May 7, 2009




The Stuttgart International Animation Festival (better known in its native country as Internationales Trickfilmfestival Stuttgart) is now in full swing.

The weekend will feature many screenings, including the European premiere of Afro Samurai Resurrection, and the German premieres of Coraline and The Missing Lynx. Shorts are also present at the festival, both in the competition and in several retrospective screenings celebrating 100 years of German animation.

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February 26, 2009


The first cartoon star will be at the Cinemathèque Québécoise in Montréal for Spring Break. Screenings of seven Felix the Cat shorts will take place every afternoon from March 2nd to the 6th. The movies will be accompanied by live music written and performed by Université de Montréal music students.

Parents who can't go with their kids can always catch a screening of Ratatouille on Thursday at 18:30.

For more information, check out the schedule on the Cinémathèque's website (in French)

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February 6, 2009
Each year The Animation Guild, ASIFA Hollywood and Women In Animation present a non-denominational celebration of departed friends from our animation community. It will be on Saturday, February 7 at the Lasky-DeMille Barn in Hollywood across from the Hollywood Bowl. The 2008 honorees include

John Ahern, Gus Arriola, Phyllis Barnhart, Gordon Bellamy, Harriet Burns, Greg Burson, John W. Burton, Jr., Vivian Byrne, Joyce Carlson, Bob Carr, Rose Di Bucci, Charlie Downs, Ray Ellis, Joni Jones Fitts, Etsuko Fujioka, Steve Gerber, Fernando Gonzalez, Yoo Sik Ham, Larry Harmon, Margie Hermanson, Ollie Johnston, Ted Key, Eartha Kitt, Andy Knight, Harvey Korman, Lyn Kroeger, Brice Mack, Bill Melendez, David Mitton, Gary Mooney, Jim Mueller, June Nam, Ethan Ormsby, Bill Perez, Richard Pimm, Oliver Postgate, Denis Rich, Dodie Roberts, Irma Rosien, Gerard Salvio, Gina Sheppherd, Robert Smith, Jim Snider, Al Stetter, Dave Stevens, Morris Sullivan, Emru Townsend, Pat Raine Webb, Chiyoko Wergles, Bob Winquist and Justin Wright.

(Thank you, Karl Cohen)

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January 17, 2009
A travel grant of $200 in Emru's name is being given by the Society of Animation Studies for those who intend to present at their annual conference.

The deadline to apply for the grant is Jan. 23, 2009. Applicants must send their request by email, adhering to the guidelines (CV, abstract/proposal, short essay describing your request) as outlined in the link provided below. The award recipients will be announced in late February or March.

"The travel grant has been named in the memory of our dear colleague, Emru Townsend, who remains an inspiration to all of us, for his many efforts promoting the study and appreciation of animation."

(Props to Animation Journal)

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December 4, 2008
Whoa! Christmas shows up early for Montreal animation lovers. This year's Sommets du cinema d'animation de Montreal (Montreal Animation Summit) literally explodes this year, with an expanded lineup, including exhibits and great guests.

As in recent years, Marco de Blois, animation curator at the Cinematheque quebecoise, has gathered some of the year's best animated shorts in two programs screening on Friday and Saturday. This year, the audience gets to vote on their favourite and award a public prize to the best director.

This is just the beginning. This weekend includes a program of the notable international student films from 2006, 2007, and 2008; the best recent Canadian animation; and a free screening of Acme Filmworks and Animation World Network's The Show of Shows, presented by Ron Diamond.

I'm not done yet: A major restrospective, Du praxinoscope au cellulo (From Praxinoscope to Cel), is divided into three programs, two of them specifically targeted to include younger viewers. This film series focuses on the evolution of French moving images, and touches on drawings, marionettes, and pin, cell, cut-out, mixed media, and computer animation. This is an extraordinary chance to see shorts by Emile Cohl, Ladislaw Starevich, and Paul Grimault, among others.

Now get a load of these prices.
Free 0–5 years accompanied by an adult
Free Show of Shows
$4 6–15 years
$6 students and seniors
$7 adults
$50 CinéSommets passport, all-access pass


For the full schedule, including parties and concurrent exhibits, download the PDF program.

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October 28, 2008

They're showing Grave of the Fireflies in Guinea and The Adventures of Prince Achmed in Latvia. One world, inspired by the animated image. As usual, the Brazilians know how to party, with 100 cities taking part in ASIFA's seventh World Animation Day. France's list is pretty impressive, as they have a reputation to uphold for the holiday instigated in their country.

Here's a list of some of the events happening today. Feel free to fill in my gaps.

Allendale
Atlanta
Cape Town
Caraquet
Colorado
Halifax
Hiroshima
Kyoto
Montreal
Riga
Seoul
Vancouver

You can find more events on ASIFA's website.
Events through to November in Ghana, India and Canada.

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October 27, 2008
If you didn't get a chance to attend Richard Williams' masterclass at the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival, and live on the west coast, you may have another chance to catch him. Beginning today, the award-winning animator will be touring several west coast cities until November 7th.

