November 2016

Ron Diamond’s latest excellent program of 16 animated short opens October 28 at 4 Bay Area theatres: the Vogue, 3290 Sacramento St. SF, The Lark in Larkspur, the Grand Lake in Oakland and the Camera 3 in San Jose.

(Regular admission fees apply)

See new innovative works. 32 films in past shows have gone on to receive Academy Award® nominations and nine won Oscars®. This year there are four provocative shorts exclusively for mature audiences in the evening shows while select daytime shows will only include the 12 family-friendly works. The family films include Disney/Pixar’s sweet Piper, and the latest in 360º storytelling in Google’s touching father and daughter journey Pearl by Academy Award® winner Patrick Osborne.

Last year the program was shown commercially for the first time, playing 435 showings in 50 cities in the U.S., Canada, Spain, South Africa, and Australia (it is still being screened abroad). Also Ron added short documentary portraits of a number of the directors discussing their work.

The films in the program are:
Stems by Ainslie Hendersen
Shift by Cecilia Puglesi & Yijun Liu
Pearl by Patrick Osborne
Crin-Crin by Iris Alexandre
Mirror by Chris Ware, John Kuramoto, Ira Glass
Last Summer in the Garden by bekky O’Neil
Waiting for New Year by Vladimir Leschiov
Piper by Alan Barillaro
Boygen by Kristian Pedersen
Afternoon Class by Seoro Oh
About a Mother by Dina Velikovskaya
Exploozy by Joshua Gunn, Trevor Piecham, & John McGowan
Corpus by Marc Héricher
Blue by Daniela Sherer
Manomen by Simon Cartwright
All Their Shades by Chloé Alliez.

THE 22ND ANNUAL BRAINWASH DRIVE/BIKE-IN MOVIE FESTIVAL HAS ANNOUNCED THEIR WINNERS Their third prize award went to an animated short, Head by Stav Levi. First prize went to Dance of the Neurons by Jody Oberfelder.




This program offers a wide variety of excellent works that were chosen by several hundred members of the ASIFA chapter. It is an impressive program of films you are unlikely to see elsewhere.

Slow Wave, Andy Kennedy

1st Place There’s Too Many of These Crows, Morgan Miller
2nd: Filthy But Fine, Arthur Metcalf
3rd: The Ballad of Holland Island House, Lynn Tomlinson

1st Place: Ring Around the Mulberry Bush, Nicholas D’Agostino, California Institute of the Arts
2nd Place: Scent of Geranium, Naghmeh Farzaneh, Rochester Institute of Technology,
3rd Place: Breathe, Ma-eum Ko, Hanyang University
Honorable Mentions: The Misadventures of Chubzilla, Dominik Koscinski, Elizabeth Lee, SVA; The Green Monster, Cyrus Cumming, NYU; Taking the Plunge, Elizabeth Ku-Herrero, Nicholas Manfredi, Marie Raoult, Thaddaeus Andreades, SVA

1st Place: Happy Birthday Ada! Rob O’Neill, Inklings Creative, The Productive

1st Place: More Stuff, Simone Giampaolo, Joe Kinch, Blue Zoo Animation Studio
2nd Place: Mirror, Chris Ware, John Kuramoto, The New Yorker, This American Life
3rd Place: Moonlight Storytime: The Wooly Dragon, Villamor M Cruz, Jr, Kirsten Lepore, Bix Pix Entertainment, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Best Writing (tie): Suffering Is the Easy Part, Jaime Ekkens
and Blankfillers, Celeste Lai, Peyton Skyler
Best Education: What “Orwellian” Really Means, Jeremiah Dickey, a Ted-Ed
Best Soundtrack: Voyager, Loïc Magar, Roman Veiga
Best Experimental: Little Girl, Steven Subotnick
Best Animation: Life Line, Brian Larson
Best Design: Perfect Houseguest, Ru Kuwahata, Max Porter


To attend you must RSVP the day before the screening by noon www.DisneyStudio or call the toll-free number 855 560-6212

You must show your membership ASIFA card and an official ID card to gain admission. Need a card? Contact Dan Steves ASAP

You and a guest are invited to award season screenings of the following Disney releases:

Finding Dory Saturday, Nov. 5 at 1 PM at Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero, SF

The Jungle Book Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7 PM, Steve Jobs Theatre at Pixar, 1200 Park Ave. Emeryville

Zootopia Sunday, Nov. 6, 1 PM, Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero St., SF

They may add additional screening in late Nov./Dec.


