George Mundy and Karl Cohen
George Mundy and Karl Cohen
Photograph: Dwight Dolliver

Karl Cohen

January 2017
ASIFA-SF Newsletter

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ASIFA-SF NEEDS YOUR HELP

Dan Steves will be moving to Portland soon, so we’ll need volunteers who can help with the membership list, printing mailing labels for the newsletter, emailing the newsletter and occasional news updates, managing the ASIFA-SF website, and the occasional run to the bank. We don’t expect one person to take on all of these things, so don’t let the list of tasks scare you away. If you’re willing to take on only one thing that’s great! Just email Karl and Dan so we can coordinate handing off tasks.

JOHN HAYS DIRECTED THE ANIMATION IN THE
ANNIE NOMINATED FILM AUDRIE AND DAISY

The documentary tells the stories of two American high school students, Audrie Pott and Daisy Coleman, living in different parts of the country, who experienced the trauma of sexual assault and then harassment that followed. At the time of the assaults, Pott was 15 and Coleman was 14 years old. After the assaults, the victims and their families were subjected to abuse and cyberbullying. The documentary follows their outcomes through time, social media, court documents and police investigations. According to John Hays, the director of the animation for the film, Audrie killed herself as a result of the tragic event while Daisy survived the ordeal partly because the hacker group known as "Anonymous" got involved to protect her from small town abuse. It also helped her start an online army to combat a justice system that was protecting the perpetrator, a high school football star. Another thing that helped her get through it all was her artwork, which Hays and his crew brought to life in the film. The animation was used to illustrate her narration of events, and as John Hays says "it kind of made it all the more chilling in some ways.”

Although the animation is a small part of the film, it is nominated in the Annie’s Best Animated Special Production category along with the new Kung Fu Panda short – Kung Fu Panda: Secrets of the Scroll. As Animation Director, John Hays worked on the sequence where Daisy’s artwork comes to life, drawing storyboards and layouts. Mike Overbeck then animated and composited the boards in AfterEfx, Charlie Canfield also animated a shot, and Amy Capen produced the animation. John Hays says the animation was “certainly used in a very unique special way.”

There was also a segment where animation had to mask the identities of two defendants (who agreed to the interview as part of a settlement). Although another crew handled this part of the production, according to John Hays, "This segment was especially tricky as it had to be scrutinized by lawyers.”

The film directors are Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, a husband-and-wife team who have teenage children. Fascinated by the role of social media in teenage lives, they were attracted to the subject of the Daisy Coleman story as a modern-day Scarlet Letter. While they recognize that social media can be a source of enormous cruelty, it can also be a powerful tool for forging life-saving connections. The film premiered in 2016 at Sundance and Netflix picked it up there for distribution. It was shown locally this spring in the San Francisco International Film Festival.


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ROBERT VALLEY’S “PEAR CIDER & CIGARETTES” IS A
FILM ON THE SHORT LIST FOR AN ACADEMY AWARD

Valley’s Annie-nominated Pear Cider & Cigarettes is a kick-ass violent crime story set in a futuristic city. It started a few years ago as a graphic novel that was funded with a Kickstarter campaign. The brutally honest story is based on Robert's turbulent relationship with a self-destructive, yet charismatic friend from his childhood. He cried out for help from a military hospital in China and set Robert on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver. In 2016 the animated short based on the graphic novel was released. It can be seen as a video on demand.

Valley worked locally at Colossal Picture on Aeon Flux and other projects. He later was with WildBrain before moving south. His more recent credits include character designer on Tron Uprising, director of 3 episodes on Wonder Women and most recently director of Metallica’s Tribute to Lemmy Kilmister in Murder One. The animation follows Lemmy from Liverpool until he founds Motörhead.


PIXAR ANIMATORS MADE “BORROWED TIME” IN THEIR SPARE TIME

And it took them five years to complete this impressive dramatic work.

http://www.dailydot.com/upstream/pixar-borrowed-time-vimeo/?tw=share


GKIDS IS RELEASING STUDIO GHIBLI’S “OCEAN WAVES”

It is a made for TV feature made in 1993 and unreleased in the U.S. until now. It was directed by Tomomi Mochizuki and will be released on home video formats this spring.


DOES THIS REALY MATTER?

China is delighted that they now have more movie theatres than the US does. As of Dec. 20, there were 40,917 screens in mainland China, more movie screens than in any other country in the world. Last May our National Theatre Owners Association said were 40,759 screens in the U.S.


