Association International du Film d'Animation
(International Animated Film Association)
by Karl Cohen



[photo of group taken in Venice]

Pixar’s Lee Unkrich, left, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter in Venice

FIVE PIXAR DIRECTORS WERE HONORED AT THE VENICE FILM FESTIVAL WITH LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS While it was announced in advance that John Lasseter was going to be given an honorary Golden Lion award by George Lucas, the festival also presented awards to Lee Unkrich (director of Toy Story 3), Brad Bird (The Incredibles and Ratatouille), Pete Docter (Monsters Inc. and Up) and Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo and Wall-E). In the past the festival has only given honorary Golden Lion awards to individuals, not to several directors from a single studio. The event honoring Pixar also included the world premieres of Toy Story 1 & 2.

Lasseter praised Disney’s return to hand drawn quality animation in the upcoming Princess and the Frog. A few minutes from the feature was screened. (Jerry Beck saw the first 20 minutes of it in Hollywood and he says if the rest is as good as what he saw, it will be a major hit.) Lasseter also talked about an upcoming Pixar film that breaks from the studio’s tradition of male dominated scripts. The Bear and the Bow will be Pixar’s first fairytale, a mother-daughter story set in Scotland and directed by Brenda Chapman. “We believe in having really strong female characters,” Lasseter said. He then explained why it hadn’t happened before. “I mean you are looking at a bunch of guys up here.”

GENE HAMM’S LATEST WORK WILL PREMIERE AT THE NEW YORK CITY FILM FESTIVAL The world premiere will be October 23. He says his new animation is part of a live action mob comedy called The Don of 42nd Street and that Pink Panther features inspired his opening title sequences. He added, “I came up with gags where gangsters are whacking each other in funny ways.” He also animated short dream sequences and the end credits.

ASIFA-SF WELCOMES A NEW PRODUCTION HOUSE TO SF, RED GIANT STUDIOS The founders are Cindy Rangel and Dalton Grant. Grant’s background includes work at Pixar, Wildbrain and at PDI/Dreamworks. Both founders have also taught various aspects of computer animation at SF State Extension and the Academy of Art University. Working with Guilin Jieli Digital Animation, an offspring of Jieli Publishing in mainland China, they have created The Way to Heaven, a 15-minute adaptation of a best-selling children’s book based on an ancient Chinese myth about an elephant. It was published by Jieli. Dalton Grant and Mier Tang directed the film. It combines hand drawn 2-D animation with Maya and After Effects. Four trailers for the film can be seen at:

ELEVEN SCIENTIFIC ACHIEVEMENTS ARE COMPETING FOR THE ACADEMY’S SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL AWARDS. THREE ARE FROM THE BAY AREA. The local inventions are Imocap developed by Lucasfilm Entertainment, Point-Based Color Bleeding developed by Pixar Animation Studios, and Obaq/Doall from Industrial Light & Magic. The other eight contenders are Enabling Technologies for digital intermediate (credit to be determined), the development of Fuji color’s Eterna-RD digital intermediate film by Fujifilm USA, Relighting for Virtual Characters by USC ICT, Ambient Occlusion from Double Negative VFX, Film Master by Digital Vision Ltd., System 5 by Euphoni!x, Inc., Rigtight from 1st Call Studio Equipment, and Heden lens motors with two-stage friction drive planetary torque amplifier from Heden Engineering AB. After thorough investigations are conducted on each entry, a committee will meet in early December to vote. Their recommendations will be presented to the Academy and the awards will be presented on Saturday, February 20, 2010.

PEANUTS COOKS October 14 through February 15. This new exhibit at the Charles Schultz Museum offers many tempting treats from Halloween candy to goodies delivered by the Easter Beagle. Charles Schulz also pokes fun at coconut, his least favorite food. This exhibit features Peanuts strips, cookbooks, and licensing ephemera from Interstate Bakeries and Dolly Madison . At the Charles M. Schulz Museum, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa

CARTOON ART MUSEUM HAS OPENED THE SHOW “SPAIN RODRIGUEZ: REBEL IN INK” It spans over 40 years of Spain’s work from early pieces in Zap Comix and The East Village Other to his latest book Che: A Graphic Biography. The show ends Feb. 7, 2010. The museum is also showing art from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty and work from their permanent collection.

CONGRATULATIONS MARTHA GORZYCKI The BBC has selected her video Unfurling along with several other art works to run on giant electronic billboards in the British Isles. The screenings are titled “Do Billboards Dream of Electric Screens?” The BBC has about 20 billboards in central locations (public squares) in London and other cities.


Thursday, October 1, 6:30 pm, private screening for ASIFA members of “MARY AND MAX” in 35mm, at Pixar in Emeryville, prior to it's release on Sundance Selects on demand platform. The director, Adam Elliot from Australia, was present to answer questions. He won an Oscar for Harvie Krumpet in 2003. Mary and Max was the opening night feature at Sundance 2009 and has won several festival awards including Annecy's Grand Cristal - shared with Coraline. It is an offbeat comedy involving an unusual man in NYC and his Australian pen pal.
Ron Diamond (AWN.COM and Acme Filmworks) organize! d this screening and our program on Oct. 21.