Tonight, ACM SIGGRAPH's Vancouver chapter will host a free two-hour masterclass, signing and a screening of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

On Wednesday the 29th, he will be in Redmond, WA, at as a run-up to Seattle's 2D Or Not 2D festival. While the event is free, it is open only to DigiPen BFA alumni and working professionals, so follow the link if you qualify to find out how to get your tickets.

On Thursday the 30th, it's Portland time with the Cascade ACM SIGGRAPH chapter. The event is free for chapter members and 5.00 dollars for everyone else, but attendees need to RSVP by the 28th.

The last public event on November 2nd happens in San Francisco. A benefit for ASIFA-SF, this event will feature the two-hour masterclass and the event will be moderated by author and chapter president Karl Cohen (shown above, left, with Richard Williams, and Cohen's wife Denise McEvoy at the OIAF Animators' Picnic). The admission is only 9.00 dollars and only 6.50 for a child or a senior. A mere pittance for the wealth of information and experience that will be available and to help a great organization.

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October 22, 2008
FlutterChez Madame Poule

The National Film Board is getting an early start on World Animation Day festivities and is turning the party out well after. From October 24 to November 12, Canadians in 13 cities will be able to enjoy free screenings of the Get Animated! series to celebrate World Animation Day (October 28).

Get Animated! features one program of ten new works (including Theodor Ushev's Drux Flux and George Schwizgebel's Retouches) and a second of ten children's animation shorts (including Claude Cloutier's Sleeping Betty, and shorts from Hothouse 4 participants Carla Coma and Jody Kramer). Many of the cities will include complementary screenings and workshops in addition to these programs.

Two short are available at the event site. Just click a graphic above to view Howie Shia's Flutter (top) or Tali's At Home With Mrs. Hen.

Thanks, Matt and Jody!

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September 4, 2008

The Montreal chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH is holding its season opener with an open-air screening in the park next to their usual haunt, the Society for Arts and Technology. Selections from the 2008 Computer Animation Festival will be shown, and while the event is free, you can pick up your annual membership to help support the chapter.

"Doors open" on Saturday, September 6, at 9:30 at Parc de la Paix. There's more info on the SAT website.

2008 SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival trailer

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August 14, 2008
Film festival venues can be overwhelming and conference venues can be overwhelming, but when you combine them... well, the experience hovers somewhat above the horizon. That said, here are some tidbits:

1. Much discussion, several panels, and two full days of screenings of stereoscopic (3D) films, commercials, sports events, games and scientific visualizations on the first day of the conference. 3D is the agenda for 21st-century digital releases. I took in the two-hour screening of 3D clips and then heard fine artist and installation/performance artist Catherine Owens speak about collaborating with Bono on the 3D film of U2's concert in Buenos Aires. She spoke convincingly about "experimental" exploration and commitment to "idea" in relationship to her personal art, as well as in relationship to her directorial debut of the film U2 3D.

2. The Computer Animation Festival is programmed into seven two-hour screenings that most often repeat the commercials, trailers, and synopses of film titles submitted. For example, Rhythm and Hues showcased effects scenes of the polar bears in "The Golden Compass" and that is screened alongside the commercial from Bridgestone Tires many have seen of the squirrel running onto the highway to retrieve a nut as a car swerves to miss killing him. The festival is screening two impressive studio shorts worth mentioning here: Pixar Studios' Presto and Disney Studios' Glago's Guest. If you've seen WALL-E you've seen Presto before the feature screens.

3) A wonderful Tribute To Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas happened today with Tom Sito moderating a panel that included Frank Thomas' son, Theodore Thomas, documentary filmmaker, as well as a group of celebrity animators who had worked with the two of them in a mentor relationship. All of them delightfully shared their experiences with Frank and Ollie and were very well received. More on this later.

A closing note in case you don't want to wait: you may go online to read about all the sessions at SIGGRAPH 08 and can listen to them on DVD. All panels and discussions have been recorded are available for purchase.

I have constantly forgotten the number one rule for attending film festivals and conferences: find a place to sit, eat well and if you do this, thinking might follow! That said, I will return to report more soon, in spite of the L.A. smog my allergies are swimming in...

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August 13, 2008

Gallery Nucleus in Los Angeles will be hosting The Great Great Grand Show, beginning August 16th and continuing until September 1st.

Saturday's opening reception runs from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., and you're encouraged to show up in historical garb if you have it (ninjas and pirates welcome).

Two of the artists exhibiting are Scott Campbell and Graham Annable, both Hickee comics anthology contributors. Scott C has also contributed work to I Am 8-Bit and Totoro Forest Project, and Graham's known for his comic foray, Grickle, whose misadventures continue in animated form. He is also a story artist on Coraline, Laika's much anticipated feature. Here's The Last Duet On Earth, a little future history until you get to see Graham's latest, From Whence Before Times, which debuts at the show.



The show is rounded out by Flight regular Israel Sanchez, and Jon Klaasen, who animated the super-sweet Eye for Annai. Several of us fps-side are huge fans of this short.