Paul Naas did the cover illustration for the new book by Ed Hooks

Craft Notes for Animators is available at Amazon.

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THE 2ND GLAS ANIMATION FESTIVAL
ANNOUNCES SOME OF THEIR SPECIAL GUESTS

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The second edition of GLAS Animation will taking place March 2-5, 2017 in Berkeley, California. GLAS introduces new ideas and expands the scope of animation by bringing new voices, new talents, new themes, and a new generation of independent filmmakers and curators to the United States. They highlight independent animation and curate special programs that focus on the most significant periods of animation history that will serve as an inspiration for contemporary animators.

Guests this year include Brad Bird (The Incredibles, The Iron Giant), Massaski Yusa (Mind Game), George Schwizgebel (Jeu), Mathieu Labaye (The Labyrinth), Amy Lockhart (Walk For Walk), Lei Lei (Recycled), experimental animator Peter Burr, Ana Ramirez (So Long, Yupi), Madeline Sharafian (Acorn) and Ottawa Animation Festival director Chris Robinson. More guests will be announced early next year.


THE ACADEMY OF ART HAS FINALLY AGREED
TO SETTLE THEIR DECADES OLD LAWSUIT
WITH SAN FRANCISCO FOR $60 MILLION

The school has been illegally converting apartment building into student dorms for decades and has constantly delayed bringing the school’s numerous illegally converted buildings into compliance with the city’s rules. The Academy is one of the nation’s largest for-profit art schools and also one of the city’s biggest landlords.

The city’s lawsuit said that at least 33 of the academy’s 40 buildings were out of compliance with zoning codes, signage laws or historic preservation rules. The school had also taken 160 units of affordable residential units off the market and illegally turned them into dorms.

Under the settlement, the academy has agreed to pay the city $20 million in fines and fees over five years with $7 million going into a city fund to buy rent-controlled apartment buildings. The school will also provide and maintain at least 160 units of low-income housing for senior citizens. Some of the units will be new construction. That part of the settlement is valued at $40 million to the city over the 66-year life of the agreement.

The school will also shut down school operations at three locations, limit future enrollment to the amount of housing that they have on hand and will work to keep their fleet of buses off of the city’s main traffic arteries. To reduce the number of busses they need they plan to provide students and staff with free Muni passes. ATED

The Academy’s President Elisa Stephens has become a celebrity in local society and is active with local civic groups and charities. She regularly lends autos from the school’s classic car collection to politicians and other VIPs to use in parades. Some of the cars can also be seen at the annual auto show and in at least two auto showrooms on Van Ness.

Behind the scenes Stephens and her legal team have fought the city attorneys for years. Several past and present teachers have told me they question how well she will comply with the settlement. They also wonder if she will address other issues that remain unresolved (student or staff complaints, etc.).


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DISNEY IS HOLLYWOOD’S MOST
PROFITABLE RELEASING CORPORATION

Disney features now generate about 25% of the gross income Hollywood features take in. At the start of the recent holiday season their 12 releases for 2016 had just broken the $7 billion mark. Universal releases set an all-time high record in 2015 of $6.9 billion.

By December 20 Disney had released four of the top 10 top-grossing films of 2016: Marvel's Captain America: Civil War ($1.15 billion), Pixar's Finding Dory ($1.03 billion), Disney Animation's Zootopia ($1.02 billion) and, from its live-action studio, The Jungle Book ($967 million). By the time you read this their Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will probably have joined the list of top grossing features. Also high on charts will be Marvel's Doctor Strange (over $655 million on Dec. 20) Two other films distributed by Disney might make a small profit, Pete’s Dragon which grossed $143 million on a $65 million budget, and Moana which, as of December 20, has grossed $344 million worldwide. That film’s production budget was reported to be $185 million.

The studio took a loss on BGF. It cost $140 million to make and it only grossed $178 million. The Light between the Oceans grossed only $23 million and it had a $20 budget. The Finest Hour, with a $52 million gross, also was a poor performer.

Of the 12 films Disney released last year only one, Through the Looking Glass, was a serious flop. It cost $170 million to make plus an enormous amount to market, but it only grossed about $300 million globally. The flop of this sequel probably came as a surprise to Disney executives as their Alice in Wonderland grossed $1.025 billion in 2010.