Oct. 2 – 14, “TOY STORY 1 & 2” in digital 3-D at the Castro and other theaters plus a preview of Toy Story 3.


5 AT 5: OSCILLATE WILDLY” Three films in this program are really exceptional. Lies by Jonas Odell from Sweden is full of inventive images that illustrate three unusual stories about liars. Both Horn Dog by Bill Plympton and Western Spaghetti by PES are extremely well made humorous works (made in NYC). These three hold up under repeated screenings and ideally it would be nice to show Lies at least twice as the first time you are absorbed by reading the subtitles. The seven other films are Glottal Opera, John Fink, Australia; Gul (Flower), Adnan Hussain, US; Home, Matt Faust, US; Skylight, David Baas, Canada; Space Monkeys, Jan Rahbek, Denmark; Styx, Robert Robinson, UK and Sylpphid, Dorte Bengtson, Denmark. Monday Oct. 12, 5 pm, Rafael Center and Wed. Oct. 14 at the Sequoia in Mill Valley

“ROOM AND A HALF” by Andrey Khrzhanovsky, Russia, is a nostalgic look back at the life of Nobel Prize winning poet Joseph Brodsky (1940 – 1996) in the Soviet Union. Many of the images are dreamy sequences from a man’s memory and quite a few are animated. The surreal artwork is rather simple, but it has a poetic, charming feel to it. The most amazing sequence to me was dozens of re! al musical instruments floating over Leningrad.

Brodsky’s life was the antithesis of Efimov’s in Stalin Thought of You. Brodsky’s loving supportive Jewish parents were poor and he was raised in overcrowded shared living accommodations. Even though his writings were apolitical he was tried in 1964 for being a poet. He was called a parasite (he wasn’t a worker of the state). His sentence was five years in a labor camp. He served 18 months and was released after public protests. Then in 1972 he was exiled. Brodsky’s taught poetry at the Univ. of Michigan, Columbia, Cambridge (England), Holyoke, Smith and other universities. He won several major honors including a MacArthur genius award. Sun, Oct. 11, 6 pm and Mon. Oct. 12, 4 pm, Rafael Center

[ artwork goes here]

“STALIN THOUGHT OF YOU” is a remarkable look at how ruthless and evil Stalin could be and what it was like to know and work for him. The film, directed by Kevin McNeer, (a Russian Federation, Netherlands and US production) makes Russian history come alive, but much of it is quite ugly and disturbing in this documentary. It covers the life of two Jewish brothers. Boris Efimov (1899 or 1900 - 2008) who became a celebrated political cartoonist and his brother Mikhail Koltsov (1898 – 1940 or 1942) who became a leading journalist and editor of Pravda before being tried, convicted and killed by Stalin. You learn a lot about the mindset of people who did the bidding of the state regardless and hear personal memories about what one of our world’s most famous mass murderers was like. Lots of clips from animated Soviet propaganda films add to the intensity of this horror film. Boris is quite open in his retelling of his life and in his explanations about compromising your values to survive. It is a “must see” for anyone interested in understanding communist Russia. Sat., Oct. 10 at 1:15 pm and Friday Oct. 16 at 6 pm, Rafael Center

INSIGHT: HENRY SELICK AND THE ART OF “CORALINE” is a 90-minute illustrated talk by Henry about the making of his remarkable feature. Sunday, Oct. 11 at 3:15 pm, Rafael Center

SUNDAY, OCT. 11, 5:30 PM

Focus Features, ASIFA-SF AND ASIFA- Hollywood cordially invite you and your family (limit 4)

to a special 3-D screening of CORALINE

Immediately after the screening please join us for a Q & A and light reception for DIRECTOR HENRY SELICK

At the AMC Metreon 16 & IMAX, 101 4th St (at Mission) 3rd floor, SF. RSVP (818) 777-3623

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2–4 pm, PIXAR PANEL DISCUSSION Pixar’s top designers, including Bob Peterson (writer/director), Ricky Nierva (production designer), and Jason Deamer (art director), will answer questions and talk about creating 3-D computer characters for the big screen. Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa

Sat. Oct. 17, ALTERNATIVE PRESS EXPO “MONSTERS AND MAYHEM PARTY” AT THE CARTOON ART MUSEUM , 8 pm – 11 pm, pay $5 - $20 (whatever you can afford). Special guests are the artists in the museum’s show Monsters and Mayhem including Jenn Manley Lee (Dicebox), Dylan Meconis (Family Man) and Jesse Reklaw (Slow Wave), plus famed web cartoonists Batton Lash (Supernatural Law), Erika Moen (DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret ! Comic Diary) and Shaenon K. Garrity (Skin Horse, Narbonic). Popular syndicated cartoonist Keith Knight (The Knight Life, The K Chronicles), cartoonists Jon “Bean” Hastings (Smith Brown Jones: Alien Accountant, Haunted Mansion) and Rich Koslowski (Three Geeks, Geeksville) will also be in attendance.

Tues. Oct. 20, “WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?” at the Red Vic on Haight St. at 7 and 9:30 pm.

Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 pm

ASIFA-SF’S ANIMATION DAY CELEBRATION will be THE 11TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS with special guests Cordell Barker and Chris Landreth (both from the National Film Board of Canada), presented in 35mm at Dolby Labs, ASIFA-SF members plus one guest. You must have a confirmed RSVP (by Oct. 18) to attend this event. Ron Diamond has selected an exceptional program of 10 films including Cordell “Cat Came Back” Barker’s new award winning Runaway and Chris “Ryan” Landreth’s new award winning The Spine (both in 35mm). RSVP to Non-members can find membership information at - SEE FLYER FOR DETAILS.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 7:30, “SUN XUN: THE DARK MAGICIAN OF NEW CHINESE ANIMATION” (2004–2008, 60-min.) Sun Xun in person. In this rare US presentation of his work he will present a variety of short films that range from a witty experiment in body art to an evocation of China’s checkered voyage toward technological and political modernity.

Sun’s films combine hand-drawn renderings and traditional materials with new media. Each film is made from hundreds of individual drawings that have also been exhibited in galleries and museums in China, the US, and Europe. An exhibition of Sun’s work will open at Max Protech Gallery in New York on November 7.

Program: Utopia in the Day (2004), Chinese Words, War (2005), Lie of Magician (2005), Shock of Time (2006), Lie (2006), Mythos (2006), Requiem (2007), Heroes No Longer (2008), Coal Spell (2008), and The New China (2008). At the Pacific Film Archive, 2625 Durant Avenue, Berkeley. I’m told by somebody who knows his work, “He's a young artist, trained at the Hangzhou Art Academy and was influenced by Kentridge's show in Shanghai (2000). He exhibits at Shangart! Gallery in Shanghai and does semi-political video animation.”

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 14, 3–5 pm, CHARACTER PANEL DISCUSSION Pixar’s Pete Docter, director of Up and Monsters, Inc. will join Patrick McDonnell, creator of Mutts, and Dave Goelz, who voiced Gonzo and other characters on The Muppet Show. They will discuss how cartoonists ! create characters for comic strips, television, and animated movies. Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center, 2301 Hardies Lane, Santa Rosa

Coming Nov. 12 – 15, THE SAN FRANCISCO INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL Four great days of events at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema.


ASIFA-SF members can look forward to a wide range of programs in the coming months. I’m meeting with the Disney Family Museum to discuss the possibilities of our visiting their space. I plan to show the ASIFA-East 2009 Competition winners in November. You can expect an open screening in January, a holiday party, a careers in animation program early next year, and a chance to meet the creators of the Oscar nominated shorts and to see their films. Finally we hope to honor the memory of Prescott Wright soon with a special screening. Pres was one of the founders of our ASIFA chapter and the producer for many years of the Tournee of Animation .


LAIKA DROPS ALL PLANS TO MAKE CG FEATURES, WILL FOCUS ON STOP-MOTION Laika in Portland, the producer of Henry Selick’s Coraline, had a slate of CG productions planned. In Sept. they announced those plans are scrapped and they let go 63 computer employees.

Jerry Beck at Cartoon writes, “I personally think the decision to specialize with stop-motion is a great move - not only for the health of the studio, but for the art of stop-motion animation itself. And this is shaping up to be a helluva year for stop-motion. I just attended an advance screening of Wes Anderson’s The Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s not from Laika, but it’s an outstanding film - which, compared with 2009’s other stop-mo releases (Coraline, Mary And Max), shows the wide range of this technique. I’m delighted to know this ancient hand made animation process has a somewhat heal! thy future.”

HOLLYWOOD MEASURES SUCCESS IN DOLLARS so you may be happy to know that Warner Bros. was the big summer box office champ with a total domestic gross of $957 million. Paramount came in second with $874 million, and Disney was third with $604 million. (The season is considered to be from May Day to Labor Day.)

ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD TO HOLD THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY REUNION OF THE “IRON GIANT” CREW at the Fletcher Jones Foundation Auditorium, Woodbury University, 7500 Glenoaks Blvd., Burbank, California, Friday Oct. 23rd, 7-10 PM

[photo of the product in question]

DID DISNEY CREATE A TOY LUXO JR. LAMP WITHOUT THE PROPER PERMISSION FROM THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER? LUXO LAMPS IS SUING DISNEY FOR MISUSE OF THEIR AGREEMENT WITH THEM Considering how careful Disney is to protect their characters from unlicensed use by preschools, bootleg manufacturers, etc., it is odd that they didn’t obtain a contract to bring out a toy lamp being packaged with the Blu-ray version of Up. The makers of the famous lamp had a contract with Pixar letting them copy the lamp design when they made their Oscar nominated Luxo Jr. in 1986, but Luxo, a Norwegian firm, says they do not have a contract that all! ows Disney and/or Pixar to create the toy lamp packaged with the Blu-ray discs, nor did they agree to let Disney create a large animatronic version of the lamp at Walt Disney World. The LA Times reports the Luxo complaint says the Luxo name hadn’t been used on Disney or Pixar products until now and that the new product would “cause devastating damage to Luxo and dilute the goodwill which Luxo has built up.” I suspect the real problem is that a competing company made Disney’s toy, yet it has the Luxo name on it, apparently without Luxo’s permission. This might be an interest case to follow if it isn’t settled right away.

