Director Jeanette Nørgaard is posting her powerful award winning film, Hund i Himlen (Dog In Heaven) online today. I highly recommend you make time for it.
Hund i Himlen is a 25-minute animated short with stylized visuals and strong dramatic storytelling. It will be avaliable with subtitles on it’s own webpage (through Vimeo), along with a great behind the scenes page explaining the entire process of making the film. Nørgaard tells us about the film:
“It’s targeted at kids, but as any good fairy tale it also touches adults.Earlier this year it won the main prize at Denmarks biggest short film festival “Odense Film Festival”. It has been broadcast on Danish television and has toured festivals for the last half a year. I feel the time is right to make it available for everyone interested to enjoy it.”
Here’s the trailer (below) – check out the whole film here.
The Sundance Film Festival has announced their short film selections for the next edition of the festival, which will take place January 17-27 in Park City, Utah. The following ten films will compete in the animated shorts category:
Benjamin’s Flowers / Sweden (Director and screenwriter: Malin Erixon) — Lovelorn and lonely Benjamin lives on the blurry borderline between fantasy and reality.
Bite of the Tail / South Korea, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Song E Kim) — Life is a constant struggle for a husband and wife. She is suffering from stomach pain, and the doctor has no clue about a cure. Meanwhile, her husband is on his own journey of hunting a snake.
The Event / U.S.A., United Kingdom (Director: Julia Pott, Screenwriter: Tom Chivers) — Love and a severed foot at the end of the world.
Feral / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Daniel Sousa) — A solitary hunter finds a wild boy in the woods and brings him back to civilization. Alienated by his strange new environment, the boy tries to adapt by using the same strategies that kept him safe in the forest.
In Hanford / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chris Mars) — This heartbreaking true story of a town poisoned by Cold War–era nuclear-arms manufacture is told through firsthand accounts and fantasy scenes, which empathize with the victim’s plight.
Marcel, King of Tervuren / U.S.A. (Director: Tom Schroeder, Screenwriter: Ann Berckmoes) — In this Greek tragedy – as acted out by Belgian roosters – Marcel survives the bird flu, alcohol, sleeping pills and his son, Max.
Oh Willy… / Belgium, France, Netherlands (Directors and screenwriters: Marc James Roels, Emma De Swaef) — Willy returns to his naturalist roots as he bungles his way into noble savagery.
Seraph / U.S.A. (Director: Dash Shaw, Screenwriters: John Cameron Mitchell, Dash Shaw) — A boy’s childhood scars his life.
Thank You / U.S.A. (Directors: Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich, Screenwriters: Pendleton Ward, Tom Herpich) — A pack of fire wolves attack a snow golem in the forest and accidentally leave a cub behind after their retreat. The golem’s life is thrown into chaos as he attempts to reunite the cub with its family.
Tram / France, Czech Republic (Director and screenwriter: Michaela Pavlátová) — The humdrum daily routine of a tram conductress is jolted when the vibrations and rhythm of the road turn her on and take her on an erotic and surrealistic fantasy journey.
Their documentary shorts category also features two shorts with animation:
30% (Women and Politics in Sierra Leone) / United Kingdom, Sierra Leone (Director: Anna Cady) — Oil-painted animation brings to life the stories of three powerful women in postconflict Sierra Leone, revealing the violence and corruption women face as they fight for fairer representation in the governance of their country.
Irish Folk Furniture / Ireland (Director: Tony Donoghue) — In Ireland, old hand-painted furniture is often associated with hard times, with poverty, and with a time many would rather forget. In this animated documentary, 16 pieces of traditional folk furniture are repaired and returned home.
Illustrator Rob Loukotka’s ACME Corporation Kickstarter project is worth writing about for many reasons besides the fact that he’s trying to raise money. Here’s what it is: a poster of every Acme Co. item used by Wile E. Coyote in his futile pursuit of the Roadrunner. There are 126 items represented on the poster from the 43 Coyote and Roadrunner shorts that director Chuck Jones was personally involved with between 1949 and 1994.
