22nd Annual Animation Show of Shows Press Kit


After a two-year Covid hiatus, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS returns to theaters and campuses across North America this fall. This 22nd edition comprises 10 films -- nine recent, along with one restored classic -- which deal with both the anxieties and hopes of a world faced with a seemingly endless series of existential crises. All are inventive, their tone ranges from the whimsical to the profound; their techniques, from stop-motion to hand-drawn to computer-aided.
“Animation is a natural medium for dealing with abstract ideas and deeply felt concerns, and the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has always strived to scour the world for the most affecting and engaging films,” says founder and curator Ron Diamond. “While the recent films were conceived and some finished, before the Covid lockdowns, all but the most abstract display a concern with the ways in which we are all interconnected...or sadly alienated from our sense of human connection.”
This general issue appears in many forms and styles: While "Beyond Noh" cleverly shows the prevalence of masks through all cultures, and "Rain” humorously explores the dangers of groupthink, "Ties" takes the notion of connectedness from the metaphorical to the actual.
The nine new films come from Europe, Asia, and North America. The program culminates with a striking restored 4K digital remaster by the Academy Film Archive of Frederic Back's classic 1987 Oscar-winner, "The Man Who Planted Trees."
As a bonus, an exhibition of original production art from the films listed below will be presented at selected art house theaters and on college and university campuses. the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is funded by major studios, companies, schools, and hundreds of animation lovers around the world.

10 animated short films presented in order of appearance :
  • Beyond Noh -- Patrick Smith/Kaori Ishida (U.S./Japan) 
  • Empty Places -- Geoffroy de Crecy (France) 
  • Beseder (Good and Better) -- Gil Alkabetz (Germany) 
  • Zoizoglyphe -- Jeanne Apergis (France) 
  • Rain (Deszcz) -- Piotr Milczarek (Poland) 
  • Average Happiness -- Maja Gehrig (Switzerland) 
  • Aurora -- Jo Meuris (U.S.)
  • Yes-People -- Gísli Darri Halldórsson (Iceland) 
  • Ties -- Dina Velikovskaya (Germany/Russia) 
  • The Man Who Planted Trees -- Frédéric Back (Canada)

The 22nd ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS represents the work of artists from ten countries, including nine women. Funny, moving, engaging, and thought-provoking, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS not only has something for everyone, but is a remarkable and insightful microcosm of our world.

For 24 years, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has been presenting new and innovative short films to appreciative audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters around the world. Over the years, 41 of the films showcased in the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with 11 films winning the Oscar®. Founded and curated by producer Ron Diamond, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is funded by major studios, companies, schools and hundreds of animation lovers around the world.


Beyond Noh (2020) Dir. Patrick Smith, USA, Japan

 Beyond Noh

3m55s, 1.78, color, Stop Motion Animation, No dialogue. - World Premiere: Tribeca Film Festival, New York City 2020

Set to a driving percussive score, "Beyond Noh" rhythmically shows us 3475 masks in under four minutes, creating a constantly mutating, almost dancing image -- moving from Japanese Noh masks to a variety of tribal ritual masks and on to every possible Halloween mask, from Guy Fawkes to Marvel Comics to the Simpsons.

Over the past few years, I’ve learned the striking visual power of objects. The everyday objects that surround us in our lives, or are displayed in the media, are a credible vehicle for expressing many ideas about our world, if organized to do so. A simple 24 frames per second juxtaposition brings these objects to life, creating a mesmerizing effect that has the distinct ability to convey complex ideas, and concise visual interpretations of culture, economics, personality, and philosophy.

Director Patrick Smith The origin of "Beyond Noh" can be traced to 1996, when I saw an exhibition of Balinese Barong Masks in New York, I was so enthralled with the craftsmanship, meaning, and beauty, that three months later I found myself in Mas, Bali, studying mask making. Every culture throughout history has created masks, and I wanted this film to be a grand narrative through history, featuring the 9000 year old masks from the Judean desert, all the way to contemporary plastic masks of “Hello Kitty.” -- Patrick Smith

Director Patrick Smith's formative years were spent as a storyboard artist for Walt Disney and animation director for MTV. Smith is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the New York Foundation of the Arts. His other films include Gun Shop (2019), Candy Shop (2019), Pour 585 (2018), Punch Everyone (2017), Body of Water (2017), Pittari (2017), Masks (2011), Puppet (2006), Handshake (2005), Moving Along (2004), Delivery (2003), Drink (2000). 

