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

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

June 2014


ASIFA-SF 3rd ANNUAL SPRING SHOW, SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 1:30 PM, At the Randall Jr. Museum's Theatre, free, public invited, lots of free parking The flyer (last item in this issue) lists most of the films being show - work from several parts of the world!

by Karl Cohen

INTERNATIONAL TRICKFILM FESTIVAL 22 -- 27 April, 2014 Stuttgart, Germany and FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Technology 22 -- 25 April, 2014 Stuttgart. By Nancy Denny-Phelps

Plus lots of news, local events, links, a low cost animation workshop for teens in Oakland, etc.

Two late items: not in the printed issue - Northern Calif. filmmakers are holding a rally in front of the Fairmont Hotel, Sat. June 14 from 10 to noon to show support for expanding the Calif. Film and TV Tax Credit Program (AB 1839)


A member who lives in Berkeley tells us, "Here is a fun screening, a quartley event by Moby Theobald at Berkeley Community Media. His animation (stop-motion, cut-out, etc) is amazing and his shows are ridiculously funny and presented live at the BCM studio on Martin Luther King in Berkeley. A cosmic trip satirizing the great and not so great Sci-Fi films of our youth. with stop-motion and live-action, a music video, live in studio monologues and a Grannymated Spit-toon, this one has something to disturb everyone! Come early for Soylent Green and Soma cakes!"
Friday, June 13at 7:00pm, 2239 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Berkeley.


SF STATE STUDENTS ONCE AGAIN DISPLAYED A WIDE VARIETY OF APPROACHES TO WHAT ANIMATION CAN BE by KC Too often I hear that students at some schools mainly focus their education on learning 3-D computer programs so they can try to get an industry job when they graduate. While students at SF State also look for and get animation jobs after college, once again State's animation finals showed their students are learning the foundations of animation and are developing a broader range of techniques and concepts. I'm glad their students are thinking a! bout content, original concepts and experimenting in other ways. Once again I was impressed with the audience's appreciation of each work shown and I felt Ben Ridgway and Martha Gorzycki's students had put a lot of energy into completing their individual and group projects.

One film that stood out turned a CG character acting exercise of having a person do an emotionally filled monologue into an impressive short. In Class President by Tim DuBay and Mark Pedruco a fourth grade girl (the class president) has an intelligent grown-up conversation with 2D drawings of Kennedy and Nixon. The animated line drawings of the presidents are on flat pieces of white paper placed upright on chairs within the 3D setting. The film is a well executed original concept. You can see it in the ASIFA-SF Spring Show on Sunday, June 22

I was also impressed by two other works with political content. Scott Falkowski's Dilemmas of the Day was drawn in a 1950s or '60s retro look as he reflected back on Cold War culture and angst. In Underwater Museum by Steph Eisenberg, a 3-D CG short, we are shown lots of things found on the bottom of the sea from interesting or beautiful objects to a disturbing final image, a large yellow metal drum of radioactive waste.

Tim DuBay, who animated Class President, was also responsible for the funniest short in the program. It has a strange creature with an animal head with antlers and a human body instructing us on how to write our own wills on a paper napkin. Napkin Will combines 3D CGI with real people composited into part of it.

There was a good deal of drawn animation including Scott Falkowski's Playmates, a surreal pair of volcanic mountains talking to each other and playing catch with a giant boulder. The mountains have drawn faces that are quite expressive. So are the faces of two talking fish in John Huynh's Lip Synch Project.

Scott Falkowski also created a striking looking design project called Scales. Part of it is a collage of reptile illustrations, including photographic, drawn and painted images.

There were other enjoyable design projects. Vive Le Swing by Vanessa Jaime, Bella Berry and Jonathan Flores is a joyful work set to swing music. Yellow Y'all is an abstract stop-motion work using different yellow shaped 2D and 3D forms and clear glass objects on a white background. It is by Alex Irwin and Bella Berry.

There were other nice stop-motion works by Lilly Zaldivar, Monica Ruiz, Anne Ross and several other students. The 90 minute program included almost 40 shorts.

THE SF FILM FESTIVAL'S GOLDEN GATE ANIMATION AWARD WINNERS The SFFS animation category winner was The Missing Scarf by Eion Duffy from Ireland. The prize is $2000. In the Family Film category an honorable mention went to The Numberlys, by WIlliam Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg. The Numberlys is by the team that won an ! Oscar for The Fantastic Flying Books of Norris Lessmore. The Golden Gate Award Short Film jury consisted of journalist Jonathan Kiefer, author Vendela Vida and filmmaker Diana Williams.

CLARISSA MATALONE, HAS JUST BEEN TRANSFERRED BY DISNEY TO SHANGHAI TO OVERSEE THEIR USE OF LASER EFFECTS IN THE PARK Clarissa, who graduated from SF State in 2010, has been a Disney Imagineer for over a year. She recently was given a new title, married voice acting director Seth Podowitz, and moved to China where she is overseeing the design and installations of special effect lasers in some of the park's attractions. Lasers are used to create pixie dust and other illusions.

AWN.COM HAS POSTED A LOVELY TRIBUTE TO MARCY PAGE Marcy studied animation in the 1970s at SF State and later taught there before moving to Montreal where she worked as a producer for the National Film Board of Canada. She recently retired which means she is not accepting new projects, but is still overseeing ones she started.

There is a second article that is an interview with her.




