Nov 23, 2009

Puppets in Prague

Looking for inspiration and a great learning experience this summer? Puppets in Prague is an ongoing workshop for introducing animators and students of animation to the rich history of puppet-making and performance in Czechoslovakia.

For ten years, Mirek Trejtnar and Leah Gaffen have been organizing puppet workshops for students from around the world. Mirek heads the workshops - he is a puppet-maker himself and also a designer of toys, sculpture and much more with a special background in wood. Leah is an American who takes care of the organizational side of the workshops. Together Leah and Mirek bring together a team of leading Czech artists - woodcarvers, puppet designers, puppeteers, film animators, etc.- who bring the students into the world of puppetry in Prague.
Check out their program on their website:

Nov 7, 2009

11th Annual Animation Show of Shows

The 2009 Animation Show of Shows (ASOS) was hosted in the MFA Boston Remis Auditorium for a Boston appearance. Curator Ron Diamond was invited through the combined efforts of animation faculty at MassArt, AIB and the SMFA. A good crowd turned out for the screening, which was filled with 72 minutes of festival quality animation films.

The 2009 Animation Show of Shows (ASOS), curated and presented by Acme Filmworks founder Ron Diamond, began touring the United States and selected international venues from October - November. Featuring the best animated short films produced worldwide in the past year, the Show of Shows will be screened at major studios including Pixar, Blue Sky, DreamWorks and Disney, as well as at Harvard, Rhode Island School of Design, New York University, UCLA and other universities. The program will also travel to a number of ASIFA chapters across the country.

The Animation Show of Shows was created by Diamond to give greater exposure to exceptional animated shorts that normally would receive only very limited, if any, distribution. Often these works are at the cutting edge of animation, pushing creative boundaries and using the latest technologies to achieve groundbreaking results. The Animation Show of Shows provides an opportunity for animation professionals and other artists to see these films, opening a window onto the most interesting and creative work being done around the world.

As in previous years, the 2009 program features films in a variety of styles from all over the world, most of which have won awards at major festivals. Highlights include:

The Spine - The new CGI film from Oscar® winner Chris Landreth (Ryan) continues the director's explorations into the dark side of human psychology with a harrowing portrait of a co-dependent couple. At once deeply disturbing and revelatory, The Spine pushes the boundaries of both subject matter and computer-generated character design.

Santa: The Fascist Years - Another satirical masterwork from veteran director Bill Plympton, Santa uncovers and explores a dark chapter in St. Nick's history. Featuring Plympton's trademark frenetic energy, eccentric characters, and in-your-face humor, the film ensures that no one will ever think of Santa in quite the same way again.

Chick - Michal Socha's graphically stunning Chick is a design tour de force that casts a jaundiced eye at male-female relations, all set to an irresistible neo-Klezmer score. Featuring enough visual imagination for half a dozen films, this compulsively watchable short demonstrates Socha's complete control of his medium.

- Two-time Oscar® nominee Cordell Barker's new film about class war aboard an out-of-control train once again demonstrates the director's crisp, rhythmic style, talent for rapid-fire gag sequences and love of traditional animation. With an extraordinary score by Benoît Charest (The Triplets of Belleville), Runaway is both a pointed moral tale and a thoroughly engaging and very funny chronicle of love and death on the tracks.

Monday, November 9, 7:30 pm
The November installment of Flaherty NYC is entitled Experiments with Animation and will feature short works by a number of artists prominent in the field, including Phil Solomon, Martha Colburn, Signe Baumane, and Jeff Scher.

Select filmmakers will be taking part in a post-screening discussion of their work.

Animated films come in all shapes and sizes. In the Experiments with Animation program, The Flaherty will bring together a broad spectrum of animated works, ranging from quirky and humorous to dark and haunting, and often falling somewhere in-between. The program is sponsored in part by the Leo Dratfield Endowment, honoring the late Charles Samu, an ardent supporter of animation.

Featuring Works By:

· Jesse Epstein (in person)
Jesse Epstein was selected for "25 New Faces of Independent Film" by Filmmaker Magazine, for her series of short films on physical perfection, the latest of which, 34x25x36, was broadcast on P.O.V. this summer.

· Steve Subotnick
Steven Subotnick's animated films are associative explorations of themes found in history, folklore, and his own unconscious. He has worked as an animator, director, illustrator, author, and has taught animation at numerous institutions, including Rhode Island School of Design and Harvard University.

· Jeff Scher (in person)
Jeff Scher lives and makes films in Brooklyn, NY. His films may be seen on The New York Times blog, The Animated Life. Time Out New York said his "quicksilver shorts are like Muybridge motion studies for the MTV generation."

· Phil Solomon
Phil Solomon is an American experimental filmmaker and professor at Colorado University. In 2007, The Village Voice named Rehearsals for Retirement one of the top ten experimental films of that year.

· Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung (in person)
Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung makes socially conscious art using Hi-Definition video animation, video game,, digital graphics and mixed-media installations. In 2008, Ken Johnson of The New York Times described Hung as a "fierce, funny and inventive political satirist."

· Martha Colburn (in person)
Born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania (USA). Based in Holland and New York since 2000, Colburn is a self-taught filmmaker who has completed over 40 films since 1994. Her films have screened at Sundance, Rotterdam International and New York Film Festival, MoMA, and Cannes.

· Signe Baumane
Signe Baumane began her New York career working in the studio of Bill Plympton before starting her own studio in 2002. She has produced and co-produced, written, directed and designed more than 9 independent animated shorts, which have screened at such prestigious festivals as Tribeca, Sundance, Berlin, and Venice.

General admission tickets to the Flaherty NYC series at the Anthology Film Archives are $9. Tickets are $7 for students with valid I.D., and $6 for Anthology members with membership card.

Tickets can be purchased at the Anthology box office the day of the show. For more information, call the Flaherty at 212-448-0457.
Anthology Film Archives is located in the old Second Avenue Courthouse building in the East Village at 32 Second Ave. at the corner of 2nd Street.
Contact Information
The Flaherty/International Film Seminars
phone: 212-448-0458