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

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

February 2014







plus lots of other unusual items - I have been too busy to send out the Jan. issue, but I'll do that soon. It has a feature article on SEXUAL CONTENT IN CONTEMPORARY ANIMATION MADE FOR ADULTS (This is about well made, intelligent films, not sick and twisted crap)

DON.T MISS OUR FEBRUARY ASIFA-SF EVENT PRESENTING THE FIVE NOMINATED SHORTS WITH SOME OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATORS IN PERSON The films that are nominated for Best Animated Short are Feral, Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden; Get a Horse!, Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim; Mr. Hublot, Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares; Possessions, Shuhei Morita, and Room on the Broom, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer. See flyer on the back of this newsletter for details.

GEORGE LUCAS MAY HAVE SOLD ILM TO DISNEY, BUT HE HASN.T RETIRED. HE HAS EXPANDED HIS BUSINESS INTERESTS IN SINGAPORE. He and his business partner Kathleen Kennedy have opened their new Lucasfilm headquarter offices in the 242,190 square-foot Sandcrawler building (Sandcrawler is the name of Jawas' vehicle in Star Wars IV). At the opening ceremony Lucas made his entrance accompanied by Darth Vader and a phalanx of storm troopers (what does that tell us about George?).

Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy says the new facility is in "full swing" and that they are currently working on Transformers 4, Avengers 2 and other projects. They have more than 360 people on their growing staff of experts. Past work at Lucasfilm Singapore includes footage for Pacific Rim, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Iron Man franchise and the Clone Wars series. Other news about Lucas says he has invested $10 million in Starbucks.

OPENING MARCH 13, "MAGIC, COLOR, FLAIR: THE WORLD OF MARY BLAIR" AT WALT DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM This will be a large comprehensive exhibit, about 200 works, by one of Walt Disney.s most beloved and influential artists Mary Blair (1911--1978). Blair.s joyful appealing designs and exuberant color palette influenced several Disney classics including Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and Peter Pan, plus theme park attractions at Disneyland and Disney books. The show.s curator is John Canemaker. John is the author of a major book about Blair as well as an Oscar winner.

TWO NEW LOCALLY PRODUCED ANIMATED FILMS ARE ONLINE. Loco Motion by Tony Claar, shown at our January winter party is at


and Ben Ridgway.s Tribocycle is at


Both animators have several other films online.

INDIE FEST WILL INCLUDE BILL PLYMPTON.S LATEST FEATURE by KC This year.s festival (Feb. 6 -- 20) will include 3 animated features and a program of shorts. Bill Plympton.s hand-drawn Cheatin. stars a couple that meets as a result of an auto accident. I.m told they fall in love, but unfortunately the relationship includes the ghost of another woman who drives a wedge of jealousy into the "perfect courtship." There is also a not so honest magician and former lovers that add to confusion in this messy relationship.

The festival.s February 6 opening night film is The Congress by Ari Folman. He is from Israel and his best-known work is Waltz with Bashir. His new feature combines a bizarre live action story of an aging Hollywood actress (is 44 really over the hill in LA?) with an animated second half of the film. She is being terminated by her studio with an unusual contract. Her image will become an avatar, a computer generated actress. The second half is a very strange futuristic film, a disturbing science fiction animated nightmare about the entertainment industry. It isn.t a sweet work full of the cute ducks and bunnies that parents expect to see in Hollywood animated features. I left the press screening of The Congress feeling my mind had become numb. The plot is full of jarring twists and noise. It is an ugly, unpleasant bumpy ride. Folman has announced he plans to write and direct an animated feature based on Anne Frank's life.

Also being presented at IndieFest from Feb. 6 - 20 is a program of animated shorts that I know nothing about and "an autobiographical psychedelic animated road movie" from Canada titled Asphalt Watches. The feature is based on an underground comic by Seth Scriver and Shayne Ehman. While a description of the main characters, Bucktooth Cloud and Skeleton Hat and the unusual the people they meet along the way may sound interesting in print, the execution of this homemade computer generated film leaves much to be desired. It probably can be called outsider art.

There is an audience for Asphalt Watches, but you might not be part of it. I guess many of the film.s fans will be young hip adults who find MTV a bit too square and are seeking something really unusual. One writer said of the film "there is something South Park about this... but trippier." So if you are looking for a traditional looking narrative feature, look elsewhere. A much safer bet for a fine non-Hollywood animated film experience is to see Bill Plympton.s Cheatin..

Watch trailers for Asphalt Watches, The Congress and Cheatin. online. For details about all the programs and special events at this unusual festival, visit sfindie.com.