(two photos of the ghost are in the printed edition of this newsletter)



When I was invited to the press preview of "Leading Ladies and Femmes Fatales: The Art of Marc Davis," at the Walt Disney Family Museum I wasn't expecting to be swept up by a celebration of the man's life. After all he died January 12, 2000, but I left inspired by his creative spirit and his joy of life. I had the rare pleasure of talking to both his wife and a former Disney animation director whom Davis had inspired. I also got to enjoy an exhibit that is a comprehensive overview of his work that presents his joyful personality through his art, well chosen quotes and an informative video interview with him. It really was a remarkable immersive experience for me.

I only met Marc once, briefly in the 1990s at the opening of an exhibit of Disney art at San Francisco's excellent Cartoon Art Museum. I remember him as a quiet, sweet, kind man. He seemed shy and soft spoken. He did not give me the impression that he would ever be the versatile and vibrant subject of a soon-to-be-released book titled "Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man."

Upon entering the exhibit hall I read a quote about him by Walt saying, "Marc can do story, he can do character, he can animate, he can design shows for me. All I have to do is tell him what I want and it's there. He's my Renaissance man."

A quick look around the room suggests Walt's summation of his talent is accurate as the walls are full of iconic Disney female characters Marc designed and animated. They range from Cinderella, Tinker Bell and Alice (from Wonderland), to several evil ladies including Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians. One of the exhibit notes tells us Marc's Cruella was based on his combining the personalities of Bette Davis, Rosalind Russell and Tallulah Bankhead.

The exhibit also includes a few of his inspirational drawings and paintings that were the basis of animatronics statues that come to life in Disneyland attractions, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. I learned Marc also designed characters and situations for The Jungle Cruise, The Country Bear Jamboree and other popular theme park attractions.

Andreas Deja

As I walked around the exhibit I heard one of his friends talking about him. I introduced myself to director Andreas Deja, who with Michael Labrie, the museum's director of collections, had co-curated the show. Deja animated Scar in The Lion King, Jaffar in Aladdin, King Triton in The Little Mermaid, Tigger in Winnie the Pooh and other memorable characters.

Deja, who joined the studio in 1980, described Marc to me as a wonderful mentor, both to him and others. He got to know Marc better in the mid-1980s when he was invited to his house, a home full of incredible treasures. When Andreas was asked to co-curate the show he saw those treasures differently, more as a daunting challenge. How could he limit the number of works in the exhibit to about 70 things? There were thousands of drawing, paintings, photographs and other things he could include. For each drawing in the show there were dozens or hundreds of other drawings of the same subject that could have been displayed. Marc was a perfectionist who explored the countless variables in his drawings. He sought the best solution to each design problem and he was critical of things being drawn "off model." The works that ended up in the show are wonderful examples of the man's art.

Deja is quite pleased with the present show and he hopes that someday the museum can present a much larger one (there has been some discussion about that). It was Diane Disney Miller's desire to honor Marc while the impressive Mary Blair show was at the museum in their larger temporary exhibition hall. It turns out that Marc and Mary were close friends and that Marc's wife Alice collaborated with Mary on "it's a small world."

While much of my conversation with Deja was about Marc, we talked briefly about Andreas' career and about the state of the industry. He is concerned that the skills needed to create hand-drawn animation are being pushed aside by American studios. He believes stockholders are pressuring the Hollywood animation studios to be as profitable as possible and that part of the present solution to making money is to produce everything in 3D with computers.

Deja doesn't feel he belongs in that kind of environment, so he has left Disney. He is enjoying working on his own personal hand-drawn animated short. It will be over twenty minutes long, at present over ten minutes of it have been drawn, and he plans to enter it in film festivals. Hopefully it will gain recognition by being in numerous festivals and by winning awards. He is also writing a book about Disney's Nine Old Men and is a contributor to the soon-to-be-published book Marc Davis: Walt Disney's Renaissance Man. Bob Kurtz, Glen Keane, Pete Docter, John Canemaker, Charles Solomon and several other writers have also written segments of it.

I also asked Deja if he had any advice for animation students. While they will probably end up working with computers if they go onto professional careers, he stresses that the first thing they need is a solid education in animation's basics principles and skills. They should focus on traditional animation and learning to draw before learning complex technical computer programs.

One of Marc Davis' quotes in the exhibit is, "If you can't draw it, you can't animate it." Another is, "I consider myself an artist first, but I enjoy expressing myself in different ways. Whether I paint, animate or develop a Disneyland attraction, it's all about the creative spirit and finding solutions to artistic challenges."

Alice Davis

After enjoying the exhibit and talking with Andreas Deja I went into the museum's lower lobby to collect my thoughts. Alice Davis, Marc's

wife, was seated at a nearby table and she invited me to join her. When I told her I teach animation history at San Francisco State and had once met Marc briefly, we began a conversation that lasted about a half hour.

One of the first things she told me was that Walt was the best boss she ever had. It turned out that she had worked as a clothing designer after attending Chounaird Art Institute and that Walt hired her from time to time to design costumes. Her first job with Disney was on Sleeping Beauty.

What prompted her to praise Walt was a meeting they had after he invited her to create the costumes for it's a small world. When she asked about the budget, Walt replied that she could spend whatever was necessary to make it the best attraction possible. Walt gave her free reign as he wanted people to come back to Disneyland to admire the ride again and again. It was important to him to have the best costumed dolls regardless of costs.