So if you're in LA on Saturday, you know where you need to be.

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December 4, 2007
Norman's Montreal run begins this week. It's been getting excellent reviews in Canada, and the Montreal run will be at one of the city's best live venues, Place des Arts.

Click the graphic to enlarge for location and ticket information.

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November 21, 2007
(click image for complete schedule.)

UPDATE: There is a misprint on page 2 of the program. Saturday screenings are as follows: Program 2 at 5:oo p.m., Program 1 at 7:00 p.m.

The Montreal stop of the annual Sommets du Cinema d'Animation will be at the Cinematheque Quebecoise on Friday, November 23 and Saturday, November 24. Over two days, Montrealers can see some of the best animation shorts in recent memory, from the haunting Madame Tutli-Putli, the harrowing Milk Teeth, to the laugh-out-loud funny Cold Calling. And that's just Friday Program 1 (both programs are showing on both days). Almost every short in both lineups is a Quebec premiere.

It all begins on Friday at 5:00 p.m. with the launch of the Isabelle au Bois Dormant/Sleeping Betty exhibit featuring the latest work of Claude Cloutier.

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November 12, 2007
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This Wednesday, November 14, at 6:00 p.m., the Montreal chapter of ACM SIGGRAPH is screening the 2007 Electronic Theatre at the SAT. Admission is free and so is the popcorn!

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November 8, 2007
This Saturday and Sunday afternoon, November 10 and 11: leading up to the Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema, WFAC in partnership with Bandai Visual and the Waterloo Children's Museum will be holding a 20th anniversary screening of Wings of Honneamise, one the best anime features of the 80s, and the first feature ever produced by Gainax.

If you go on Saturday, On both days, you can catch Jin Roh, also in high-definition, based on the comic by Mamoru Oshii, and the English premiere of Detective Conan.

If you are anywhere near Waterloo, Ontario, this is not to be missed. All screenings are free.
Showtimes

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November 4, 2007
Got plans this coming weekend? If you're in New York, make sure to swing by the Museum of Modern Art, which is going to be showcasing the work of Michael Sporn from Friday to Monday. Friday and Saturday will feature fourteen of his shorts from 1984 to the present (they'll all have second screenings on Saturday and Sunday); Monday night features a discussion between Sporn, fellow New York independent animator John Canemaker, and MoMA assistant curator Joshua Siegel, plus a screening of Sporn's commercial work and a preview of his current feature. Each program is about 90 minutes.

Friday, November 9, 6:30; Repeated Saturday, November 10, 1:30
Program 1: New York Stories

Mona Mon Amour (2001)
Champagne (1996)
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (2005)
Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (1987)
The Little Match Girl (1991)

Saturday, November 10, 3:30; Repeated Sunday, November 11, 2:45
Program 2: Fables

Doctor DeSoto (1984)
Abel's Island (1988)
The Red Shoes (1990)
The Hunting of the Snark (1989)

Saturday, November 10, 5:30; Repeated Sunday, November 11, 4:45
Program 3: A Peaceable Kingdom

Goodnight Moon (1999)
The Marzipan Pig (1990)
The Amazing Bone (1985)
Ira Sleeps Over (1992)
The Story of the Dancing Frog (1989)

Monday, November 12, 7:00
An Evening with Michael Sporn


Previously reviewed on fps: The Films of Michael Sporn, Vols. 1 & 2

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October 27, 2007
Sunday is World Animation Day. Here are some events that are happening in different cities. Check with web sites, media outlets and your friends to learn more. Let us know what's up in your neighbourhood.

JAPAN

Hiroshima: Award-winning works of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival

INDIA

Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram:
Simultaneous ASIFA-India celebration

CANADA


Montreal:
1 p.m. Catherine Arcand discusses her film Nightmare at School

3 p.m. Master class with Madame Tutli-Putli directors Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski
7 p.m. Toon Boom Internet Animation Contest Screening and Classic Films of the DEFA Screening

Toronto:
1 p.m.
Talespinners 2 workshop for children and families

Vancouver:
2 p.m. Animate It! workshop for youth

Winnipeg:
2 p.m. Talespinners 2 screening (recommended for children ages 5-9)

UNITED STATES

Boston:
3 p.m. Institute of Contemporary Art presents New England Animation

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October 24, 2007
The Cinematheque Quebecoise focuses on German animation this week. Filmfest Dresden Presents New German Animation screens on Thursday, October 25 at 6:30 p.m., and repeats on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Our Man in Nirvana Jan Koester
Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen & Mr. Horlocker Stefan Müller
Delivery Till Nowak (attending)
Close Your Eyes and Do Not Breathe Vuk Jevremovic
Lovesick Speka Cadez
Bildfenster/Fensterbilder Bert Gottschalk
The Tell-Tale Heart (Der Verrückte, das Herz und das Auge) Annette Jung
Diary of a Perfect Love (Tagebuch einer perfekten Liebe) Sebastien Peterson


As part of its World Animation Day events on Sunday, October 28th, Hints of Excellence: Classics of the DEFA screens for free.

