A look at some of the independent animation on screen
GIRAF Quickdraw Animation Society’s annual International Festival of Independent Animation is showcasing more than 80 films and shorts throughout its run. Fast Forward Weekly got a sneak peak at some of what’s in store at Globe Cinema this week:
PERSISTANCE OF VISION
Persistence of Vision (pictured) recounts the story of one of the greatest films never made. Canadian-born animator Richard Williams an Oscar-winner for Who Framed Roger Rabbit? spent almost three decades toiling on The Thief and the Cobbler . A labour of love based on Persian folk tales the prospective film lacked a real plot songs and many of the other mainstays of animated features but contained artistic breakthroughs for its time. Fearing the film would never be completed producer Warner Brothers ultimately seized control and released a radically altered version titled Arabian Knight in 1995. It bombed at the box office and wound up on DVDs distributed in Canadian cereal boxes.
Understandably hesitant to revisit this indignity Williams declined to participate in the documentary. But through archival footage and interviews with other animators a compelling portrait emerges of a brilliant ruthless craftsman utterly devoted to his work and demanding the same from his staff. While he never seems particularly likable it’s hard not to marvel at the boundless scale of his ambition and ponder what might have been. The film’s also a poignant reminder of the trials of traditional animation — one animator recalls having to discard a five-second scene he worked three months on — and commerce’s seemingly inevitable triumph over art.
CANADIAN SHORTS PACKAGE
The GIRAF International Festival of Independent Animation’s Canadian Shorts Package offers almost 20 selections. Here are some of the highlights:
• Mythological creatures team up to create a robot boy in Joel MacKenzie’s “The Myth of Robo Wonder Kid.” At a brisk three minutes the film feels a bit rushed. But the faux-ancient Greek setting has a winning weirdness and Rich Aucoin’s “P:U:S:H” which blares throughout is so infectiously catchy the onscreen action almost doesn’t matter.
• Another bizarre offering Tor Aunet’s “TEAMwork” depicts a wilderness day camp race between teams including “Born Again Pagans” and “Extreme IBS.” The plot is sketchy but a robot character who utters the memorable line “if I had a urinary tract I’d piss on your grave” is almost worth the price of admission.
• A more conventionally plotted feature Evan DeRushie’s stop-motion short “The Fox and the Chickadee” is a charming fable that’s also about team work. Caught in a snare the unfortunate chickadee looks set to be the fox’s lunch but envisions a path to freedom by offering to help raid a nearby chicken coop.
• In “Yellow Sticky Notes: Canadian Anijam” 15 animators from across the country depict items from their to-do lists armed only with 4×6 notepaper and a black pen. There’s a whimsical simplicity to the concept which depicts everything from dog walking to giving birth.