18th Annual Animation Show of Shows Press Kit
THE 18TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS
This year’s show includes an expanded selection of fresh student films from leading animation schools in the U.S., Belgium, Canada, Korea and Russia. This is not surprising, since the most interesting and groundbreaking work is being done at these hotbeds of creativity.
Featuring techniques ranging from hand-drawn to stop-motion to the latest computer-generated imagery, the 17 extraordinary films in this program were created by animators from Belgium, Canada, France, Israel, Korea, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Scotland, the U.K., and the U.S. Their themes range from gay issues and civil rights, to deeply felt personal stories, to the wacky humor that animation does so well. Many have garnered awards from prestigious festivals around the world.
For the first time this year, in addition to regular shows, there will also be a number of special daytime screenings specifically designed to be family-friendly and appropriate for viewers of six years and up. Those who attend the later evening screenings will have the opportunity to see four films – Corpus, Blue, Manoman and All Their Shades – that approach their mature subjects in more graphic detail.
Largely crowd-funded through a highly successful Kickstarter campaign, this year’s Animation Show of Shows represents the enthusiasm and commitment of 550 individual contributors from around the world. We are extremely grateful for their support and it is thanks to them that we are able to share these treasures with the world.
For 16 years, The Animation Show of Shows, founded and curated by Ron Diamond, has been presenting new and innovative short films to animation studios, societies, schools and festivals around the world. Over the years, 32 of the films showcased in the Show of Shows went on to receive Academy Award® nominations, with nine films winning the Oscar®. The only downside was that only a relatively small number of people, primarily in the professional animation community, had the opportunity to see these cinematic gems in a theatrical setting.
Then, in 2015, the 17th edition was expanded to include public screenings in cities around the world, allowing general audiences to experience these singular works of art on the big screen, as they were meant to be seen. This first public program was the biggest in the show’s history, including 435 screenings in 50 cities in the U.S., Canada, Spain, South Africa, and Australia. Also for the first time, the films were paired with revealing documentary portraits of a number of the directors that illuminated the motivation, process and experiences that led them to make their films.
THE 18TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is curated by Ron Diamond and presented by Acme Filmworks. This showcase will premiere in Providence beginning on September 30th at the Cable Car Cinema and then will go to over 40 cities across the nation.THE 18TH ANNUAL ANIMATION SHOW OF SHOWS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit created for the expressed purpose of expanding awareness of exemplary animated Short Films and Animated Short Film restoration and preservation. Donations are tax deductible. Earnings from the distribution of the Animation Show of Shows will be used for the sustainability of our mission and compensate the participating animators/rights holders. More information is available at www.AnimationShowofShows.com.
• Stems - Ainslie Hendersen (Scotland)
• Shift - Cecilia Puglesi & Yijun Liu (U.S.)
• Pearl - Patrick Osborne (U.S.)
• Crin-crin - Iris Alexandre (Belgium)
• Mirror - Chris Ware, John Kuramoto, Ira Glass (U.S.)
• Last summer in the garden - bekky O’Neil (Canada)
• Waiting for the New Year - Vladimir Leschiov (Latvia)
• Piper - Alan Barillaro (U.S.)
• Bøygen - Kristian Pedersen (Norway)
• Afternoon Class - Seoro Oh (Korea)
• About a Mother - Dina Velikovskaya (Russia)
• Exploozy - Joshua Gunn, Trevor Piecham, & John McGowan (U.S.)
• Corpus - Marc Héricher (France)
• Blue - Daniela Sherer (Israel)
• Manoman - Simon Cartwright (England)
• All Their Shades - Chloé Alliez (Belgium)
ESTHER KIM 323 464-7805
RON DIAMOND 323 791-9781
Please contact Ron.Diamond@AnimationShowofShows.org to download promotional materials including trailer, banner, posters, etc.
STEMS by Ainslie Henderson
STEMS - “What I love about stop-motion puppets,” says director Ainslie Henderson, “is that they have this inherent sadness about them. They’re like little actors that only ever get to play one role.” And yet – as this brilliant, sad, funny, self-reflective film shows – they make the most of their tiny lives.