SHANE ACKER JOINS GNOMON AS AN ARTIST IN RESIDENCE The Gnomon School of Visual Effects in Hollywood has offered Acker, who directed 9, a cool position where he will produce a short film using student assistants. Acker says the short film is about “how these two demons bide their time above the lower planes of hell. Each character lacks a part vital for communication, yet they must find a way to work together. When conflict arises their misunderstanding escalates, hurtling them towards a tragic climax.”

Prior to producing 9, Acker created two student films, The Hangnail (1999, a really awful “sick and twisted short” presented by Spike and Mike) and The Astonishing Talents of Mr. Grenade (2003). His short 9 earned him his master degree in animation from UCLA (2004) as well as winning a student Oscar, an Oscar nomination and other honors.

SHANE ACKER HAS CURATED AN EXCEPTIONAL ONLINE SHOWCASE OF FIVE SHORT ANIMATED FILMS FOR KODAK He has picked several award winners (ASIFA-SF members had the opportunity to see four of the shorts in past Ron Diamond programs). The films are Li Marhaban's End of the Line, Tomek Baginski's Fallen Art, Giza M. Toth's Maestro, Oktapodi, by student directors Julien Bocabeille, Francois-Xavier Chanioux, Olivier Delabarre, and Emud Mokhberi; and Jeremy Clapin's Skhizein. Acker’s selections can be seen at -

ASIFA-HOLLYWOOD’S ANNIE AWARDS The call for entries has gone out. Entry deadline is Oct. 16.

ANIMAZING SPOTLIGHT WINNERS TO BE SCREENED NOV. 7 AND 8 AT THE EGYPTIAN THEATRE IN HOLLYWOOD For information about the screening and the 2010 quarterly competitions visit

VENICE FESTIVAL AWARDED THEIR 3-D PRIZE TO “THE HOLE,” DIRECTED BY JOE DANTE The world’s oldest film festival may be the first to give a prize for a film in 3-D. There were nine candidates, all from the US, in the competition. They were Up by Pete Docter, The Hole by Joe Dante (a live action horror film that had its world premiere at the festival), Coraline by Henry Selick, Battle for Terra by Aristomenis Tsirbas, Monsters vs. Aliens by Rob Letterman and Conrad Vernon, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs by Carlos Saldanha, Jonas Brothers: the 3-D Concert Experience by Bruce Hendricks, Journey to the Center of the Earth in 3-D by Eric Brevig and My Bloody Valentine by Patrick Lussier . There were also several other 3-D features shown out of competition including Pixar’s Toy Story 1 & 2. Articles about the rise of 3-D also mention other titles including two Italian productions, David Zamagni’s Daimon and Nadia Ranocchi’s Cock-Crow, and three US made films that will be out soon, Avatar by James Cameron, Zemeckis’ A Christmas Carol, and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.

THE USE OF 3-D IS GROWING IN EUROPE An e-mail announcement for a conference in Spain began by saying 30 European made films are expected to be released between now and 2011 in stereoscopic 3-D. Combined with the digital transition the results are “a stronger European distribution of films and even US distribution of European films.”

ANIMATION MUSIC BY NIK PHELPS His updated Sprockets web page has clips from several films he has worked on that feature some of the varied soundtracks that he has composed and performed.
Nancy says, “Even if you’re not an animator, I think you will enjoy the films. If you need music for your animation, film or any other project please contact us..”

VERY SHORT DOCUMENTARY SEGMENT ON JULES ENGELS This might be of special interest to people who knew him at Cal Arts.

TURN KIDS INTO ANIMATION JUNKIES – BUY THEM THE NEW/IMPROVED FLIP BOOM CLASSIC 3 Kids age 6 and up will be amazed at how easy it is to create characters and bring them to life at the touch of a button with this award winning software. Several new features including new brush shapes, ability to save drawings and to export finished work to iPods, Facebook and YouTube. Only $39.99 and upgrades for older versions are $12.99. It runs on Windows XP, Vista and Mac OS X 10.4 and 10.5. Details at

EMILY HUBLEY’S “THE TOE TACTIC” IS NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD Her feature that includes animated figments of the live action star’s imagination, premiered here in 2008 at the SF International Film Festival. In September it was shown several times by the Sundance Channel. It is an interesting use of animation to express a woman’s inner-thoughts as she struggles to understand and accept recent events in her life. It is a really nice, unusual, well-made film about Mona’s angst and learning to accept the events that have disrupted her world. Emily’s parents were the animators John and Faith Hubley. Of interest to some of you who are up on the East Coast art world, Jeff Scher provided watercolor drawings and Yo La Tengo created the music. The Toe Tactic can be rented from Netflix and purchased from Kino and Amazon. To view the trailer and/or buy the DVD (Kino’s price is lower than Amazon’s I’m told) go to: also

A. O. Scott in the NY Times wrote, “A kind of free-associative, good-humored surrealism informs The Toe Tactic, a feature by Emily Hubley that combines her squiggly, playful animation (most widely seen in Hedwig and the Angry Inch with an oblique story about the serendipities of urban life. And a similar spirit — coy, tender, slightly melancholic — infuses Jellyfish, a collaboration between the Israeli fiction writer Etgar Keret and Shira Geffen, his wife.”

