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

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

December 2013

Highlights include:













"IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY? AN ANIMATED CONVERSATION WITH NOAM CHOMSKY" A FEATURE BY MICHEL GONDRY AT THE ROXIE NOV. 29 - DEC. 5. Gondry's new film is a delightful, engrossing series of intelligent interviews with the brilliant scholar. The conversations between Chomsky and Gondry are fast paced and touch on numerous topics ranging from the MIT professor's life to ideas about creativity and inspiration and his theories on the emergence of language in primitive man, the development of intelligence in infants, why asking questions in the early 16th Century created modern science and other things.

Instead of creating a visually boring talking head documentary, Gondry fills the screen with his personal style of hand-drawn animation and motion graphics. The ever-changing visuals, filmed using a 16mm Bolex camera, range from interesting abstract doodles to not so simple drawings. They are colorful and engaging to the point that they increase our interest in the conversation, but they hopefully do not distract us from pondering the meaning of what is being said.

To avoid distracting his audience from the spoken words, Gondry's images are varied and engaging, but not detailed enough to dominate over the sound track. Some are straight ahead figurative animations, but they avoid creating a narrative. There are repetitive cycles of people doing things and other images are abstract designs. He also uses moving lines that create still pictures. Gondry does not bore us by repeating his images over and over. While some do reappear, the colors may be different or they are in a different setting.

As kids many of us are taught it is impolite to talk about sex, religion and politics, so some of Chomsky's statements may raise eyebrows. For example he suggests at one point religions have arisen in all societies as humans are not satisfied to accept the notion that we simply go from dust to dust and that there is no great meaning to our lives.

Chomsky brings up personal things including his first memories as an infant, his childhood and college memories, his experiences with anti-Semitisms and his being arrested for anti-war activism. He also discusses serious dense theoretical ideas, but he explains his thoughts with language that is easy to understand. He tries to avoid using a specialized vocabulary common to scholars in specialized fields of study. While you may not understand clearly everything he says, you won't feel he is talking over your head either. The film is an intelligent conversation and hopefully you will enjoy listening to it.
Gondry has worked for years as an animator/director on music videos, TV commercials and his features Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Human Nature. His current film is a new kind of positive cinema experience for mature adults, one that is both an intelligent, interesting documentary and also an excellent display of his artistic talents.

DIANE DISNEY MILLER, WHO CREATED SF'S REMARKABLE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM AND WAS PARTLY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GREAT WALT DISNEY CONCERT HALL IN LA, HAS DIED AT 79 My wife and I had the pleasure of dining with her at an event honoring John Canemaker. I felt she was a lovely gracious intelligent woman.

As the creator of a world class museum she was honest and recognized in museum displays both her father's greatness as well as his troubles accepting the demands of his employees that led to a strike in 1941. As a daughter honoring her father she led the attack to discredit Mark Elliot's book Walt Disney, Hollywood's Dark Prince that was full of deliberate lies in order to sell books.

It was an honor to have known her and San Francisco is extremely lucky to have been chosen as the home for her world class museum. She left us two great cultural centers.

KAREN LITHGOW HAS POSTED "HALLOWEEN ZOMBIES FROM ANIMATED ALGEBRA" ON YOUTUBE Karen, ASIFA-SF's treasurer, is the creator of a series of animated algebra lessons being sold to math teachers by a company that specializes in educational products. See it at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch! ?v=fQmlSKCc9zM

CORRIE FRANCIS' "A TANGLED TALE!" IS NOW ONLINE The award winning film is available on vimeo! https://vimeo.com/78802560

NANCY PHELPS IS ASIFA INTERNATIONAL'S NEW FESTIVAL LIAISON Ed Desroches, who heads ASIFA Colorado, is the current president of ASIFA's international board. He has reorganized the duties of the board and Nancy was the logical choice for that responsibility as she seems to attend one or more festivals a month.

SPECIAL THANKS TO PAUL BURT FOR HOSTING OUR NOVEMBER ASIFA-SF EVENT AT DOLBY Paul has projected for our events at Dolby for many years (over 20 I guess) as he loves animation. He also loves high quality live action works on film which is why he is also a regular behind the scenes at Telluride in the Rockies and at an annual festival in Hawaii. In November he helped organize and run our exceptional 35mm program of classic award winning international animation. Much thanks for your many years of support.

THANKS TO RON DIAMOND AND THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA WE HAVE HAD A CHANCE TO SEE FOUR OF THE TEN SHORTS BEING CONSIDERED FOR THE OSCAR FOR BEST ANIMATED SHORT After screening 56 shorts that qualified for the Oscar competition ten have been selected for the "short list." The ten films are:

Feral, Daniel Sousa, director, and Dan Golden, music and sound design (a Daniel Sousa film)

Get a Horse! Lauren MacMullan, director, and Dorothy McKim, producer (Walt Disney Feature Animation)

Gloria Victoria, Theodore Ushev, director (National Film Board of Canada)

Hollow Land, Uri Kranot and Michelle Kranot, directors (Dansk Tegnefilm, Les Films de l'Arlequin and the National Film Board of Canada)

The Missing Scarf, Eoin Duffy, director, and Jamie Hogan, producer (Belly Creative Inc.)

Mr. Hublot, Laurent Witz, director, and Alexandre Espigares, co-director (Zeilt Productions)

Possessions, Shuhei Morita, director (Sunrise Inc.)