“’Stems’ was an experiment in spontaneity for me. Stop motion can be so laborious, time consuming and uptight. I was attempting to find a way to make work that was looser, careless almost, while retaining a style and a potency of meaning. I wanted to try and do away with scripts, storyboards, budgets and schedules, and try to find a way to dwell in the playful beginning of making puppets. I love the edge in stop motion where inert things become living things. ‘Stems’ is a film that balances there.”
Ainslie Henderson is a BAFTA Award-winning writer-director, who received the New Talent Award in 2012 for his short film “It's About Spending Time Together.” His 2012 film “I Am Tom Moody” won Best British Short at the Encounters film festival in Bristol, Best Student Film at Krok and Ottawa, the Special Jury Award at Annecy 2013 and the Animation category of the Adobe Design Achievement Awards.
SHIFT by Cecilia Puglesi & Yijun Liu
SHIFT - Once upon a time, in a fantastical village on the edge of a forest, a proper Victorian lady encounters a wild, free-spirited doppelgänger. Shocked and amazed, she befriends the naked stranger and takes her under her wing. But her well-intentioned efforts to civilize the carefree spirit have some unexpected results in this beautifully designed 3D fable.
“Since I can remember, animation was what I wanted to do when I grew up. I spent half of my childhood drawing, always trying to tell stories. The other half I used to explore the nature that surrounded me in the vast desert that is my hometown: all the plants that my mother had in the garden, their intricate shapes, their colors, their immense variety. After graduating as a designer in Argentina, I studied in Barcelona, where I obtained a MSc. in Cognitive Systems and Interactive Media. I learnt about the way in which people interact with technology, about augmented reality and disembodiment. Botany, drawing, cognition, the physical world, artificial reality, nature and storytelling all came together and nurtured ‘Shift.’ It explores the ideas that interest me the most: the false dichotomy between nature and civilization, the fake separation of humans within their own shaped environment. We are a part of nature and there is no possible dissociation. The choice of medium for ‘Shift’ was CG 3D. Since it was our thesis film at the School of Visual Arts, we wanted to push our technical skills and, at the same time, we felt that 3D would give us the possibility to enhance the spatial feeling and use light as a key element as the story unfolds, enhancing the atmosphere of each space. We chose to use the 3D in a pictorial manner, painting all textures and taking special care of the space and the rhythm.”
Cecilia Puglesi was born in Mendoza, Argentina, where she spent her childhood drawing and hiding from bullies. After she fell in love with animation and comics and acknowledged that was what she wanted to do, she spent three years doing the opposite by studying engineering. Realizing that she was going to be bored for life, she changed her career and became a designer in the wild west. As soon as she got her diploma, she moved across the ocean to Barcelona, allegedly to study Cognitive Sciences, but mainly so that she could live by the seaside and realize her true destiny: to be a gypsy. After detours to Austria and India, she returned to Barcelona and completed her second master’s degree, this time in animation. In 2013 she moved to NY as a Fulbright grantee to study Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts. She graduated in 2015 and immediately started to work at Buck in NYC. After a long season of festival trips, she moved back to Europe, where she currently works as a concept designer in Paris.
Yijun Liu is a CG artist originally from Tonghua, China. Growing up under the influence of Miyazaki and early Pixar movies, she decided to be an artist who creates gentle and heartwarming stories with 2D and 3D tools. After studying in Beijing, she moved to New York to pursue a master's degree in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts. Yijun currently works as a game artist for children's media.
PEARL by Patrick Osborne
PEARL - Patrick Osborne directs a poignant and tuneful reflection on the relationship between a musician father and his daughter over the course of many years. From a carefree life together on the road to the strains and compromises brought about by adolescence and a more settled existence, “Pearl” evocatively shows the transcendent power of love and music – and that ultimately there really is “no wrong way home."
“Set inside their home, a beloved hatchback, ‘Pearl’ follows a girl and her dad as they crisscross the country chasing their dreams. It’s a story about the gifts we hand down and their power to carry love. And finding grace in the unlikeliest of places.”
