July 4, 2007
There's once again talk of a Samurai Jack feature, but this time, rather more sensibly, it's to be animated, with creator Genndy Tartakovsky directing. Fred Seibert has launched Frederator Films (along with Kevin Kolde and Eric Gardner), with the aim of producing animated features for under $20 million. Aside from Samurai Jack, the other initial projects are stop-motion The Neverhood (based on the game I praised last year, with creator Doug TenNapel on board to direct) and the hip-hop The Seven Deadly Sins, with Don King signed to provide a voice (!).

If you happen to find yourself in Beja, Portugal in the next two months, the Animatu digital animation festival is screening the best of last year's films. In July they'll be screening a short every hour from 9:00 p.m. to midnight at the Galeria do Desassossego; in August they'll be screening a short before every feature on Mondays at the Pax Julia Municipal Theatre. And if you're a digital filmmaker, don't forget: you've still got just under two weeks to submit your work for this year's festival. (The new deadline's July 15.)

Teheran's Experimental and Documentary Film Center wants to kick-start Iran's animation industry by supporting the production of more animated shorts, as well as theatrical features, with an emphasis on films with a distinctive directorial touch. I'm all for auteur cinema, especially those that are distinctly of the culture that produced them, but I'm curious as to the flavour of the films that will be produced, as Iran has a history of being less than supportive of films the government deems anti-Islamic, anti-Iranian or anti-government (including the recent Persepolis). In some cases that makes the resulting films more interesting, as directors find new, creative ways of slipping in their messages while getting around state censors and critics.

This Saturday the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco plays host to Blast Off!, an exhibition on comics and manga that will feature taiko drumming, cosplay, panel discussions with Gilles Poitras and Fred Schodt, and more. The event, which ties into the museum's Osamu Tezuka exhibit, appears to have the goal of connecting teens who are into manga and anime with a deeper understanding of Japan, anime and manga. Cool.

July 11 will see a tribute to Woody Woodpecker in Hollywood, at Mann's Chinese 6 Theater. On the guest list are Leonard Maltin, Billy West, June Foray, Maurice LaMarche and Phil Roman. (I'm assuming that there will be actual Woody Woodpecker cartoons screened as well, but there's no mention.) People in the neighbourhood can go to this event for free, and the rest of us can watch the show online. Either way, you'll need to visit the website to sign up.

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