I knew from the exhibit that Alice Davis had received a scholarship to Chounaird to study animation and that Marc was one of her teachers. When I asked if she ever worked as an animator she explained that while she had received two scholarships to study animation, the animation industry in the US in the 1950s rarely hired women as animators. I asked if that was a Disney policy and she replied it was true of every animation house in the US. When she later heard that women were being hired in Canada as animators, she told me it was too late for her to consider moving north. The jobs were with the National Film Board.

Alice mentioned Marc used to go out sketching at the Griffith Park Zoo with Retta Scott, the first woman at Disney to become an animator. Retta was hired by Disney in 1938 to work in the story department, but after Walt saw her drawings of animals he transferred her to animation as her ability to draw animals was needed on Bambi. We talked briefly about Retta as I got to know her in the 1980s when she worked as an animator in San Francisco on Plague Dogs and at a small studio with Bud Lucky on TV commercials. Bud later worked as an animator and teacher at Pixar. Retta died in 1990.

In the exhibit's video I noticed that behind Marc in the slightly out of focus background were what appeared to be large tribal sculptures. Alice seemed surprised that I recognized they were from New Guinea (I own 5 or 6 minor works from that Pacific island). It turns out Marc and Alice had made several trips to the Papua region to collect tribal art.

About a half hour into our conversation people began to arrive for a party honoring Alice so our conversation ended. There was so much more to talk about, including Marc and Alice's most valuable gift to the nation, endowing the Marc Davis Lecture Series at the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles. The series began in 1994 with Marc presenting the first talk. Since then the presenters have included Nik Park, Chuck Jones, Richard Williams, Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, The Brothers Quay, Frederic Back, and dozens of other important figures in animation. In 2013 the lecture series was expanded to include a major event at the annual SIGGRAPH conference. Nine directors including Henry Selick, Pete Docter, Ron Clements, Eric Goldberg and David Silverman made presentations.

Later that evening, after hors d'oeuvres and beverages, the Museum's Executive Director, Kirsten Komoroske, greeted the crowd and introduced the guests of honor, including Marc and Alice's relatives, and members of the Miller family.

Although Marc Davis died in 2000, his legacy lives on. (He would have turned 101 in March; Alice is now 85.) It was wonderful being able to spend a few hours learning about him and I'm quite pleased to have this opportunity to share my impressions of that time with you. The exhibit ends November 3, 2014. The Mary Blair show ends September 7.

DISCOVER EAT DRINK FILM.COM The above article is available as a two-part article with several high definition color images on the new website Eat Drink Film.com. The site is the work of a wonderful friend of animation and ASIFA-SF, Gary Meyers. Gary hosted a benefit for our chapter several years ago with Richard Williams at the Balboa Theatre when he ran it. He is co-artistic director of the Telluride Film Festival, which premieres both animated features and shorts, and was a co-director of Landmark Theatres for many years. Landmark/Expanded Cinema distributed animation programs, ran the LA Animation Festival and showed lots of animation programs in their chain of theatres.


May 3 -- November 2 Health care, gun control, the environment, and racial equality were all topics Charles M. Schulz broached during the fifty years he created the Peanuts comic strip. His beloved Lucy embraced feminist philosophies, Linus panicked when he mistook snow for nuclear fallout, and Sally whispered about praying in school. Schulz also introduced Franklin, a black Peanuts character, into the predominately white cast just months after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center's Social Commentary exhibition re-examines Peanuts in the context of the social and political climate of the latter half of the twentieth century. In addition to original Peanuts comic strips, the exhibition features original Wee Pals, Gordo, Pogo, and Little Orphan Annie strips. It also highlights reaction letters from the Museum's archives, and contextual artifacts.

The Charles M. Schulz Museum is located 50 minutes north of San Francisco by car on Highway 101. It is located at 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa, California, 95403. Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday thru Friday 11am -- 5pm, Saturday & Sunday 10am -- 5pm, free to members and kids under 3, $5 for Children 4-18, college students and seniors 62+. Adults $10.




3 WORKSHOPS -- JUNE 12, 19 & 26

Start Anytime -- take sessions 1, 2 or all 3

"We will learn to draw simple objects and characters, will do stop-motion with clay and humans (you will 'animate' yourself -- everyone loves this exercise) and you will get a crash course in Digicel Flipbook's professional software."

"Great animated films will be shown and all the principles and the basics of how to animate will be covered from squash & stretch to special effects like explosions, smoke and water. Students can make their own short movie and take it home if they bring their own USB Flash drive to the class! It will be a fun class, for beginning levels."

No prerequisite - ages 14 and up.



Held at Laney College, 9 AM -- 4 PM

Graphics Arts Dept., B, Building A, Room 152

Details tonystoons.blogspot.com

To register claartoons@comcast.net


His film Cosmic Flower Unfolding has been in dozens of festivals and he just found out it will be shown at Anima Mundi Animation Festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil this summer.



June 19 -- 29 Fifteen animated shorts will be screened at Frameline 38. Eleven will be in the Get Animated! program (Roxie, Sat. June 21, 4 PM), three in the Transtastic! showcase (Mon. June 23, Victoria Theatre, 7 PM) and three in the Home Grown show Sun. June 22, Victoria, 11 AM). The Get Animated show includes lesbian penguins, Jimmy Carter, super hip moms and a lot of other cool stuff. On Sunday, June 22, 10:30 AM there will be a kid friendly feature at the Castro (title to be announced in early June -- it might be Brave). www.frameline.org




At the Randall Jr. Museums' Theatre

See flyer for details

OUR WEBSITE IS www.asifa-sf.org

We post links to websites mentioned in this issue on our website to give you easier access to them.