RECEPTION FOR MATT JONES AND PRESENTATION ON THE RONALD SEARLE EXHIBIT HE CURATED WILL TAKE PLACE SAT. FEB. 22 AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM Searle in America focuses on his drawing assignments for major magazines. The exhibit was organized by Pixar story artist Matt Jones who runs a blog about all things Searle. It will be on display through March 30, 2014: Admission to the special 6 to 9 PM event is $10, free to members.


LEGENDARY BAY AREA PRODUCER SAUL ZAENTZ DIES AT 92 Zaentz, who was 92, died at home in the San Francisco Bay Area from complications of Alzheimer's. He produced an animated version of The Lord of the Rings in 1978 directed by Ralph Bakshi. He is better known for winning three Oscars for best picture. They were for One Flew Over the Cuckoo.s Nest (1975), Amadeus (1984), and The English Patient (1996). His film The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1988) was nominated for a pair of Academy Awards. Zaentz.s last major production was Goya's Ghosts (2006), directed by Milos Forman.

In 1955, Zaentz joined Fantasy Records. In 1967 Zaentz and a group of investors purchased Fantasy and propelled it into the world's largest jazz label. I got to show the excellent promotional jazz and rock promo films Fantasy was making (about 1973) as I was producing a film series at Intersection in North Beach and briefly a variety show on KEMO TV (Channel 20). Fantasy had a film department headed by Irving Saraf and it was a pleasure to feature his productions on TV and to do an evening.s program on Irving.s work in North Beach. (Irving is better known for his documentary films including the first one made with Castro after he came to power.)

One of Fantasy.s famous folk rock groups was Creedence Clearwater Revival featuring former Fantasy warehouse worker John Fogerty and his brother Tom. Their relationship with Zaentz soured when John claimed the group was owed large royalty payments. The feud was well publicized in the press. Fogerty won a final Supreme Court decision. The feud was publicized further when Fogerty recorded the song Zaentz Can.t Dance on another label. Zaentz sued Fogerty over the song, but it appears all he won was a change of the spelling of Zaentz to Zanz. In the published lyrics there is the line, "Zanz can't dance but he'll steal your money."



The Congress, Thursday Feb. 6, 7 PM, Brava Theatre 2781 24th St., SF

Cheatin. Fri. Feb. 7, 7PM and Tues. Feb. 11 at 9:15 PM at the Roxie Theatre, 3117 16th St near Valencia in SF and Monday Feb. 17 at 9:15 PM at the New Parkway, 474 24th St. at Telegraph in Oakland.

Asphalt Watches, Mon. Feb. 10 at 7 PM at the New Parkway and at the Roxie on Feb. 14, 7 PM and Mon. Feb. 17 at 7 PM.

An Animated World (shorts) at the Roxie, Sat. Feb. 15 at 4:45 PM and Thurs. Feb. 20 at 7 PM.

Sunday, February 2, 2014, 3 PM, "ZARAFA" (France/Belgium, 2012) at the Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley It is a delightful animated tale about a ten-year-old boy and his best friend, the first giraffe to ever set foot in France. One wonderful sequence is flying from Egypt to Europe with the giraffe in a hot air balloon. The trip to Paris also includes dangerous pirates and slave traders. I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual adventure, based on a true story that happened in 1826. Co-director Jean-Christophe Lie was the supervising animator on The Triplets of Belleville and has worked on Disney features. The feature is in 3D FigaroScope (whatever that is - I saw it on a 2D DVD) and is recommended for ages 7 & up. The trailer on GKIDS website has English sub-titles.

Sunday, February 2, 10 AM and Sunday, February 9, 10 AM, Balboa Theatre, SF, "BARBIE: THE PEARL PRINCESS," a lighthearted yarn about achieving one.s hidden potential. It stars the anorexic lady who heads a $1.5 billion a year empire run by the Mattel Corporation. $10 general and $7.50 for children under 11.



THE ACADEMY HAS NOMINATED FIVE FILMS FOR THE OSCAR FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE The films are Frozen, The Croods, The Wind Rises, Despicable Me 2 and Ernest & Celestine. Also "Happy" from Despicable Me 2 and "Let It Go" from Frozen are nominated for Best Song.
The five films nominated for Best Animated Short are Feral, Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden; Get a Horse!, Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim; Mr. Hublot, Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares; Possessions, Shuhei Morita and Room on the Broom, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer. The Academy Award winners will be announced on Sunday, March 2nd, 2014.

"FROZEN" WON THE BEST ANIMATED FEATURE AWARD AT THE GOLDEN GLOBES The three nominated features were Frozen, The Croods and Despicable Me 2.