“These films employ bold narrative strategies and are not shy about showing off their visual ingenuity, but they also have a charming, slightly fussy, jewel-box quality. Their lovingly displayed collections of curious details, odd coincidences and quirks of behavior are signs of integrity, and also assertions of individuality. The argument these movies implicitly make — on behalf of their eccentric, vulnerable characters and also against bigger, coarser, more ordinary kinds of cinema — is for the supreme value of idiosyncrasy. It may be paradoxical to note that The Toe Tactic and Jellyfish share a commitment to idiosyncrasy.”

WHAT DOES DISNEY BUYING MARVEL MEAN? Los Angeles Times film critic Patrick Goldstein wrote in his September 1st column about the “super deal,” "Once an idea factory full of brilliant animators and Imagineers, Disney is now a mass merchandising machine in search of exploitable product, whether it comes from Marvel, Pixar or DreamWorks, which will be releasing its upcoming slate through Disney as well… With one bold move, Disney has accepted an uncomfortable reality: that the foundation of the family entertainment! business has shifted under its feet. If the studio wants to stay at the front of the pack, it will have to change with the times. In many ways, Marvel is the modern-era version of Disney..."

I assume the purchase will prove to be an excellent business move. Disney’s nice image is just too nice for many kids today. Pre-teens seem to prefer the hot action comics and special effects features based on Marvel comics over fun adventures with Disney’s Mickey, Donald and friends. Marvel’s line of Spiderman features and Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean features are near the top of the all time box office charts and Disney will probably benefit financially over the years from their new acquisition.

WHAT DOES THE CARTOON NETWORK SHOWING LIVE ACTION SHOWS MEAN? The network has been losing viewers faster than it gains new ones for quite a few years. The network was launched in 1992 with the Hanna-Barbera library as their main asset. Then they poured money into developing shows including Craig McCracken’s The Powerpuff Girls and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends. For a long time they fared well against their chief rivals Nickelodeon an! d the Disney Channel, but their ratings have declined. Today Craig McCracken is gone after 17 years with the company, as are many of their top animators.

I guess switching to live action programming seemed like a brilliant idea to executives, but they forgot some of the basic ingredients like great concepts, great scripts that are relevant to their new audiences good production values. The trades report their live action efforts for the most part are quite lame and the ratings have not improved.

Xeth Feinberg, a highly original edgy animator (the Queer Duck feature) and cartoonist, suggests they might try reversing the trend by actually spending more money to develop better-animated products with fresh new content to appeal to the growing/shifting audience(s). He says, “You can't keep making the same sorts of programs that worked in 1995 and then blame the network's failings mainly on the fact that they are animated. You can't depend on market research that suggests 'kids want to see themselves' (I'd love to see how they came up with that) to decide that animation is the culprit, and live action reality shows are the solution. Rather than being open-minded and adventurous, these decisions seem to be following the 'great' tradition of brand destruction by executive decision, like MTV taking the M out of their programming.”

Pete Davis, who proofread this issue, added his thoughts on this subject. He said, “I certainly agree with Xeth's thoughts. For me CN had its heyday around 1995 with The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory and Johnny Bravo. Might want to give a nod to Genndy Tartakovsky who was hired by McCracken and created Dexter plus Samurai Jack. In recent years the late-night Adult Swim lineup had remained innovative, but that also seems to have become tired. Reality TV programming is the cheapest kind of programming and is now ubiquitous, so maybe it's inevitable that it would be

THE OTTAWA ANIMATION FESTIVAL HAS THREE WELL KNOWN GUEST SPEAKERS (OCTOBER 14-18) T hey are Ronnie del Carmen (UP), Henry Selick (Coraline) and David Silverman (The Simpsons). The festival is also presenting retrospective screenings of award-winning animators Don Hertzfeldt, Stan VanDerBeek, Suzan Pitt, Jim Blashfield, and Studio Film Bilder, plus lots of new films in competition programs. In the feature category are Selick’s Coraline, Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max, Life Without Gabriella Ferri, directed by Priit Pärn and Olga Pärn, My Dog Tulip by Paul and Sandra Fierlinger, Neil Burns’ Edison & Leo, $9.99 by Tatia Rosenthal, and Sunao Katabuchi’s Mai Mai Miracle.

“This is an absolutely incredible year for animated features,” says Artistic Director Chris Robinson. “Normally we only have space for five features and we rarely fill them. This year, the quality so good we expanded the competition to seven… The animation feature has finally arrived as a mature mode of expression for animation artists.”

THE NEW DISNEY FAMILY MUSEUM IS FANTASTIC! You will be saying “wow” a lot and be totally amazed as you journey through this enormous tribute to Walt and his legacy. You will need to go back several times to see everything as there was way too much for me to take in during the two hours I was there. It is full of wonderful things, plus it uses state of the art exhibit technology that may exist nowhere else in America. Rather than my raving about it, here is what a few people I know have to say about this incredible museum. KC

Paul Naas, who teaches at SF State and is a former Disney animator, says, “The museum is phenomenal. It's hard to come up with a concise description of what the museum is like without sounding hyperbolic, but it is an amazing experience. Clearly a great deal of care, planning, and imagination went into the design and execution of the museum, and the impact on the visitor is intense. My personal highlight was seeing the earliest known Mickey Mouse sketches. I spent close to two hours looking through the galleries, and I'm sure there is much that I missed. I can't wait to go back, and I will definitely become a member.”