Requiem for Romance, Jonathan Ng, director (Kungfu Romance Productions Inc.)

Room on the Broom, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer, directors (Magic Light Pictures)

Subconscious Password, Chris Landreth, director (National Film Board of Canada with the participation of Seneca College Animation Arts Centre and Copperheart Entertainment)

Members of the Academy's Short Films and Feature Animation Branch reviewed the 56 eligible entries in New York and Los Angeles. In Dec. branch members will screen the ten films in San Francisco, LA and NYC to pick the films that will get Academy Award nominations. ASIFA-SF members saw Get a Horse!, Gloria Victoria, Hollow Land and Subconscious Password at our two events in September.

THE ACADEMY HAS 19 ANIMATED FEATURES TO CONSIDER FOR THEIR FIVE NOMINATIONS The 15 are Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Epic, Ernest and Celestine, The Fake, Free Birds, Frozen, Khumba, The Legend of Sarila, A Letter to Momo, Monsters University, O Apóstolo, Planes, Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie - Rebellion, Rio: 2096 A Story of Love and Fury, The Smurfs 2, Turbo and The Wind Rises.


Fri. Nov. 29 - Thurs. Dec. 5 NOAM CHOMSKY IN "IS THE MAN WHO IS TALL HAPPY?" BY MICHEL GONDRY The press release calls the film a "unique animated documentary on the life of controversial MIT professor, philosopher, linguist, anti-war activist and political firebrand Noam Chomsky. Through complex, lively conversations with Chomsky and brilliant illustrations by Gondry himself, the film reveals the life and work of the father of modern linguistics while also exploring his theories on the emergence of language. The result is not only a dazzling, vital portrait of one of the foremost thinkers of modern times, but also a beautifully animated work of art." ROXIE THEATER, 3117 16th Street at Valencia, SF. (415) 431-3611

Dec. 12, free screening of GET A HORSE and FROZEN in 3D, Delancy St Screening Room, RSVP to http://disneystudiosawards.com


DON'T MISS THE TYRUS WONG AND THE BRUNO BOZZETO EXHIBITS AT THE WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM Bozzeto is Italy's most successful animator. The show displays about 50 cels plus a video display of film clips. The Wong exhibit is a major impressive retrospective of his long career that included his work on Bambi backgrounds. Both close early next year.


"MY MOMMY IS IN AMERICA AND SHE MET BUFFALO BILL" A review of My Mommy Is In America and She Met Buffalo Bill from France suggests it is an intelligent mature work. The Hollywood Reporter says, "a subtly wrought and realistic portrait of a boy" who learns late in the film that his mother isn't traveling in America, but has died. "Another example of how the French can churn out mature, pared-down cartoons for all ages, this endearing effort deserves attention--It offers up an honest portrait of a family trying to get past a tragedy, revealing how parents and children find different ways to deal with loss."

The film's title comes from a neighborhood girl giving Jean postcards supposedly sent by his mom. One is from a rodeo in the U.S. and he fantasizes about her adventures. It is an adaptation of a prize winning French graphic novel published in 2007 and while it isn't likely to make money like a product from Pixar, it is nice to know there are animated features being made abroad that are not similar to what we expect to get in a kid-friendly blockbuster made in Hollywood.

DREAMWORKS IS CREATING A ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE SHORT Gary Trousdale, who co-directed Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame for Disney, will direct it. He has been at DreamWorks for sever! al years directing specials including Shrek the Halls and Scared Shrekless. Tom Kenny, the voice of SpongeBob, will be the voice of Bullwinkle Moose. The wonderful June Foray, who is now 95 and a founder of ASIFA-Hollywood, will voice Rocket J. Squirrel, a role she originated 54 years ago. Presumably the short will play in front of DreamWorks Mr. Peabody and Sherman feature.

DREAMWORKS IS DEVELOPING A FEATURE BASED ON A SERIES OF BANNED BOOKS! According to the American Library Association, Captain Underpants books were the most frequently banned books in 2012. According to their Office of Intellectual Freedom, Dan Pilkey's series of ten best selling books is number one on their list of the top ten controversial books of the year. It has been challenged and banned by some schools for offensive language and being unsuited to it's age group. The association is against censorship and hopes the list encourages kids to read all kinds of books. A new list is published each year for Banned Book Week.

According to Wikipedia the book has also encouraged children to disobey authority. In 2006 three girls wearing Captain Underpants Halloween costumes created a controversy at Long Beach High School in Long Island, NY. When they showed up in their costumes the principal decided to enact a costume ban for all students. The girls had put on beige leotards and nude stockings under white briefs. They also wore red capes! . According to the principal "the appearance was that they were naked."

The books focus on two fourth graders who use hypnosis to turn their principal into their favorite comic book superhero, Captain Underpants. Nicholas Stoller (Get Him to the Greek, The Muppets) has written the script for DreamWorks and Rob Letterman (Shark Tale, Monsters vs. Aliens) will direct it. The release date hasn't been set. While some conservative parents will no doubt freak out and claim DreamWorks is releasing a disgusting movie, in 2007 the book series won the Disney Adventure Kids' Award and Pilkey has sold over 50 million books since the first book was published in 1997.