THE PRODUCERS GUILD OF AMERICA They selected for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures Producer Peter Del Vecho from Disney for his work on Frozen. The film was in competition with The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Epic and Monsters University. Disney's Robert Iger was presented with the Milestone Award. The Vanguard Award was presented to Peter Jackson and visual effects artist Joe Letteri at Weta Digital.

LOTS OF FILM CRITIC GROUPS HAVE PICKED "FROZEN" AS THE BEST ANIMATED FEATURE The Critics Choice Awards, the Florida Film Critics Circle, the Las Vegas Film Critics Society, the Austin Film Critics Association and the Phoenix Film Critics Society have all picked Frozen as their Best Animated Film. The Phoenix group also picked Frozen as having the Best Original Score.

THE VISUAL EFFECTS SOCIETY Their nominated films for Outstanding Animated Feature are Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, Despicable Me 2 and The Croods. There are also award categories for Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature, Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature, Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature, Outstanding FX and Simulation Animation in an Animated Feature and other special award categories for VFX artists.

CINEMA AUDIO SOCIETY AWARDS In the animated feature competition, CAS nominated the sound engineers of The Croods, Despicable Me 2, Frozen, Monsters University and Walking With Dinosaurs.

THE BRITISH ACADEMY OF FILM AND TELEVISION ARTS (BAFTA) The nominated films for Best Animated Feature are Despicable Me 2, Frozen and Monsters University. The nominated films for Best British Animated Short are Everything I Can See From Here, I Am Tom Moody and Sleeping With The Fishes. The awards ceremony is on Feb. 16.

AMERICAN CINEMA EDITORS' EDDIE AWARDS The nominations for best edited animated feature film by the Hollywood film editors are: Despicable Me 2, Gregory Perler, A.C.E.; Frozen, Jeff Draheim and Monsters University, Greg Snyder. The 64th Annual ACE Eddie Awards are on Feb. 7 at the Beverly Hilton


GENE DEITCH HAS A FEW WORDS TO SAY ABOUT "FROZEN" (Gene has directed two Oscar winning cartoons) It.s possible that Frozen will win the Oscar for the best animated feature. It looks like the most elaborate and dazzling animated production yet and kids may go ape over it.

But is it really animated? Today.s kids don.t know or care about what it technically professes to be. They love it as an eye-popping, romantic show. They will not likely know or care that it.s a near avatar of every previous Disney Princess Movie, beginning with Snow White (only the names are changed to protect the innocent). Each Disney Princess Movie simply rearranges plot details, and progressively ups the technological dazzle.

I may be wrong, but Frozen might well be an imposter, with the main characters not really frame-by-frame animated at all. The feature length credits are masked with categories labeled with new-fangled "Terminus Teknikus" which I can.t grasp. But it sniffs to me like Motion Capture for the main human characters. Who can animate humanoids this smoothly and realistically? Is this really Avatar technology masquerading as character animation? I feel it is. If I.m wrong, somebody please clue me.

If I.m right, then this entry is faking it as an animation feature. It might just be a special effects fairy tale movie. The visual effects are indeed marvelous! That.s why I have turned against technical categories in the Oscar competition.

All movies are supposed to be cinematic storytelling. Categories, such as comedy, drama, fantasy, historical, documentary, mystery, action, adventure, romantic whatever all can and do overlap, and nearly all use overlapping technologies in their production. In searching for an answer, how to categorize movies for awards, I.m currently in favor of just one category: Best Movie! I realize that in the real world, that won.t fly.

Any ideas? We.re obviously looking for artistic and technical skill, originality, entertaining, exciting, and uplifting qualities, social meaning, human relevance you name it.

t doesn.t really matter what technology is used to achieve these aims. What does matter is the skill, originality and creativity that has been brought to bear; how the movie has advanced the medium! That should be our purpose!

My twisted mind sees what I think is the real purpose of Frozen: Following the astounding success of the Broadway musical version of The Lion King and other staged versions of Disney movies, I feel sure that this one too, is a mere advance avatar of a planned forthcoming Broadway musical, titled, "FROZEN!" If so, I hope they come up with fresher and more original songs! Any comments? Send them to karlcohen@earthlink.net and I.ll pass them on to Gene.

GENE DEITCH ON THE CURRENT STATE OF ANIMATED FEATURES FROM HOLLYWOOD (written Dec. 28, 2013) Last night I viewed The Hobbit Part 2 screener, and this evening I looked at Epic. Aside from the hubris of naming a simple-minded fairy tale Epic, I was struck by the story similarities, except for the fact that The Hobbit had no cute girl love interest. (Tolkien was a stuffy legend assembler; no sex allowed.)