TWO OF DISNEY’S ANIMATED FILMS FOR 2016
SEEM AIMED AT A YOUNG POPULIST AUDIENCE by KC

For years features usually begin by carefully introducing the chief characters, building empathy with them and establishing the basic conflict that will somehow be resolved eventually. While Zootopia is an excellent entertaining work with two nicely developed characters and a rich original script that uses the traditional formula, Moana and Finding Dory seem to take a different approach to creating successful works that will pleased a younger audience (5 to 10 year olds?). Their new structure seems to be designed for an audience that is growing up with very short attention spans, people that will not miss longer, well developed characters and stories. Instead, like text messaging, they are dumbed down to extremely short, simple premises and characters with very simple personalities.

Dory is a cute, lovable, absent minded fish on a simple quest to find her parents. The story is a series of short episodes based on her getting lost, making wrong turns and getting into over the top situations. It doesn’t build upon itself so the small episodes are simply little situations that somehow get resolved. While Dory is a sweet fish her main personality trait is an inability to remember things. It appears to be a serious mental problem, perhaps attention deficit disorder, so her character isn’t someone I would choose to spend 94 minutes with. Dory can’t shut up and since she has little to say that is intelligent, I found her conversations slightly irritating.

Since I never emphasized with Dory I found much of the film somewhat boring. You assume from the start that the missing parents will be found so there isn’t much suspense. While Dory finds two fish to be her sidekicks (she needs someone to talk to), they are too much like her, sweet but dull. You also probably know that any good Pixar feature film will end with a fun chase for a climax. Finding Dory’s saving grace is an amusing octopus and the expected fun, fast paced chase just before the film ends. I also was impressed with the scenery (all three animated features for 2016 have excellent backgrounds).

While Dory’s quest was simple so the writers probably had to limit the possibilities as to what could be done to make the film fun and believable for youngsters, Moana’s quest was over the top from start to finish. Unfortunately for me I didn’t find her that likable so I didn’t care what was happening. Sure there was plenty of action and adventure, but the film didn’t draw me into it. I simply didn’t care about the quest. I felt Moana was basically a fast paced computer game. I’m glad it has found an audience, but I was underwhelmed.

Zootopia got off to a poor start for me as some of the dialog comes from a squeaky clean young bunny rabbit who wants to be a policeman in a city full of much larger animals. It took me a while to get used to the cute rabbit’s voice and my immediate reaction to the film’s the premise was it was absurd. My feels about the feature changed for the better once Judy Hopps gets a job in the big city and is confronted with challenges. Soon I was loving the film. Judy turns out to use her brain, not her brawn to resolve situations.

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Judy becomes a detective, not a strong armed cop, in this solid delightful comedy adventure. While there are dull spots and it is weird that they only introduced the films a sociopathic murderer about 10 or 15 minutes before the film’s end (that sequence seems tacked on as a last minute addition), most of it is a nicely paced and quite entertaining.

While Finding Dory and Moana also feature female leads in adventures, that doesn’t make either of those films more interesting. Zootopia calls attention to Judy being a tiny female rabbit who is faced with enormous challenges so I could empathize with her. Moana is a somewhat spoiled princes who seems to have special powers so we expect her to do unusual superhero things that we can’t take seriously. On the other hand Judy is a lowly rabbit and I can relate to her learning how to succeed. I cheered her on, a reaction that was missing in the other two features.

Note: Animation scholar Jim Korkis reminded me that a growing trend in Hollywood is to feature impressive women as the film’s lead and men in secondary roles. In Disney animation you also have Frozen, Inside Out and other recent examples. Heroic women star in two recent Star Wars films and in several series on SYFY including Van Heising, and Z Nation.

Another major element that impressed me in Zootopia is that there are intelligent lessons to be learned about tolerance towards animals that are different than you. Another lesson is you may succeed in life if you don’t give up and stick to reaching your objectives. In Zootopia people’s attitudes and personalities change as they learn to accept each other’s special abilities and problems.

I suspect the new Disney aesthetic in Moana and Finding Dory is directed at a populist family audience that probably watches too much TV and/or amuses itself constantly on the internet using handheld devices. I suspect the films are aimed at people that tweet, not people that love to read long novels. This 21st Century audience may not crave films that are mentally challenging. They may be satisfied with popular entertainment that keeps their minds busy absorbing mindless stuff. It may no longer seem to matter if the stories make too much sense, are very meaningful or have any depth to them. From the box office numbers it is obvious Mona and Finding Dory are successful, suggesting there has been a real aesthetic shift in what Disney thinks audiences want.