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION EARNINGS BEAT EXPECTATIONS The stock is up around 70% this year despite some bearishness among Wall Street analysts. DreamWorks Animation earned 12 cents per share on $154.5 million revenue, while analysts expected it to make two cents a share. Shares of DWA are going up despite several stock analysts saying it should go down. In September, B. Riley downgraded the stock to "neutral" and Morgan Stanley downgraded it to "underweight." This month, McLean Capital Management downgraded DWA to "sell."!

JEFFREY KATZENBERG IS AMONG THE TOP HOLLYWOOD SUPPORTERS OF HILLARY CLINTON FOR PRESIDENT IN 2016 Katzenberg says, "Four years of seasoning has made her the best-qualified candidate." He didn't support her when she ran against Obama, but The Hollywood Reporter says he is now one of the film industry's top supporters.

A few days later the NY Times ran a similar story and reported Katzenberg wrote in an e-mail, "If Secretary Clinton makes the decision to run I expect she'll have near-unanimous support here. Hillary represents our best chance to win in 2016. Build upon the successes of the Obama administration and keep the country moving in the right direction."

When Obama was in SF in Nov. the Hollywood Reporter said, "Hollywood's reigning political kingmaker, Jeffrey Katzenberg, has invited all the major studio heads and many of their deputies to join him and President Barack Obama on Tuesday at DreamWorks Animation's Glendale campus, creating what amounts to an entertainment summit with the chief executive." Obama ! was giving a talk on job creation.

SETH McFARLANE'S "BORDERTOWN" TO JOIN "FAMILY GUY" ON FOX After 10 seasons on Fox American Dad will move to TBS next season and Bordertown will premiere for the 2014-'15 season. Fox green lit Bordertown in Nov. The animated comedy will take place in a fictitious desert town in Texas. It centers on Bud Buckwald, a married father of three who serves as a border patrol agent who isn't adjusting well to the cultural changes around him. The satire will look at America's cultural shifts through the evolving relationships between Bud's family and his next-door neighbor Ernesto Gonzales, a Mexican immigrant and father of four.

The series has been in development since 2009, when Fox ultimately picked up Bob's Burgers to develop. The network recently renewed Bob's Burgers for a fifth season while TBS will run the 15 episode 11th season of American Dad starting in July. The network will also debut the 13-episode MacFarlane produced Cosmos: A Space-Time Odyssey in 2014. Family Guy remains a highly successful series.

A GOVERNMENT IS GIVING 16 ANIMATED PROJECTS TAX CREDITS TO KEEP THEM FROM BEING DONE OVERSEAS! Unfortunately it is the British government that is helping animators, not the US government. The British Film Institute calls the British animation industry "a super ingredient in the super food that the creative industries are to the British economy." [Interesting, but what does that mean?]

A JUDGE HAS AWARDED $1 MILLION TO RHYTHM & HUES WORKERS WHO WERE FIRED WHEN THE COMPANY WENT BANKRUPT. The firm filed for bankruptcy in February and a California bankruptcy judge has recently given preliminary approval to the settlement. When the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection they terminated 238 employees. Before the company was sold a class action lawsuit was filed on behalf of the fired workers by one of the former employees. The suit alleges violations of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Act, chiefly not being given the requisite 60 days of written notice before termination. In late Oct. a judge gave preliminary approval and set a hearing for final approval on Dec. 13. The R&H estate has about $6 million on hand, largely from the sale of the company to foreign investors and from the sale of real estate.


ONCE AGAIN QUESTIONS ARE BEING RAISED ABOUT OVERLAP IN OSCAR CATEGORIES At the Visual Effects Society's annual summit in LA a major topic centered around Gravity's remarkable blend of cinematography, art direction and visual effects. People were saying it may be time for a new "visual imaging" Oscar category. Part of the discussion concerned, "How much does the success of VFX-driven films stem from visual effects, and how much does it depend on cinematography, and what impact might the answer to that question have on Gravity's chance to win an Oscar?"

Moderator Bill Kroyer who is now director of digital arts at Chapman University, pointed out that, "The action of Sandra Bullock's body is key frame animation, not flesh and blood, so does that qualify Gravity as an animated film? That led the group to raise other questions including: "Did Gravity director of photography Manuel Lubezki photograph the film?" Director Alfonso Cuaron has said that roughly 80 percent of Gravity was hand animated in the computer. When the actors are seen in space, only their faces come from live action photography! The environment, their bodies and even the visors in front of their faces, are CG. The director added that Lubezki was involved in determining the lighting for the entire film, which included going to lead VFX house Framestore to work with the digital artists.

Kroyer pointed out, "The Academy gave Oscars to the cinematography on Avatar and Life of Pi, and there was a lot of discussion into the fact that a lot of that was VFX." Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi's director of photography, really set the tone of the movie. Boone Isaacs, a panel member said, "Technology! is changing the definitions of what we do. Many members were confused between the Oscars for cinematography and visual effects on Life of Pi." Another panel member got a laugh from the crowd when he joked: "The only thing we still haven't been able to figure out is what producers do."