Writer/producer Kaori Ishida is a Japanese translator and cultural historian who has worked through-out Japan, Southeast Asia, and the US. For the past six years Kaori has produced and collaborated on several award-winning animated short films.

Beyond Noh won the Best Animation Award at the 2020 Woodstock Film Festival.

Empty Places (2020) Dir. Geoffroy de Crécy, France

Empty Places

8m49s, 1.78, color, 3D computer animation, No dialogue - First Public Performance: Annecy International Animation Festival, 2020

Geoffroy de CrécyGeoffroy de Crécy presents a portrait of a literally dehumanized world. A record player repeatedly plays Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata. Elevator doors open and close. A luggage carousel goes round and round, a machine spits out tennis balls, a train mindlessly continues its route. But there is no one to pick up the bags, to hit the balls, to ride the train. It is as though everyone in the world has suddenly vanished without explanation, leaving our objects to futilely serve a non-existent populace. Director Geoffroy de Crecy describes his film as "an ode to the melancholy of machines," and the melancholy is palpable.

My influences are currently certain photographers and illustrators. I love William Egglestone and Stephen Shore pictures. Both of these photographers focus less on persons, and more on places or objects. They really convey the mood of a country, or historic period with pictures of common places. I'm also greatly influenced by the work of Milton Glaser. -- Geoffroy de Crécy

For the past ten years, animator Geoffroy de Crecy has also been developing work on the border between illustration and animation, which has led him to create images, still or animated, for the press and advertising. This research about "animated illustration" led him to work on very simple series of loops that had a great success on the internet, especially on his Instagram account. His earlier films include "Dog Days" (2007) and "Etienne de Crecy: Am I Wrong" (2000).

Beseder (Good and Better) (2021) Dir. Gil Alkabetz, Germany


4m23s, Aspect Ratio,1.77, color, 2D hand drawn animation, Hebrew (subtitled English) - First Public Performance: Animix Festival, Israel 2021

Gil Alkabetz

"So hard to think it's gonna be good and better. It's too complicated. So easy to think it's gonna be bad and worse." So goes Tova Gertner's graceful, melancholy waltz. Director Gil Alkabetz presents us with a series of surreal vignettes, invoking famous works by (among others) Picasso, Dali, Magritte, Duchamp, and Saul Steinberg.

Many involve distortions of the human form, in the manner of Bill Plympton, the result is unsettling (even when funny), bemoaning the human tendency toward pessimism.

The film "Beseder" emerged from my collaboration with the musician and singer Tova Gertner. Each of us brought his own personal world, and from the meeting of these worlds the film was born, without any declaration of intent or common concept being formulated. For my part, I put together various illustrations of mine as short loops to Tova Gartner's song. Thus, a kind of reflection on human existence arose quite spontaneously, with a topical reference to the experience of living during the Corona period. -- Gil Alkabetz

Born in the kibbutz Mashabei Sade in Israel in 1957, Gil Alkabetz studied graphic design at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Following school, he went to work as an animator and director at the Jerusalem-based studio Frame by Frame and worked as a freelance animator and illustrator. In addition to his work as an independent filmmaker, Alkabetz has taught animation and illustration at various schools in Europe and the U.S. and has served on juries and had retrospectives at many international film festivals. His numerous award-winning films include “Swamp” (1991), “Rubicon” (1997), and “Morir de Amor” (2004). He is currently a professor at University Potsdam Babelsberg.

Zoizoglyphe (2021) Dir. Jeanne Apergis, France

Zoizoglyphe by Jeanne Apergis

7m44s, minimal color, 2D hand drawn animation - First Public Performance: Annecy International Animation Festival 2021

Those worried about the future of animation (or art in general) can take heart. This wildly inventive short is the work of Jeanne Apergis, who was born in 2000.

A bunch of little bird-like figures pop up on screen. They organize themselves into phalanxes; one outlier joins them, setting off a chain reaction that drives them across the screen. Their movements generate the soundtrack. As they cascade, there is the illusion of watching an optical representation of the sound.

"The film was born from two desires," Apergis says. "On the one hand, to associate the movement of sound and images in direct interaction. To hear what we see and see what we hear. On the other hand, to study the various paths, aspects, fate of crowds: order, disorder, resilience, imbalance, ceremony, war. Movement is at the origin of sound and images."