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October 13, 2007
Animation fans in LA who didn't make it to the Platform International Animation Festival (or those who simply want to relive it) will get a chance to see selections from the festival during a screening on Monday, October 15, at 8:00 p.m. at the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater.

There were many notable shorts during the festival although I haven't been able to find out the full lineup for this screening (Luis Cook's The Pearce Sisters and work by Don Hertzfeldt and Miwa Matreyek will be featured), I don't doubt for a moment that the variety and selection of shorts will be entirely worth your time.

Previously on fps
Platform International Animation Festival coverage

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October 10, 2007
Since Persepolis and Madame Tutli-Putli each screened at Cannes and won awards this year in May, they have appeared at animation and mainstream film festivals to acclaim. Montrealers can now finally see both films by attending the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, which begins today.

Animation seems to have taken on a more important role in the festival with more shorts than ever. However, a few might slip through the cracks if you aren't careful. The visceral Face lies in wait in Competition 1, on Thursday, October 11 and Wednesday, October 17th. Madame Tutli-Putli is showing during Competition 2 this Friday, October 12 and Tuesday, October 16. Selina Cobley's Crow Moon screens in Competition 3 next week on the 17th and 18th.

The National Film Board of Canada Stereo Lab is screening four stereoscopic shorts, which 2004 OIAF attendees might have seen, but this screening includes the premiere of a stereoscopic version of Theodor Ushev's phenomenal Tower Bawher.

Previously on fps
Festival du Nouveau Cinéma coverage
Persepolis coverage
Two Podcasts for Madame Tutli-Putli

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October 5, 2007
If you're in Montreal, before you go to the Poetry in Motion screening tomorrow, you may want to drop in at the National Film Board's Cinérobotheque, less than a 5 minute walk away. As part of a weekend of screenings of short programmes from this year's Fantasia festival, the Outer Limits of Animation Program will be screening at 3:00 p.m. The program repeats on Sunday at 5:00 p.m.

For nearly two hours, you will be able to see shorts selected by North America's premiere cult film festival for just $7 (less if you're a student).

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October 2, 2007
Didn't go to Ottawa this year? Even if you went, you might not have been able to see the special screenings on poetry and animation, Poetry in Motion. If you live in Montreal, you can see both programs this week on Thursday and Saturday at the Cinémathèque Québécoise. The programmer is the National Film Board producer and author Marcel Jean, and he has selected shorts that span decades and geographical boundaries (although the first screening is half Canadian, including Québécois, in its content).

From Words to Images
Thursday, October 4, 6:30 p.m.
Primiti Too Taa, Ed Akerman, Colin Morton
Essere morti o essere vivi è la stessa cosa, Gianluigi Toccafondo
Forgetfulness, Julian Grey
Rain, Michael Sewnarain
Espolio, Sidney Goldsmith
Aloud/Bagatelle, Don McWilliams
6 haïku, Éric Ledune
A Said Poem, Veronika Soul
Tengo la posizione, Simone Massi
The Old Fools, Ruth Lingford
Poetry is Child’s Play, Bouwine Pool
Sandburg’s Arithmetic, Lynn Smith
Tread Softly, Heebok Lee
At the Quinte Hotel, Bruce Alcock (click the image above for an excerpt.)


The Film as Poetry Itself
Saturday, October 6, 5:00 p.m.
Accordion, Michèle Cournoyer
Stones (Sten), Lejf Marcussen
Beginnings, Clorinda Warny, Suzanne Gervais, Lina Gagnon
As people, Ursula Ferrara
Kaiten Mokuba, Thomas Hicks
9 in a Chimney 10 in a Bed or Hates A Strong Word, Jean-Jacques Villard
Renaissance, Walerian Borowczyk
Night on Bald Mountain, Alexandre Alexeïeff, Claire Parker
Grace, Lorelei Pepi
Mr. Pascal, Alison de Vere
Repete, Michaela Pavlátová

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September 25, 2007
The Halo phenomenon continued unabated with today's release of Bungie Studios' Halo 3. I think it is inarguable that the most viewed animation today was seen by the countless fans who lined up to buy the Xbox 360 game and who ran home early or even took the day off (you know who you are) to play. The 20 minutes of cinematics in the game were completed by animators at the Montreal animation and effects house DamnFx. It's refreshing that their team has not been shy about their enthusiasm for being able to work on the character animation, something people tend not to think of when considering CG or in-game animation. The creators who will also have a presence at this year's ADAPT conference, including a special presentation by Bungie Studios' lead producer and cinematics director on the animation contribution to Halo 3 on Thursday, September 27.

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September 24, 2007
Wrapping up Norman McLaren's retrospective world tour, the NFB pairs up with the Montreal Symphony to present a special hybrid performance of music and cinema.

Next week in Montreal, the symphony will play musical accompaniment to four of the animator's greatest works; Blinkity Blank, Love on the Wing, Neighbours/Voisins and Hell Unlimited.