ASIFA-SF

“STREET GANG” WILL BE A DOCUMENTRY
FEATURE ON “SESAME STREET”

Hopefully it will include some of the delightful animation created locally by Sally Cruikshank, Vince Collins, Jeff Hale, Imagination Inc. and others. Macrocosm Entertainment and Citizen Skull Productions are producing the film.


CORRIE FRANCIS PARKS’ NEW FILM IS “COYOTE CAROL”

Her fascinating new minute long work is made with sand and there are links to earlier work by her on the YouTube page. www.medium.com/@corriefrancis/the-individual-grain-7f8b05bc1751#.u375h8pr2 The film’s soundtrack is by Alexandra Gardner. More music by her is at

https://soundcloud.com/alexandragardner


MUSICAL CHAIRS AT DREAMWORKS ANIMATION

Bonnie Arnold, with whom Soria Mireille shared the title of co-president, will now serve as president of DWA. Mireille Soria is leaving her position as co-president of DWA and will become the producer of its Madagascar franchise.


THE GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS
FOR BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

Kubo and the Two Strings, Moana, My Life as a Zuchini, Sing and Zootopia.


THE NATIONAL FILM REGISTRY
HAS ADDED TWO DISNEY CLASSICS

The animated additions for 2016 are The Lion King and Who Framed Roger Rabbit.


SAN FRANCISCO FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS
THE RED TURTLE ANIMATED FEATURE OF 2016

See the full list of winners here: http://sffcc.org


ASIFA-SF Member Corrie Francis Parks
Releases New Book On Animation

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Animation was invented by an experimenter. A person who decided to try things differently. A person not content to let a picture stand still. Today when it feels like there is nothing new under the sun, it can feel impossible to imagine doing something innovative and in an experimental way.

Fluid Frames: Experimental Animation with Sand, Clay, Paint, and Pixels opens a window into the “experimental frame of mind”, which involves applying creative thought at every stage of the production, no matter the technique. Fluid Frames provides a step by step pathway for the new or established animator tap into that experimental frame of mind and create stunningly new and original works of their own. The book explores, like never before, the tactile nature of moving malleable materials directly under the camera and how that presents a creative stimulus for all animators, offering new problems and opening the mind to new solutions that readily translate to other animation techniques.

But the physical material is not the end of the story. With input from a handful of contemporary animators, Parks introduces a flexible digital workflow to advance the art of fluid frame animation. Fluid Frames walks readers through setting up the studio, choosing and working with materials, and transitioning from physical production to digital post-production to further enhance the animation. Stacked with information, interviews and images from over 30 artists, this book is an indispensable resource for both the student and professional wishing to get their hands dirty in an increasingly digital world.

Corrie Francis Parks is an ASIFA-SF member and will be at the Winter Party with some books for those interested in getting a signed copy. Learn more about that book at http://fluidframes.net.


Watch Terry Gilliam’s Animated Short ‘The Christmas Card’

http://www.openculture.com/2011/12/a_very_terry_gilliam_christmas_seasons_greetings_1968_and_2011.html


Signe Baume working on a new feature

Signe is working on a new animated feature film, 'The Marriage Project'. It is a personal story of a fiery young woman's quest for perfect love and lasting marriage. She is challenged on this journey by a singing quartet of Mythology Sirens with their non-stop pressure to conform to societal expectations. A concerned Biology character presents another challenge: the biochemical processes in the young woman's brain that affect her moods and behaviors. This is a woman's story of love, gender, abuse, hopes, fantasies and ultimately finding a better place for oneself in society.

To stay updated on 'The Marriage Project' and some of Signe's stray thoughts you can check out Signe's BLOG.


The 2016 Oscar Short list
(Top Ten animated shorts) by Steve Segal

Note: Steve is an ASIFA-SF member and an Academy member who attends the annual screening of films being considered for the short list for animated shorts.

There was a wide variety of excellent short films this year that made the short list. Three are distributed by Disney, two are by students and two are from the venerable National Film Board of Canada. They are listed here in alphabetical order, just as they were presented at the Academy screening. Members were given a sheet with the title, length and a plot, but not the filmmakers (although the information was readily available in the credits). The printed plot descriptions are shown italicized.