PIXAR HITS ANOTHER HOME RUN, ‘FINDING DORY’ HAS CROSSED THE BILLION DOLLAR MILESTONE LINE Finding Dory is the third film of the year to achieve this milestone and the other two are also Disney releases. Although you have probably considered this film an old release as it came out months ago in the US, Disney recently opened it in its final foreign markets; Germany, Austria and German-speaking Switzerland. The movie is the second Pixar title to make over $1 billion. Toy Story 3 (2010) was the first. Disney’s other two megahits this year are Captain America: Civil War ($1.153 billion) and Zootopia ($1.023 billion). Pixar has only one other, Finding Dory grossed $485 million in N. America, where it is the top-grossing movie of the year.

BEYOND TINTIN AND SUPERMAN: THE DIVERSITY OF GLOBAL COMICS This is a multimedia exhibit at the Doe Library (near or in the main Moffitt Library building), Bernice Layne Brown Gallery, UC Berkeley campus, ends March 31, 2017 and it is open every day. The exhibit of comics and graphic novels reflects the socioeconomic, ideological and political realities of the societies in which they were produced. To highlight these diverse realities, and to celebrate our differences, this exhibit presents a selection of works published in many countries. This selection portrays differences by selectively intensifying various contradictions generated in society by censorship, race relations, political agendas and gender biases. Some of the comics that are displayed may raise issues that are highly contradictory or painful to contemplate. With that in mind, the curatorial team encourages you to dissect, deconstruct, analyze and enjoy the pictorial narratives that these items portray.


Bill’s new animated feature, co-directed with Jim Lujan, had its festival premiere at the Festival L'Etrange in Paris in September. It was screened at the Sitges Festival in Spain in October and will be seen at the Gijon International Festival in Spain, November 19-26. See a trailer online on his new website


BILL HAS RELEASED A BLU-RAY OF HIS AWARD- WINNING SHORTS It includes The Loneliest Stoplight (starring Patton Oswalt), Bill's two Oscar-nominated shorts, Your Face (1987) and Guard Dog (2004), Santa The Fascist Years (narrated by Matthew Modine of Stranger Things), The Cow That Wanted to be a Hamburger, an exclusive clip from Revengeance, and much, much more! Your Face and Guard Dog were restored and digitally remastered in HD from the original 35mm film negatives by The Academy Film Archive. Visit the new


JEFFREY KATZENBERG WAS WISE TO SELL DREAMWORKS BEFORE THIS TURKEY WAS RELEASED After the The Hollywood Reporter saw Trolls at the London Film Festival they said, “The DreamWorks Animation production works overtime trying to be cute and irrepressible without bothering to create characters and plot lines that are as engagingly dimensional as the textured, Day-Glo visuals. With their candy-hued Don King hair-dos, those singing-and-dancing trolls will likely appeal mainly to younger viewers. Older moviegoers might experience a cloyingly sticky sensation that isn’t caused by the soda-splattered floor beneath their feet… (The “hippy-dippy” numbers) serve, for the most part, as cutesy interludes rather than really advancing the plot in any unique or meaningful way… (The directors) prove less adept at developing relatable characters and involving, inventively staged situations... While the production breaks some intriguing visual ground with felt textures and sprays of glitter to the CG toolbox, not to mention all that undulating troll hair, most of the original songs are largely forgettable.”

DREAMWORKS SETTLES LAWSUIT – TO PAY OUT $50 MILLION The anti-poaching settlement covers employees who worked from 2004 to 2010. The companies involved violated antitrust laws by conspiring to set animation wages using non-poaching agreements. The defendants have already settled with Sony ImageWorks and Blue Sky Studios. The settlement terms with Disney, Lucasfilm, Pixar and ImageMovers are still pending. This is not the somewhat similar lawsuit filed in 2010 and settled in 2014 for wage fixing.