In my own tiny Hobbit film, I did insert a cute princess love interest for Bilbo Baggins, because I was under orders to meet that requirement. In that regard, Epic makes the cut, not hesitating to include all the pot boiler ingredients of every sexy fairy tale ever filmed, though dressed up to the max in High-Techery.

Epic has all that I dread for the future of animation; the closest possible simulation of live action backgrounds, and characters that are nearly indistinguishable from those in all the other ultra-realistic animation features now streaming onto our giant screens. Only the gadgetry is varied, but the stories are ladled out of the same pot, and all are striving to outdo each other in the mimicking of live action.

Is this what we cartoonists really want to do, when the whole world of graphic art could lend our productions originality and stimulate the imagination of audiences?

The last animation feature I saw, which pointed to the path less travelled was the Irish film, The Secret Of Kells. That was an animated film that did not pretend to be anything else. It expanded the graphic possibilities of feature film animation, and told a story not in the cookie-cutter mold. The visual promise of that film has been largely ignored in the present dash toward realism.

And so I.d like to give the French production, Ernst & Celestine a loud fanfare! Among all of the animation screeners I.ve been sent, hoping for my Oscar vote this year, it.s one of only two drawn-animation films. I realize that the Hollywood majority will not want to give the Animation Feature Oscar to a foreign production, considering the monster American studios. investments in mega pixel, hyper-realistic dazzlers.

This is not a statement of what my vote will be; there are many factors involved in Oscar voting; but it is an expression of my feelings about the current trend of animation features. intense, and I feel misguided effort to imitate live-action movies.

The end credits of today.s big money animated films, almost feature length in themselves, indicate how hopeless it seems for individual creators to get their ideas onto movie screens. They will have to think big on small screens. We can hope that the new media will develop a livable market for individual innovation.

Drawn animation has gone on since the Stone Age. We should not let it be erased or deleted in the age of The Cloud!

A few days later he wrote me, "I am so preoccupied with my own doings that I was totally unaware of Ernst & Celestine. The screener came to me at the last minute before I needed to vote, and was a total surprise. Frozen" is certain brilliantly done, but it is after all, just another multi-million dollar rehash of a standard fairy tale formula, with a smarty snowman standing in for Jiminy Cricket! Ernest & Celestine, though more modestly produced, is a witty, fresh idea, and has something far more real to say! Gene Deitch

Any comments? Send them to karlcohen@earthlink.net and I.ll pass them on to Gene.

A FEW WORDS ABOUT "ERNST AND CELESTINE" by KC The French/Belgium production was made for about nine million Euros ($12.2 million). It has already won France.s Cesar Award for Best Animated Feature and the Best Animated Feature, the Annecy Chrystal, and top honors from the LA Film Critics Association! It.s getting an Oscar nomination along with Miyazaki.s The Wind Rises instead of the nominations going to Pixar.s Monsters University or Blue Sky.s Epic suggests that the Academy is aware that artistic quality and box office success are two different things. While I assume Frozen will win the Oscar as it is clearly the favorite in other US competitions, I wonder if an upset is possible.

Ernst and Celestine is hand drawn animation using a computer tablet. The backgrounds are watercolors. The script touches on several serious social issues including prejudice, daring to be non-conforming, questioning authority, etc. It is a heart warming story of an unusual friendship between two outcasts. It has received six Annie nominations for best picture, best direction (one of the three co-directors is just out of film school), writing, character animation, production design and editing. A version with an English soundtrack opens in the US on March 14. GKids is the US distributor.


10 ANIMATED SEXPLOITATION FEATURES FROM THE SIXTIES AND SEVENTIES Cartoon Brew published on Monday January 20, 2014 details on 10 obscure naughty features, several of which I had never known about. They all date from between the late-1960s and late-1970s.

ANIMATED FILMS BY DISNEY, JOHN AND FAITH HUBLEY, AND WALTER LANTZ HAVE BEEN ADDED TO THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY The 25 new additions to the Library of Congress. National Film Registry include The Hole (1962) produced by John and Faith Hubley. John Hubley directed this film with an improvised dialogue track about an accidental atomic war and other things by Dizzy Gillespie and George Matthews. The animation is by Bill Littlejohn and Gary Mooney. It won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short.


The King Of Jazz (1930) was a spectacular two-color Technicolor musical feature from Universal Pictures, starring musician Paul Whiteman and his Orchestra. Near the film.s beginning is the story of how Whiteman was crowned "King Of Jazz." The cartoon sequence by Walter Lantz was the first animation produced in Technicolor. Oswald The Lucky Rabbit briefly appears in it.