The richness of full symphonic sound will no doubt offer a fitting complement to the large screen presentation of McLaren's animation genius. The evening performance comes first (October 2), followed by the matinee (October 3), which sounds like a great idea for a class field trip to me. For school group reservations, call the MSO at 514-842-3402.

What: The Air Canada Words and Music Concerts series
When: Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 8:00 p.m.
Where: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts, Montreal
Kent Nagano, conductor
Gabriel Thibaudeau, pianist

What: The Symphonic Matinees series
When: Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 10:30 a.m.
Where: Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier at Place des Arts, Montreal
Kent Nagano, conductor
John Zirbel, OSM principal horn
Gabriel Thibaudeau, pianist

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September 22, 2007
The Animator's Picnic in Strathcona Park was plenty of fun. Lots of people were glad to see familiar faces and make new connections. This was my chance to see Martine Chartrand and Pilar Newton again. Pilar was one of the winners in the annual pumpkin carving contest again this year.Her pumpkin toaster was a hit with the crowd, along with many others. Another prizewinner was a pumpkin inspired by Luis Cook's Aardman Animation short, The Pearce Sisters.

It was also a chance for the animation community to come together to help the family of the late Helen Hill. During the picnic, donations were contributed to an education fund for her son, the Francis Pop Education Fund.

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People often forget that not every event at the Ottawa International Animation Festival requires that you get a babysitter before you leave home. There are many opportunities to take the kids with you. Here's a list of family friendly events.

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September 21, 2007
(click to enlarge.)

The single largest digital animation-related event in Montreal this year is the ADAPT conference, which began last year with a bang. The conference (Monday, September 24 to Friday, September 28) focuses on digital art production techniques, including animation and game development. Some highlights this year include keynote speaker Phil Tippett, returning guest Syd Mead, and speakers from Pixar, Sony Imageworks, Dreamworks and Industrial Light and Magic, among others.

Those looking for work in concept design and animation will want to attend the ADAPT job fair and master classes.

If you're in Ottawa this year for the Ottawa International Animation Festival, you can get a reciprocal discount for each event. Check their sites for details.

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Last year, the Tokyo Museum of Contemporary Art (also just known as Museum of Tokyo or MOT) held a notable exhibition, The Art of Disney. A beautiful catalogue was also published for the exhibit featuring works that were once thought lost. This summer, the DVD catalogue of the exhibit was released in Japan as well.

I decided I was going to see whatever exhibit was showing at the museum when I was in Tokyo, as I like to do in any new city I visit. It ended up the major exhibit was also animation-related this year: a retrospective of work by Art Director Kazuo Oga.

Kazuo Oga worked on a diverse animation projects such as Barefoot Gen, Dagger of Kamui and Wicked City before creating the background art for My Neighbor Totoro at Studio Ghibli. He went on to work on all of the subsequent features for the studio, and last year, directed his own film for the studio, Taneyamagahara no Yoru.

The lush scenery he creates with his brush is truly breathtaking, and the museum selection was as dense as an of the green forest background he is known for. The sheer number of pieces was more than I have seen for comparatively-sized art exhibitions of any type, and I have never seen its like for animation artwork, mostly from the Studio Ghibli archives. He captures the spirit of the countryside, but also of everyday Japan with a balance of love and accuracy.

Almost all of the art is unphotographable. Near the end of the exhibit, after a room of multiplane setups, there are a number of backgrounds that are blown up so that people can pose in front of them, but most people just step back in wonder to take a whole new look at the art. (I couldn't help posing with Totoro, though.)

Afterward, everyone was invited to fold an origami Totoro in an open room, with mini-backgrounds. Here's mine.

Like the Art of Disney catalogue, a catalogue has been published for this exhibit as well. A DVD is forthcoming for the end of the year. The exhibit has been extended until September 30. If you find yourself in Tokyo, you won't want to miss it.

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September 18, 2007
As a delegate for the 67th World Science Fiction Convention bid for 2009, I had the chance to attend this year's 65th Worldcon in Yokohama, Japan. While I was there, people were buzzing about many different types of fandom, including science fiction and fantasy in animated form. In addition to the Artist Guest of Honour Yoshitaka Amano, who got his start working on Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (Battle of the Planets or G-Force) and more recently contributed the character designs for Final Fantasy and the seventh dream in Ten Nights of Dreams, the big animation talk among fans from East and West was the DVD release of Studio Ghibli's Gedo Senki (Tales from Earthsea).

It didn't hurt that Yoji Takeshige, the film's art director, was on hand to discuss the look of the film and (unfortunately, unphotographable) art from the film was entered in the Art Show. The film was selling swiftly in the dealers' room, especially to North Americans who will be among the last to see the film because of a rights issue with the Sci-Fi Network, who released the execrable live-action mini-series based in the same world created by Ursula K. Le Guin (as a fan of her works, I am at once excited and scared to watch the entire film based on her reaction). Although , I am not so sure about the overall direction of the film given the very public tensions between Miyazaki father and son, one thing I do know is that the dub will be superb, as it has been overseen by John Lasseter. I'll crack it open soon and see how it goes.