The project wouldn’t be as noteworthy if not for how successful it’s been. Loukotka has currently sold over 2000 posters for nearly $70,000, and there are still five days left in the campaign. He is careful not to mention the Roadrunner, the Coyote, Warner Bros. or any of the cartoons in his poster. He also benefits from the fact that most of Acme products in the Chuck Jones cartoons are quite generic.
Nevertheless, Loukotka is walking a legal tightrope. He is mass producing merchandise based on a corporation’s intellectual property. If this was just a collection of random items with the name Acme on them, no one would ever buy the poster. It’s only because of the role these invented Acme items have played within a series of animated shorts that they are recognizable and of interest to the general public.
People also aren’t buying the posters because Loukotka is a popular artist. Case in point: Loukotka’s two previous campaigns on Kickstarter, which were prints based on original ideas, raised less than $5,000 each. His success with this campaign is almost entirely due to his unofficial partnership with Warner Bros.
Who knows what may happen. Corporations have been known to pursue copyright infringement cases even when characters aren’t involved. For example, Lucasfilm filed a lawsuit against British entrepreneur Andrew Ainsworth, who was selling replicas of Star Wars helmets. The company won a $20 million summary judgment against Ainsworth in U.S. courts.
I’m not a lawyer and can’t pretend to know all the legal arguments for and against such a poster. But I do find the project fascinating, especially the fact that it passed through Kickstarter’s legal vetting process. It begs the question, What other types of unofficial cartoon-related projects can be done in this manner without running afoul of copyright laws?
I think we must be in the Golden Age of Animated Christmas Cards. We’ve gotten so many good ones, great ones – too many to post them all (check our Cartoon Brew Facebook page for more). Here’s a cross section of the crop we’ve received in just the last few days:
Christmas is next Tuesday, less than a week away. So here’s a few last minute gift-giving ideas for that cartoon-freak in your life – or for that special someone who still needs convincing that this animation obsession of yours isn’t just for weirdo’s.
If you dug the recent Spongebob stop-motion Christmas Special as much as I did, you’ll love the just-as-cool soundtrack album by Tom Kenny & Andy Paley. The It’s A SpongeBob Christmas! Album is now on Amazon and iTunes. The songs are more than just fun – the lyrics are clever, the tunes are hummable and the vocal performances are hilarious. Don’t be a jerk – buy this album for Christmas!
Craig Yoe’s latest compilation of old comics is his best. I know I’ve raved about his books before, but this one is special. Comics About Cartoonists is a collection of classic comic book stories about the cartoonists themselves – by some of the best artists in the field. I’m not even sure where to begin: Jack Kirby, Sheldon Mayer, Jack Cole, Al Capp, Siegel, Shuster, Ditko, Caniff, Bushmiller… on and on! Animators include Milt Gross, Al Stahl, Milt Stein and Winsor McCay. You will not put this one down and will be glad Yoe was crazy enough to spend years (decades, perhaps) locating this stuff. Even the end papers – made up of vintage ads for cartooning correspondence school courses – are a blast. I order you to pre-order this book TODAY!
This one is a must-have for your Mary Blair collection (you do have a Mary Blair collection, don’t you?). A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books is a compilation of the famed Disney inspiration artist’s greatest work for Western Publishing, primarily for their Golden Book series aimed at children. Reprinted beautifully and at large size, this volume includes the classic Baby’s House and I Can Fly (both 1950), The Golden Book of Little Verses (1953) and The Up and Down Book (1964) – and more. Blair not only inspired Disney, but a whole new generation of animators working today. John Canemaker’s informative Foreword tops it off perfectly. A classy package of visual treats for you – or your young ones.
One of the cleverest animated Holiday Greetings I’ve seen this year came from King Features, the folks who manage the careers of Popeye, Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Flash Gordon, Dennis the Menace, The Phantom, Mutts, Mr. Bill, Blondie and Dagwood – among others…
King’s VP Creative Frank Caruso wrote and directed the piece working with Smiley Guy Studios (in Toronto) to do the animation. He told me, “I really wanted to take the characters out of their all too familiar environments and make them REAL for the ‘audition’…”
“Real” or not – its pretty good. Click here (or image above) to see it.
Carlo Vogele has a knack for imbuing inanimate objects with personality. He’s told stories with lighting fixtures, socks, and now (with an assist from Enrico Caruso), fish.