Alternative Visions: Animation Tuesday, July 22: Emily Hubley in person with a program of Faith and John Hubley's films (new 35mm prints). On Tuesday July 29: Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis from Canada in person and on Thursday August 7: Sally Cruikshank in person (new 35mm prints).

Emily Hubley will host an evening devoted to the films of her parents and will screen one of her own hand-drawn films. She worked on Faith's films from 1977 to 2001. Films include And/Or (2012) by Emily and the following by John and Faith: Adventures Of An* (1956), Tender Game (1958), Moonbird (1959), The Hat (1964), Windy Day (1968), Urbanissimo (1967), Of Men And Demons (1968) and Eggs (1970).

Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis have received Oscar nominations for When the Day Breaks (1999) and Wild Life (2012) and Wendy received one for Strings (1991). The shorts were produced by the National Film Board of Canada. They have also worked with Acme in LA to create major TV commercial (United Airlines, etc.)

Sally Cruickshank has been making animated films since 1971. Her Quasi at the Quackadero was added to the National Film Registry in 2009, it was made while she lived in San Francisco. In addition to a selection of her personal films, she will present musical shorts made for Sesame Street. Program: Ducky (1971), Fun On Mars (1971), Chow Fun (1972), Island Of Emotion (1991), Ooh What A Fabulous Party (1992), Quasi At The Quackadero (1976), From Your Head (1996), Your Feets Too Big (1994), Make Me Psychic (1978), Quasi's Cabaret (1980), and Face Like A Frog (1987).


On June 28, 3:30 PM, the films directed by Gene Deitch include The Emperor's New Clothes and Moon Man, a 1971 adaption of De. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, and others. FREE ADMISSION! Tickets will be available at the box office beginning at 2:30. On July 17, 3:30, Mowgli's Brothers directed by Chuck Jones, 1976, Where the Wild Things Are, directed by Gene Deitch, 1973 and other nice pleasures. On July 20 see Doctor De Soto directed Michael Sporn, 1984, an early 1950s Lotte Reiniger short, a 1972 version of The Lorax and more. On Aug. 10 is The Foolish Frog narrated by Pete Segar and directed by Gene Deitch and other shorts.


It is a collection of four anime shorts including Shuhei Morita's wonderful Possessions which was nominated for an Oscar this year. (We showed it at a January ASIFA-SF event). Katsuhiro Otomo's equally brilliant Combustible, a romantic love tragedy is in the package (we showed the short in 2013). The other shorts in the package are Hiroaki Ando's Gambo about a demon, and Hajime Katoki's A Farewell to Arms. Jerry Beck writes on his Animation Scoop blog, "The imaginative visuals of Short Peace will leave American animators and animation fans wondering why we can't produce this kind of inexpensive but innovative film."


Their Cartoon Lab will present a stop-motion class for kids 12 - 16. Class will be taught by Brian Kolm.


READ AN AMAZING ARTICLE ABOUT THE SUCCESS AND FINANCIAL RUIN OF A GREAT ANIMATION STUDIO Oscar winning clay animator, producer and director Adam Elliot wrote me, "Every student of animation or those who don't know this sad tale should read this article. I have met Will a few times and he is a gentleman genius." Special thanks to Norah Molina for telling me about this article. http://priceonomics.com/how-the-father-of-claymation-lost-his-company/

DREAMWORKS ANIMATION STOCK WENT UP IN 2013 SO JEFFREY KATZENBERG GOT A 160% RAISE ($13.5 Million), BUT THE STOCK IS NOW FALLING IN VALUE AND THE COMPANY HAS ANNOUNCED THEY LOST $57 MILLION ON "MR. PEABODY & SHERMAN" DreamWorks' $57 million "impairment charge" was due to a lackluster box-office performance from Peabody, a $145 million film that had earned only $261 million worldwide since it opened March 7 (as of early May when they reported the loss). Most of Jeffrey's top officers also got impressive raises.

At a major conference in late April Katzenberg was saying that the movie industry is rapidly changing and that he is anxious to get further involved with foreign markets ASAP, in particular China. "Diversification right now is necessary for us if we want to grow the business." Iger, Disney's CEO is saying the same thing.

"HOLLYWOOD REPORTER" REVIEWER SAW "HOW TO TAME YOUR DRAGON" AT CANNES The bottom line is "Technically stunning, and perceptive about the relationship between people and animals, this is an impressive achievement but may be all a bit too much for younger viewers. Through sheer budget firepower alone it should roar its way through the world's box offices this summer, although the family audience can be a fickle mistress and the competition is stiff this year."

DREAMWORKS HAS A NEW RELEASE DATE FOR THEIR PENGUINS SPINOFF They recently announced they will now release Penguins Of Madagascar on November 26, 2014. Its original release date was March 27, 2015. Home, directed by Tim Johnson, based on the children's book The True Meaning of Smekday, was scheduled to open Nov. 27, but now it will open March 27, 2015. Home is about a race of aliens named Boov who hide out on Earth.