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September 13, 2007
If you're an animator looking for work, you need to get yourself over to the Ottawa International Animation Festival if you can humanly manage it. For a number of reasons, but one is the Animators For Hire event featuring companies like Blue Sky, Nelvana and Walt Disney Animation Studios.


It's simple, just go to the OIAF website, check out the list of interviewees, and follow the steps (but do it all by this Friday, September 14):

1. Review what each company is looking for to make sure you would be a good fit. Take note of what countries they can take applicants from, and the level of experience they are looking for.

2. Once you have decided on a company you'd like to meet with, follow that studio's information on our website to the correct email link. Include your name and contact information. Please paste your resume into the body of the email. Do not send attachments. We will be doing a quick look at your application to ensure that you meet the basic job requirements.

3. We will let you know on Saturday, September 15 what meeting times you have been assigned.
Forget speed-dating. Clean up your portfolio, and get ready for the speed-meeting that could really change your life.

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August 17, 2007
The annual SIGGRAPH conference ended less than a week ago, and Emru is still in recovery. Here's something for those of us who couldn't make it.

Our local chapter, ACM SIGGRAPH Montreal, is hosting a screening of selections from the Computer Animation Festival in Parc de la Paix, the space next to the Society of Arts and Technology (SAT) at 1195 Saint-Laurent this Saturday, August 18. An outdoor screening would be great, but in case of rain, it will move next door to the SAT who are always gracious hosts.

You can view the 2007 trailer here.
Find your local SIGGRAPH chapter.

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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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June 18, 2007
It's rare that we run more than one contest at a time, but sometimes we're just bursting with giveaway goodness. We're giving two winners a two full passes each for next week's Platform International Animation Festival, and another two winners are getting a copy The Art of Ratatouille, which features 160 pages of art and text (text? No, really, we get it for the pictures) about the making of Pixar's latest feature. You can enter the Platform contest here and the Art of Ratatouille contest here. The contests close 1t 11:59 p.m. on June 22 and June 29, respectively.

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June 5, 2007
I have a soft spot for mythology and folk tales, especially when they're produced by individuals or small teams. Favourites include the Dust Echoes series and the films of Nick Kozis; now I can add Croatian Tales of Long Ago, produced by Helena Bulaja. Helena brought together animators from around the world to create eight Flash-animated shorts based on stories from Ivana Brlić Mažuranić's 1916 book of the same name, allowing each one to put his or her spin on it and add interactive elements. For me, the perfect matchup between story, style and interactivity was How Quest Sought the Truth by Nathan Jurevicius: the laid-back delivery, quirky style and fun but challenging (and completely optional) Flash games just clicked for me. But honestly, the whole project is a delight. You can check out segments for free on the project's website, or buy the CD-ROMs—which are chock full of extras, including the original stories—from the Web shop.

Last year, many of us in the northeast faced an enormous quandary: go to the 30th anniversary Ottawa International Animation Festival, or to the inaugural ADAPT Conference in Montreal, held the same weekend? Independent animation or the gorgeous art to be found in big-budget features? Konstantin Bronzit or Syd Mead? It was a dilemma of soul-crushing, garment-rending proportions. Fortunately, this year our spirits and outerwear are safe: the 2007 edition of ADAPT is being held immediately after Ottawa, so you could conceivably rush from one to the other. None of the master class topics have been announced as yet, but Syd Mead, Iain McCaig and Mark Goerner are already confirmed as guests.

Forgot to mention earlier that Laurie Maher and Jason Walker will be hosting the North American premiere of Madame Tutli-Putli at the Worldwide Short Film Festival in Toronto on June 13.

Coolest mug ever.

Do you create animation in SWF format? If so, you'll want to contact Adobe's Customer Research team; they're looking to collect SWF content to get an idea of what people are using the format for, so they can better support them. If you want to make sure animation is well represented, send the following to flashresearch [at] adobe.com by July 6:
  • Your SWF or a link to your project or a screenshot of the project
  • A brief description (3 to 4 sentences) describing the audience and purpose of the project
  • Descriptive tags to categorize the project's content and purpose – Use as many or as few tags as you like, and feel free to make up your own. Some examples tags are included below.
  • Percent of all your projects that are SWFs
  • Percentage of time you spend writing ActionScript
  • Percentage of time you spend using the timeline
  • Your name
  • Your job title and company
  • Your phone number (so a member of the Adobe's customer research team can contact you for a quick 15 minute phone call if they need more information)
Adobe's sweetening the deal with $50 Amazon gift certificates given out at random for 1 in every 50 submissions.

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May 29, 2007
This weekend was Anime North 2007, and convention goers made the most of it with plenty of cosplay, hours of video, and panels that stretched long into the night.