GARY MEYER HAS TWO FILMS HE RECOMMENDS SEEING Gary is a great friend of animation, a former director of the Telluride Film Festival, the man who ran the Balboa & UC Theatres for many years, a founder of Landmark, etc. He writes: “I finally caught up with Kubo and the Two Strings from Laika Studios (Coraline, Paranorman, Box Trolls) in Oregon. What a beautiful movie. It has a solid story, interesting characters and is one of the most beautifully designed and realized films I have seen in a long time. Its Japanese folkloric and origami inspirations (with a little Kurosawa) offer a magical world and the film will both emotionally move you at times and offer plenty of excitement. The showing was advertised as in 3D but was not. While I would like to see it that way, the experience was wonderful flat. Catch it before it is gone. On the small screen it will just not be so special.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children “marks a major comeback for Tim Burton. It has been a long time since he has made a movie I really liked. Often they have some great images and ideas but just don't come together---and sometimes they are a total bust like his last, Big Eyes. Burton is best when he does not write or overly influence the screenplay as is happily the case here. This project is a match that has been waiting to be made to be as the book series provide a rich fantasy world that boggles the imagination at times. Great characters and an intriguing storyline.”

ANIMATED COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION TODAY by John Hays There has been quite a shift in the way ad agencies are run lately, especially as it relates to animation. It seems in the past 10 years or so agencies began doing their own animation in-house. Animation studios now have to operate more like ad agency/design studios that help clients brand themselves with website content or animated YouTube "explainer" videos that inform the public about various products or what startup companies do in entertaining ways.

Branded Content is the new all-encompassing buzzword for what design studios provide to clients that might include logos, web design, banner ads, explainer videos, TV commercials, as well as print ads. Animated commercials with budgets well over $100K used to be common whereas now internet advertising and other web- based promotional videos are considered more vital and cost-effective than expensive TV commercials. The upshot is that local production studios have to do a whole more for budgets that are a whole lot less than they were just 5 years ago.

DID WALT REALLY SAY THAT? READ “WALT’S WORDS: QUOTATIONS OF WALT DISNEY” BY JIM KORKIS Now you'll know for sure, in this comprehensive collection of Walt Disney's wisdom, as delivered through interviews, articles, speeches, TV appearances, and more. Each of the over 800 quotes in this book is authoritatively sourced as well. You'll be surprised by what Walt said—and what he didn't say! Disney historian Jim Korkis has devoted a lifetime of research into assembling the most complete, most accurate, most useful compilation of Walt Disney's quotes ever put into print. For fans, it's a deep dive into the wisdom of Walt; for authors and researchers, it's an invaluable reference. Korkis also provides the source of each quote, something you won't find anywhere else.

Walt Disney had a lot to say, about many different topics, including America, animation and films, art and music, books, business, Disneyland, education, fear and failure, Mickey Mouse, money, work, religion, storytelling, television, women... It's all here, uncensored and unedited. Available from Amazon for $19.95.


DISNEY IS SUING THE LIGHTSABER ACADEMY The lawsuit contends they are cybersquatting, infringing on trademarks and are unfair competition. The lawsuit is against Michael Brown who is operating the New York Jedi, the Lightsaber Academy and Thrills and Skills. They offer classes, teach the “core principles” and offer certificates. For details about the school visit


'INSIDE OUT' WRITER MEG LEFAUVE TO DIRECT DISNEY'S ‘GIGANTIC’ LeFauve will join Nathan Greno (Tangled) as directors on Disney’s updated version of Jack and the Beanstalk. The film is scheduled to be released in November 2018. LeFauve’s writing credits include Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur.

DISNEY IS LOOKING FOR A DIRECTOR AND CAST FOR THEIR NEXT ‘MULAN’ They started to develop a live-action version of Mulan in early 2015. The studio bought a spec script by Lauren Hynek and Elizabeth Martin, then hired Jurassic World's Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to do a rewrite. Insiders say the studio liked the rewrite so much that it fast-tracked the project. The 3D film is slated to be released Nov. 2, 2018.

According to someone who claims to have seen the script, they claim, “There is a white male lead/love interest, who ends up saving China from its invaders himself. This is not okay. Please share this petition on Facebook to tell Disney to make Mulan right, no whitewashing.” (From the Care2 website, that promotes petitions that people can sign if they agree with the cause.)

DISNEY IS DEVELOPING A DON QUIXOTE FEATURE Rumors say it will be a humorous action adventure film along the lines of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. If successful, chances are it will be turned into a ride in Adventureland and get other benefits of being a Disney franchise. Gordon Gray and Billy Ray are producing it and Ray, whose credits include The Hunger Games and Captain Phillips, is also writing it.


AARDMAN RELEASES AN IMAGE OF THE STARS OF NICK PARK’S NEXT FEATURE Nick Park who directed the Wallace and Gromit shorts is directing Early Man, set for a 2018 release. The photo shows the film's hero Dug, a caveman, and his sidekick Hognob. All the studio is saying is he unites his tribe against the mighty Bronze Age in the first-ever game of soccer. Park's last feature was the Academy Award-winning Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005).