It’s fitting that a meditation on the tragic destiny of fish would be illustrated using actual fish. Earlier this year, when Vogele posted the trailer for Una Furtiva Lagrima, we discovered that there are good reasons why animators don’t typically use dead fish as models. Vogele’s effort was well spent, though, resulting in a singular and strikingly original piece of animated fimmaking.
Michael Ruocco’s The Life and Death of a Novelty Christmas Wreath is a welcome antidote to the forced cheeriness of most animated holiday films. Ruocco’s decision to keep the wreath in a fixed center-screen position is an especially effective filmmaking choice that generates an unexpected amount of emotion and humor.
Forbes has published a list of 30 Under 30 in Hollywood. If you can get past the entertainment industry’s insularity and nauseating nepotism—the children of Judd Apatow, John Landis, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Larry Ellison (two of them) are all apparently up-and-comers—you’ll appreciate that two animators managed to sneak their way onto the list.
Alex Hirsch, 27, achieved the distinction for being the creator of the Disney TV series Gravity Falls, while Rebecca Sugar, 25, is hailed as the first solo female creator of a Cartoon Network TV series. Her show, Steven Universe, is currently in production and will debut next year. Congrats to both!
You hated the teaser, you trashed the trailer, and you blew off the finished film – and yet, Sony Animation’s The Smurfs (2011) grossed $142 million. And now – whether you like it or not – here comes The Smurfs 2.
This week’s episode of Fox’s Fringe (Episode #96 Black Blotter) contained a pretty cool homage to Terry Gilliam’s animation on Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The animation was used to represent an acid trip flashback. Here’s the clip:
The 75-second Gilliam tribute was produced by 6 Point Harness and directed by Greg Franklin. Producer Brendan Burch explained:
“The piece, which illustrates the hallucinatory visions of scientist Walter Bishop, was produced in less than two weeks. With such a compressed schedule, the characters (designed by Saharat Tantivaranyoo) and storyboards (created by Franklin and Anna Hollingsworth) needed to be locked the first week, while animators analyzed dozens and dozens of Gilliam’s cut-out cartoons from Monty Python’s Flying Circus in preparation for the final stretch of animation.
“Studio photographer Dave Vamos took production pictures of his own pudgy fingers, used to depict a giant hand plucking Dr. Bishop into a psychedelic dreamscape. The stomping foot, a direct homage to the famous Python title sequence, belongs to production coordinator Nick Butera. Butera’s foot was the perfect match to the original but required shaving and a little airbrushing work by animator John Dusenberry.
“The pictures were animated with painstaking attention to every Gilliam idiosyncracy, by the aforementioned Dusenberry and Hollingsworth, along with Frank Macchia and Kelly Turnbull. The final animation was edited and composited by Tony Christopherson, who added layers of digital paper, authentic film grain, projector gate jittering and blotches to replicate Walter’s stoned memories of watching Monty Python back in the 70′s.”
From animator Shin Hashimoto (previously represented on the Brew with his The Undertaker and the Dog), his latest film is a dark, disturbing NSFW retelling of The Little Match Girl. Not exactly appropriate for Christmas, but so fascinating I couldn’t take my eyes off it.
Two garden leprechaun gnomes meet Santa who is suffering from a severe stomach ache. Entering his stomach, they meet Krampus, Santa’s demonic alter ego. Little do they know their lives would soon change forever.
Yannis Konstantinidis, of London-based animation studio NOMINT, started “Llamallama”, a creative collective (which includes Christos Lefakis and Ian Koons) to collaborate on non-commercial personal films. Their first short film, A Little Christmas Miracle, is the funniest one I’ve seen (so far) this year…
Zach Cohen is an illustrator and an animator currently living and working in Israel. His stuff is real cool… and his latest little film, Same, was produced in five days, working ’round the clock, for a local “Maratoon” competition. The theme was “beyond the mirror”. Check out more of Cohen’s work here.
Just in time for the party season, here’s a clever little short called Season’s Gweetings, directed by Aloke Shetty and animated by the uber-talented Rajiv Eipe. Shetty’s day job is running a commercial production house called Rawshark Films in Bangalore in South India.