A FEW SIGNED RICHARD WILLIAMS CELS MAY BE AUCTIONED OFF BEFORE CHRISTMAS BY THE WALLACE AND GROMIT FOUNDATION IN THE UK The cels of a black panther on the prowl are from a Uniroyal Tire commercial. They were given to an ASIFA-SF member when he worked for Williams in LA years ago. They were given back, signed by Williams and will be auctioned off by Nick Parks/Aardman's charity that benefits children in hospitals and hospices all over the UK. www.wallaceandgromitfoundation.org


At a recent job symposium in Jamaica the president and CEO of Toon Boom Animation was encouraging people to think seriously about starting an animation business there. According to a newspaper report she was suggesting they can be part of the US $222.6 billion world market for animation. Joan Vogelesang, the CEO also said, "Think in terms of being entrepreneurs and try to find a way to hook into that international network that is out there. It doesn't have to be a big company. It can just be two or three of you coming together." She was speaking at a workshop to encourage new businesses on the island according to The Gleaner, a Jamaican newspaper. Vogelesang, who was born in England and went to high school in Jamaica, says she wants to turn her dream of a vibrant and active animation industry on the island into reality.

The "Gleaner" also said GSW Animation Limited in Jamaica "recently landed its second major international contract." It appears the paper mentioned that fact as a way of saying "if they can do it so can you," but just how easy is it to create a successful animation company, especially in a country with almost no expertise in a highly competitive business?

I hope Vogelesang isn't like Harold Hill, the slick salesman in the hit Broadway musical "The Music Man" (Broadway play 1957, revised in 1980 and 2000; Hollywood feature 1962, TV remake in 2003). Hill sells musical instruments to rural schools in mid-west America, suggesting they can have a great marching band. Hill, who isn't a musician, makes his sales and leaves town with his money, leaving the students to figure out how to play the instruments. I hope that if Vogelesang is successful getting new studios going in Jamaica she will provide them with whatever support is needed to keep the studio employees properly trained on the latest software and help them find work on commercial jobs.

A website called "Capitalist Chick" has a nice profile of Vogelesang. It appears her background is not in animation; she was a technology sales person for IBM Canada before being hired by Toon Boom. Now she is telling Jamaica to get into animation and I suspect she is probably suggesting they use Toon Boom software.

You can see Vogelesang at the end of a short video promoting a wonderful future for animation in Jamaica suggesting there will be thousands of jobs once the big contracts roll in. From the animation samples shown in the video and on GSW's website I don't expect to see that happening soon. GSW's reel has lots of glitz, but it is weak on character animation.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eoPI0TyRxA and www.gswanimation.com

Right now Jamaica's government is working with The World Bank and others to create an industry, but if Jamaica develops much of an animation industry, what will they produce to sustain it? Domestic production for the nation's TV stations isn't likely to pay enough to support the studios and without a proven track record of accomplishments, studios getting big contracts to create original products are not likely to happen soon. More likely they will try to obtain jobs by undercutting other bidders. Hiring the lowest bidder on projects doesn't always mean you get the same quality and a business run that way can run into a lot of trouble.

One problem that arises is that if a new studio abroad begins to become successful, production costs begin to rise. The new company often begins to expand to increase quality and/or volume; employees are given raises, bonuses and other benefits, etc. Eventually, as a company tries to improve the quality of their work and the lives of their workers, their expenses rise and another company, often in another country, may come along and undercut them.

Another problem is that it takes years of training and experience for most people to become really good animators. A crash course in how to animate isn't too likely to get somebody an entry level job in most countries. According to the video Jamaica already has about 1,500 students studying animation at a local university. A two or four year college education is more likely to get somebody an entry level job, but it takes time to really master the art form.

The great Chuck Jones started working on cartoons for Warner Bros. in 1933. He was made a director in 1938, but it wasn't until the late 1940s that he began to direct great works and his best classics date from the 1950s. We forget about all of the mediocre films he made.

Sending jobs abroad to save money

Animation has a long history of productions going to foreign companies beginning with Jay Ward doing the Rocky and Bullwinkle TV animation in Mexico in 1959. While the production costs were a lot less than doing the work in Los Angeles, the results were initially awful and the show never got much better looking.

Since then US producers of TV animation, theatrical features, games and VFX have sent jobs to Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other countries to save money. The results have been mixed and not all of the foreign studios have prospered. In New Zealand in recent years their VFX business for TV grew on the strength of their creating exceptional work for VFX features including The Hobbit and Avatar. There was enormous growth in their TV industry as well including the successful shows Spartacus, Xena and Hercules. Now another "Avatar" feature is in the works, but the TV production business has dried up. The website VFX Soldier reports that ! almost $800 million was spent in New Zealand on TV productions, but now former employees are struggling to find work and the large industry has collapsed.

I suspect TV productions full of VFX work are now being made elsewhere where the production costs are less. I have seen similar rises and declines in the animation business in Taiwan, Japan, Australia, USA and in other countries.

A talk with a former studio president

Years ago I became aware of Hanna Barbera sending work out of town as Mill Valley Animation, a San Francisco Bay Area studio, was doing non-union work for them starting in the late 1970s. I also knew former Disney artists who were doing work for them in their homes. Mill Valley Animation eventually closed and I recall hearing Hanna Barbera was sending work to Taiwan and Australia in the 1980s. A friend who had worked at the Mill Valley studio said the man who started the studios for HB found that the countries with strong comic book cultures such as Korea, Australia, and the Philippines worked out the best and that "a good exchange rate on the dollar was part of the equation." By the mid-1990s the largest supplier of animation for Hanna Barbera was Fil Cartoons in Manila. They hired people from the US industry to work there as teachers, directors and in other capacities.