A TALE OF A CANCELED SHOW OF CENSORED CARTOONS by Dennis Nyback In 1997 at the Cinema Village in New York City a screening of Bad Bugs Bunny was canceled due to complaints from the copyright holders of the cartoons in the program. It was comprised of ten Warner Bros. cartoons from 1932-1943, all of which had been censored in part or in whole. When I talked with the lawyer representing the copyright holders I offered to pay licensing fees for the cartoons use. He told me in no uncertain terms that their intention was to never let anyone see the cartoons again under any circumstance. I told him that people needed to see the cartoons so they could understand our troubled history. He said if I showed them they would take me to court and take away everything I owned. I told him if they took everything I owned they’d end up in debt. That didn’t amuse him. He asked why I was willing to risk ruination. I told him that the Japanese have a saying: “It is nail that sticks up that gets hammered down.” He said, “Huh?” I said that if in our society no one was willing to risk sticking up their heads there could be no progress. His only reply was, “We’ll see you in court.”

The Cinema Village gig received great press. It was enough to ensure a sold out run. The theater manager told me that they could not let me show the cartoons because “We have tangible assets here.” I asked if my risking my life made any difference. He said “That’s different.” What we decided was to not reveal to the ticket buyers that they would not see Bad Bugs Bunny. Instead I addressed them after they were seated to explain that the show was created to illustrate censorship and that they were getting a cheap education. I then showed them a program of racist, sexist and violent cartoons from other animation studios. No one asked for their money back. A black woman attorney gave me her card and said she would represent me pro bono if I was taken into court.

I created the program Bad Bugs Bunny as a comment on how censorship works in a free society. I was inspired by a 1992 article in the Wall Street Journal about the Disney Company editing out “anything that would offend anybody” from their body of animation works dating back to the birth of sound pictures. Their reason was due to a complaint from an American mother who wrote to them after seeing the character Pecos Bill on the Disney Channel. In the cartoon from the 1940’s he rolls a cigarette and smokes it. I objected to Disney’s actions on several levels.

The first was that they were trying to edit history. Because of motion pictures we can examine the 20th Century in ways not applicable to any previous time. Editing out offensive content from old films for new audiences is tantamount to the Goths and Vandals sacking Rome and destroying libraries because of their fear of knowledge.

Second, film is art. Editing old cartoons is like cutting off Van Gogh’s other ear in one of his self-portraits. What made both of those examples worse was the modern censorship of old films really had nothing do with right or wrong. What it was concerned with was money. Disney viewed the one complaint as a shot across the bow with an armada behind it. Their fear was simply that viewers would turn off their TVs and revenue would fall because of it.

Bad Bugs Bunny first screened at the Pike St. Cinema in Seattle in 1993. It was advertised as the truth of America’s history of racism, sexism and violence, in animated form. In 1995 I took it to Europe for screenings in dozens of venues in six countries. In 1997 it played to sold out houses in Great Britain. It also spawned the book Reading the Rabbit: Explorations in Warner Bros. Animation edited by Kevin Sandler in 1998.


WANDA’S CEO TOSSES AN EVENT IN HOLLYWOOD AS HE TRIES TO IMPRESS EVERYONE THAT HE IS A MAJOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA MOGUL On Oct. 18 Wang Jianlin rented the L.A. County Museum of Art so he could impress a hundred or more celebrities, major film and TV executives, etc. To keep guests from being bored he flew in a team of traditional Chinese acrobats, magicians and a Chinese pop singer to impress the crowd. Several Chinese diplomats and Beijing-based entertainment execs were also jetted over to meet their U.S. counterparts. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, were scheduled to deliver speeches.