“’Pearl’ was produced for Google Spotlight Stories as a mobile VR experience and then edited as a theatrical short. Google Spotlight Stories are 360-degree, interactive stories, produced for mobile 360, Cardboard and VR headsets and available on the Google Spotlight Stories YouTube Channel at youtube.com/gss, the Google Spotlight Stories App, and on HTC Vive.
Patrick Osborne is the creator and director of the Academy-Award winning short film Feast for Walt Disney Animation Studios, and Animation Supervisor on Academy-Award winning Paperman and Big Hero 6. Currently, Patrick is directing Nimona for Fox and Battling Boy for Paramount and Plan B. Patrick created and is Executive Producer on the recently ordered comedy for ABC Imaginary Mary.
Crin-crin by Iris Alexandre
CRIN-CRIN - As the history of animation makes abundantly clear, there are few things as enjoyable as watching silly-looking animals visiting indignities on each other. In this case, a nefarious rabbit and raccoon make off with the tail of a self-regarding horse—while the fiddler in the film uses an appropriated horsehair (“crin” in French) for her own purposes. As wacky mayhem ensues, the four musicians keep the fun going with their virtuoso performance. And, as the cartoon universe has also taught us, crime often pays.
“Crin-crin” is a short film based on a piece of the same name performed by the band Zakouska. “Crin” means “horsehair” in French and “crin-crin” refers to violin playing that sounds a little rough. As you’ll see in the film, the musicians don’t play with their bows all the time – sometimes they just use one horsehair, which makes an unusual noise. Since a horsehair plays a central role in the music, it seemed obvious that one of the characters should be a horse! And, since the music is running, my characters had to run too! What could be better than a chase? The animation technique is traditional paper cut, and a little bit of cut-out. Since this is a stop-motion film, the frames were done one by one. For each second of film, all of the pieces in the shot were moved twelve times.
Iris Alexandre is a stop-motion animator and a director who works on both personal and commissioned films. Her shorts have played at a number of international festivals, where many received awards. In addition to her directing and professional stop-motion work, Iris also teaches animation at ENSAV La Cambre in Brussels.
MIRROR by Chris Ware, John Kuramoto, & Ira Glass
MIRROR - The fraught territory of mother-daughter relations and the ever-present threat of committing a “parenting error” are the subjects of this funny and insightful short from The New Yorker and “This American Life.” Based on an interview conducted by longtime TAL host Ira Glass, “Mirror” explores how a parent’s uncensored casual comment might or might not destroy her adolescent daughter for life.
“I asked Ira Glass if he had any audio that might somehow be adapted as an animation that could extend the space and especially the emotion of the usual New Yorker image. So he sent me an audio story and I set to work with John Kuramoto to somehow animate it. Usually, when listening to a story, one’s mind not only sees but also feels in images; you imagine and constantly revise and update entire tableaux, much the way you imagine things while reading a book. I hoped that our pictures wouldn’t interfere with that ineffable mental dance but would somehow, like my usual medium of graphic novels, complement it. Of course, the most important people here are the subjects of the story: Hanna Rosin (the co-host of NPR’s “Invisibilia” and a writer for the Atlantic and Slate) and her daughter, and they are not at all fictional. But the interpretations that John and I have provided more or less are. Thus, my apologies and thanks to Hanna and her daughter both for any and all liberties taken. The video’s music, by Nico Muhly, was composed and performed especially for this cartoon, so most grateful regards to him as well and to the musicians who recorded it: Nathan Schram, on viola, and Fritz Myers, on piano.” (excerpted, with permission, from The New Yorker)
Born in Los Angeles, John Kuramoto spent his formative years in Rockville, MD and graduated with a degree in English from U.C. Berkeley in 1993. His only animation training was obsessively watching Looney Tunes and Ray Harryhausen movies on Saturday mornings as a child, and making the occasional flip book. Despite this limitation, he has racked up an impressive list of animation credits, including the title sequence and animated portions of the Academy Award®-nominated film American Splendor; four shorts in collaboration with graphic novelist Chris Ware for “This American Life”; and two cartoons with Patton Oswalt. In addition to his animation work, John has done video installations for several museums, including the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and the Jewish Museum & Tolerance Center in Moscow, and he has written comics for D.C., Marvel, Image, and the monthly manga Afternoon. He is currently working with Chip Kidd on the English-language edition of Gengoroh Tagame’s manga Otouto no Otto (“My Brother’s Husband”) for Pantheon Books. He resides in New York with his wife and daughter.