I spoke with Bill Dennis, a former Disney vice-president who helped run Fil Cartoons. He says, "I actually ran the studio for them. At their peak, we employed over 3,000 people and close to half of them were doing manual ink and paint jobs. I was hired to wean the studio away from Hanna Barbera and turn it into an independent boutique studio, capable of standing alone. We were successful...sold the studio and the liabilities and happily walked away. They are no longer in business."

"It's somewhat of a minefield, opening up a new production studio in a new territory. I've done this a couple of times. It's full of problems. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? You first need to analyze the talent base and when you realize you don't have the trained talent in the country to support any decent level of production you have to invest in training. You need to make certain there are animation academies (legitimate) that can support what you're doing. You have to understand the local economy including wages and other costs of doing business. You need to do a business plan to see just how competitive you'll need to be to steal business away from those countries who will be your primary competitors. Right now that would be India and China."

"You'll need to have a game plan that will take you well beyond the first few years and you'll need deep pockets to keep you afloat during those times when there is no business. There are two ways to sustain your business. First, you could develop a sophisticated talent base that could compete with other top studios throughout the world (that takes a lot of time and is expensive). This would allow you to take on more sophisticated jobs and charge the higher rates.

"The second way is to develop your own product. It could be indigenous projects that might also have legs in other countries. But, you absolutely will not survive profitably doing basic contract work. This kind of work can only fill gaps that might come about between better paying jobs."

Since Bill knew I was writing about Jamaica considering opening new animation studios, he asked, "How well do you really think a small island nation can compete with China and India, two economic powerhouses whose populations are each one billion plus?"

After leaving Fil Cartoons, Bill opened a company in India and was a founder of ASIFA India. Today he heads a group developing a feature in India

If I knew how to contact would-be Jamaican animators, I'd suggest extreme caution in their choice of a career. I've seen well seasoned animation veterans struggle to keep small studios open in the US and eventually go out of business. It is an unpredictable business to go into in the US and I suspect it will not be any easier in Jamaica.

RICHARD WILLIAMS IS PRESENTING (IN PERSON) HIS "DIRECTOR'S CUT" OF THE "THIEF AND THE COBBLER" at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Tues. Dec. 10 in LA.


"THE NOBLE APPROACH: Maurice Noble and the Zen of Design" by Ted Polson (based on notes by Maurice Noble), Chronicle Books. This is both an important book about animation design, a subject Noble taught for many years, and a handsome coffee table art book. Polson was a former student of Noble and he worked with Noble on this book about his design concepts and theories before Noble died.

Noble worked for Disney until the strike in 1941. During the war he worked on Signal Corps. projects including Private Snafu cartoons. He moved to St. Louis after the war and returned to LA in 1952 to work at Warner Bros. on Chuck Jones films. After the studio closed he was with Jones at MGM and later on other projects Jones developed.

His brilliance as a layout man and designer is seen in Jones' greatest films including What's Opera Doc?, Rabbit Seasoning, Duck Amuck, Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century, the wonderful rock formations in Roadrunner country, etc. At Disney he worked on the amazing "Pink Elephants on Parade" sequence from Dumbo.

If you are interested in design and layout this book is for you. Chapters are a series of steps including Getting Started, Story, Breaking Down the Elements, Design, Color, Layouts and the Final Film. There are over 200 illustrations in color. Note: My 1988 interview Maurice Noble: Animation's "Old Rebel" is posted online at http://www.awn.com/mag/issue2.12/2.12pages/2.12cohen! noble.html

"THE VAULT OF WALT: VOLUME 2, More Unofficial, Unauthorized Uncensored Disney Stories Never Told" by Jim Korkis, Theme Park Press, about 240 pages, $14.95. Jim is a former Disney employee and researcher who has been collecting fun behind the scenes Disney stories for decades. Don't expect to find scandalous news, but if you are a Disney fan there are lots of nice stories about the man, his films, the theme parks and other topics.

Among the interesting surprises for me were several pages of critiques of Disney films made by Frank Lloyd Wright when he visited the studio in 1938. He brought with him a film he admired by the famed Soviet animation director Ivanov-Vano. He showed it to some of the staff and was a bit outspoken in his praise for using more abstract music and his dislike of the sentimental qualities common in Disney's work.

As a cat lover I was amused with an obscure story about feral cats living in Sleeping Beauty's Castle before the park opened. The castle was infested with thousands of fleas when Walt showed Ken Anderson it's interior. Instead of talking about what to do with the empty interior spaces their white shirts turned gray and they were slapping them as they fled from the castle. Yes, Jim has written another unusual book that is light, enjoyable reading.

THEME PARK PRESS HAS JUST RELEASED A SECOND BOOK BY JIM KORKIS, "THE BOOK OF MOUSE: A CELEBRATION OF WALT DISNEY'S MICKEY MOUSE," with over 300 pages of facts, rare secrets, quotes about Mickey by Walt, filmography, etc. www.ThemeParkPress.com

"COMING SOON TO A FESTIVAL NEAR YOU: Programming Film Festivals," edited by Jeffrey Ruoff, published by St. Andrews Film Studies, UK, www.stafs.org

If you enjoy attending film festivals this book might fascinate you as it is a tribute to the people responsible for organizing and running some of the best and most important world class festivals. I was delighted to see that two of the 13 chapters are well written tributes to animation festivals. While Marcin Gizycki from Poland has contributed a nice piece about the growth of events that honor animation as a great art form, the final chapter is the reason you might want to locate a copy of this book. Sayoko Kinoshita, the co-founder of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, wrote a heart warming essay about how she and her lat! e husband struggled for 12 years to introduce world class animation to Japan. It was years of hard work and disappointments to establish this major event in 1985.