Walt Disney.s Mary Poppins (1964), with animated sequences directed by Hamilton Luske, made the list of films to be preserved along with Disney.s Forbidden Planet (1956). The latter includes the invisible "Id Monster" that is briefly seen thanks to animation by Joshua Meador.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically" significant. Films must be at least 10 years old and the annual selections are based on titles nominated by the public.

DUSTIN GRELLA ANIMATED "THE NIGHT WITCHES" FOR THE "NY TIMES" Dustin.s new film made with pastels on a slate, honors a largely forgotten group of Soviet women pilots in WWII who convinced Stalin to let them fly combat missions. They were given old unarmed bi-planes designed in 1928 and originally used as flight trainers and crop dusters. The women used them on night bombing raids on the Germans. As they neared the targets they would idle their engines, glided in, hit their targets and then powered out. The squadron got their nickname from the whooshing sounds their planes made as they arrived over the targets. Apparently the Germans thought of the wind noise the planes made as they attacked as witches. brooms scraping the clouds.

The squadron flew about 23,000 sorties between 1942-.45 and according to Wikipedia lost only 30 members in combat. The two women crews often flew multiple raids in one night as the planes could only carry two bombs!

The animated short honors Nadezhda Popova who died in 2013. She flew 852 missions and was shot down more than once. Since they flew low level raids they didn.t carry parachutes. While the squadron won numerous awards during the war, after it ended the flyers were largely forgotten as war heroes. Sexist attitudes apparently played down the roles Russian women played in combat. Nadezhda died in 2013, living to be 91.

Note: the US Air Force banned women from flying fighter jets and bombers until 1993. The Army is just now considering how to use women in combat.

www.theatlantic.com / technology / archive / 2013 / 07 / night-witches-the-female / 277779 /


DUSTIN GRELLA IS AN AMAZING SUCCESS STORY I had no idea who he was when I saw him win the best student film award for Prayers for Peace at the Ottawa 2010 Animation Festival. The film honors his brother who died in combat in Iraq. Dustin is a spry, energetic young man who got out of his wheel chair to accept his prize. Nancy Phelps says, "Dusty is such an amazing guy! So many people who have been through such a terrible accident and are stuck in a wheel chair for life would have given up and felt sorry for themselves, but not Dusty. He travels all over the world to animation festivals and makes great films. He's a real inspiration and when I am feeling a little down I think of him!" (He became paralyzed when a grandstand collapsed at a Grateful Dead concert.)

"HOLLYWOOD REPORTER.S" TOP TEN LEGAL PROBLEMS FOR THE INDUSTRY IN 2013 INCLUDES "HOLLYWOOD INTERNS FIGHT FOR WAGES" They were referring to a federal judge ruling that on Black Swan the interns were employees as defined by the Fair Labor Standards Act and that the company's unpaid internship program potentially violated minimum wage and overtime laws. Sony has appealed the case. Considering the wide use of unpaid interns around the nation by animation studios and other businesses, attorneys are watching this case closely.

Also on the list are Harvey Weinstein's legal problems. His firm has had several major legal battles to deal with in 2013 including his settling in February "a particularly nasty $50 million lawsuit" that alleged that the Weinsteins "sabotaged" the animated film Escape From Planet Earth. The plaintiff said the Weinsteins sabotaged what should have been a highly profitable movie, but it wasn.t due to their "potent combination of hubris, incompetence, profligate spending, and contempt for contractual obligations." The film was a box office disaster grossing $57 million and costing about $40 million to make. Apparently the Weinsteins demanded rewrites/changes on 17 occasions, turned the production into a 3D stereoscopic production and did other things that drove up the budget. The terms of the out of court settlement were not announced. Local film patron Maurice Kanbar had invested in this production.

WILL VINTON IS RAISING MONEY TO TAKE HIS STAGE SHOW "THE KISS" TO BROADWAY If interested his Kickstarter promo explains what the project is about.


SEE "THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ANIMATED MOCKBUSTERS." Cartoon Brew.com ran their guide on Jan. 8, 2014. It shows the covers of almost 40 dubious low budget animated features made to profit on the successful work of major animation studios plus the original big budget covers or posters.