LAST SUMMER IN THE GARDEN by bekky O'Neil
LAST SUMMER IN THE GARDEN - This poetic and philosophical rumination on nature, seasons, cycles, and the unavoidable speed bumps in the road of life uses a first-person narrative and a wash of impressionistic colors in its evocation of gardens, both real and metaphorical. From dead cats and howling coyotes to the miracle of growth and healing, “Last Summer in the Garden” recounts one woman’s journey through a joyful, fearful time of death and rebirth.
“Art is Food. You can’t eat it but it feeds you.” - Bread & Puppet Theatre
“The feeling of tending the garden did not differ greatly from the art of making a film about it – first I had to dig deep – to examine what was at the root of the endeavor, and then to dare to imagine what it could look like during times when it seemed nothing would grow. We are faced daily with many fears and anxieties. Our phones ping at all hours, we’re tuned in, plugged in and notifications are on, and yet we are less connected to the Earth’s natural rhythms. Most of us have some inkling about how nighttime feels, or during which seasons things grow – but we rely on ecologically damaging chains of production that our ancestors could not have imagined. Working frame by frame allowed me to slow down in the same way that examining seeds geminating and learning to recognize each plant did. Returning to the light table, to the pencil and paper felt like a renaissance – another chance to connect with those who had come before. I had to take it one piece at a time, to cultivate my garden, and to trust that the results of my continued practice would eventually lead to a harvest.”
bekky O'Neil is a multidisciplinary artist, animator and director born in Toronto, Canada and based between Northumberland County and Toronto, Ontario. A graduate of Concordia University in Montréal, she holds a BFA in Playwriting from the Department of Theatre and a second BFA in Film Animation from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. bekky is currently pursuing postgraduate studies in Animated Documentary & Sustainable Agriculture in the Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media & Design at OCAD University. With her partner Keith Del Principe, bekky is the co-founder of Cardboard Reality Farm & Studios. She is passionate about ecology and preserving biodiversity, and believes that good art can inspire positive social change.
WAITING FOR THE NEW YEAR by Vladimir Leschiov
WAITING FOR THE NEW YEAR - This deeply affecting meditation on time, change and the human condition looks at the world through the eyes of a solitary middle-aged woman whose simple tasks – shoveling snow, raking leaves – reflect the changing seasons. We see glimpses of neighbors, a throng of tourists, and a passing tram… all reminders of a world to which she both belongs and yet is separate from. Yet, as she goes uncomplainingly about her work, other forces are at work, which culminate in a beautiful Christmas surprise and a reminder that one never knows what the future holds.
“’Waiting for the New Year’ is a philosophical story about loneliness, beauty and dreams. The idea for the film came from childhood memories – the observation of a street cleaner through the window and the beauty of seasons. Simple daily things can be beautiful, but unfortunately they stay unnoticed. They pass away because of time. Loneliness offers an excellent opportunity to think, observe and dream, because it makes time run slowly. Since childhood, most people are dreamers waiting for a miracle, which can make positive changes in their daily life. The calendar year is kind of a model for life: its snow-white sheet of paper is beginning and birth; spring, with its first leaves and flowers, is youth; summer, full of solar energy, is maturity; and autumn’s dry leaves are old age. Inspired by personal experience and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, I wanted to make a film about a fragile, lonely woman, working as a street cleaner and dreaming about meeting her love. To illustrate each season and underline the woman's dream, I added a male character to each segment. I don't like the computer very much and I use it only for assistance in the production process. I like to draw on paper in the traditional way, because it allows me to feel my characters. Each film I make requires a specific technique according to its story and mood. With ‘Waiting For the New Year,’ I thought about watercolors, because of their sensitivity and wide range of density. This film doesn’t use watercolors in the traditional way, but more precisely, accurately and densely to underline the woman's lifestyle and daily hard work."