The book is the first to focus on a wide variety of festivals in Telluride, Mill Valley, New York, Asia, Turkey, etc. plus LGBT events. It covers many things including the history of these festivals and their cultural and social significance.

"SHADOW OF A MOUSE, Performance, Belief, and World-Making in Animation" by Donald Crafton, The Univ. of Calif. Press, Berkeley, www.ucpress.edu This is a serious academic work and you may find it to be a difficult read, but it contains excellent observations about the structure of animated shorts. For example he traces the development of space in cartoons from flat backdrops in early cartoons to more complex rendered moving backgrounds, the use of overlay and underlay cels, etc. Much of the book is full of fascinating observations, but ! at times his extensive academic vocabulary slowed down my reading speed. For example he introduces Winsor McCay depicting himself as an animal trainer in Gertie the Dinosaur by saying, "Winsor McCay, the legendary comic strip artist and animated cinema pioneer, implicitly critiqued the distribution of animator-animated agency in films when he presented his avatar as the impresario of an animal act."

"MOVING INNOVATION: A History of Computer Animation" by Tom Sito, MIT Press, 362 pages This is a well researched, organized and readable history on the development of computer art and technology. I've praised this book before so I'm simply mentioning it again to remind you that it is something intelligent you might want to read.

"WHEN MAGOO FLEW: The Rise and Fall of Animation Studio UPA" by Adam Abraham, Wesleyan University Press, 301 pages This is an enjoyable, well written history of the studio that is best known for the modern look that developed after WWII. It has been praised here and by others. If you enjoy the cartoon modern look you may want this book.


EXPERIENCE AN EXCEPTIONAL DRAMATIC STUDENT FILM FROM FRANCE The film is Carn, 2012 by Jeff Le Bars, a graduate of Emile Cohl de Lyon http://vimeo.com/69700933


ANIMATION'S HOME ON THE RANGE IN SOUTH DAKOTA Festival Review by Corrie Francis Parks If you want to draw a bunch of animators to a small college town on the eastern edge of South Dakota, the most compelling enticement is obviously pie and ice cream. SoDak Animation Festival in Brookings, SD, knows the straight path to my heart.

The festival is the combined effort of animator and professor Cable Hardin and the enthusiastic animation students at SDSU. In the middle of endless fields of corn and soy, the local and student community gathers to celebrate visiting animators and their films from around the world, culminating in the presentation of the Golden Cowbell Awards.

Brookings is not an easy place to get to, but those who make the effort will be welcomed with MidWestern hospitality. This festival really has its heart in the right place. Cable Hardin, the festival's founder and head of the animation program at SDSU says, "Without the filmmakers present, it's just a bunch of movies".

100% of the very reasonable entry fees are placed in a filmmakers' travel fund to help cover some of the travel costs for participants. This is so rare in the US and it's a smart way to entice budget-conscious animators to make the trip to Brookings. Our small group of animators and festival guests were chauffeured around town by hard-working volunteers and treated to home cooked meals, local brews and a special outing across the prairie in search of pie and pipestone.

I was on this year's jury so I had the opportunity to see every film in the festival. The majority were solid pieces of filmmaking, mostly narrative and character driven with a few more experimental works thrown in to keep things spicy. Techniques varied from highly polished CG to traditional cel and stop-motion. I could tell it was a program meant to be both enjoyed by the public and inspiring to the next generation of animators studying at SDSU. Only the family program lacked a high ratio of well-crafted animation eyesores. Kids don't seem to mind amateur stop-motion as long as there are fuzzy animals and dragons.

Aside from the winners, which are listed at http://sodakanimation.com/home/ with photos, some of my favorite films were: Astigmatismo by Nicolai Troshinsky, a beautiful, imaginative cut-out film with mind-blowing in-camera effects; Dents de Lait by Julie Charette, subtle observation of a young boy working through a great loss and Khachaturian Meets Dali by Kirill Fessenko, as strange and wonderful as the surrealist himself.

Cody Walzel (Breadheads), Ann Mendenhall and Stephanie Son (Bird and Fish) were there in person to accept their awards, but as an extra special treat, the other award winners sent in some very creative acceptance speech videos, bringing a little bit of France, Taiwan, and London to the awards ceremony.
One of the things I enjoyed most was being part of the panel discussion on All Things Animation. The other panelists were Steven Hunter from Pixar, Eric Say from NBC graphics division and Jeff Hayne at Mill Creek Entertainment. Sitting on comfortable couches in front of a full house, we had a lively discussion on our respective roles in the industry, fueled by an endless stream of questions from audience.

The conversation was peppered with personal anecdotes from Steve's work on Nemo, Incredibles and Brave to Jeff's mission to revive his favorite childhood cartoons for modern audiences. Eric revealed that the Monday Night Football experience of millions of Americans frequently depends on how fast an unathletic animator can run down the halls of NBC with a broadcast tape. We spoke about commercialism vs. creativity, the changing nature of distribution a! nd funding, risk-taking and balancing personal work with making money. The thoughtful questions and the stamina of the audience told me they truly appreciated the combined breadth of experience in front of them.