At the event Wang unveiled a lucrative 40% production rebate for productions shot at his studio in Qingdao, China. The studio is going to be on a 408-acre mixed-use space and it will include 30 soundstages. One will be a temperature-controlled underwater stage and another will be the world's largest indoor stage. The studio is scheduled to open in August 2018.
(When I was in Wuhan, China I was a guest at what I assume was a similar extravaganza, but for 3,000 guests. The banquet was 3rd rate food and there were lots of rather drunk older men with bottles of hooch going around the room, patting friends on the back and toasting each other. The fancy entertainment was so over the top I found it underwhelming and I couldn’t wait to get back to our hotel. I hope Wang tossed a better party. KC)


WHICH THEME PARK WILL DOMINATE CHINA’S BATTLE BETWEEN WANDA AND DISNEY? The Hefei Wanda Culture Tourism City, built for $3.6 billion, opened about two months ago and is the company’s second park/resort. The first park is in Nanchang and it opened in May. Wanda plans to open a total of 15 parks in China by 2020 and the Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin is behind the project. The new Hefei Wanda City complex covers 365 acres and includes an outdoor theme park, an indoor water park, shopping mall, cinema attraction, dozens of restaurants, bars and a several luxury hotels.

At the opening ceremony Wang announced that Wanda will invest another $1.5 billion to build more indoor entertainment facilities at the park over the next two to three years. At the opening a motorcade of 12-seater golf carts toured the complex with Wang leading a group of Chinese officials and international dignitaries on a tour. Despite the blazing late autumn sun, the facility was packed to capacity.

Since the park in Nanchang opened, Disney’s Bob Iger unveiled their $5.5 billion Shanghai Disney Resort. Before Iger arrived Wang made headlines by saying Disney had made a mistake in coming to China, saying their "one tiger" would prove no match for Wanda's "pack of wolves." In a speech in August Wang noted that China's per capita income is one-sixth that of the U.S. and that the average Chinese person spends just one-fifteenth of what the average American spends on tourism.

There should be plenty of room in the market for both companies to flourish, but Wang apparently feels threatened even though his park in Nanchang had over 2 million visitors in its first month. Disney hasn’t said how many visitors they had, but Iger has said Shanghai Disney has had higher attendance figures than the company's other parks did during their first 100 days. So far Shanghai Disneyland's rollout has proceeded smoothly with none of the controversies or miscalculations that tainted the launch of their resorts in Paris and Hong Kong.

Wang doesn’t own the rights to established characters, but they recently purchased Legendary Entertainment and Dick Clark Productions (US firms), and they just signed a distribution deal with Sony to release their movies in China. Eventually they will own characters they can promote and merchandise. Meanwhile Wang is featuring historic Chinese characters and events including a “pyrotechnic stage show recreating the historic Battle of Feishui, a legendary episode well known to Chinese school kids.”

In terms of marketing Wanda’s admission prices are lower as they promote themselves as a park for the mainstream while Disney is a luxury theme park. A day pass to Shanghai Disneyland costs $75 for peak season and $55 for off season while Wanda charges $58 and $37 which is still a lot for a Chinese family. A hot dog at Wanda is said to cost $1.50 while one at Disney is $6. I assume Wang feels threatened by Disney, but China is big enough for both parks and hopefully both will do well.


Marv Newland curated this excellent selection of 11 classic and recent works: Joie de Vivre by Hector Hoppin and Anthony Gross (1934, France), Why Me by Janet Perlman (1978, Canada), Get a Job by Brad Caslor (1985, Canada), Carnival of the Animals by Michaela Pavlatova (2006, Czech Republic), Marv’s Beijing Flipbook (2003, Canada), Dog Brain by J. Falconer, (1988, Canada), Flux by Chris Hinton (2000, Canada), At the Quinte Hotel by Bruce Alcock (2005, Canada), Abut by Allison Hrabluik (2011, Canada), Hollow Land by Michele and Uri Kranot (2013, Canada/Israel), and Inside Loogaland by Jake Brassard (20116, Canada).



June 13 - 18, 2016, Annecy, France by Nancy Denny-Phelps

My head was still full of beautiful memories of Animafest Zagreb as I flew straight from Zagreb to Annecy. After having so many problems with the Annecy event access last year, I was happy to discover that the 2016 edition was much better organized. The festival has finally worked out the bugs in their computer system, and festival registration and ticket reservations ran smoothly all week.

With 9,153 badge holders, up 10.3% from last year, there is no way that everyone could get tickets for all of the screenings that they wanted, but since you could book and cancel screenings with their phone app, it helped to make for fewer empty seats at supposedly sold out screenings. And with 10 screening rooms scattered throughout the city and nightly special free screenings at the Musee-Chateau you could always get tickets for something. It just might not be exactly what you wanted to see or when and where you wanted to see it.

The opening night film was The Red Turtle, Michael Dudok de Wit’s long awaited first feature length film. It tells the story of a man marooned on a desert island who tries desperately to escape until the day he encounters the strange red turtle. It changes his life.