Latvian director Vladimir Leschiov graduated from the Art School in Riga in 1989 and studied animation at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Sweden. He founded the animation studio Lunohod in Riga in 2007. His films notably include “The Letter” (2002), “Grandad’s Honey” (2004), “Insomnia” (2004), ”Lost in Snow” (2007), and “Wings and Oars” (2009). His short film ”Rainy Days” played in competition at the 2014 Annecy International Animation Festival and “Waiting for the New Year” premiered and played in competition at Annecy in 2016.
PIPER by Alan Barillaro
PIPER - “’Piper’ began as a test in an effort to develop animation tools that would provide greater flexibility for artists. As the test evolved, I realized there was a story to be told. Inspired by the birds I would see while jogging near Pixar, I came up with this tale of a sandpiper, and infused it with the emotions I felt as a parent nervously watching my children growing up. Using the tools I’d been developing, the team and I worked in a uniquely collaborative way in which everyone was empowered to contribute creatively. It was a thrill to work on ‘Piper’ and we are so proud of the result.”
Alan Barillaro grew up outside of Toronto, Canada, where he developed an early interest in animation. He worked his way up through the ranks at various commercial houses during high school and continued his studies at Sheridan College for Animation. In 1997, Alan joined Pixar Animation Studios, where he has worked on almost every Pixar film as an animator, including “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and the Academy Award®-winning features “Finding Nemo,” “The Incredibles,” “WALL•E” and “Brave.” On the last three features, Barillaro served as supervising animator, overseeing the team of animators who worked to bring the characters to life. After “Brave,” Barillaro went to work with Pixar’s software development team to help craft an animation tool that would provide additional creative flexibility to the studio’s filmmaking process. As a proof of concept, Barillaro created a short animation test about a sandpiper on a beach. The test grew into the short film “Piper,” which was released theatrically with “Finding Dory” in 2016. Barillaro currently resides in Oakland, California with his family.
BØYGEN by Kristian Pedersen
BØYGEN - An abstract interpretation of the battle between Peer Gynt and the Boyg (a serpent-like troll) in Norse mythology, this compelling study in form, pattern and rhythm immerses the viewer in an alien world that is at once both foreign and familiar. There are things we recognize, or think we recognize, as the abstract shapes constantly shift and reform, yet they remain elusive. Mesmerizing and highly suggestive, this masterful experimental work challenges us to meet it on its own terms.
"From deep in the misty Norwegian mountains comes the unnerving sense of numbing apathy. This is The Boyg, in old Norwegian folklore known as a large, invisible serpent that seem to surround you and suggests you avoid challenges. Made famous by playwright Henrik Ibsen, the Boyg is today a term for a formless obstacle; lack of initiative, creeping anxiety or a problem difficult to untangle. What better way to celebrate the beast within us than through abstract visual music. This short is a six minute visual and musical remix of epic poetry, classical music, paralyzing panic attacks and The Great Boyg itself."
Kristian Pedersen was born in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1980. In 2005 he moved to Bergen, Norway, where he completed his BA and MA in Visual Communication at Bergen Academy of Art and Design. Working as a freelance animator and designer in Oslo, he has produced animated poetry films in collaboration with the small press Gasspedal, the publishing house Gyldendal, and the Norwegian National Library. Kristian has developed a distinct visual signature and narrative style, and his films have been featured at festivals for film, animation, literature and poetry film. He was awarded Goethe Institute's Film Prize at Zebra Poetry Film Festival in Berlin, 2014.
AFTERNOON CLASS by Seoro Oh
AFTERNOON CLASS - Have you ever had the experience of being in a classroom and, despite your best efforts, simply being unable to keep your eyes from closing? Of struggling to stay awake and trying mightily to avoid the indignity of having your head collapse onto your desk? Of watching your classmates drop off one by one, and yet doing everything in your power to keep from joining them in blissful slumber? No? Well, it looks a little like this.
“When I had an afternoon class in school, I used to try to keep from nodding off by shaking my head, which felt much heavier than normal. It was so funny that, while other friends slept comfortably, I would fight against my drowsiness. I wanted to create a funny animation that captured both how sweet the drowsiness is and how hard it is to overcome. I used the fantasy elements in the film to help convey the subjective feelings and add humor to the narrative. Although ‘Afternoon Class’ is based on my own experience, you may find it familiar.”