The evening ended with the presentation of cans of Thank You® Chocolate Pudding and packets of meat sticks from the campus meat lab (also home of the gummy bear brats). They were nearly good, especially when Steve tore open the meat sticks and began dipping them in the chocolate pudding. Mmmmmm-- really, it wasn't half bad.

If I have sparked your interest in SoDak, the FAQs on the festival website (http://sodakanimation.com) offer a further glimpse into the lighthearted spirit of SoDak. They are worth reading, just for kicks. The festival is likely going biannual, so there will be no festival next year, but come 2015, don't overlook this little gemstone in South Dakota. The ice cream really is amazing.

MIXING ANIMATION AND LIVE ACTION FILMS MAKES A TASTY FEAST FOR THE EYES. THE FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL du COURT METRAGE, Lille, France, October 9 - 13, 2013 by Nancy Denney Phelps I was delighted when the Festival International du Court Metrage in Lille, France invited me to be on their jury this year. Nik and I had been to the festival last year to present a program on the history of animation.

This year the festival made the jury's job challenging by dividing the competition screenings into 3 International and 2 National (French) programs with live action and animation screened together in both categories. I thought that it was going to be difficult to judge both types of films in one program, like comparing apples and oranges, but good film is good film no matter what format it is and it immediately stands out.

I really enjoyed spending time with my fellow jurors. I already knew British animation director Emma Burch, whom I met last year when her first short film Being Bradford Dillman won the L' Hybride Audience Award at the festival. I had never met our fellow juror Herve Le Phuez, film programmer for the International French Speaking Film Festival in Namur, Belgium. He is very charming and knowledgeable about film. Our jury discussions after each screening were actually a pleasure as the screenings gave us a lot to talk about.

The quality of programming was very high this year. There were films that I had enjoyed before, such as the delightful Mademoiselle Kiki of Montparnos. When we arrived at our final decision we awarded the Best National Film Award to Mademoiselle Kiki stating that the film completely captured the French spirit and that the richness of the different styles perfectly represents the historic persons who were part of Kiki's life. She was someone all of us wanted to know more about.

There were also many new surprises. Les Lezards (The Lizards) by French director Vincent Mariatte was a delightful live action film. I could not help but fall in love with the two loveable losers, Leon and Bruno, who are waiting in a Turkish bath house where Leon has arranged to meet a girl he met on the Internet. The use of black and white perfectly captures the expressions on the faces of the two lead characters! , played by Vincent Macaigne and Benoit Forgeurd. I was told that Macaigne is the face of the fresh new wave of French cinema and a very popular film star. I don't want to give away the plot of the film because it is definitely worth seeing. The expression on the two characters' faces at the end of the film is priceless. We awarded Les Lezards a Special Mention in the National Competition.

No matter how excellent a live action film is, animation is still my first love and there was a wide variety of entertaining animation. The Mystery of Malakka Mountain (Tajemnica Gory Malakka) by Polish animator Jakub Wronski is about a boy growing up and the need to know the truth about his missing ! father, an aviation hero. What I liked even more than the story was the intriguing stylized look of the film in a style similar to German-American Pop Artist Richard Lindner.

Hungarian animator Peter Vacz's Rabbit and Deer (Nyuszi Es Oz) brought a smile to my face. It is a charming film about the friendship between two lovable characters whose peculiar dilemma leads to a bittersweet end. The opposition of the simple hand drawn style and the 3-D puppet animation worked perfectly to illustrate the rabbit and deer's radically changed situation. The film is engaging to both children and adults and we selected it as the award winner of the Young Audience from 5 to 8 years old award. In our jury statement we said that "we chose this film for its clever combination of 2D and 3D animation which helped us find our inner child".

I am a strong believer in the power of animated docs to tell difficult stories that would be too painful in live action. Swiss animators Sam and Fred Guillaume have given life to the often silent voice of the homeless in La Nuit De L'Ours (The Night of the Bear). The Guillaumes put the voices of homeless people telling their own stories of how they ended up living on the street into the bodies of animals who come to the bear's home every night for a hot meal and a bed. The film touched me and I am happy to say that the audience shared my feelings. Far too often the Audience Award goes to a short funny film, but the audience in Lille showed their taste and sensitivity by awarding The Night of the Bear the Audience Choice Award.

One other live action film really deserves a mention. The Mass of Men by British director Gabriel Gauchet was inspired by the 2011 London riots and the government's response to the frustration and disillusionment of the masses of unemployed trapped in the rules of the uncaring system. In this dark comedy, Richard arrives three minutes late for his job center appointment and his case worker, trapped in the rigid rules of the system, has no choice but to penalize him with a week's suspension of his benefit check.! A frustrated Richard gets help from an unexpected event and in the end he decides to take matters into his own hands. All during the festival this powerful portrayal of a terrible indignity suffered by people throughout the world kept coming back to mind. My fellow jurors were also moved by the film and we awarded it the International Grand Prix.

One of the highlights of the festival each year is Animation Night. For nine hours from 9 PM to 6 AM the historic Sebastopol Theatre floor and two balconies were packed with over 1,200 animation fans that were treated to a wide selection of shorts and video clips ranging from the sublime to the absurd. Throughout the night three feature films were screened, Frankenweenie, the beautifully done Spanish puppet animation O Apostolo, and to finish off the night Amer Beton, Michael Arias' 2006 adaptation of the Japanese comic by Taiyo Matsumoto. This year Anima'est in Bucarest, who also presents a similar night of animation at their festival, was invited to program three hours of Animated Nights.