Jeanne Apergis

The result is perhaps the most abstract of the films in this program. At one point, Apergis has her little beasts regroup in images of war, but, outside of that, this truly is about the relationship of sound and image.

This is my first film, self-produced, drawn by hand, and assembled on the computer, sound and image. I drew a dozen movements and characters by hand and associated a sound to each. Crowds organize themselves like the notes on sheet music, creating stumbling systems. This machine stutters as it tries to constantly reinvent itself. Near the end, a disruptive fly interferes, onto which each viewer can project a meaning of their own.

Completely self-produced with my hands and my computer, this is my first personal experience in animation. I am also continuing my work on crowds with projects combining animation, staging, installations, sculptures, shadow theater. 
-- Jeanne Apergis

Director Jeanne Apergis was born on June 11, 2000 in Paris, to an artistic family. When she was little, she discovered the film "Le roi et l’oiseau" by Paul Grimault, the books and illustrations of Tomi Ungerer, and the paintings of Paul Klee, which have influenced her work. She is a student at the Villa Arson in Nice since 2019.

Deszcz (Rain) (2020) Dir. Piotr Milczarek, Poland


7m44s, minimal color, 2D hand drawn animation - First Public Performance: Annecy International Animation Festival 2021

A man stands on the roof of an impossibly tall skyscraper, having a smoke. Someone playfully sneaks up behind him, so startling him that he falls off the roof. The company CEO, sitting in his office, is the first to see the body dropping past his window. He leaps up, grabs a cape, and flies down to rescue the faller. Meanwhile, many other employees, seeing the rescue, gather on the roof and start jumping themselves. Groupthink? A new ice-bucket challenge? Digging the thrill of jumping and being rescued by a superhero? While dozens jump, the CEO, exhausted, gives up the cause, as more bodies fly by the windows.

Piotr Milczarek

This humans-as-lemmings scenario can be read any number of ways, all of them damning views of human nature.

"The Rain" is a simple animated film on collective consciousness. It talks about how no accountability for our actions pushes us to thoughtlessly follow the crowd, which may lead to a tragedy. The film also depicts a struggle of an individual with collective hypnosis and its consequences for both the individual and the crowd. 
-- Piotr Milczarek

Piotr Milczarek was born and lives in Lodz. He studied animation and special effects at the Film School in Lodz, where he is currently working as an assistant. He belongs to group of animators whose path to film began with a fascination for comics. This is his source of inspiration, as well as the creative experience gained in the field of comics, significantly influenced the artistic shape of his films. He describes his heroes and the world that surrounds them with a simple, expressive line.

Piotr Milczarek is currently working on "There Will Be No Other End" -- a light seven-minute animated film about stupidity.

"Rain" has won many awards, including Best First Film at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019 and the Special International Jury Prize at the 18th International Animation Festival in Hiroshima, Japan 2020. Milczarek's earlier films include "Happy Birthday!" (2011), "Make It Rain" (2010), "Riverdance - Thunderstorm" (2010), "Fly Sits - Tape of Truth" (2010), "Spiders - Spiders" (2008), "Cockroach" (2006), "Mister Mister" (2005), "Jarosław" (2004), "War of the Worlds" (2004), and "Cartoon" (2003).

Average Happiness (2019) Dir. Maja Gehrig, Switzerland

Average Happiness

7m03s, 1.78, color, 2D Hand Drawn Animation, Voice Over - First Public Performance: DOK Leipzig, Germany 2019

Maja GehrigA statistics professor is delivering a very dry lecture on "Introductory Econometrics for Finance 1 & 7," using "average happiness" as an example. It's so dry that the graphs he's explaining seem to get bored. They mutate themselves into stark images, flowing and overlapping, exuberant and colorful, although the subject matter they represent -- energy usage, mortality rates, war -- is often downbeat. Working from found footage, director Maja Gehrig alternately connects and disconnects the images from the real-world aspects they are meant to convey. "I took them out of their context to give a new context in my film." Joy Frempong's music and Peter Bräker's sound-design make the diagram-world real and buoyantly express the mood of the diagrams.

The title of the film implies a criticism of statistics – can happiness be expressed in numbers? Of course not. That is what interest me about Statistics. The fact that we would like to have certainty, to measure and prove all kinds of aspects of our lives, keeps being abstract to me. Sometimes I have the impression that Statistics became a substitute for religion, making the film, I realized that also I am a believer, and that I believe in Uncertainty. In my opinion there is no certainty existing in this world and therefore nothing that can proved. -- Maja Gehrig

At the time Maja Gehrig made her choice of study, animation as a professional field was almost unknown in Switzerland. Aftter studying industrial design and media art, she discovered her love for animated film at EestiJoonisfilmin in Tallinn, Estonia. After experimenting with installations and performance, she realized animated film was her priority.