Seoro Oh is a graduate of the intensive course in animation at South Korea’s Chungkang College of Cultural Industries. His film “Artist-110” (2013) received the FutureCity Yokohama Award at the Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia. “Afternoon Class” won the Special Jury Prize in the student competition at the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival, as well as a Jury Special Mention from Animafest Zagreb.
ABOUT A MOTHER by Dina Velikovskaya
ABOUT A MOTHER - In this touching African-themed fable, an ever-resourceful mother attends to her children’s needs, even after they are grown and on their own. Using minimalist black-and-white drawings and iconic images, director Dina Velikovskaya pays tribute to a mother's love, which proves more than a match for life’s many tribulations, large and small.
“When my elder sister was born, my mom’s hair suddenly became thick and curly. I was told this story when I was a kid. For me there is some link between motherhood and hair. With this film, I thank my parents for all they have done for me. While the story that I tell is simple, I wanted to express the complexity of becoming older for a woman, whose entire meaning in life is to give everything she has to people she cares for.”
Dina Velikovskaya was born in Moscow in 1984. When she was nine, her parents enrolled her in an animation workshop for children, which changed her life and determined her future profession. After finishing secondary school, she attended the State Art School in Memory of 1905 with a specialization in scenic theater design. In 2006, Dina entered the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK), where she made her first puppet animation films, and in 2013 she enrolled at the School Studio "SHAR,” where she began creating hand-drawn animations. After working at the Pchela studio, in 2016 she moved to Berlin, where she works as a puppet animator and thinks about her next film.
EXPLOOZY by Joshua Gunn, Trevor Piecham, & John McGowan
EXPLOOZY - Either highly whimsical or potentially alarming, depending on your point of view, this very funny “explainer video” for the next big thing in animation hits all the key points that give animators nightmares. After all, with machine learning, the cloud, and algorithms (that’s right, algorithms), how can you go wrong?
“‘Exploozy’ is a spoof of the ‘Explainer Video’ genre, which is common in the tech world among startups that are trying to pitch business ideas, apps, and products that will, in their estimation, ‘make the world a better place.’ We wanted to poke fun at Silicon Valley's seeming obsession with creating technology that makes human effort obsolete. Thus ‘Exploozy’ presents the possibility of a dark future, one in which storytelling, the creative arts, and creative professions, are fully automated. Is such a future possible? Is this what we want from our technological overlords? Neither ‘Exploozy’ nor its creators have the answer. What we can say is that when we launched a fake marketing site to support and promote the Exploozy app, hundreds of people expressed great interest in using Exploozy when it is released.”
Joshua Gunn started Planet Nutshell in 2007, with a background in motion graphics, writing, and storytelling. After a stint at Amazon.com, he taught creative writing at the University of Washington. Josh holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Washington and he received his BA in English from Colorado College. In his spare time, he works as a journalist, short story writer, and essayist. His work has appeared in leading publications including The Atlantic and Vox.com.
Trevor Piecham joined Planet Nutshell in 2009 to lead their animation team. With a strong background in traditional and digital animation, he’s the driving force of the visual team. Trevor’s project work has included the television shows “O’Grady” (Noggin/The N), “Word Girl” (PBS Kids) and “Assy McGee” (Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim). He also directed short animated segments for “Between the Lions” (PBS Kids). Trevor received a BFA in illustration with an animation focus from The Art Institute of Boston in 2002.
John McGowan specializes in animation, character design, and storyboarding. He is passionate about creating original visual stories that educate and entertain. John’s short films have made big screen appearances at the Providence Children’s Film Festival and the Glovebox Film Festival. He enjoys iced coffee, ultimate frisbee, and Ninja Turtles. John graduated from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in 2012, where he earned an MFA in Digital Media. He also holds a BA in Graphic Design and Multidisciplinary Studies from Stonehill College.
