The Animation Show 2004
René Walling · December 18, 2003 | "As animation continues to be plagued as the single most misunderstood film medium, the animated short film is sadly undervalued and underexposed in American cinema"—so goes part of the introduction to The Animation Show, a theatrical animation festival touring North America that brings animated shorts to the big screen.

Mike Judge and Don Herzfeldt have decided to do something about this sentiment by putting this festival together. A good mix of techniques is present, and worldwide animation is well represented with films from Canada, Japan, the UK and Germany, among others. Themes and styles were also varied and in that respect, The Animation Show lives up to its hype.

Most memorable for me was the excerpt from Disney's Life on Mars, a fascinating look at rarely seen animation, unlike anything else Disney has ever done. The price of entry was worth it for that alone. Other high points included Das Rad (The Rocks), an animated film showing us a new perspective on time, George Schwizgebel's La course l'abime, Cordell Barker's Strange Invaders and Tomek Baginski's The Cathedral.

The Animation Show 2004
The Animation Show, 2003
94 minutes

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There is a small problem, however; I'm not sure how I feel about the two organizers showing their own work in the show. Having Don animate the Animation Show interstitial trilogy (Welcome to the Show, Intermission in the Third Dimension and The End of the Show) was a great idea and he certainly put all his energy and talent into it; it's having older stuff by both Mike and Don that bothers me. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that The Animation Show played it safe, with half a dozen Academy Award nominees from the past four years, and films that would be sure-fire hits (Bill Plympton's Parking comes to mind) in the lineup. The old Animation Tournees and Festivals often had the majority of their programming be premieres or films only seen in animation festivals like Annecy, Zagreb or Ottawa. Something new by a non-established name is what is missing in this Show.

In short, to fulfill its mandate, The Animation Show needs to lead and not follow.
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