DISNEY FILES TRADEMARK LAWSUIT OVER "FROZEN LAND" FILM Disney has gone to court against an alleged imitator. According to a trademark infringement lawsuit filed in California federal court, Phase 4 Films changed the name of one of its films to Frozen Land, so as to trade off the success of the Disney feature. "On November 1, 2013, less than three weeks before the Hollywood premiere of Frozen on November 19, Phase 4 theatrically released an animated picture entitled The Legend of Sarila, which generated minimal box office revenues and received no significant attention," says the complaint. The defendant also "redesigned the artwork, packaging, logo, and other promotional materials for its newly (and intentionally misleadingly) retitled film to mimic those used by [Disney] for Frozen and related merchandise." Disney is asking for an injunction and the destruction of all DVDs for Frozen Land. The plaintiff also seeks compensatory and damages, lost profits and actual damages.

The Hollywood Reporter says, "Although film titles can't be trademarked per se, that doesn't stop movie studios from registering marks for associated merchandise. The Lanham Act prevents entities from selling goods designed to confuse the source of origin of some trademark."

CANADA.S FIRST 3D ANIMATED FEATURE IS "THE LEGEND OF SARILA" AKA "THE FROZEN LAND" It is based on an Inuit legend about three young people journeying to a mystical land to rescue their people from starvation. The one review I read called it "visually undistinguished," but it does have Christopher Plummer and Genevieve Bujold among the voice actors. The plot concerns the Inuit tribe threatened by a famine inflicted by an evil goddess. An elderly wise woman (Bujold) advises the tribe that plentiful food can be found in the far-off land of Sarila, a place where only "the pure of heart" can enter.

The review concludes "The Legend of Sarila ultimately fails to enchant. It.s only the wonderful voice performances by the ever-reliable Bujold and Plummer -- the latter providing the same sort of virtuosic energy that he exudes in his Shakespearean roles -- that give it any distinction." See the previous article about Disney.s lawsuit against this film.

A CANADIAN ANIMATOR HAS WON A MAJOR CASE CONCERNING HIS WORK BEING RIPPED OFF After a battle that dragged on for decades, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled animator Claude Robinson.s Robinson Crusoe cartoon was ripped off by Cinar. The final decision ruling in his favor in this copyright infringement case says that Cinar, a Montreal company, essentially copied his idea for a children.s television show. He was originally awarded more than $5-million in damages, so Cinar appealed to the Supreme Court and has now lost.

Robinson had created a children.s show concept called The Adventures of Robinson Curiosity in the 1980s loosely based on Daniel Defoe.s Robinson Crusoe novel. He sued after seeing a similar show a decade later, called Robinson Sucroe, that went on to become quite popular. The Supreme Court ruled 7-0 that the copyright of Mr. Robinson.s original creation had been infringed. Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote on behalf of the court, "Claude Robinson was a dreamer. He spent years meticulously crafting an imaginary universe for an educational children.s television show. I conclude that the copyright in Curiosity was infringed." The Supreme Court gave him $500,000 in punitive damages and $400,000 for psychological harm.

COMING SOON FROM BLUE SKY Fox Animation Studios and Blue Sky Studios have officially green-lit Ice Age 5. It is slated for a July 15, 2016 release.

A TIP ABOUT AN ANIMATED LSD FILM LED TO A RARE ANIMATED CLASSIC A friend suggested I look at what YouTube labeled "Trippy LSD Animation." It turned out to be a cosmic zoom through non-animated, surreal art work. It is OK, but more interesting to me was seeing in the column to the right of the video was a series of other films YouTube recommends that are related to the video just watched. There were abstract computer generated LSD films, an old documentary on drugs plus Andreas Hykade.s amazing Ring of Fire (2000). It is a remarkable award winning film from Germany that depicts the strange adventures of two cowboys including several very bizarre erotic sequences. It has been years since I last saw this wild fantasy. It still .amazes me.

I.ve seen other works by Hykade including The Runt (2006), Zehn kleine Jägermeister (a music video about reindeer from 1996) and a TV series Nancy Phelps has written about, Tom and the Slice of Bread with Strawberry Jam and Honey (2008). The other films are good, but Ring of Fire is his most remarkable work. www.youtube.com/watch?v=C-gaBVLPrIs. The zoom film is


ARE YOUR KIDS READY FOR SEXY PRINCESS LINGERIE? Is it an authorized Disney line sold in China? A friend who has lived in Japan tells me, "I think a lot of Japanese ‘guys. buy these things."

"XOCHIMILCO 1914" HAS STRONG VISUALS The short commemorates the first meeting of two of Mexico.s great revolutionary leaders, Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa. It combines cut-outs, drawn animation and other techniques. http://vimeo.com/14989467

JOE MURRAY IS TEACHING A MASTER CLASS ONLINE In the 1990s Joe lived in the South Bay, worked as an illustrator/cartoonist and took animation classes at DeAnza. He moved to LA and had two successful TV series, Rocko's Modern Life and Camp Lazlo. Since then he has penned Creating Animated Cartoons with Character and has taught a series of master classes in LA. Now you can study with Joe online. He has three different classes available: "Crafting a Cartoon," "Pitching a Cartoon Series," and "How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist." Each class has over 6 hours of lectures plus downloads. For details visit JoeMurray.com.