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Blind Vaysha by Theodore Ushev. Vaysha is not like other young girls; she was born with one green eye and one brown eye. Her odd eyes aren’t the only thing that’s special about her gaze. In this metaphoric tale of timeless wisdom and beauty filmmaker Theodore Ushev reminds us of the importance of living in the present moment.

This film from The National Film Board of Canada was the only film shown in stereoscopic 3D even though several were made that way. It's an intriguing story told with striking images drawn to look like wood-block prints. The story is unique and thought provoking. The animation has a surreal quality and the images and message are quite strong. A unique film from an excellent filmmaker.

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Borrowed Time by Andrew Coats and Lou Hamou-Lhadj at Quorum Films. A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident that he has spent a lifetime trying to forget. With each step forward the memories come flooding back. Faced with his mistake once again he must find the strength to carry on.

These two film makers made their film on their off time at Pixar and benefited from some of Pixar's facilities, but it is an independent film (and even in competition with an official Pixar short). It is professional looking with a minimum of dialog and a very dramatic story. It's a bit too predictable for my taste, but it has many admirers.

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Happy End by Jan Saska. A black comedy about death with a happy ending. A splendid chain of unlikely encounters. Hunters, a tractor driver, a disco boy and a corpse.

This student film is probably the funniest and most original of the films presented. Hilariously exaggerated expressions on grotesque hand drawn characters tell what seems like a very morbid story, but in the final analysis it lives up to its title. It is from The Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague

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Inner Workings by Leo Matsuda. The story of the internal struggle between a man’s pragmatic logical side and his free-spirited adventurous half. Created in a unique fast-paced style that blends CG and traditional hand-drawn animation the short explores the importance of finding balance in daily life.

This Disney short shown in front of Moana combines CG and hand drawn animation to tell a familiar story of a man in a boring job learning to let loose. It is sort of a mash-up of Pete Docter's Inside Out and Bill Plympton's Guard Dog. He tries to avoid his base instincts depicted by his organs and imagines, in a hilarious hand drawn cartoon, tragedies that may befall him. It's really funny with great comedy timing although the message is something of a cliché.

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Once Upon a Line by Alicja Jasina. A man leads a monotone humdrum existence until he suddenly falls in love. What follows is a short portrait of a difficult relationship marked by a struggle for control and identity. The ending gives hope for a new beginning and a change of perspective.

This was the most graphically innovative piece. This bears a slight resemblance in look and concept to Osvaldo Cavandoli's La Lina (the Line) but the drawings become progressively more complex as they tell a somewhat traditional story. A hand drawn student film from USC.

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Pear Cider and Cigarettes by Robert Valley. The brutally honest story of Robert's turbulent relationship with a self-destructive yet charismatic friend from childhood who cries out for help from a military hospital in China and sets Rob on a wild ride to get him home to Vancouver.

This noir story from Massive Swerve Studios and Passion Pictures Animation is striking looking. It has an innovative color palette and bold design, much like a graphic novel, to tell a rambling story about a completely unredeemable character. It was the longest film by far, 3 times the length of the next longest animated short, and frankly it is much too long. The animation was limited, obviously computer manipulated motion, and the story was told almost entirely by the narrator.

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Pearl by Patrick Osborne. Set inside the beloved hatchback of a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love…and finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.

Director Patrick Osborne recently won the short animation Oscar for the Disney short Feast. This was a VR film made for Google Spotlight Stories by Evil Eye Pictures. It was presented with the camera motion that the viewer would normally provided by turning his head. It was seen in The Animation Show of Shows the same way. It's a sweet father and daughter story, 3D CG, but rendered flat like a cartoon with naturalistic proportions.

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Piper by Alan Barillaro. The story of a hungry sandpiper hatchling who ventures from her nest for the first time to dig for food by the shoreline. The only problem is that the food is buried beneath the sand where scary waves roll up onto the shore.

This Pixar short preceded Finding Dory. Alan Barillaro has been a long time animator at Pixar. This first attempt at writing and directing seems like the work of a seasoned veteran. It is highly detailed and very realistic looking. Within those constraints Barillaro manages to present some delightful character driven gags and an engaging story. The film is beautiful with impressive attention to detail. Veteran guitarist Adrian Belew, writing his first film score, has made a work of inspired beauty.

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Sous tes doigts (Under Your Fingers) by Marie-Christine Courtès. When her grandmother dies Emilie a young Eurasian girl relives the story of the women of her family from the colonial Indochina to the arrival into the transit camp of Sainte-Livrade (France). Between memories dance anger and traditional rituals as Emilie learns to accept this heritage.