As a four-time panelist, I introduced myself as a blogger for fps. My panels included musings on Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the hikikomori phenomenon in Japan, and cyborgs in anime. I was a panelist alongside Dr. David Stephenson and Derwin Mak, among others. Being a panelist is very rewarding, and lends structure to what otherwise might be an incomprehensible whirlwind of photo-taking, squeeing fangirls, and scrambling to find that last-minute steal in the dealers' room.

As an anime convention, Anime North is the laid-back, easy-going Canadian cousin of Anime Expo or the Big Apple Anime Festival. It's not American, so distributors are sceptical of debuting new titles there. On the other hand, last year's convention boasted ten thousand attendees. There seemed to be a little something for everyone -- one hotel was designated "Yaoi North," featuring both yaoi-themed panels as well as viewing rooms for teens 18 and older -- with all-night anime, gaming rooms for all platforms, and pencil-and-paper RPGs, and multi-franchise masquerade competitions, fashion shows, tea parties, midnight ballroom dancing, J-rock and J-pop performances, multi-hour AMV competitions, autographs from the likes of Wendee Lee and Johnny Yong Bosch, and chocolate fountains. There was even a pool party.

All of this is very fun, especially if one is staying in one of the three or four hotels involved in the convention. But the trade-off is that with programming and attendees spread over multiple locations, volunteers and programmers have no central authority. Several times during the convention, I would ask volunteers for assistance, and was given misinformed or conflicting advice. Case in point: when joining a long autograph queue, I asked a volunteer where exactly the end of the line was. "I have no idea," he said. He pointed, and said: "It's there, I think." Naturally, the line changed direction after an hour, proving both the volunteer -- and my good sense -- completely wrong. When I asked another volunteer why the person I had spoken with earlier was so misinformed, she said: "He just didn't know we were going to change things around." This kind of misunderstanding ruled at the convention, with volunteers posted at doors proclaiming them to be "exit only," (instead of, say, clearly-posted exit signs) and volunteers loudly complaining "I don't know what my job is!" to their alleged supervisors while waiting anxiously in panel-designated areas.

This is not to say that I do not endorse Anime North wholeheartedly. Anime conventions in general are like a kinder, gentler three-day Mardi Gras, and there's something good for the soul about basking in the presence of other fans. Watching first-time visitors, talented cosplayers, and wide-eyed parents with their much-savvier children is always a treat, and part of the convention experience. "I've had such an awesome time," said a first-time attendee to me on the final day. "I don't ever want it to end." And it's that sense of comfortable wonder and community that fans and friends-of-fans should attempt to facilitate at these gatherings. I fully intend to visit next year. You should come, too.

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May 11, 2007
Last night, Montreal's animation community descended on the Cinémathèque Québecoise to honour the National Film Board's Hélène Tanguay. Thirty-seven years after starting at the Board—her first and only place of employment—she'll be retiring from her position as marketing manager for the NFB's English Animation Studio, and about a hundred of her friends and colleagues showed up to wish her well. (The picture at left was taken seconds before the evening was officially underway. Hélène is in the orange shirt, at right.)

"Marketing manager" sounds like a dull title, perilously close to the "suits" that are reviled by many animation artists and fans. Hélène, however, is no self-important suit. More than once, the words "passionate" and "devoted" were used to describe her love of animation, and she counts many of its most prodigious practitioners as friends. It's not her fault that other marketing managers don't live up to her gold standard.

My view of Hélène is that she's one of those people for whom the phrase joie de vivre was invented. She's always smiling or laughing whenever I see her, as are the people around her. In 2004, the train we were riding to the Ottawa International Animation Festival broke down in the middle of nowhere. It was a warm and humid day, and without air conditioning it didn't take long for us to start roasting. We waited for hours before another train showed up to push us to a station and we could be transferred to buses—and Hélène was cracking jokes throughout, despite her obvious discomfort. At the two Ottawa festivals since then she's found new ways to mine the event for laughs.

I mention this to set the context for last night's vibe. Cinémathèque animation curator Marco de Blois was wearing what I'll call Hélène-style earrings, as were Chris Hinton, NFB executive producer David Verrall, and animator Jacques Drouin. Introductions and tributes were accompanied by chuckles and outright howls of laughter. But there was a lot of affection, and I suspect Hélène made good use of the box of tissues Marco supplied her with at the outset.

This was all part of the first part of the evening, which Marco referred to as "The H.T. Project," hatched by a secret cabal of animators and NFB personnel. Nine tributes were paid by ten animators, who each gave an introduction (in person, by written note, or by video) and explained the personal connection behind the particular film they'd selected to be screened for Hélène and everyone in attendance. Here's a list of the presenters and the lineup:

Michèle Cournoyer - The Big Snit
Cordell Barker - An Old Box
Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis - The Hedgehog in the Mist (in the original Russian, with a live voiceover by Martine Chartrand)
Jacques Drouin - The Little Forest
Chris Hinton - Rabbit
Marv Newland - Dinner for Two
Martin Rose - My Financial Career
Paul Driessen - Broken Down Film
Stephen McCallum - Sledgehammer

After the films, we went to the lobby to pose for pictures with Hélène, then to the café to talk about the evening, stun Hélène with her third standing ovation, and generally mingle. A few hours later on the train ride home I reflected on the fact that the audience represented, for me at least, twenty years of relationships: friends, classmates, professors, and a few inspirations as well. I've been to more than a few gatherings like these, but it's rare that they have as much energy as this—and never before has the linchpin been someone who isn't an animator. It reminded me of something Kino Kid said two years ago: Animation is people . Hélène's love for the form and those that are equally passionate about it was felt and shared by everyone there.Though she's worked behind the scenes for all this time, her influence has been profound.