WARNER BROS. IS BACKING A NEW "FLINTSTONES" ANIMATED FEATURE It will be produced by Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy and Adam McKay,(Gary Sanchez Productions). The original Flintstones was a prime time TV series that ran from 1960 -- 1966.

THE 75TH BIRTHDAY OF THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD OF CANADA HAS BEEN COMMEMORATED WITH FIVE STAMPS Two stamps are related to animation. One shows the lumberjack in John Weldon's Log Driver's Waltz (1979) and the other Norman McLaren's Neighbors (1962). .

THE 45TH ANNUAL ASIFA-EAST ANIMATION AWARDS CEREMONY The event was held in May at the New School's auditorium in NYC. The Best in Show winner was Arthur Metcalf's In the Beginning.. The Independent Film category winners were: 1st prize Eye in Tuna Care by John Walter Lustig, 2nd prize Monkey Rag by Joanna Davidovich and 3rd prize My Kingdom by Debra Solomon. The Award for Excellence in Writing went to A Life with Asperger's by Jaime Ekkens, The Excellence in Design prize went to Helium Harvey by Daniel Savage, the Excellence in Animation prize went to Lego Superman by David Paganoand and the Excellence in Education prize went to Why Is Yawning Contagious? By Biljana Labovic. The top Music Video prize went to Retreat! By Lizzi Akana.

DISNEY MAY BE CHINA'S BIGGEST FOREIGN INVESTOR! At the Milken Conference that Katzenberg and Disney's CEO Bob Iger attended, Iger said, "We need China in order to create growth for our company ... It should be a top priority! It is a land of great opportunity and great challenges." He announced that an additional $800 million is being put into Disney's Shanghai theme park. It will open in late 2015. So far it has cost $5.5 billion. Disney owns 43% of the project and the Shanghai Shendi group owns 57%.

Iger says that "it's probable that the project represents the largest foreign investment in China today." He raved about business opportunities in China; a country he says is adding about 18 movie theaters every day. He believes China will become the No. 1 market for films by 2020.

In his speech he praised his company's role in helping the local economy. "As we speak, there are roughly 8,000 construction workers not only working on the property, but living on the property, to build a quintessential Disney experience in the largest city in the largest country." He also said that the Chinese government has become "more of a willing partner" over the years. He praised their decision to build a high-speed rail that puts 300 million people in reach of the upcoming resort. While he acknowledged that the government's censors have hampered Disney's business in some respects, he said the company's brand and quality of entertainment is appreciated by Chinese consumers and even the country's political bureaucrats, as are the jobs that Disney creates. "I'm not being an apologist."

Disney's Shanghai Park is their first park in mainland China. They opened Hong Kong Disneyland nine years ago.

FOR THE PAST FIVE YEARS DISNEY STOCK HAS BEEN A REMARKABLE INVESTMENT If you bought the stock after the market crashed a few years ago, it has gone from around $10 a share five years ago to over $83 a share in May. It also pays a small dividend, about 1% which is better than what you get from a bank.

DID BART SIMPSON HELP CREATE THE WAR IN SYRIA? EGYPTIAN TV REPORTED A CLUE TO A CONSPIRACY! The Hollywood Reporter tells us, "Simpsons Episode Stirs Syrian Civil War Conspiracy Theories in Egypt Egyptian TV network al-Tahrir stirred the Arab conspiracy theory pot this week, suggesting in a news segment that a 2001 episode of The Simpsons indicates that the U.S. might have incited the Syrian Civil War as part of a broader plot to destabilize the Arab world. In the episode, titled 'New Kids on the Blecch,' the always mischievous Bart Simpson, Milhouse, Nelson and Ralph are recruited to form a boy band, whose first single 'Drop Da Bomb' is actually part of a subliminal recruitment campaign orchestrated by the Navy. In the video, the boys pilot war planes and drop bombs on an unnamed Arab country, where they also teach the local women to wear bikinis and play tether ball. The episode was uncomfortably prescient in some sense, given its broadcast just months before 9/11 (later repeat broadcasts of the same episode excised a few segments because it was believed they could be upsetting, given what was then transpiring in the world)!"

"A key detail that the Egyptian TV network has seized on as a possible sign of more elaborate conspiracy at work. In a brief section of the video, a jeep bears the exact same flag currently used by the Syrian opposition. Before showing the segment on air, al-Tahrir's anchor told viewers: 'The video you are about to see shows animated figures dancing, flying airplanes and dropping bombs on what must be Syria because there are other animated figures below in Arab garb and the Syrian [opposition] flag appears on one of the vehicles.' She then alleges that the video 'suggests that what is happening in Syria today was premeditated' and that U.S. likely played a role, adding, 'This was from 2001, before there was such a thing as the Syrian opposition.' She then notes how such theories have been trending among local Facebook users." See the news report at


THE STUDENT ACADEMY AWARDS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED The animation prizes went to Higher Sky by Teng Cheng, University of Southern California; Owned by Daniel Clark and Wesley Tippetts, Brigham Young University, Utah and Yamashita by Hayley Foster, Loyola Marymount University, California. It hasn't been announced what prize each film won; that is announced at the awards ceremony Saturday, June 7. Before that happens the winners will be spending a week in LA being treated to lots of industry activities. The week will end with the awards ceremony. The only award going to a Bay Area student is for a documentary made at Stanford.