INNER WORKINGS by Leo Matsuda
INNER WORKINGS - This lighthearted cautionary tale, set in the wilds of an archetypal beachside community, offers a timely reminder that life might be meant for more than just deadening routine and missed opportunities. Visualizing the interplay between a man’s overly prudent and fearful brain and his naturally playful heart and spirit, “Inner Workings” celebrates the potential for joy in all of us and encourages us to keep dancing.
Because I’m Japanese-Brazilian, one side of my personality is very serious and organized, while the other side is fun and crazy. Also, as a child, I was fascinated with the transparent human anatomy pages in my encyclopedia. These were the two main inspirations for the story of “Inner Workings.” We actually consulted with physicians to gain a deeper understanding of the organs that we turned into characters. One doctor told us that the brain doesn’t have control over the heart – it might have some influence, but it can’t stop it. I found that so interesting. Basically, in the film, Heart is pure joy. He sees every day as an opportunity to let loose and have fun. In the end, Heart helps Brain to realize that ultimately, it’s all about balance.
A native Brazilian of Japanese descent, Leo Matsuda loved to draw his whole life and decided to pursue animation as a career at age 16. After majoring in character animation at CalArts, Leo worked at 20th Century Fox, Blue Sky Studios, and Pixar before joining Walt Disney Animation Studios in 2008 as an apprentice in the story department. He worked as a story artist on Zootopia and the 2014 Oscar® winner Big Hero 6 and was nominated for an Annie Award for his work on 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph. Leo was selected from 73 hopefuls who pitched ideas to the WDAS Story Trust, culminating in his directing of “Inner Workings,” which, he says “directly reflects a theme in my life that many people can relate to.” Leo and his fiancée live in the Los Angeles area, where they are looking forward to adopting a Scottish Fold cat and a Pug.
(The following films will be after the 5-minute intermission.)
CORPUS by Marc Héricher
CORPUS - Combining Rube Goldberg, human anatomy and a healthy sense of the macabre, this highly accomplished short presents a series of bizarre tableaux that together constitute a single convoluted chain reaction. In other words: balls roll, traps spring, fuses burn, pendulums swing… and key bodily organs do their part as well. Exploring the ambiguous connections between body and machine, the animate and the inanimate, “Corpus” also suggests what it might have looked like if Dr. Frankenstein had been an even madder scientist.
“The film is composed of eight tableaux, arranged as living sculptures. Between experiment and artistic performance, the mechanism forces us to interrogate its nature and its function. Everything seems at once relentlessly determined and perilous and fragile: with each step of this chain reaction, the thread may be cut, the experiment fail, or all lead to something else. The experience, the trials, the crossing-out, the failed or fruitless attempt are all implicit in what seems to be a prowess or a miracle. Chance thus penetrates this mechanism that has only the look of a machine. The humanoid gears (very much like those in Fischli and Weiss’ ‘The Way Things Go’) evoke, through or even beyond their workings, a striking sense of liberty and freedom. Thus, one is able to feel for these inert objects a true sense of empathy, usually reserved for other living beings. A story is recounted to us through these objects, these things. Yet, in this universe, all is dematerialized, thought of, recreated, thrown away for a particular reason. Nothing is left to chance, to the unknown: pure determinism. Do we really know of such a place? Have we truly the desire to believe that these completely virtual, organic limbs live? Or do we become accomplices through our own mind with regard to this infernal creation, which names us as its creator?”
Born in 1981 in France, Marc Héricher is a director of animated films and an artist who lives and works in Paris. Haunted by the tenuous presence of ghosts hiding behind the real, Marc expresses himself through a language of strangeness and surrealism. He seeks to reveal the double meanings of a world that blurs the contours of reality. An independent artist since 2006, Marc works as a director and motion designer for shorts, feature films, institutional films, documentaries, television series, and independent films. He finds self-expression through his personal work: making animated films and digital art.
BLUE by Daniela Sherer
BLUE - In this impressionistic semi-abstract film, the filmmaker explores the pain and pleasure of love, weaving together suggestive, yet mysterious, images that allow for a wide range of interpretations. Accompanied by a lush orchestral composition by Emmy-nominated composer Duncan Thum, “Blue” immerses the viewer in a highly personal world of fleeting thought and deep emotion.