George Evelyn, who has worked on projects for Disney and hundred of other clients at Wildbrain and Colossal, says, “It is totally fabulous how the Museum combines state-of-the-art educational technology (film loops, interactive kiosks, multimedia walls, etc.) with beautifully art-directed displays of Walt Disney memorabilia (sketches, awards, toys, models and equipment) and all of it arranged chronologically to tell his amazing life story in a manner both engaging and coherent.”

Carl Willat, Carl’s Fine Films, says, “I saw many amazing things I never expected to see, the Pinocchio backgrounds, Circle-vision 360 cameras, the multiplane camera and an entire spectrum of bottled Disney cel paint with that intense chroma (you could never get those colors with cel vinyl). I want to go back and read and watch and listen to everything.”

Courtney Granner, who teaches animation at San Jose State, said, "The Walt Disney Family Museum honors Walt beyond anyone's expectation. I exited the museum with tears and a smile as though I'd been to visit a dear old friend that I hadn't seen in years. The artwork and video exhibits were warmly overwhelming and like any renowned museum, it is impossible for everything to be absorbed in just one visit. And one would never know that an amazing museum is hidden away in one of the parade ground structures.”

Alejandro Garcia, Physics and Animation Professor at SJSU says, “A new destination to take out-of-town guests and the only one that I won't mind going to again and again."

Alice “Bunny” Carter from SJSU says, “It was amazing. I agree with my colleague, Courtney Granner, if we required each of our students to visit the museum and to study every single exhibit, we could send them home for the rest of the semester!

Kevin Coffey began by saying “I've been a Disney guy since watching those great early Mickey and Silly Symphony shorts as a kid on the Mickey Mouse Club. I unexpectedly met fellow collector, animator and lifelong animation geek Tom Bertino at the entrance. Our eyes met and I could tell by his glazed expression that I was in for a big treat…”

Tom Bertino, who heads the graduate animation program at the Academy of Art, says, “As a guy who has marinated in Disneyana his whole life, it takes a lot to impress me. The English language is useless to describe the effect it had on me. Whatever anyone's expecting, it will be way beyond their imagination. The original art treasures are more than enough to put the museum in the stratosphere, but there's much, oh, so much more. It really does give a rounded picture of the varied significance of Disney by shedding light equally on the art, the achievements! , and the man. I was also quite impressed by the fact that it didn't seem overly "sanitized." Suffice to say that there's no other place where you can see the first exploratory sketches of Mickey Mouse AND listen to Walt's HUAC testimony!! How blessed we are to have this in our backyard, out of all the places they could have put it. It's really a grand piece of showmanship in the true Disney (I mean WALT Disney, not the trend-chasing Hannah Montana corporate beast) tradition. I can't imagine any person not being swept away by at least some aspect of it. Kudos to all involved.”

Tom Sito, a former Disney director, said, ”I was initially concerned this would be a vanity project with a lot of family photos, home movies and not much else. But Diane Disney Miller and her folks managed to assemble a detailed and fascinating overview of her father's life and career. There is a lot of stuff for the hard core Disney buff, as well as for the child in us all to appreciate.”

David Chai, an award winning animator who teaches at San Jose State, says, “Upon entering I was wowed by a smorgasbord of different dishes. The buffet included studio awards, personal photos and messages, production process displays, film production art, theme park presentations, the multiplane camera, society's reaction to Walt's passing, and much, much more. It was a well-rounded reminder of what a huge impact Walt Disney had on the appetite of the world. I left full, but ready to go back for seconds!

Betsy de Fries, Little Fluffy Clouds Animation Studio, says, ”We were so impressed with the museum - the content and the spectacular state if the art presentation. Its a wonderful addition to the San Francisco cultural scene.”

Carol Covington, an animation art consultant, says "Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious!!"

Journalist Tony Reveaux says, “I found the Museum pleasantly astounding.” You can read his article about his visit to the museum in the Oct. issue of

REAL-TIME RENDERING AND VISUALIZATION SYSTEMS by KC I recently wrote about SIGGRAPH 09 for Animatoon, a magazine published in Korea. I thought this excerpt might be of interest to ASIFA-SF members.

For the first time the Computer Animation Show honored real-time animation. A special program of four works demonstrated the recent advances in real-time computer graphics. The demonstrations were run on the platforms they were designed for. Elsewhere there were selected games attendees could play to experience the improvements in GPU (graphics processing unit) technology. One speaker said that the latest GPUs run up to 50 times faster than the average CPUs (computer processing unit). There were also talks and demos about other advances in game technology including rendering complex things with a GPU like hair and trees.

Variety had two reporters covering SIGGRAPH. One was quick to point out that real-time graphics are not as good as the images we see in movie theatres and they probably never will be. Today’s graphic chips in games can decide in fractions of a second how to move something, but it would take years for the best game consoles to render a single frame of a Pixar feature, something Pixar’s render farm can do in a few hours. What the GPUs are capable of is moving more stylized looking characters or objects in real-time.
The GPU used for pre-visualization and in features

Hollywood is beginning to take advantage of the new systems to go far beyond what a storyboard can do. They are designing alternative possibilities on how to stage shots and special/visual effects using computers, before something is filmed or an expensive special effect is created. By pre-visualizing different possibilities for a shot or effect the director can save time and money when he gets on the set or orders a post-production element. He knows in advance what the shot will look like.