Michael said that he did not want to tell a story of how a man survives on a desert island because that has already been done many times. He explained, “I spent time on one of the smaller Seychelles Islands, a name that evokes luxury vacations. But I made a simpler choice, living with locals for ten days… the idea was to avoid the holiday brochure aesthetic. My castaway couldn’t love the location; he wants to return home at all costs, as the island is not so welcoming. There are dangers, extreme solitude, rain, and insects...”

The film was a co-production between Studio Ghibli in Japan and Wild Bunch of France. In 2006 Toshio Suzuki of Studio Ghibli approached Dudok De Wit with the idea of working together on a feature film. Michael began the script in 2007. This is the renowned Studio Ghibli’s first co-production outside of Japan.

The film is visually stunning as you would expect from a collaboration between Dutch animator Michael Dudok De Wit (The Monk and the Fish, 1995 and the 2001 Oscar winning Father and Daughter) and Studio Ghibli. There is no dialogue, so the beautiful musical score by Laurent Perez Del Mar was extremely important to the storyline.

Unfortunately I felt that something was missing from the film. As visually lovely as The Red Turtle is, it seemed to be too long, with scenes that were not necessary to move the story along. The film would have made a stunning 30 minute masterpiece but at 1 hour and 25 minutes I thought that the story began to lag a little over half way through. People that I talked to who saw the film either loved it or also thought that it was too long.

There were nine feature films in competition and eleven out of competition this year. The big buzz at the festival was about My Life as a Courgette, which won both the Best Feature Film Cristal and the Feature Film Audience Award. The delightful Swiss/French stop-motion film by Claude Barras is the story of a nine-year-old boy nicknamed Courgette (Zucchini in English). After his mother’s sudden death the boy is befriended by a kind police officer named Raymond who takes him to the orphanage which is full of children Courgette’s age.


At first the boy struggles to find his place in his strange, and at times hostile, new world. With the help of Raymond and his new friends he eventually learns to trust people again and finally finds a new family of his own.

Barras has brought the book, Autobiographie d’ une Courgette by Gilles Paris, to life with appealing puppets and a main character that you care about and want to see find happiness.

It has been selected as the Swiss entry for Best Foreign Language Film for the 89th Academy Awards and G-Kids has bought the N. American distribution rights so hopefully it will be in theatres soon.

The National Film Board of Canada is known for their excellent short animation and this year they had a lot to celebrate. Frank Dion received the Grand Prix Cristal for The Head Vanishes produced at the National Film Board. Jacqueline, the film’s main character, isn’t quite in her right mind anymore, but she is determined to take the train to the seashore, as she does every summer. Only this year, she is constantly being followed by a woman who claims to be her daughter. Her trip takes some unexpected turns.

Frank’s gentle, poetic 8 minute, 30 second film invites the view to share the journey of an elderly woman living with degenerative dementia, as her confused mind leaves her open to danger. The film is definitely deserving of the Cristal and I think this will not be its last major award.

Continuing an amazingly prolific stream of new animation following his 20th Century Trilogy, Blood Manifesto, and Sonambulo, Bulgarian born Theodore Ushev’s Blind Vaysha won both the Junior Jury Award for a Short Film and The Jury Award. The film, adapted from a short story by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov, is about Vayshu, a girl afflicted with the ability to see only the past out of her left eye and the future in her right eye. In this metaphoric tale of timeless wisdom and beauty Theodore reminds us of the importance of living in the present. The film is visually experimental utilizing drawings and linocuts to create a starkly disturbing 3D film.

Blind Vaysha was produced at the National Film Board by Marc Bertrand. For 3D screenings we were provided with unique 3D glasses in the shape of Vaysha’s face. Theodore told me that the Junior Jury award meant a great deal to him because he thinks of the film as a metaphorical fairy tale for kids from 9 to 99, and if the Junior Jury with an average age of 11 years old understood the film, he had accomplished what he set out to do. Kudo’s to a very intelligent and sensitive group of young people. At the closing night ceremony the Junior Jury donned their 3D glasses when their award was announced.


A new film by Japanese animator and illustrator Koji Yamamura is always a treat and his latest film Parade de Satie was a special surprise for me because I love Erik Satie’s music. The parade of three managers and four performers mixes quotes by Satie on the music he composed for his 1916 ballet Parade with images of a surrealistic animated ballet. The music, performed by the Dutch ensemble Willem Breuker Kollektief, and Koji’s images brought this famous ballet by Leonid Massine back to life in this 14 minute film.