Her previous films include "Filmo Amourette" (2009) and "Queen Po" (2015)

Aurora (2020) Dir. Jo Meuris, USA

Aurora by Jo Meuris

5m15s,1.77, color, 2D hand drawn animation - First Public Performance: University Video and Film Association Conference July 2020

Jo Meuris"Aurora" has the simplest of stories: Jojo is a pig-tailed little girl who falls in love with a horse named Aurora. When Aurora moves away, Jojo's heart is broken. But, after a while, another horse comes into her life, and, while he's definitely not Aurora, the girl comes to love him, and her heart begins to heal.

Director Jo Meuris narrates the tale and animates it in an appropriately childlike style: the events transpire on a flat, two-dimensional plane; the characters, human and equine, are essentially stick figures. The result is a charming, bittersweet expression of love lost, regained, and replicated -- with a nod to the ways in which our lost loves live on in our memories and dreams.

The one thing people always want to know is if (or how much of) the story is true. So… Yes. It was inspired by a horse named Aurora. But like every good story some parts were embellished. Some heavily… But that doesn’t mean that every emotion behind the story and the film wasn’t honest and true… -- Jo Meuris

Jo Meuris is a Dutch-Canadian, Asian-Caribbean film-maker from Canada. She studied animation and film at Concordia University in Montreal and graduated with a BFA in 1998. Her previous films include "Without Wings" (2010) and "Why Use Animation" (2015). "Aurora" has won multiple awards, including Best of Fest Outstanding Short Animation at the Animalis Fabula Film Festival, Best Animation at Paris Play Film Festival, and Best Animated Short at the Silver State Film Festival.

Já fólkið (Yes-People) (2019) Dir. Gísli Darri Halldórsson, Iceland


8m35s,1.77, color, 3D computer graphics animation - First Public Performance: Minimalen Short Film Festival Norway, 2020

In this Oscar-nominated short, Gísli Darri Halldórsson presents a day in the life of the residents of an apartment building, as they wordlessly go about their business.... or almost wordlessly: the one word we hear repeatedly is "Ja" (yes). A music teacher sends her son off to school (where he daydreams) and gives a lesson to an apparently hopeless flautist; the super shovels the sidewalk and happily returns to his libidinous wife; a bureaucrat goes to his office, leaving his frustrated wife to drink away her loneliness.

Dir. Gísli Darri HalldórssonAs is often the case in real life, these neighbors barely interact with anyone other than their own families. But the thin walls create a sort of vague community through sound. Music, TV, and lovemaking are all loud enough to breach the solitude of apartment living.

The idea for "Yes-People" came about when I was telling my Irish friends about the multi-meaning word "já" (yes) in Icelandic. I was looking for restrictions to induce creativity and thought a one-word-film would be a wonderful framework to animate lots of characters using the silent-film tradition but adding the musicality of the voice...a semi-silent film. To me, the word itself was not that important. -- Gísli Darri Halldórsson

Born in Iceland in 1978, Gísli has been a professional animator since 2007, working in England, Ireland, Germany, and Iceland on feature-films, short-films, TV, commercials, and music videos. In addition to its Oscar nomination, "Yes-People" was named Best Short Film at the Icelandic Film & TV awards; Best Nordic-Baltic Short Film at the Frederikstad Animation Festival in Norway, Best Icelandic Short Film at the Reykjavík International Film Festival, and Best European Short Film at the Weird International Animation Film Festival in Spain.

Halldórsson's other films are "The Great Unrest" (2008), "Bert" (2006), "Whatever" (2005), "Frog's Blues" (2001), "Reykjavík Safari" (2001), "Gogh Syndrome" (2000), and Kókó (1999).

Ties (2019) Dir. Dina Velikovskaya, Germany, Russia

Ties by Dina Velikovskaya

7m36s, 1.85, color, Stop Motion replacement animation - First Public Performance: DOK Leipzig, Germany, September 2019

As a young woman leaves for college, a thread from her skirt gets caught on her old swing. When she walks to the waiting cab, her skirt doesn't unravel, but the swing does. All the lines that compose the swing pull away until it collapses. But it doesn't stop there: apparently, all the objects we've seen -- the house, the yard, even her parents -- are connected lines of the same thread. As she gets on a plane and flies away, the contents of her home, then the building itself, and finally even her father all come unraveled. Only the actions of her mom are able to break the thread and stop this wholesale destruction. Mom is even able to reconstruct her husband out of the jumble of thread.