While most of the visualization systems are being used in Hollywood to pre-visualize ideas for movies or TV shows, Delacave, a French studio, has released The True Story of Puss ‘n Boots (2009). The animated feature was made using game technology to render the images. The company is presently working on a new version of Cinderella using the same system. Their rendering system doesn’t work in real-time, but by using RenderBox they say they can create a usable image in about 10 seconds. The film was released in Europe in April and footage from it can be seen on YouTube.! The footage on the Internet has heavy shadows so it isn’t clear how detailed the surface modeling is.

A hot topic at SIGGRAPH was ILM working with NVIDIA, a manufacturer of GPU cards used in games, cell phones, etc., to create a fire simulation for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Bill Desowitz of called the footage “the talk of the show” on his daily blog. Ken McGorry with called the sequence “ILM’s biggest achievement in the film.”

It looks like NVIDIA’s ultra fast GPU cards and similar products from other companies could very well reshape the way animators, effects designers and live action people work in the future. The new tools allow directors to try out several possibilities at lower costs and in shorter periods of time. With a worldwide recession happening, the time may be right for a lot of people to consider how they can use the new technology to improve the visual look of their projects and save money at the same time.

MIYAZAKI SPOKE AT ZELLERBACH HALL IN A RARE US APPEARANCE by Bonnie Borucki When ideas flow from Hayao Miyazaki’s brain to the paper, he literally “heats up.” That is how he described his creative process in an interview this summer at Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley.

The interview was conducted by Roland Kelts, author of Japanamerica, and was held to honor Mr. Miyazaki, founder of Studio Ghibli, with the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize. Topics of discussion brought up by Mr. Kelts included Miyazaki’s creative process, his use of traditional animation techniques, and messages in his films, especially focusing on Ponyo, his latest film, released in the US this summer. The discussion was followed by questions from the audience.

Miyazaki’s creative process

Two questions focused on Miyazaki’s creative process, “How do you know when you are ready to proceed with a story?” (from Mr. Kelts), and “ How do you overcome creative blocks?” (from the audience). When confronted with creative blocks, Miyazaki simply thinks really hard, going deep into his subconscious to find ideas that “make the blood come to my head… When I think hard, I smell blood in my nose.” (note, this was a translation, and doesn’t literally mean he gets a lot of nosebleeds).

Miyasaki described his process as intuitive, “I go through ideas, try them out, abandon them and try something else. The endings may come in some mysterious way.’ “Every time I make a film, I just get through it, and after the film is made I don’t want to see it again.”
Miyasaki’s traditional “hands on” approach to animation

If you have ever visited Studio Ghibli, or looked at one of the art books of Miyazaki’s films, you know that Miyazaki draws and paints a series of beautiful concept sketches and storyboards before beginning a film. Miyazaki considers this a necessary part of the process, and states that it is common for Japanese directors (both animation & live-action) to storyboard their own films.

When asked why he continues to use the traditional cel process on all his films rather than convert to CGI animated films, he equated his situation as one who is “rowing a bark (canoe) through a sea, amongst the speedboats.” Miyazaki also expressed his opinion that the “feeling” of a drawing comes from the hand, and drawings are freer when drawn with a pencil (as opposed to using a computer that can not intuit human feelings). Once the studio h! ired an artist to explore computer animation and found that the traditional hand-drawn method was faster.
Strong female characters

Mr. Kelts brought up the point that many of Miyasaki’s films feature strong, independent female characters. (Princess Mononoke, Kiki”s Delivery Service, Spirited Away, and Nausicaa to name a few). This comment lead to Mr. Miyasaki’s observation that most of the recently hired animators who passed the drawing tests at Studio Ghibli were women (18 out of 22). He made a joke that with so many strong women now, he may have to start making films about men.
Messages in Miyazaki’s Films

The organic, mysterious driving force of nature, alongside human attempts at absolute control through destructive technologies is a common theme in much of Miyazaki’s work, and his latest film, Ponyo, is no exception. A young boy’s commitment to save and protect a living creature (Ponyo), is contrasted with a large-scale fishing industry bringing pollution that is destroying life in the ocean.

Set in a pastoral seaside village, Ponyo is loosely based on the classic tale The Little Mermaid, but with a very different ending. The main characters are very young (pre-school or kindergarten), and innocent. This innocence (childheart) is crucial to restoring a kinship with the natural world between the ocean spirits and villagers. The large message of taking responsibility and learning to live with, rather than controlling nature is presented in a format for all to understand, especially the very young.

Tickets sold out quickly for Ponyo screening and Miyazaki’s appearance

Apparently, a wide audience is interested in listening to Hayeo Miyazaki’s messages, and viewing his lushly animated films. Both the premiere screening of Ponyo at Wheeler Hall and Miyazaki’s live appearance at Zellerbach were sold out shortly after ticket sales were announced. Although much of the meaning in Miyazaki’s comments was probably “lost in translation” during this public interview, he came across as an artist that speaks from his heart. His words of advice to aspiring animators, “Sketch what you see with your own eyes, but get a good critical eye (a mentor) who will crit! ique your work honestly.”