This hand drawn cartoon has a fairly simple story, but the storytelling is slow and confusing. The characters and motion are colored with a texture that is stationary when the characters move, which is more distracting than artistic. At the end there is an impressive rotoscoped dance sequence that bears resemblance to Ryan Woodward's Thought of You.

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The Head Vanishes by Franck Dion. Jacqueline isn’t quite in her right mind anymore but she’s determined to take the train to the seaside as she does every summer. Only this year she’s constantly being followed by some woman who claims to be her daughter and the trip takes some unexpected phantasmagorical turns.

This film from the NFBC is surreal and a bit silly. The look is stylized CG, almost cartoony with a muted color palette that's almost monochromatic. The main character sometimes has her head and sometimes is separated from it. It seems to be some sort of metaphor for being absent-minded or something, but I'm at a loss to explain it.

My predictions for which films will get the nominations (interestingly my three least favorite films were the three longest): probably, Piper, Blind Vaysha and Happy End. Maybe Once upon a Line, Pearl, Borrowed Time, and Inner Workings. Probably not The Head Vanishes, Sous tes doigts (Under Your Fingers) and Pear Cider and Cigarettes.


YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY BABY!

KLIK Animation Festival, 27 Oct - 1 Nov 2016
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

By Nancy Denney-Phelps

KLIK Animation Festival in Amsterdam has come a long way in its 10 year history. From its beginnings in 2007 as a primarily student festival at the Kriterian Theatre to the 2017 edition at the prestigious Eye Film Institute, KLIK has grown into an important event on the European festival calendar.

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For the 4th year in a row, the KLIK World Domination Award was presented at the opening ceremony. The award honors an organization, studio, or individual that has helped Dutch Animation take another critical step towards world domination in the past year. The jury comprised of Claire van Daal of the Netherlands Film Festival, Jolande Junte from VNAP (Association of Dutch Animation Producers), Netherland’s Film Fund’s Peter Lindhout, Lisa Linde Nievld representing the EYE, and Yvonne van Ulden selected Michael Dudok De Wit to receive this year’s honor. In doing so they said “Michael Dudok De Wit undeniably is the personification of the World Domination Award . . . We treasure him and his work and are proud that such a wonderful animation director has his roots in the Netherlands”.

In 2000, Michael received the Academy Award as well as the BAFTA (The British Academy Award) and the Annecy Grand Prix for his short Father and Daughter. His first animated feature film The Red Turtle has been entered in the 2017 Oscar race for the Best Animated Feature Film.

This year 1,800 films from 80 countries were viewed by the selection committee of which I am proud to be a member. The 53 films selected for the 6 competition programs were an eclectic and entertaining mix showcasing a wide range of techniques, styles, and themes, with programs mixing student and professional films in the same screenings.

One of my favorite films was Digna van der Put’s Parade, a charming hand drawn film with a darker underside. Six fanfare flute players on parade provide a timely and timeless look at the parade of life and world history. As they march, the flute players encounter an gamut of parades in every shape and size. Parade was awarded the KLIK Netherlands Award for Emotional Impact and is the Dutch entry in this year’s Oscar Short Animation category.

As I watched Decorado (Scenery) I had a feeling of déjà vu. Spanish animation director, illustrator, and cartoonist Alberto Vazquez has a unique style that is immediately recognizable. Decorado, his latest film, is created in the same distinctive hand drawn style as his short color animation Bird Boy and its feature length continuation of the Bird Boy saga Psiconautas – The Forgotten Children”. Vasquez says that the moody black and white Decorado is based on the premise that “The world is a wonderful place, but its characters are disgraceful”. The two lead characters live in a world that teeters between reality and fiction. When asked about why he made the film the director said “the film is only a fable, a metaphor about the falsehood of our lives, but with an ironic sense of humor”. The haunting score by Victor Garcia adds to mysterious atmosphere.

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Decorado was selected for the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes this year and also won the audience award at KLIK. It speaks to the quality of the KLIK audiences that year after year they select hard-hitting films such as Decorado and Hisko Hulsings Junkyard (2014) for the Audience Award. Vazques is currently in pre-production on his second animated feature Unicorn Wars.