Dina VelikovskayaRussian animator Dina Velikovskaya's film converts the age-old notion of "family ties" into a graphic reality. The girl's departure is a metaphor for "empty nest" syndrome. It unravels the family unit, which then has to find the strength to reformulate their lives in her absence.

Animation for me is a tool to communicate with the world and especially with loved ones. I view my films as my moving picture diary. I am fascinated by the ability of short animation films to express an idea using limited means and time. The ability to crystallize the most important and to embody in a form that is adequate to the idea. I believe that all elements of the film should work for the idea and technique is an important part of the means of expressing the idea of a film -- Dina Velikovskaya

Dina Velikovskaya was born in Moscow in 1984. After graduating from the animation department of Russian State University of Cinematography (VGIK) in 2011, she continued her studies at High Animation School-Studio “SHAR” (Moscow). In 2018 she became a member of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

"Ties" has won numerous awards at festivals around the globe, including Suzdal Animation Film Festival (Russia), Savigny Animation Film Festival 2021 (Switzerland), and the New York City Short Film Festival 2020.

Velikovskaya's earlier films are "Kukuschka" (2016), "About a Mother" (2015), "My Strange Grandfather" (2011), "Pages of Fear" (2010), "The Bridge" (2011).

The Man Who Planted Trees (1987) Dir. Frédéric Back, Canada

The man who planted trees by Frederic Back

30m8s, 1.33, color, 2D Hand drawn - First Public Performance: Landmark Theater, Los Angeles, USA 1988

This year's ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS ends with Frédéric Back's 1987 classic, "The Man Who Planted Trees," presented in a striking restored 4K digital remaster by the Academy Film Archive and color corrected for ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS at Picture Shop Post by Sr. Colorist Kris Santa Cruz. The Oscar-winning film, narrated by Christopher Plummer, tells the story of a young man's encounter with an isolated shepherd, Elzéard Bouffier, who is determined to renew his barren landscape by planting thousands of trees. Based on a possibly autobiographical 1953 fable by Jean Giono, it's a beautifully hand-drawn epic -- an environmental plea ahead of its time. As the shepherd's efforts bear fruit, the film's palette gradually moves from dusty browns to a range of colors, evoking memories of the great impressionist painters.

"I can't emphasize how great an impact this film had on me when it was first released," says ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS curator Ron Diamond. "It was an inspiration, both aesthetically and ideologically -- and its message is even more relevant as the effects of global climate change become increasingly devastating. We included it in Expanded Entertainment's The 21st International Tournee of Animation (1988) -- its first release after winning the Academy Award -- and showed it across North American in art house theaters. More recently, I encouraged the Academy Foundation to restore and remaster it, which enabled this beautiful digital print. This story of one man's success at battling the world's deterioration is the perfect note of hope to end on."

Frédéric BackBack, who died in 2013, practiced what he preached, devoting much time and energy throughout his life to the protection of animals and the preservation of the environment. A lifelong vegetarian who himself planted some 10,000 trees on his country estate near Montréal, he was a founding member of the Québec Society for the Defense of Animals (SQDA) and the Society for Overcoming Pollution, as well as a member of the Société d'Eau Secours!, devoted to protecting water resources.

"The Man Who Planted Trees" earned Back his second Oscar. It also won literally scores of awards at festivals around the world. His other films included "The Mighty River" (1993), "Crac" (1980, for which he received his first Oscar), "Tout Rien" (1978), "Illusion" (1975), "Inon" (1972), and "Abracadabra" (1970.

For 24 years, the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS has been presenting a highly selective, “best of the best” program of new and innovative short films to appreciative audiences at animation studios, schools and, since 2015, theaters around the world. During its first 23 years, 41 of the films showcased in the ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with 11 films winning the Oscar®. The ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is a 501(c)(3) not for profit and is supported by major studios, companies, schools and hundreds of animation lovers around the world. Learn more about the films in current and past ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS and their makers by joining our mailing list at www.animationshowofshows.com/pages/sign-up.

Contact: Ron Diamond 323 791-9781 Ron.Diamond@AnimationShowofShows.org