People arrived with their pillows and blankets ready for a night of fun viewing. Breakfast was served to the hardy survivors at dawn. For the price of 15 Euros (10 Euros for students) nine hours of animation and breakfast is a great bargain and worth a trip to the festival even if you didn't see any other program. It is also an excellent way for the festival to build audiences for their competition programs.

On Friday morning they held Innovative Tools for Visual and Media Literacy, a half day event of talks and demonstrations featuring European designers of visual literacy tools as well as university professors, consultants, and representatives of French and European public organizations. The event attracted a large crowd and gave professionals and students an opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas.

The festival wasn't all about watching and listening. The 48 Hour short film marathon gave teams of students the opportunity to be creative. This year's theme Laws of Gravity was randomly picked out of a hat at 6:30 Friday evening. Each team had two days to make a short film of no less than four minutes. The films were screened for the public on Sunday evening. The winning film was selected by a panel of professionals from various branches of the animation world.

Last year I thought that it was a shame that we were not given an opportunity to meet the film makers who were at the festival. This year The Brunch solved that problem. Sunday morning over a lovely selection of fruit, cheese, a croissant, and delicious paté the film makers were interviewed and the audience was given the opportunity to ask them questions. I was particularly interested to hear what French film maker Caroline Poggi had to say about her live action film Chiens (Dogs).

When I saw Caroline's 24 minute film set in the mountains of Corsica in the National Competition program I thought that the film was visually stunning. It's a fascinating picture about a young man living alone with his dogs in a remote mountain cabin; however, I still don't understand the shocking ending and I'm sorry to say that Caroline's interview didn't shed any light on the ending, nor did I have a chance to talk to her privately. I don't want to give the ending away, but I am still thinking about the film and am as confused as when I saw it.

At the awards ceremony I was amazed to hear the Young Jury announce that their special mention award went to Chiens. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to talk to them about their choice after the ceremony. The young jury was made up of school students from Lille and its twin city Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg and I heard that they had quite heated discussions about the films and it took quite a while for them to reach a decision.

After the evening screenings at L'Hybride the comfy couches that are the theatre seats were replaced with canvas reclining chairs for an interactive project created by the Collective/1 Minute 69 during their spring residency at L'Hybride. The audience was given laser pointers which we aimed at various points around the room while a video streamed on two walls. There was also an installation in an alcove on the third wall. When a laser beam hit a correct point it would change the action on the video or reveal hidden things in the alcove installation. It was great fun to sit in the beach chairs and be part of the experience bringing hidden images to life.

The main part of the festival takes place in two locations. L'Hybride is a music, art, and film venue with a homey feel and friendly bartenders. Gare Saint Savuers is a former train station that has been converted into an arts and events space. The renovated complex is also home to a trendy hotel, café, and exhibition space. Although Gare Saint Savuers lacks the cozy charm of L'Hybride, it does have an excellent screening room.

Last year the Closing Ceremony was held at the Sebastopol Theatre and was immediately followed by Animated Nights. This year the all night event was held on a separate evening. This was much better because last year even though the winners were presented their awards on the stage of the beautiful theatre and a film clip was screened, they were lost in the shuffle of a theatre full of people who were waiting for the "main event". Unfortunately, unlike last year, none of the winning filmmakers were physically present this year but they all sent video thanks and the ceremony felt like! the standalone event it deserves to be. A full list of the award winners appears at the end of the article.

I came home with such lovely memories of the festival and urge anyone who is invited to accept. You will have a wonderful time at an exciting festival in a beautiful town. You can visit the festival's website for more information at: www.festivalducourt-Lille.com



Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Nancy Denney Phelps, Corrie Francis Parks and other friends of ASIFA-SF
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Dot Janson, Shirley Smith, Dan Steves and
Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Dan Steves

Special thanks to Paul Burt for his help with our Nov. event, to The G Man who sends out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to Dan Steves who keeps our mailing list and to our treasurer Karen Lithgow.

ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d'Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world. Local membership is $26 a year.

Our website and blog is: www.asifa-sf.org

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



AT ODDBALL FILMS, 275 Capp St. third floor
Capp runs between Mission and South Van Ness, on Capp near 18th St.),

free, bring a friend

GKIDS and ASIFA-San Francisco invite you and your guest(s) to an exclusive screening of Ernest & Celestine A film by Benjamin Renner, Vincent Patar, and Staphane Aubier

AT 7:50 PM: GKIDS proudly presents ERNEST & CELESTINE, a lovely, humorous tale about a wonderful friendship between two outcasts from society, a bear and a mouse. It has won a Cesar Award and was selected for the Cannes International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, and Los Angeles Film Festival. Based on the popular books by Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent, it recreates the books' lush and expressive watercolor illustrations. It has also qualified for an Academy Award and an Annie.


AT 6PM, A SOCIAL HOUR FOR NETWORKING and to drink and to enjoy a potluck. ASIFA-SF will provide the basics, please bring a little something to share if you can.

HAVE A FILM TO SHOW? Due to the length of the feature we will only show about 45 minutes of shorts, to be selected from members who send in a RSVP before Dec. 18. We will announce the final program in our January newsletter. Please limit the length of what you plan to show so eight or more people can show their work. RSVP to karlcohen@earthlink.net

Hopefully you will be present. If not you can send us a DVD.