ANIMATORS AT CANNES The Festival de Cannes held a special tribute to Kahlil Ghibran's The Prophet, produced by actress Salma Hayek who hosted the evening with the film's directors Roger Allers, Gaƫtan and Paul Brizzi, Joan Gratz, Mohammed Saeed Harib, Tomm Moore, Nina Paley, Bill Plympton, Joann Sfar and Michal Socha present. They helped to explain their participation in the film by showing excerpts of their work in the film.

YOU MIGHT ENJOY SEEING "PURPLE HAT," A CLEVER ANTI-SMOKING PROPAGANDA SHORT FROM CANADA THAT IS NOW ONLINE Purple Hat is one of three one minute anti-smoking shorts made by Lynn Smith in the early 1970's for the National Film Board of Canada. The NFB also plans to post the other two, Happy Birthday and In the Center Ring, but Lynn tells us, "Happy Birthday may have to wait in the wings for a while until the copyright issue on the song (which is sung by the characters in this clip) is finally resolved in court."

"The copyright to the song Happy Birthday is presently being legally contested by a USA documentary filmmaker who has been maintaining that the song has been in public domain for a while. Fact is: the NFB did buy the rights to the song some 40 years ago for the clip, but those rights (if they have not run out) certainly do not apply to the internet. According to Canadian law the song in Canada is already in public domain, but because the NFB beams into the USA, the USA's later copyright cutoff dates have to be respected." https://www.nfb.ca/film/purple_hat

McDONALD'S HAS RECENTLY INTRODUCED "HAPPY" IN THE US The animated Happy is said to be just as annoying as Ronald McDonald. It was first introduced in France and then spread to Latin America. He is basically an animated Happy Meal box with rubber hose arms and legs plus a giant set of teeth.

(photo goes here in printed edition)

Nancy and Max Howard at Trickfilm


22 -- 27 April, 2014 Stuttgart, Germany and FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Technology 22 -- 25 April, 2014 Stuttgart.

By Nancy Denny-Phelps

After last year's 20th Anniversary celebration, I didn't think that the 2014 edition of the International Trickfilm Festival in Stuttgart could surpass the 2013 celebration but it certainly did. Even though the festival is one of the most important in the world with over 85,000 visitors this year, it has not lost its warm, hospitable feeling for the guests. That's why so many of the world's best animators are happy to come to ITFS to give a wide range of workshops and presentations.

Chris Landreth is everywhere this year. I had spent time with him last month at the festival in Tourcoing, France and it was fun to be with him again here. His wonderful Subconscious Password was in competition. It was not only the final film shown opening night he also presented a program where he screened his five films and talking about them. Subconscious Password is a mind-bending romp and extremely funny until you think about how often you are confronted by someone who obviously knows you and you have no idea who they are.

I was very happy to get to talk to Michelle and Uri Kranot. Michelle was on the Cartoon for Kids jury while Uri served on the Young Animation jury. They also presented their newest film Hollow Land, an excellent cut-out and mixed medium film which was screened in the first competition program. The film deals with feelings of displacement and being a stranger in a strange land that many immigrants feel when they move to another country in search of a better life. Hollow Land was short listed for the Oscars in 2013 and has won numerous awards at festivals worldwide.

They were very busy but they took time out to sit down with me and tell me about The Hollow Land Experience. The couple have created an inter-active installation to "explore the possibilities and expel the boundaries between theatre and animation, fiction and realism, transforming a screen based experience into a physical one". Participants are given masks and costumes representing the two characters in the film as they enter the "animated rooms" which are created by multi-angled projections which change rapidly as the masked participants explore them. The blind "explorers" do not realize that there is one actor among them who leads them through the experience and hands them props such as toilet plungers to put on their heads. There is also an audience watching all of the activity much like old time residents of a city would watch new comers. The installation was conceived at the Open Workshop in Viborg where they are both artists-in-residence. They said that it is expensive to install but they hope to be able to present it at animation festivals and in museums. You can see a small excerpt about the project on their website: Hollowlandfilm.wordpress.com

Max Howard always gives entertaining workshops that are packed full of information on how to successfully create and pitch a story. He has created and run studios for Disney worldwide and presided over Warner Brothers Feature Animation. Max, who is currently producing a series of animated feature films, was on the feature film jury.

Although I have been a long-time admirer of animator Jannik Hastrup this was my first opportunity to meet the man considered to be the most successful animator in Denmark. For over 5 decades his work has won numerous awards. Beginning with his 1967 television series "Cirkeline" his work has alternately delighted and upset people. In the 1970's his films became much more political and controversial with the nine part series The History Book, an animated documentation and Marxist rewriting of history. After several successful feature length animated films with his production company, Tegnefilm, Hastrup is revisiting Cirkeline to make a feature length animation titled Cirkeline -- Big City Mice. Jannik also served on the feature film jury at the festival.

There was no question that the talented and inventive Estonian animator Rao Heidmets' workshop How to Make Your Story Crazy Enough would be fun. Anyone who has seen Rao's Inherent Obligations, which was awarded the 2009 Grand Prix at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, knows that Rao is the perfect person to show animators how to channel their inner crazy self and transfer it to the screen. Workshop participants were instructed to bring paper and pencils and be ready to draw.

In a separate program Rao presented seven of his films including his 1988 The Theatre Papa Carlo which he filmed with fellow Estonian Pritt Parn. Using life sized puppets the two renowned animators explored the collapse of a totalitarian system and the path to freedom. The pair won the Grand Prix at the Cinanima International Film Festival in Espinho, Portugal and a nomination for the Palm D' Or in Cannes.