In his film The Cats, Mexican animator Alejandro Rios begins his story of a street cat that starts a new life with a lonely old man on a sweet note. The cat believes that he will be surrounded by warmth and care in his new home but neither man nor beast ever knows what terrible secrets lurk behind the closed door to a house. The film addresses the issues of abuse and dependence in a terrifying way that has left a lasting impression on me.

Along with the 6 animated shorts competition programs, the festival also awards Animated Documentaries, Political Shorts, Best Film in the Dutch Panorama, Animated Music Video, and Animation for Hire categories. There is also an award given in the Emerging Nations category. This program screened 12 films from countries that are not usually represented at festivals, such as Kazakhstan, Myanmar, and Kenya. Young filmgoers aged 5 to 12 selected Alike by Daniel Martinez and Lara and Rafael Cano Mendez to receive the Young Audience Award. The film, about a father who tries to teach his son the right way to behave in a very busy world only to discover that there is more than one way to live which is right, has won numerous audience awards and was nominated for the 2016 Cartoon d’Or award.

This year’s festival theme, The World We Live In, gave festival goers the opportunity to roam freely through an eclectic range of landscapes from all over the world, take a closer look at cities spotlighting details we might overlook in our busy everyday lives, and enter a world of strange creatures and landscapes. The One With Nature/Making It Work screening focused on the many ways that humans and nature come together and clash, trying to co-exist on the same planet. The program included such classics as Nino Christen’s L’Ile Noire about deforestation and Bill Plympton’s The Cow Who Wanted To Be A Hamburger.

To further discover The World We Live In there was a nighttime bike ride through North Amsterdam on two evenings. Along the route at three different locations a short film was screened. The film was selected to blend in with the surroundings to give a total visual experience.

Virtual Reality continues to open up new avenues of animated storytelling. This year KLIK offered the opportunity to experience a variety of projects ranging from a 360 degree story about a young girl’s frustration as she tries to dodge the rain to being right in the middle of a dream-like journey from one world to the next. Visitors could try on different models of goggles and let themselves be transported to new worlds where they could roam freely.

For several years KLIK has presented programs specifically designed for the Dutch animation industry. How To Tell A Story In Virtual Reality with 3D specialist Lars Scholten delved into the particular challenges that a 360-degree production presents. Lars walked the participants through what tools are available as well as demonstrating how to make a VR animation with Maxon Cinema 4D. The audience could also try the software at the Strongbox demo set up and see their results immediately with VR goggles.

A new addition to the festival this year was the KLIK café, a large tent erected at the foot of the steps to the EYE. The café was the ideal place to meet friends for a drink or have a light snack while listening to a variety of talks such as the Filmmakers Talk Show. Animation expert Hans Walther carried on interviews with international filmmakers following their screenings. A copyright workshop offered filmmakers help winding their way through the minefield of rules and regulations of copyright procedures. Attorney Frank Melis talked about Dutch copyright laws specific to the field of animation as well as discussing exceptions to the rules.

It was possible to have 20-minute one-on-one meetings with various successful directors, studios, producers, unions, and funders. The professionals answered questions, listened to script ideas, and gave advice on individual projects.

The Debutante Ball: Class Of 2016 put the spotlight on the class of 2016 Dutch animation graduates. Recent graduates from universities throughout The Netherlands presented their one-minute show reels. A reception followed where you could meet the new crop of graduates over a drink.

Special guest Aymeric Kevin graduated from Gobelins and is currently based in Japan. He uses digital painting skills to work as an illustrator as well as a visual development and background artist. As background director on such shows as Ping Pong, Space Dandy, the short Kickheart, and the Adventure Time episode Food Chain, Aymeric has worked in a range of visual styles for productions around the globe. During his presentation at the festival, Bringing Background Art Forward, Aymeric shared his processes, discussed the background industry’s unsung heroes, and concepts that he believes make backgrounds memorable. Aymeric Kevin also presented the program Japanese Animated Awesomeness. The shorts, some of them showcasing Kevin’s work, presented a wide array of experimental Anime which looked amazing on the big screen.

Over the course of a 20 year career in Hollywood, Dutch animator Piet Kroon has directed Osmosis Jones, written and developed a wide range of projects and worked on such box office hits as Despicable Me, Iron Giant, and Rio 1 and 2. At his Artist In Focus presentation, Piet gave an insider’s look at the process of creating a feature animation story. He showed sequences from Shrek 2 and talks about how he forms ideas as well as how those ideas find their final form in what is often a process of trial and error.