Each year Annecy features animation from a different country. This year the festival turned the spotlight on the rich history of French animation. With tongue planted firmly in cheek the catalogue announced French Animation: The Mirror Effect by saying “Annecy is in France, and seen from that perspective, it’s a little like putting yourself in the spotlight. To avoid such an embarrassing situation, we have conceived a set of contrasting visions so that French animation we offer will be a reflection of how the rest of the world sees it.”

No such disclaimer is really needed because everyone knows that French animation stands out for its diversity, ambition, and such great names in cinema as Florence Miailhe, Robert Laguionie, and Michel Ocelot. France can also boast some of the most famous animation studios in the world and their schools offer the widest range of training programs available anywhere. Numerous French co-productions appear on festival screens throughout the world.

The 17 programs devoted to the exploration of all facets of French animation began with The Classics’ Classics curated by noted film historian Giannalberto Bendazzi. All seven films in the program, from Emile Cohl’s 1908 Fantasmagorie to Florence Miailhe’s Au premier dimanche d’ aout, 1999, a delightful example of painting in motion were a treat to see again on the big screen.

Ron Diamond, founder of the Acme Filmworks in Los Angeles, presented View From Hollywood which contained some of French animation’s recent international successes including Jeremy Clapin’s Skhizein. Shelly Page who is Head of International Outreach at DreamWorks, selected 15 films from 9 different animation schools for the Best From Schools screening.

The most intriguing French program, Un Unexpected Account of French Animation posed the question “What if Norman McLaren had been French?” Marco De Blois, programmer and curator at the Cinematheque Quebecoise, Canada posed this question and then combed the vast archives of French animation to find the answer to his question. For the 9 films in the program Marco unearthed engraving on film (Surprise Boogie, 1957 by Albert Pierru), visual music (Symphonie printaniere by Henry Valens in1934), special effects (Emile Cohl’s 1910 Le Mobilier fidele), chronophotography (Allegro ma troppo, 1962 by Paul de Roubaix) and CGI, represented by Peter Foldes 2009 Youki. Marco even included Publicite Michelin: Empreintes, a 1960 commercial by Jean Mineur, as a nod to McLaren’s several public service messages.

To end the program Italian composer and sound designer Andrea Martignoni gave a live musical performance during the 35 minute screening of Symphonie printaniere, Henry Valensi’s 1934 silent film. The program was full of delightful surprises and made me feel that the Scottish/Canadian McLaren must have had bit of French in his soul.

Each year the first program that I see at Annecy is The Big Sleep. This program pays tribute to those people involved in the animation industry who have passed away since the last Annecy. It is bittersweet, and it is important to pay homage to old friends, their great contributions to animation, and the beloved films they have left us. The first of the five animators in the program was Jane Aaron (1948-2015). Traveling Light and Set in Motion are two of the best-known films by the New York animator and illustrator. In Traveling Light Jane used pixilation to depict rays of light and shadow as they travel across the outside and inside of a house.

For Set in Motion Jane used stop-motion to animate cut out bits of material and paper that move around furniture, walls and other household fixtures. Jane went on to create over 150 segments for the Children’s Television Workshop’s famous series Sesame Street over a 17-year period. Even though her name may not be known to the millions of children who grew up watching the show, they learned their alphabet and counting from Jane’s colorfully animated letters and numbers.

If Robert Balser had created nothing more than the opening sequence of Around the World in 80 Days and worked on George Dunning’s Yellow Submarine in his 50-year career he would be remembered for his contribution to popular culture. In the field of television he contributed his talent to The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show. Balzer, was born in the United States and lived in Barcelona for many years, created his short The Hat in 1964 at Estudios Moro. His story of a social outcast who is bareheaded in a society where everyone else wears a hat has become a classic example of social commentary.

Giuseppe Lagana had a long career that reflects the history of Italian animation. Beginning in the 1960’s Giuseppe became one of the main collaborators at Bruno Bozzetto’s studio. He worked on several TV series and created a children’s feature film, Felix-All Around the World. He is best remembered for the 1982 4’30” film Pixocchio where he collaborated with Guido Vanzetti to create Italy’s first computer animation.