Rao was on the Short Film Competition Jury along with the delightfully droll London born Paul Bush. Paul's films are always fascinating and very different from each other. He uses such a wide variety of techniques and styles as his two programs at the festival demonstrated. The first program was a selection of his short films. From the 1995 Furniture Poetry which has been called "an object lesson in the fecundity of things" to the outrageously funny Busby Berkeley's Tribute To Mae West, Paul's very fitting sexually explicit tribute to the sex goddess there was something to delight and/or offend everyone. Mae would have loved her tribute!

The following day we got to see Paul's recently completed first feature film Babeldom. The 81 minute film is described as a hallucinatory portrait of a futuristic city, a science fiction documentary assembled from film shot in modern cities around the world combined with the most recent research in science, technology, and architecture.

Each year the festival invites a noted animator to select a series of films for the Best of Animation screenings. This year Israeli animator and historian Tsvika Oren curated 4 programs of his favorite films. The 44 films Tsvika selected contained many gems. With entries ranging from Norwegian animator Pjotr Sapegin's 1999 Snails to the 2011 multi-award winning Oh Willy by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels, it was possible to see many great moments of short animation history over 4 days. The only 2 caveats placed on Tsvika's selection was that the films could not have been previously shown in a Stuttgart "best of" program, and that the festival could locate a good print of the film.

The International Competition is still the focal point of the festival. I made a point to see all 5 competition screenings and was rewarded with excellent films ranging from very serious to hilarious. For the past several years the festival has interspersed the first competition program among speeches by local dignitaries at the Opening Night ceremony. This is a wonderful idea because it insures that the local guests will not just speak and run as so often happens at festival opening ceremonies. They actually see some of the excellent films in competition.

The program was definitely not packed full of amusing 1 minute films. Along with Michelle and Uri Kranot's Hollow Land French animator Augusto Zanovello's Women's Letter's took us to the battle fields of WWI. Tribute is being paid all over Europe and Great Britain to soldiers who lost their lives in terrible conflict on this 100th anniversary year, and the film is a fitting statement of the horrors of war.

The most hard-hitting of all of the opening night films was I Love Hooligans. Dutch film maker Jan-Dirk Bouw used the animated doc format to take the viewer into the world of a homosexual football hooligan. The film is a true story of a young man who lives for football (soccer for those in the United States) and his club while keeping his sexual orientation a well-kept secret from his mates. As I listened to the disguised voice of the young man tell his story, the anguish that he feels living in two such opposite worlds is obvious. The film doesn't give any answers as to how the young man will ever come to terms with the world he lives in with his club mates who he has grown up with and his desire to have a good relationship with another mate. His final plea to "die in the arms of his loved one" left me with a lot to think about.

Long-time opening night master of ceremony Markus Brock did an excellent job of moving the program along and not letting anyone speak too long. He has a lot of experience - when he is not presiding over the festival's opening and closing night ceremonies he is a presenter on German TV.

The remaining 4 Short Film Competition programs also contained outstanding films. Three young directors, Anna Benner, Pia Borg, and Gemma Burditt combined their talents to pose the question when one person's reality is in a different dimension from another person, can these two realities ever meet? In Through the Hawthorn the trio of directors used 3 split screens and three characters to show a psychiatric session from the point of view of a psychiatrist, a young schizophrenic patient, and his mother. Each of the three directors took a different character and worked separately in their own studio but the finished film came together perfectly. The jury agreed with me and awarded Through the Hawthorn the Grand Prix proving that anima docs are the perfect medium to tell a story that would be too painful to watch in a live action film for both the audience and the subjects.

Russian animator Svetlana Filippova has created some of my favorite films such as Where Dogs Go to Die and Three Love Stories both previously screened at Stuttgart festivals. Her latest film Brut is equally engaging. In her new film the Nazi's rise to power is seen through the eyes of Brutus, a gentle and well loved dog. When the Nazis decree that no Jew can own a pet, Brutus's mistress is forced to turn him into a collection center. Brutus is forced to face the harsh realities of a changing world and concludes that "it's a pity that we dogs cannot talk about anything to people; otherwise we would tell them to recognize the smell of good and evil". Svetlana has adapted her hand drawn film from a story by Ludvik Askenazy titled Brutus.

The competition programs were not just made up of serious films. There were plenty of very funny films. Daniel Moshel must have a very active imagination and a full You Tube life to have created MeTube: August Sings Carmen "Habanera." The 4 minute film is a very funny homage to the thousands of You Tube users and video bloggers, gifted and not so gifted alike, who tirelessly self-promote on the internet. This tribute-to-bad-taste version of Bizet's Habanera from Carmen was created as a music video for Swiss opera tenor August Schram and won the 2013 German Video award in the EPIC category. The film also screened at Sundance this year. You can watch it at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2jn_lxrrPg

With so much happening at the festival, committing a big block of time to see a feature film can be a gamble but I am very glad that I saw Giovanni's Island by Japanese animator Mizuho Nishikubo. Based on a true story, the film takes place after WW II on the tiny Japanese island of Shikotan which is occupied by the Soviet Union. Although it was forbidden for the Japanese families to have anything to do with the Russian families stationed on the island a young Russian girl and a Japanese boy become close friends.