ASIFA-SF

I have always been a fan of The Powerpuff Girls, so when I heard that Cartoon Network was launching a series of all new episodes I was worried that the new executive producers, Nick Jennings and Bob Boyle, would make a lot of changes and that it would not be the series that I know and love, especially since original creator Craig McCracken was not involved. At the 90 minute Powerpuff Girls program I saw several new episodes along with some of the original shows. I am happy to say that the new episodes are even better than the old ones when it comes to the animation and storylines but I was disappointed that the familiar voices of Blossom, Bubbles, and Buttercup have been replaced. It was disturbing to find out that the original voice over artists were not even approached to reprise their roles in the new series since all three are still working in the industry.

We all know Sesame Street but we don’t usually think about how the characters look in different countries. The Dutch version of this venerable children’s show features Pino, a big blue bird, his friend Tommie, a rather dog-like creature, and a pig that bears no resemblance to Miss Piggy. To celebrate the show’s 40th anniversary a selection of clips from the beloved program took us through the development of the characters from their inception to the forms that Dutch children know today. Although there were plenty of children in the KLIK tent for the presentation a large group of adults also relived their childhood.

Midnight Madness is a KLIK tradition. When the late night mix of film and fun began it screened films that had been submitted to KLIK that were beyond belief, often causing the selection committee to say “I can’t believe anyone made that!” It was an audience participant event with people yelling out “Speed the film up!”, “Slow it down!”, or “Play it backwards!” This year the original organizers, Mathijs Stegink and Luuk van Huet were joined by KLIK Chief Programmer Tunde Vollenbroek and Lae Schafer for what was more of a formal performance than an audience participation event. I hope that next year Midnight Madness will go back to its old format.

All in all though, it was a wonderful festival, and I must thank Yvonne van Ulden, Tunde Vollenbroek, and the entire KLIK staff and volunteers for make my six-day stay at the festival so lovely. A big thank you also goes to Dot Janson for finding the fantastic houseboat where Nik, Dot, and I stayed during the festival. It was close to the festival site and one of the best places I have ever stayed at a festival. Next year the festival will be held at The Eye on the 17th through the 22nd of October. You can learn more about KLIK at: www.klik.amsterdam


Have an animated work to show?
Bring it to
ASIFA-SF’S WINTER PARTY

ASIFA-SF
Drawing courtesy of John Fadeff

Sunday, January 15, 6 - 10 PM At Oddball Films
275 Capp St. third floor (Capp runs between mission and South Van Ness; Oddball is on Capp near 18th Street)

Free! Bring a friend!!

At 6 PM, a social hour for networking, drink and enjoy a potluck. ASIFA-SF will provide the basics, please bring a little something to share if you can

At 7 PM, a screening of new animated work, and favorites from the ASIFA-East Festival Winners The party will wrap up at 10:00 sharp as we need to clear the space by then.

Please contact Dan Steves (members@asifa-sf.org.) by January 12 if you want something included on the party DVD. Please limit the length to 10 minutes. Please submit a file or link to an on-line location for download, or you can send a DVD or flash drive. Contact Dan for details. He’ll pull the films together to make the night’s program a little more enjoyable.

We’ll also be able to screen last minute submissions if you bring it on a DVD the night of the party.

ASIFA-SF
Drawing courtesy of Tony Claar

The current plan is to show a works in progress by Tony Claar and Corrie Francis Parks, followed by highlights from the ASIFA-East awards program. If you have something you’d like to show, please let us know and we’ll spread the word.


ASIFA-SF IS A VOLUNTEER RUN ASSOCIATION

ASIFA-SF IS A VOLUNTEER RUN ASSOCIATION
Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen and Dan Steves
Contributors include John Hays, Steve Segal, Corrie Francis Parks, Nancy Denney-Phelps and John Fadeff
Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo
Proofreaders: Sarah Chin and Pete Davis
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 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. Local membership is $21 a year ($26 for both email and print copies of the newsletter).
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

ASIFA~SF Archives

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2017: January ~


"Karl Cohen is one of my mentors, a dear friend, and without him, some of the finer events at the United State Cafe, etc. would NOT have been possible.

He encouraged me to work for Nobody and was one of the first folks who worked on the original Nobody for President Campaign during 1975." ~ Curtis Spangler.

Karl Cohen's United State Cafe Page
http://www.flyingsnail.com/Scrapbook/UnitedStateCafe/uscpage037.html

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

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