Canadian Colin Low, who was hired by the National Film Board of Canada at the end of WWII, became known for his innovative techniques. Although he was best known for his documentaries he made vast contributions to the world of animation including introducing cel animation to the NFB. His animated short The Romance of Transportation in Canada was nominated for an Oscar in 1952 and won a Palm d’Or at Cannes. Low became one of the pioneers of IMAX, participating in its technological development from the ‘60’s through the ‘90’s.

Last but not least, we bid a fond farewell to Spaniard Pascual Perez Porcar. He began his career working for Bolex Brothers, and other production studios. After playing around with plasticine and the family super-8 camera, he started his career working on the 2-D animation series Cutless before joining Conflictivos Productions managed by Sam Orti. He worked with Sam on such shorts as The Werepig and Vicenta as well as Sam’s extremely clever puppet feature Possessed, a tribute to classic horror films. He also worked on many Aardman productions. In 2011 Pascual made his own personal film Story of Him. The film is about a little guy who just can’t stop knocking back beers and coffees was screened as part of The Big Sleep.

The festival’s Artistic Director Marcel Jean is an excellent interviewer, so the opportunity to hear the filmmakers speak every morning at Shorts and Breakfast was most informative. Marcel has a knack for asking intelligent questions and then letting the filmmakers take center stage and give in-depth answers to questions.

MIFA, the business and market arm of the festival, celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015. It has grown so large that it has now taken over the Imperial Palace Hotel and expanded into a massive tent. MIFA has become a major meeting place for animation buyers and distributors with 530 exhibitors from 68 countries. In addition to the exhibition booths MIFA hosted numerous conferences, keynote speeches, master classes, and making of sessions.

A meeting was held to announce the founding of the European Animation Awards. It will honor the European Animation Industry. The idea was conceived by producer Didier Brunner when he attended the 42nd Annie Awards Ceremony and realized that there wasn’t a similar event to honor the European Animation Industry.

The first ceremony will be held in 2017 to present 20 Emile Awards, named after two figures of cinema: Emile Reynaud (1844-1918) and Emile Cohl (1857-1938). Reynaud was the French inventor and creator of the first cartoon, who presented his Pantomimes Lumineuses on 28 October 1892, and Cohl was a French illustrator and animator and is considered to be the first director of animation. He created more than 300 films using a variety of techniques. A Life Time Achievement Award, The Lottie, will also be award.

The 15-member board of the European Animations Award consists of an impressive group of animators, festival directors, and animation historians. Peter Lord has the honor of being selected as the first President. You can learn more about the new organization and how to become a member at:

As Aardman Studios gears up to celebrate its 40th Anniversary the second MIFA/Variety Animation Personality of the Year Award was bestowed on both Peter Lord and David Sproxton, co-founders of the renowned studio. It honors those who have contributed to the evolution of the animation industry through their work and achievements. I can’t think of two more worthy winners.

Jeffrey Katzenberg received Annecy’s first Golden Ticket, a lifetime pass to the festival, for “his legendary animation track record.” It was presented at the end of the Keynote Master Class of director Guillermo del Toro which was attended by over 1,000 people. Del Toro and Katzenberg spent much of the second half of the talk discussing DreamWorks Animation/Netflix’s upcoming series Trollhunters which Guillermo produced. The Golden Ticket Award had been kept a complete secret and it was evident that Katzenberg didn’t suspect a thing when Marcel Jean came on stage to ask him about highlights in his career. Jeffrey was completely surprised when he was given the award and was almost speechless for a minute.

How important MIFA has become was underscored by a visit from French President Francoise Hollande and the Minister of Culture and Communications Audrey Azoulay. The already high security at both the festival sites and MIFA became even more intense for the visit. The festival buses stopped running to and from MIFA for several hours, the streets were blocked off, and high security French police dresses in robocop riot gear were standing around in the rain everywhere.

THE ANNECY ARTICLE CONTINUES ONLINE AT There is lots of information about the numerous parties, social whirl, the final awards ceremony and other topics.


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen
Contributors include Dennis Nyback, and Nancy Denney-Phelps
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreader: Sarah Chin
Mailing Crew: Denise McEvoy, Dan Steves, Shirley Smith
Special thanks to The Walt Disney Family Museum, the National Film Board of Canada and to Marty McNamara for our wonderful recent event, Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to our webmaster Dan Steves who also keeps our mailing list and a lot of other things 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. Membership is $26 a year with printed newsletter mailed to you or $21 a year if you just want the issue e-mailed to you
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or to PO Box 225263, SF CA 94122

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