The story of the occupation of the island, the eventual deportation of the Japanese residents to a Russian internment camp, and the many trials the internees faced before finally returning to Japan proper are seen through the eyes of two young brothers, Giovanni and Campanello and their young Russian friend Tanya. The hand drawn film is not only a historical drama but a touching story of people caught up in the aftermath of war.

With over 200 individual events and 1,000 films to choose from, making decisions about what to see and do is difficult and you are always going to miss something but I made sure not to miss Studio Filmbilder's 25th Anniversary party. Founder Thomas Meyer-Herman told the story of the renowned Stuttgart animation studio from its beginning to the present with a peak into the future using photos of many of the well-known animators who have worked at Studio Filmbilder. He also treated us to excerpts of commercial and artistic projects that have won the studio more than 130 festival prizes world-wide.

As a finale, Thomas, the real life Tom of the studio's acclaimed 52 part television series Tom and the Slice of Bread With Strawberry Jam and Honey, called all past and present people who have contributed to the innovative studio's success to the stage and it was quite an impressive group. Eight other studios from around the world including Laika from Portland, Oregon and SE-MA-FOR in Lodz, Poland also gave presentations and showcased their recent projects.


Nancy goes on to discuss programs presented by animation schools, a presentation on animation from Beirut and the Arab world, a story pitching contest, a night of animated horror films, workshops, programs for kids and a lot of other things, plus a short article about FMX 2014, The Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Transmedia, in Stuttgart.



It is beyond weird www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2jn_lxrrPg


I've just gotten a review copy of The Lost Notebook, Herman Schultheis and the Secrets of Walt Disney's Movie Magic. This lavishly illustrated, oversized book contains his notes about doing special effects on Disney's early classic features. John Canemaker adds his scholarship to this book on how the studio accomplished the impossible. I worked on photographic optical effects for several years so I'm really looking forward to reviewing it.



It just passed Iron Man 3 with $1.219 billion total worldwide. In Japan it broke records with $194 million at the box office. In the US it made over $400 million.


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen

Contributors include Nancy Denney Phelps and other friends of ASIFA-SF

Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo

Proofreader: Sarah Chin

Mailing Crew: Dot Janson, Shirley Smith and Dan Steves

Webmaster Dan Steves

Special thanks to Liz Keim and Sam Sharkey for a remarkable evening May 28 at the Exploratorium and to all the guest presenters from Holland. Also to Dot Janson for hosting our guests (above and beyond the call of duty). 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


SUNDAY, JUNE 22, 1:30 PM

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

Ode to Joy, a tribute to Joy Batchelor (Halas and Batchelor, UK)


Corrie Francis Parks, Hatch (made for a community movement to create a better world)
Dhvani Desai, Chakravyuh, The Vicious Circle, produced for the govt. of India. It informs people about a recently established legal way to escape a vicious cycle of corruption and non governance.
Luke Jaeger, Fishwife, a bittersweet work that evokes parenthood's complex emotional landscape Javier Saldena, Coal 101, produced by the Sierra Club
Joanna Priestly, Split Ends
John R. Dilworth, The Fog of Courage
Mark Kausler, Some Other Cat
A special short tribute to Max Hattler from the UK:
Collision (2005), AANAATT (2008), A Very Large Increase in the Size, Amount, or Importance of Something Over a Very Short Period of Time (2013).
Rebecca Ruige-Xu, Anatomy of a Poem, Syracuse University
Remi Vandenitte (Belgium), Betty's Blue with voice work by Nancy Phelps
Ricci Carrasquillo, Parkas Indoors a music video for Upstairs Downstairs
Signe Bauman, trailer for her soon to be released feature Rocks in my Pockets
and Tarzan, a 3 minute short featuring music by Joe Cartoon
Steve Segal, Outside the Box, 4 minutes of an unconventional work-in-progress
Tony Claars' On & Off and Lost & Found
Tristian Goik, Spanish Chocolate
Tsvika Oren (from Tel Aviv, Israel), A.B 1, a one minute CG short
Willie Williams, Silent Voices
Additional films are expected

Jimmy Love Juice by professer Dave Yee and his students at San Jose State University
Command Performance by Lee Bicker and Still Life! by Youyou Li, De Anza
Class President by Tim DuBay and Mark Pedruco, SF State University
Silent Voices by Jeeyoon Ng from USC
Additional student workexpected

Late entries

It isn't too late to enter work. There are no forms to fill out and no entry fee. Just send us a DVD by June 16. Please limit your entry to less than 10 minutes so all works submitted can be shown. All works must be a movie (not a sata file) that will play on a standard DVD deck. You do not have to be an ASIFA member to enter, but you ar! e invited to join if interested. details at www.asifa-sf.org)

Mail work to: Karl Cohen, 478 Frederick, SF, CA 94117 karlcohen@earthlink.net

You can be a judge!

The audience's vote helps determines who will get the prizes: A small cash grand prize and certificate awards will be given (best in show, best student, independent and professional works, second prizes, honorable mentions, etc. Last year we also presented jury awards for the funniest film, the best experimental work and the best educational work.

How to find the museum

The Randall Jr. Museum is at the top of Corona Heights, right in the geographic center of the city, but it is sometimes hard for newcomers to find;


for a map and instructions on how to find it by car, Muni and on foot

If in doubt, call (415) 554-9600 for assistance. 199 Museum Way, San Francisco, CA 94114.