Many of Miyazaki's responses were short and seemed difficult to translate. He was reluctant to answer questions about his favorite films or artists/directors that influenced him, although he did refer to John Lasseter and Nick Park as "comrades in arms." To find out more about Hayao Miyazaki's career and Studio Ghibli, visit

If you haven’t seen Ponyo, you may want to wait to view the Japanese version with English subtitles on DVD to better understand the storyline. On the other hand, because of exquisite detail and brilliant color, the film should be seen on a large screen. However you view Ponyo, you will find the film consistent with Miyazaki’s creative visual style and intention to bring “the power to dream” to his audience.

Bonnie Borucki graduated from SF State in animation and has worked as a game artist for Sierra, Accolade, Maxis, and EA. She now works as a freelance illustrator and flash animator, and teaches animation to kids. In Fall 2007 Bonnie had the opportunity to visit Studio Ghibli in Mitaka, Japan as part of the Berkeley-Sakai sister city goodwill tour.

WHAT, NO ARTICLE BY NANCY DENNEY-PHELPS? In Sept. Nik and Nancy spent 2 amazing weeks in China and now they are at the Krok Festival in the Ukraine.

DON’T MISS BLU’S LATEST WORK He paints his animation on walls, floors and… and has won several festival prizes with his unique techniques derived perhaps from Kentridge’s work. Google “Combo, Blu, David Ellis” or visit


Newsletter Editor: Karl Cohen

Contributors: Bonnie Borucki and lots of other friends of ASIFA

Cover illustration by Ricci Carrasquillo

Proofreader: Pete Davis

Mailing Crew: Tara Beyhm, Shirley Smith, Dot Janson

Webmaster Joe “the Calif. Kid” Sikoryak

Special thank to Charlie Corriea and friends at SF State for their help putting together our Sept. event. Also to Tara Beyhm our VP, to our treasurer Karen Lithgow, to The G Man for sending out our e-mail updates, to Nancy Denney-Phelps for representing our chapter on the international ASIFA board, to ! Patricia Satjawatcharapjong who posts excerpts from our newsletter on the International ASIFA website

ASIFA-SF is a chapter of: Association Internationale du Film d’Animation with almost 40 chapters around the world.

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Mail can be sent to: _Or_ to PO Box 14516, SF CA 94114




with special guests Cordell Barker and Chris Landreth
Wednesday, Oct. 21 at 7 pm, free

Current ASIFA-SF members can bring one guest

You must have a confirmed RSVP (by Oct. 18 to ---) to attend this event.

At Dolby Labs

100 Potrero Ave. SF – arrive early to sign in

Once again Ron Diamond has selected an exceptional program of 10 films (plus an extra surprise) to be shown in 35mm and in high resolution digital formats. Ron has consistently featured films that have gone on to be considered for Oscar nominations. To date 18 have received nominations and five in the first 10 shows have received the award (Father and Daughter, 2000; Harvie Krumpett 2003; Ryan, 2004;! The Danish Poet, 2006 and La Maison en Petite Cubes, 2008)


Cordell Barker (National Film Board of Canada), Runaway, happy passengers on a train have no idea what is around the next bend… “The ensuing crisis leads to class struggle that is as amusing as it is merciless.” Cordell has received two Oscar nominations and multiple awards for past work (Cat Came Back, 1988 and Strange Invaders, 2001). Runaway has already won the audience prize at Cannes 2009, the Special Jury Prize at Annecy 2009 and other major awards.

Chris Landreth (National Film Board of Canada) The Spine, Chris won an Oscar and over 50 other awards for Ryan, and an Oscar nomination for The End, is back with another award-winning short that continues his explorations in the use of unique imagery to represent human psychological turmoil.

Laurie Hill (UK), Photograph of Jesus, based on true stories from photo archivists about real requests they have received for photos that couldn’t possibly exist (photos of Jesus, Hitler in 1948, Big Foot, etc.)

Gil Alkabetz (Israel/Germany), The Da Vinci Time Code, discover secret moments in the lives of the men at the last supper!

Bill Plympton, Santa: The Fascist Years, discover Santa’s dark secret past; his flirtation with politics and greed.

Linde Fass (Netherlands), According to Birds, a study of movement, sounds and silence in nature that make forests special spaces.

Santiago “Bou” Grasso (Argentina), The Employment, a world where people are employed in a host of unusual jobs

Michal Socha (Poland), Chick, a humorous true-life story about male-female relations

Simone Massi (Italy), Nuvole, Mani, “Crossing the field, we color ourselves from the yellow of flowers and the spit of the cuckoo.”

Peter Sohn (a Pixar artist who went to Cal Arts), Partly Cloudy, explains where storks get babies, even dangerous ones.

Hard to find DVDs of international animation, including many of the films in past Animation Show of Shows, will be available in the lobby before and after this program. There are three films on each DV! D and individual DVDs are only $5. Deluxe, boxed sets of six DVDs are $30. A total of 18 different DVDs are available. They are also available online at
“A treasure trove of inspiration and animation magic.” Nick Park

Karl Cohen

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