Oscar Nominated Short Films 2011 get theatrical release


LONDON, UK, 21st January 2011 – Shorts International and Magnolia Pictures will release The Oscar® Nominated Short Films 2011 in over 150 theatres across the United States and Canada from February 11th, 2011.

Three theatrical programmes will give audiences around the country an opportunity to watch the nominated shorts in the Animation, Live Action and Documentary categories prior to the 83rd Academy Awards® ceremony on February 27th. This year will mark the inaugural theatrical outing for the nominated Documentary shorts.

The Oscar® Nominated Short Films has become a key fixture of the awards season. Last year the release exceeded the million-dollar mark at the US box office, charting a spectacular 289% growth in attendance since its inception in 2005.

Along with the theatrical run, the nominated short films will be released individually on iTunes from February 22nd in the US, Canada, UK, France, Germany and other iTunes Stores throughout the world. The release will also be available via cable’s Movies On Demand (MOD), distributed by leading MOD distributor, iN DEMAND L.L.C.

“The Oscar® Nominated Short Films are some of this year¹s best entertainment. They’re made by the world¹s stand-out, emerging filmmakers and represent the cutting edge of entertainment,” said Carter Pilcher, Chief Executive of Shorts International. “Audiences this year will experience intense emotional highs, laugh-out-loud comedies and brilliant insights, all in the space of 90 minutes.”

“The only way to improve your handicap come Oscar® night, is to catch these incredible short film nominees,” said Tom Quinn, SVP of Magnolia Pictures.

Nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards® will be announced on January 25th. For more information, visit www.shortshd.com/theoscarshorts.

JANUARY 29 IN LA: Q Pop Shop Grand Opening

Q Pop

Veteran character designer and writer Chris Mitchell (Samurai Jack, SpongeBob Squarepants, Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs, Ren & Stimpy) has opened Q Pop, a new boutique and gallery in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. The store offers handmade artist goods, toys, and limited edition clothing. They’re also the exclusive West Coast retailer for Japanese street fashion labels Sex Pot Revenge, Algonquins, and Super Lovers.

A grand opening party will take place on Saturday, January 29, from 7-11pm. The store is located at 128 Astronaut E S Onizuka St, in downtown Los Angeles. Photos of the shop’s thoughtfully designed interior can be found on Sweet Streets LA. Also, the blog Kalamari Kastle has an interview with Chris about the store. Chris was quite frank when asked about his reason for starting the store:

“Q Pop came about for several different reasons. One was out of total frustration working in the animation industry. In animation, often times you slave away working sweatshop style long hours, pouring your heart and soul into your work, only to have it pooped on by company executives who have absolutely no taste or experience in the field in which they work. For me personally, I needed to do something that would offer me something more directly fulfilling.”

“Totally Tooned In”

Here’s some news I’ve literally waited ten years to report. Sony’s syndicated classic-cartoon show Totally Tooned In is now being shown on U.S. television. It’s airing on Antenna TV, a new channel that broadcasts free via over-the-air digital transmission – which means, if you are like me and pay for Dish TV, Direct TV, Comcast, Time-Warner or any cable or satellite service, you can’t see it.

If you can receive the channel (in LA it’s telecast on the KTLA digital channel 5.2; in NY its broadcast on WPIX-TV’s digital channel 11.3), Totally Tooned In runs on Saturday morning for three hours (six formatted half-hour episodes back-to-back) starting at 4am Pacific/7am Eastern. Each episode contains three Columbia cartoons from 1934-1959 – this includes many UPA cartoons, Charles Mintz Color Rhapsodies, Li’l Abner, Fox and Crow and even a few Scrappy cartoons.

I was a producer on this series and helped compile each half hour – that was back around the years 1999-2000. Columbia restored its cartoon library for this show, which was immediately sold overseas and to South America (in some countries it aired on either Cartoon Network or Fox Kids). Until now it was impossible to view it in the States.

The Columbia cartoons were, for decades, the hardest cartoons to see as they have been off screens (movie or TV) for almost 50 years. There are good ones, bad ones – and many absolutely strange ones (Professor Small and Mr. Tall, Mother Hubba-Hubba Hubbard, Lo The Poor Buffal – to name but a few) – but all are worth a look. Frank Tashlin, Dave Fleischer, John Hubley, Art Davis, Mel Blanc, even Bob Clampett contributed to these films. I highly recommend you watch (and record) this show while you can.

For more information about the show and what cartoons are included in each episode, check my Totally Tooned In Episode Guide.

T-Shirt Day

Too many cool t-shirts have come my way recently, here’s a few worth noting:

Photographer Vincent Gonzales has a very small line of stylish tees based on found objects. He has a shirt based on an old Krazy Kat 16mm cartoon film box (above) that I absolutely love. It isn’t posted on his website, but you can order it in any style (men’s, women’s, babies) and on any color if you request it. I got a long sleeve black shirt with this design and I love, love, love it.

