Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ottawa 2007

I can’t make up my mind on what to write about the Ottawa International Animation Festival. So forgive me if this entry is too long.

While our trip was slightly unpleasant (we got kicked out of our first hotel for getting too many people in), the animation festival was amazing, and the majority of the films were amazing. There are too many to discuss, so I selected only three for right now.

Achi & SSipak (AAchi Wa SSipak)
(directed by Bum-Jin Joe, South Korea).

The subject of human feces is particularly touchy when handled in animation. Most of the time, shit is just an element of gross-out humor and crass (which I often find to be handled carelessly). The plot of this South Korean film is unique in that the element of shit is crucial to the story. The movie takes place in a future where shit is society’s primary source of energy. As it turns out, anytime someone takes a dump, they are instantly rewarded with a JuicyBar, a desirable and highly profitable treat, addictive to many of the characters in the film.

Franz Kafka's A Country Doctor (Franz Kafka's Inaka Isha)
Koji Yamamura is becoming one of my favorite animators. This is the first time I’ve seen this film, and the second I’ve seen from Yamamura (the first being Mt. Head (Atama Ya). His drawing style is so unique and distinctive, and yet, it suits many moods. And lord knows, this film has many moods, although the most apparent mood is disillusionment.

(Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France)

This was the Hollywood event of Ottawa. I was lucky enough to see this, because it only had two screenings, and both sold out quickly. I’m not sure what to say about this film, but I can safely say that I can watch it again. Really a great movie.

Pratt’s animators hanging out at the Animator’s Picnic.

Joanna Quinn (one of my great favorites), had a retrospective of her work. I couldn’t get a decent picture of her at the festival, so I am using this one.

Joanna Quinn displays many of her animation drawings. Sights to behold. It was amazing to look at these up close. She truly is one of my favorite artists and animators. I highly urge everyone to check out her work.

Signe Baumane (far left, whose Teat Beat of Sex was in the festival) dances compulsively, while my friend Marina drinks and dances quite casually.

Jessica Button and I enjoyed a brief waltz.

I’ll be back soon.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Learning about Bakshi

It’s been a while since I last posted.

I have no idea how guys like John Kricfalusi and Michael Sporn can update their own blogs practically everyday. Maybe its just the way my mind works.

I’ve got nothing of my own to show at the moment, so for now, I am going onto something else. Make that someone else: Ralph Bakshi.

I will try something different here. While most professional animator’s blogs show established knowledge of a subject, I am going to try and blog the establishment of the interest. Confusing? Basically, I am going to talk about something I don’t know everything about.

For sometime now, I have been building up a fascination with famed animation director, Ralph Bakshi. I learned of Bakshi during a period of interest in animation history, and started looking up the movie Fritz the Cat, famous for being the first animated feature to receive an X rating.

Earlier this year, I watched Heavy Traffic for the first time. Although I was uncertain of it at first, my opinion of it improved quickly. I have to say that it is one of the liveliest animated pieces I have ever seen. I love the character designs, the assorted personalities, the different animation styles (a rarity in most animated features) and the snide and sleazy humor of the whole thing.

Bakshi is a director whom I would take many examples from. After establishing his own brand of animation (adult cartoons based on tragic reality), he a family-friendly flick (Wizards), then a grand epic (The Lord of the Rings), then even more experimenting (American Pop and others), then an impressive venture into television (which I have yet to check out but know a lot about through the blog of Bakshi’s protege, John Kricfalusi). I admire a director who can take on several different ventures and yet maintain their own style (which accounts for my already established interests in directors like Tim Burton and David Lynch).

Bakshi’s last released project was Cool World in 1992. I actually saw Cool World when I was 8 or 9, because I thought it would be like Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (which it clearly isn’t, and which also accounted for the movie’s failure). I plan on watching it again soon. Maybe afterward, I’ll write something on it.

Right now, I plan on watching Bakshi’s film Coonskin on YouTube. I have never seen it, and normally I don’t watch entire movies on YouTube (an exception being The Thief and the Cobbler). Unfortunately, it has yet to be released on DVD, so I am left with few options.

Next week is the Ottawa International Animation Festival. As we did last year, Pratt’s animators will be in attendance. For us, four days of animated films (in large theaters), meeting all sorts of artists, catching some amazing retrospectives (this year includes UPA, Saul Steinberg, and one of my favorites, British animator Joanna Quinn), and of course, getting drunk and dancing like maniacs. I should have a lot to talk about following the festival.

Great poster, huh? I'll be back soon.