"’Knife-like, Flower-like, Like Nothing at All in the World.’ I was inspired by this William Saroyan short-story title to express something about the two conflicting emotions you experience in love: delight and horror. Negotiating these two extreme feelings is a complex situation like no other, and I felt that an abstract film with narrative touches was the best way I could express this kind of struggle. I love the flatness of 2D animation; shapes and transitions can create a world that's fluid and complete, and also mysterious and cryptic. It's a language of its own. I like thinking of a short film as a puzzle to be solved, where the viewer brings his or her own experience and imagination into it. I want to trigger certain motifs and plot clues, and let the audience drift into the film."
Daniela Sherer is an indie animator/illustrator and educator. After graduating from the University of Southern California, she attended the Royal College of Art in London, where she received a master's degree in animation. Since starting her studio in 2013, Daniela has worked on projects ranging from music videos and short films, to animated sequences for features and animation for the stage. Her animated films have won awards and have been exhibited in festivals worldwide. In addition to working on independent animations, Daniela is also part of the faculty in the Sapir College Animation Department. She's based in her hometown of Tel Aviv, Israel.
MANOMAN by Simon Cartwright
MANOMAN - Not for the faint of heart, this darkly comic film uses highly expressive rod puppets to graphically explore the excesses of unrestrained masculinity. Beginning at a “Primal Scream” therapy session and ending on the roof of a skyscraper, “Manoman” chronicles the brief and rapid descent of its mild-mannered protagonist into the depths of violence and depravity (in a bad way), and suggests that getting fully in touch with one’s basic instincts may not be entirely healthy for the individual or society.
“There are a lot of films in the world which deal with masculinity and they all seem to approach the subject in a negative way. The aim with ‘Manoman’ was instead to make something which was a celebration of masculinity, at least on the surface. In that way the audience could see the attraction of it and feel its allure, rather than simply being repulsed. The hope was to make a film which is itself masculine in every way, being that it is unapologetically aggressive, loud and ultimately absurd. Without wishing to preach, the film expresses my feelings of what happens when we live purely for self-satisfaction and follow those who appear to have the answers to all our problems.”
A life-long passion for animation led Simon Cartwright to study at the Edinburgh College of Art, graduating in 2008. Shortly after that he began work on the short film 'The Astronomer's Sun', made with the UK Film Council and Channel 4. The film went on to win 17 awards, the sets and puppets from it have been on permanent display in the National Media Museum for the last 5 years.
In 2013 Simon returned to study and the National Film and Television School. It is there he began experimenting with live-action puppetry. This progressed to his graduation film 'MANOMAN', a combination of puppets and digital animation. The film premiered at Cannes and has gone on to screen at over 100 festivals worldwide, including Sundance and SXSW, as well as being nominated for a BAFTA and BIFA.
Simon recently partnered with Nina Gantz to work as a team in both commercials and longer form films. They are developing a number of ideas.
ALL THEIR SHADES by Chloé Alliez
ALL THEIR SHADES - The mysterious ways of women, and all of the many characteristics that make them so lovable, are catalogued at length in this heartfelt and gently satirical paean to the wonders of the female gender. Using a small army of whimsical models and props, and a tongue-in-cheek voiceover narration, director Chloé Alliez’s touching stop-motion short is both quintessentially French and, ultimately, delightfully surprising.
"All Their Shades" came from a desire to explore images of women and sexuality. I wanted to approach this topic in a humorous way, showing the absurdity of clichés and stereotypes. (Some people actually thought it was a misogynist movie because they didn’t get the sarcasm!) But these are actual answers that people gave me when I asked them. In our societies, women are always associated with this picture of a beautiful creature and a perfect mother. As a woman, it can be hard to disconnect from this and just be considered as a person. Through all these different images of women, I wanted to show that women really are many different things – and that there are many reasons for us to love them.
Chloé Alliez, born in France in 1988, went to Brussels and studied in Saint-Luc, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in illustration. In 2011, she started studying animation in La Cambre, completing her studies at the University of South Wales, where she received a master’s degree in 2015 with four stop-motion movies. She uses recycled objects for the making of her short films and illustrations.