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May 9, 2007
A special tribute to animation stalwart Helene Tanguay will be held on Thursday, May 10 at La Cinematheque Quebecoise.

After several months of preparation by the National Film Board of Canada and La Cinematheque Quebecoise, a selection of films by ten Canadian filmmakers have been hand-picked just for her in the utmost secrecy.

Attend the screening to find out the 10 films that have been dedicated to her (and who did the dedicating) on the brink of her retirement from the NFB.

Helene has also been named Honorary President of the Ottawa International Animation Festival for 2007.

May at La Cinematheque Quebecoise

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May 8, 2007
I've got to find a way to get to San Francisco. From June 2 to September 9, the Asian Art Museum plays host to Tezuka: The Marvel of Manga, an exhibition focusing on the work of the man who revolutionized manga and anime. Anime hipsters take note: without Tezuka's lovable, cute-as-a-button characters, you wouldn't have Ghost in the Shell, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Death Note to swoon over. You can pay the man his due by visiting the exhibit, which will feature over 200 pieces of artwork from the God of Manga, including. And that's just the tip of the iceberg, with presentations, screenings and other events accompanying the exhibit. Can't make it to SF? Then at least check out the podcasts on the man and the manga. (You'll find them under the "Tezuka" link from the entry page.)

A couple of festivals are looking for animation submissions: Romania's aniMOTION European Animation Festival is accepting entries until May 20; the Woodstock Museum Film/Video Festival in New York has an early deadline of May 31.

Don Bluth and Gary Goldman still want to make a feature-length prequel feature based on the Dragon's Lair arcade game. In the right hands, I think I might enjoy the comedic adventures of Dirk the Daring as a young, somewhat hapless knight. I just don't know who "the right hands" would be.

A team of Iranian animators aims to produce two animated works with the theme of "National Unity, Islamic Solidarity" on July 5, with the intent of establishing (or breaking?) the record for the world’s fastest animation. Uh, how is that measured, exactly? I can make animation pretty quickly—it just wouldn't be particularly long. Anyway, the films will be produced between the morning and evening calls to prayer.

Animator Steve Moore has launched Flip, an online magazine entirely created by animators and animation artists. The first issue features an interview with storyboarding guru and all-around nice lady Nancy Beiman.

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May 3, 2007
The 34th Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema Student Film Festival a.k.a Concordia University's YES—year end screening—will be held at the very scenic Cinema du Parc arthouse theatre. There won't be an animation exclusive night but plenty of student frame-by-frame films are scattered throughout the week—from May 4th to the 10th.

Most of the screenings include at least 5 animated shorts. The Best of the Fest happenin' on thursday May 10th includes only 2 though. So check out the very intensive program and plan your schedule. Concordia shorts—whether live action or animation—are generally very refreshing. Attend a few screenings and you just might catch some films that will become student fest favorites by the end of the year.

General admission is 5$, 3.50$ for students. Best of the Fest is respectively 7$ and 10$.

Cinema du Parc is located at 3575 ave. du Parc, Montreal.

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May 2, 2007
Last week was only a warm-up: May is a busy animation month at the Cinematheque Quebecoise. Things get underway Thursday, May 3, with a selection of Animation Classics of the 1980s. Each of the six films would make it worth seeing an entire program of animation shorts.

Tale of Tales
, Yuri Norstein
Tyll the Giant, Rein Raamat
The Cat Came Back, Cordell Barker
Rectangles & Rectangles & Rectangle, René Jodoin
Do Pivnice (Down in the Cellar), Jan Svankmajer
Jumping, Osamu Tezuka

May 10

On the eve of her retirement, a secret program of 10 films has been prepared for Hélène Tanguay (Marketing Manager for the NFB's English Animation Studio) by a team of employees at the CQ and the National Film Board. Details to come.

May 17, May 18, May 20, May 24, May 25, May 31, June 1, June 7

New York independent animator Bill Plympton graces the city once again with his presence. Yes, his films will be showing right until June!

May 17 is a special workshop with Bill Plympton. He will discuss his career as an animator, do an drawing demonstration and explain how directors can make a living working on short films. On May 18, there will be a screening of his shorts from 1977-1994 (in the presence of the director), and May 19, watch the balance of shorts from 1994 to the present. The next four screenings will be devoted to his features, The Tune, I Married a Strange Person!, Mutant Aliens, and Hair High.

If I died from an overdose, this is the way I'd want to go out.

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