FANS TAKE TV SHOWS TOO SERIOUSLY! MANY THOUGHT THAT THE ANIMATED BRIAN HAD REALLY DIED ON "FAMILY GUY" Seth MacFarlane, the show.s creator, was surprised by how upset the fans were after an episode in which the family.s talking dog is hit by a car and dies. He told the press, "We were all very surprised that people still cared about that character to be that angry. It didn't occur to us. We thought it would maybe create a little bit of a stir, but the rage was not something we counted on." A fan petition calling for the animated series to bring back Brian was launched. Fans were not satisfied that Brian was replaced with Vinnie in the opening credits a week later. Three weeks later, the series which is produced months in advance revived Brian after Stewie finds a way to go back in time and prevent the crash that killed his best friend. MacFarlane said he will not kill off Brian again, but he stopped short of saying he'd never try a similar stunt. "Would I do it again? No, we already did it!" he said. "But who knows in season 25?"

WARNER BROS, DISNEY AND UNIVERSAL HAVE THEIR BEST EVER BOX OFFICE YEAR Disney took in $3.01 billion with their most profitable films being Iron Man 3, Monsters University, Thor: The Dark World and Frozen. (Disney also had a major box office disaster as The Lone Ranger lost around $190 million.)

Universal also had a great year thanks to Despicable Me 2 and Fast & Furious 6 with global revenue of $3.67 billion. Fox.s global revenue was $3.40 billion, slightly down from $3.74 billion in ticket sales in 2012. The studio's top films were The Croods, The Wolverine and A Good Day to Die Hard. Finally, Warner took in $5.04 billion.


QSCAR NOMINATED INDEPENDENT NY ANIMATOR MICHAEL SPORN HAS DIED He was 67 and had cancer. Michael learned his chops working on films by John and Faith Hubley in the 1970s, on TV commercials and a TGV special for R.O. Blechman and for Richard Williams on Raggedy Ann and Andy (1977). In 1982 he formed his own company and produced award winning shorts for children, titles for features and over 30 TV specials (for PBS, HBO, etc.). At the time of his passing he was directing a feature based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe.

Among his noteworthy shorts are Dr. Desoto (1984, Oscar nomination), The Amazing Bone (1985), Able.s Island (1988, Emmy nominee), The Red Shoes (1989), and The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (2005, Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children.s Video and Best Short Children.s Film award from the Ottawa International Animation Festival).

Sporn was very supportive of ASIFA-East and all lovers of animation. For many he is best known for his remarkable blog at michaelsporn.com. One highlight of his website is his access to amazing pieces of original animation artwork. Marcy Page wrote me, "He was such a vital part of the New York animation community and was so great to encounter when we visited there for screenings."

Richard Gorey writes, "I met Michael just after he had made "Doctor DeSoto," and he was so full of hope, enthusiasm, pride, and the joy of animation. I will remember him exactly that way, as he was, basking in the appreciation of that charming little gem of a film. A good journey to him."

Tee Bosustow wrote, "What a loss, so young, and so much left in his creative brain. For me personally, besides being able to get to know a really fine fellow, Michael Sporn is one of the best interviews we.ve recorded for our UPA documentary. Of course his prodigious output of some of the finest animated works of our times will be his great legacy, and will help a new generation to learn from him. But, what will happen to "Poe"? I.ve been so looking forward to that. I hope enough of it has been completed, so that it can be finished by others in Michael.s marvelous style. My thoughts are with family and friends, and the New York animation community." tee

"I am sad, sad, sad. I'm sad we lost him and I never had the opportunity to tell him how much I admired him." Giannalberto Bendazzi

CANADA.S BELOVED FRÉDÉRIC BACK He died on December 24, at his home in Montreal. He was 89. His films Crac won an Oscar in 1982, The Man Who Planted Trees won in 1988, Tout Rein received an Oscar nomination in 1981 and The Mighty River received a nomination in 1994. His first animated short was Abracadabra, 1970.

Charles Solomon (LA Times) writes, "Frederic never realized how talented and beloved he was. When audiences stood and cheered at programs of his films, he thanked them for generously giving his work their time. He sometimes apologized for not being more talented, for not having the genius of a Picasso to convey the messages he believed were vital."