That’s John Kricfalusi’s dad (above) posing in one of John’s great T-shirts, exclusively available on his Cartoon Thrills Store. George Liqour, Jimmy the Idiot Boy, The Heart-Aches, Blen and Kubercheebie, and my favorite Donald Bastard, are among the designs available.

TeeFury is one of those daily t-shirt sites that offer one-design-a-day. Today’s tee is this Tin Tin Tinman design – which already seems more faithful to Herge, and has more humor and heart than the stills from the upcoming mo-cap film have demonstrated. If you are interested in this one, you have to buy it today – $9 – at TeeFury.com.

(Thanks, Phillip Salomon)

“Hamihadarigeri” by Sojiro Kamatani

This experimental music video for Oorutaichi’s “Hamihadarigeri” directed by Sojiro Kamatani defies easy description but it excites my senses as few other animated pieces I’ve seen recently. That’s because Kamatani packs enough visual ideas for a dozen animated shorts into his stream of conscious assault on orthodox visual sensibilities.

(Thanks, Robert Ryan Cory)

“A Shot In The Dark” (1964) trailer

TCM also ran this trailer last night which I don’t think I’ve ever seen before. (If I have I’m getting old and have completely blocked it.) It’s a clever coming-attractions piece for the Blake Edwards Pink Panther sequel, A Shot In the Dark (1964). It’s notable for containing a fair amount of animation featuring a narrator, “Dum-Dum” a talking bullet, voiced by Mel Blanc. It was no doubt animated by DePatie Freleng.

“Hezarfen” by Tolga Ari, Romain Blanchet, Chung-Yu Huang & Rémy Hurlin

Four recent graduates (Tolga Ari, Romain Blanchet, Chung-Yu Huang, Rémy Hurlinfrom) of Supinfocom Arles share their final project with us, Hezarfen.

Hezarfen is a Turkish historical character. The story takes place in 1632 in Turkey where he attempts the first human flight. The legend goes as far as to say that he flew through the Bosphorus, to almost 3 miles away from the tower from which he started.

The movie is much more about how he jumps from this tower. We have created the script together to get another vision of the story. We wanted to make some fresh and bright pictures and let the audience discover the beauty of this legend in our own way.

“Sorry Film Not Ready” by Janet Perlman

What happens if you fill out a festival submission form and submit a film that you haven’t actually made yet? That’s the situation that Oscar-nominated NFB filmmaker Janet Perlman faced when she concocted Sorry Film Not Ready. Here’s the backstory:

This film was made by accident using experimental animation invisible to the naked eye. At least that’s what I wrote on the festival entry form for a film called “Llama Cookin’”, which didn’t even exist. I then started making the film but abandoned it after a few days, and changed the film’s title to “Sorry Film Not Ready”. Two weeks later I received a notification saying that the festival had not yet received “Sorry Film Not Ready”, but that the deadline had been extended by one week. I then decided to make the film after all, in one week. It got accepted into the festival (Ottawa Animation Festival), and to date has been accepted into three others. But it’s still not ready.

Downey Jr. voicing “Mr. Peabody” for Dreamworks

From the writers of the recent Yogi Bear movie (Jeffrey Ventimilia and Joshua Sternin), the director of Stuart Little and The Lion King (Rob Minkoff) and the studio that brings you more Shrek than you know what to do with… comes a new movie, Mr. Peabody and Sherman, based on the cartoon from Jay Ward’s Rocky & Bullwinkle Show. Entertainment Weekly has announced that Robert Downey Jr. (the current voice of Mr. Peanut) will voice Mr. Peabody.

Let’s hope its even half as good as this:

Gallery 839: One Dozen Animation Artists

Gallery 839, an animation art gallery in Burbank, will be celebrating its first year anniversary in February with a show featuring a dozen artists in various media. The opening reception will be Feb. 4th from 6p.m. to 10p.m. at the Gallery, 1105 N. Hollywood Way in Burbank. The gallery will also be open from 11a.m. to 2p.m. each Friday for the rest of February, and by appointment. The exhibitors are all members of The Animation Guild, which opened this fine gallery space to support and encourage the artists’ talents in and beyond their contributions to the animation industry. The artists are Lee Crowe, Frank Forte, Bob Foster, Brigitte Franzka-Fritz, Yelena Geodakyan, Peter Gullerud, Alex Kube,Ashley Long, Christine Mallouf, Joey Mason, Gago Oganesyan, Toni Vian. For more information visit the Gallery website.

Was Arizona Shooter Obsessed with “Waking Life”?

Waking Life

If something is too difficult to explain, just blame cartoons. So now some people are beginning to suggest that Jared Loughner, the gunman who went on a shooting rampage in Arizona that killed six people, may have been a fan of Richard Linklater’s 2001 rotoscope-animation film Waking Life. Last night on 60 Minutes, friends of the shooter said he was “obsessed with the film.” The connection stems from Loughner’s obsession with lucid dreaming–a mental state in which you’re aware that you’re dreaming–which is a central theme of Waking Life.

