityBikes back to Williamsburg and hang out with some old friends.

In summary, perhaps my experience at ABP was just a fluke, but I will think twice not only about attending, but about sending them my films in the future. ABP is not anywhere near the premier animation festival our country needs. The animation industry in the US is so large and our geography is so expansive, is it unrealistic to hope for a gathering place where animators can intermingle professionally? We may not have the right culture to create an Annecy or an Ottawa within our borders, but I hope there is still room for defining our own quality forum for the independent voices of animators.



Thurs. Nov. 21, 7:00 PM, SEE "PERSISTENCE OF VISION" AN UNAUTHORIDED FEATURE ABOUT RICHARD WILLIAMS It covers his long career including his Oscar winning animation A Christmas Carol (1971) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), a! nd his lost masterpiece The Thief and the Cobbler. Skype Q&A with director Kevin Schreck after screening. Rafael

JOB OPENING - TEACHING POSITION The Department of Design at San Jose State U is searching for Assistant Professor (tenure track) Graphic Design with expertise in the area of interaction and user experience design. Not an animation class, includes motion graphics.

www.sjsu.edu/facult! yaffairs/unit3/tenuretrack/Employment/HA_GraphicDesign_JOID%2022737.pdf

SEE STACEY STEERS SOLO EXHIBIT OF HER WORK FROM HER ANIMATED FILM NIGHT HUNTER at the Catherine Clark Gallery, 248 Utah (between 15th & 16th St. in SF), Tues. -- Sat. 11 -- 6 PM. Nov. 2 -- Dec. 14 (415) 399-1439

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 7:15 pm
Dolby Labs, 100 Potrero Ave. SF, free


For almost 30 years The Tournee of Animation gave American audiences a chance to see outstanding animation from around the world. In 1994 Expanded Entertainment, the final distributor of this important series assembled a 35mm program of some of the very best films in their library. It includes 5 Oscar winners and prize winners from Annecy, Zagreb, etc. Tonight's show is probably the first time this outstanding program has been seen by an audience since Expanded closed.

THE MAN WHO PLANTED TREES, Frederic Back, Canada, 1987, Oscar winner
SUNBEAM, Paul Vester, UK, 1980
THE FLY, Ferenc Refusz, Hungary, 1980, Oscar winner
KILLING OF AN EGG, Paul Driessen, 1977, Netherlands
THE BEDROOM, Maarten Koopman, 1990, Netherlands
BALANCE, Wolfgang and Christoph Lauenstein, 1989, W. Germany, Oscar winner
CREATURE COMFORTS, Nick Park. 1990, UK, Oscar winner
FACE LIKE A FROG, Sally Cruickshank, 1988, USA
THE CAT CAME BACK, Cordell Barker, 1988. Oscar nomination
ODE TO G.I. JOE, Gregory Grant, 1990, USA
TIN TOY, John Lasseter and Bill Reeves, 1988, USA, Oscar winner
CHARADE, Michael Mills, 1984, Canada, Oscar winner
REN & STIMPY IN BIG HOUSE BLUES, John Kricfaluci,1992, USA

And for your added enjoyment we have added the amazing
a wild sexual romp by Marv Newland, Paul Driessen,
Sara Petty, Chris Hinton, Alison Snowden, Craig Bartlett,
David Fine, Janet Perlman, Stoian Doukov and others
who contributed to this delightful "jam" from 1991.


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