When Solomon wrote about Back.s winning an Oscar for Crac!, Back wrote him that he enjoyed the column, "except I had devoted too much of the article to him, instead of talking about Normand Roger's score which had added so much to the film. I thought at the time that this was a Hollywood first: A director saying he.d been given too much credit for a film's success."

"I always imagined that St. Francis of Assisi must have been like Frederic: Gentle, patient, devoted to all the creatures of the Earth - but never saccharine, self-righteous or ostentatious. Although he was a strict vegetarian, it never would have occurred to Frederic to inconvenience anyone else by insisting on eating at a vegetarian restaurant. He found something that met his dietary standards on the menu, and said nothing about it. He would be equally quiet when he left the table and paid the bill before anyone realized he had gone."

NAG ANSORGE, THE DEAN OF SWISS ANIMATION, HAS CONCLUDED THE LONG FILM OF HIS LIFE He leaves us a rich, diverse body of work, created with his wife Gisele who passed away in 1993. Ernest a.k.a. Nag Ansorge died on December 26, 2013 in Lausanne. He would have been 89 this month.

The couple gained worldwide recognition for their ten shorts that were animated with blackened quartz sand. Less well-known but is highly esteemed are his work with long-term patients at a psychiatric clinic where he taught for nearly two decades. He and Gisele also contributed to many commercial projects including newsreels, educational films, documentaries, TV series for children and features for adults.

Nag began his professional career as a mechanical engineer and Gisele was a pharmacist. He discovered film-making in the early 50s using an 8mm camera. When they discovered the puppet work of Jeri Tonka they converted their dining room into a puppet studio. Their second puppet film earned them enough success to encourage them to become professional film makers. While their first professional effort didn.t get commercial distribution, the work was shown at the first International Animation Festival in Annecy (1960).

After Annecy the couple put puppets and personal projects aside and Gisele went back to work as a pharmacist. She also began to take freelance writing projects for radio, theatre and short stories. Nag found work doing animated segments for newsreels and technical documentaries.

The technique they became well --known for was created when they took on a commercial project about blood circulation. Sand proved to be easy to manipulate and they could draw with it. Their first film made exclusively with sand was Les Cordeaux (The Ravens). It premiered at Annecy 1967 and was well received by both the audience and experts. They eventually completed ten works in sand animation including Antistatic (1969), Anima (1977) and their last joint work, Sabbath (1991).

Nag was a co-founder of the Swiss Animators. Group, aka ASIFA Switzerland, in the late 60s. He was their secretary general and later their president. During that time he also served as an expert for the government.s film funding commission. His efforts inspired artists with the confidence to attempt to develop animation careers.

Luc Plantier and Michel Froidevaux wrote a book about the Ansorges., Pris dans les sables mouvants -- Captured In Drifting Sand, published in French and English by Edition Centre International du Cinema d'Animation, Annecy 1995, at the occasion of a tribute to Gisele after her passing in 1993 (ISBN 2-908079-05-4).

The animated sand works are available on a double DVD of the same name (Gisèle & Nag Ansorge: Pris dans les sables mouvants), released by Nag-Film & Association Films Plans-Fixes in 2005, including all of the Ansorge.s personal sand films, two short documentary clips and a 50-minute interview portrait of Nag (English subtitles).

Both items are available on ASIFA Switzerland's web shop (www.swissanimation.ch/fr/boutique/). Special thanks to Rolf Bächler, ASIFA Switzerland, for his extensive notes on Nag. They were the basis for this article.

VISIT US ONLINE AT www.asifa-sf.org

Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Gene Deitch, Rolf Bächler with ASIFA Switzerland and other friends of ASIFA-SF
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Pete Davis
Mailing Crew: Shirley Smith, Dan Steves and Denise McEvoy
Webmaster Dan Steves
Special thanks 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 and to 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, international & local $42.
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


Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden

Get a Horse!
Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim

Mr. Hublot
Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares

Shuhei Morita

Room on the Broom
Max Lang and Jan Lachauer


This is a great annual event that Ron Diamond organizes to introduce the honored animators to the Bay Area.s animation community. After visiting Bay Area studios and meeting ASIFA members, the group moves on to LA for a fabulous week that ends with the Oscar awards night and plush parties. There will be enough time at our event for our guests to answer your questions and to meet you informally after their presentations.

100 POTRERO AVE., free Arrive early to sign in at the receptionist.s desk.

To attend you need to RSVP to karlcohen@earthlink.net by 9 pm, Feb. 18. Indicate if you plan to bring a guest. Only current members can RSVP. All RSVPs will be confirmed by e-mail. We will probably end up with a waiting list, so if your plans change and you and/or your guest can.t attend please let us know so someone can have your seat(s). The screening room has limited seating.