Fans of the film are so worried that they’ve already started publishing pre-emptive defenses of the film, like this one at the Brown Tweed Society:

Waking Life kept popping up in my mind because Jared Loughner wrote a lot about the blurred lines between dreams and reality. He also asked a lot of difficult questions about government and social control, questions which mirror many of those posed in Waking Life. Before his dark mental illnesses really took hold of him, some of Loughner’s questions contained a degree of reasonable skepticism grounded in established, though perhaps poorly understood on his part, tenets of philosophy and linguistics. He asked it in a poor, ill-suited context of course, but the question Loughner posed to Gabrielle Giffords at the much-discussed 2007 public forum–“What is government if words have no meaning?”–is a valid inquiry grounded in the assumption that government and other human social abstractions are primarily linguistic constructions. It’s exactly the kind of question that prompts much of Waking Life’s extended dialogue segments.

(Thanks, Richard O’Connor)

Take a Class from Animation Legend Bob Kurtz

Sign-up begins this morning for classes at the American Animation Institute, the educational arm of The Animation Guild, Local 839. A special class posted about on the Animation Guild blog caught my attention: “Film Sense and Nonsense: The Bob Kurtz Master Class in Comedic Film Staging, Timing and Storytelling.” It runs for four Monday evenings from March 21 to April 11. The class is $100, and enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. To sign up, call (818) 845-7000 between 8:30 am and 5 pm TODAY.

It’s hard to think of an animation director with more funny animation to his credit than Bob, who began his remarkably prolific career working on the original Alvin Show and Roger Ramjet. He’s done the bulk of work at his own animation studio Kurtz & Friends, which has been responsible for hundreds of commercials (like the one above) as well as many film titles and projects with the likes of Lily Tomlin and George Carlin.

Here’s a description of the class from the Animation Guild blog:
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Weekend Box Office Report

Animation wasn’t much of a factor at the North American box office this week. Here are the FINALS for the 4-day holiday weekend with totals in parentheses.

Yogi Bear: $7.4M ($84.2M)
Tangled: $5.6M ($182.7M)
Megamind: $905,655 ($145.7M)
Despicable Me: $87,670,000 ($251.5M)
The Illusionist: $80,500 ($274,000)
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole: $18,697 ($55.7M)

Around the world, Tangled was the #1 film, pulling in $26.3 million from 43 territories. Its total at the worldwide box office now stands at over $360 million.

Anime Sensei to Student: “Get A Life!”

Veteran anime director Yoshiyuki Tomino (Brave Raideen, Mobile Suit Gundam) gave a realistic, yet somewhat harsh response to a student’s question posted on Global Voices Online. Matt Alt’s Alt Japan blog has translated the original column, and its quite a sobering read:


Dear Director Tomino,

I am a second year high school student. The time when I have to decide on which university I want to go to, and what kind of career I want, is rapidly approaching. I know this sounds vague, but I am filled with the desire to make a living by drawing. I can’t talk to my parents about this. The last time I told them “I want to draw for a living,” they basically told me “there’s no career in that. You should go to university and become an OL (office lady) like other people.” After hearing this kind of thing I lost interest in discussing it with my parents, but it’s a fact I need to start making decisions about my future. Even if I am hazy about what it’s going to be. That’s why I’m writing you, Director Tomino. How can I decide my future path? I’m willing to take anything you dish out, so I’d really appreciate it if you could share your thoughts.

Miyuri, Aichi Prefecture


Now that is a tough question. All I can tell you is the same thing your parents did: you should go to university and become an OL.

If you’re a second-year high school student saying you want to be an illustrator, you’re old enough to be asked about your qualifications. Seeing drawing as a job you can just somehow land is an amateur’s way of looking at things. You need a great deal of actual experience to work in this industry.
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How Paul Giamatti Barely Avoided a Lifetime of Misery and Toil

Paul Giamatti

A pudgy, goofy-looking guy with a beard almost became an animator? I don’t think that’s ever happened before. From this piece about Giamatti:

“After graduation, I moved to Seattle thinking I would – oh, I don’t know what in hell I was thinking,” he says. “Get into animation, I guess – although, wow, just put a bullet in your head, there’s a really hard way to make a living. I ended up doing experimental theater, which was fun, but the money, when they had it, was like $16. That was it, that was your ‘stipend,’ $16. So I did a lot of odd jobs, and thought about going back to school and finally, weirdly, lucked into getting an agent.”

I love how he decided to pursue what he thought would be a more lucrative field than animation, like experimental theater.

(via Animation Guild blog)

“Animaniacs” South Park style

Fans of Warner Bros. Animaniacs series are quite vocal in their devotion to the old episodes and their desire to see the series return. The Animaniacs Revival Project is a group on Facebook devoted to trying to convince Warner Bros. and Spielberg to produce more episodes.

To that end, here’s the opening to Animaniacs re-animated in South Park’s cut-out animation style, created using Flash 8, by UK animaniac “Dr. Toonhattan”. You gotta admit the opening song is catchy…