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ASIFA-East Announces Animation Festival Winners

Last night, ASIFA-East held their 42nd annual Animation Festival. The Best in Show prize went to Andy Kennedy’s Accumulonimbus, which we featured on Cartoon Brew last August. ASIFA-East president David Levy also won two of the top awards: Best Educational Film and 1st Place for Independent Film. He’s a nice guy so let’s all look the other way and pretend that’s not a conflict of interest.

Complete list of winners after the jump.

Andy Kennedy

Guard Dog Global Jam
Bill Plympton

Dot Dot Dot: “Around the World (And Back)”
Bryan Brinkman

Sesame Street: “Word on the Street”
David B. Levy

1st Place
Grandpa Looked Like William Powell
David B. Levy

2nd Place
Enrique Wrecks the World
David Chai

3rd Place
Allison Craig

Excellence in Animation
Patrick Smith

Excellence in Design
Nosy Bear
Fran Krause

Excellence in Humor
Bunny Bashing
John R. Dilworth

1st Place
Danny & Annie
The Rauch Brothers

2nd Place
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Pete List & Mo Willems

3rd Place
The Human Voice
The Rauch Brothers

Excellence in Animation
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog
Pete List & Mo Willems

Excellence in Design
The Buddha: “Enlightenment”
Asterisk Animation

Excellence in Humor
Christmas Shoes
Brian Musikoff & John Kuramoto

1st Place
Chilevision La Verdad
Juan Delcan

2nd Place
Midtown Twist
Gary Lieb

3rd Place
Bill Plympton

Excellence in Animation
Farley in “Thinking of You”
Greg Ford, Doug Compton, Adrian Urquidez

Excellence in Design
Urban Stencil
Christi Bertelsen

Excellence in Design
Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
Bumper 2010
Joy Vaccese & Noelle Melody

1st Place
To Have and To Hold
Jessica Polaniecki

2nd Place
Book Girl and Cabinet Girl
Jane Wu

3rd Place
Prayers for Peace
Dustin Grella

ASIFA-East opening created by Dan Meth

  • Bryan Brinkman rules! Go Bryan!

  • I was there at the screening! The Rauch Brothers especially had really great heart-warming films with awesome animation.

    Congrats to all the winners!

  • Congratulations to all the winners, especially Andy for the well-deserved Best In Show.

    Members of the ASIFA-East board are frequently well represented in the awards – myself included. Truth be told, we get a relatively small number of submissions and most of them are from NYC. I would love to see more submissions coming from all over but the voting is public and in recent years many board members, including Dave Levy, have had films that weren’t awarded.

    “Grandpa Looked Like William Powell” was a fresh and lively film and I was happy to see it win. Apparently ASIFA voters weren’t the only ones to think it was a special film – the Tribeca Film Festival included it in their documentary shorts program.

  • amid

    Tim, The quality of the film is irrelevant. Doesn’t matter if it’s the best animated short since One Froggy Evening. If the ASIFA-East leadership or board is competing against its members, that’s a serious issue that affects the legitimacy of the awards.

  • brian

    I agree, Amid. Board members should not be allowed to throw their hats in.

    Also it seems they don’t really stretch out and pick new winners.

    I attended the festival last night and in 2009 and it felt like there was little difference in the winners. They just switched around what category they won in. And they won multiple awards leaving no chance of others to win.

    There are many great animations that come from other cities on the east coast. Maybe it should just be called ASIFA New York and prompt other cities to start ASIFA Chapters.

    After David Levy received his first, I left. And I am sure he is a nice guy and I am sure his films were good, but I lost some respect for the organization.

    • matt d. lee

      I still remember when Levy announced his own award-Excellence in Animation-in 2007 with a cringe-inducing “Well-deserved” remark. First time I ever saw something like that happen. Bottoms up, there are plenty of things one can do with that piece of paper.

      • Matt.
        1) Regardless of what you may think of him, Dave’s been very supportive of your own animation screening.
        2) Do you know the expression “Those in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”?…

    • Are you even a member? just curious… and if this burning issue means so much to you put your last name on your posts so we can talk at the next meeting and I can suggest that you join the board in making ASIFA a safe place for people who fear competition from the board’s entrees.

      • Brian

        Debra…put away the claws. I’m not a member. As I stated below I’m not an angry student or independent animator that didn’t get in. I’m just a fan of animation looking to see new work.

  • Andrew Kaiko

    I hope to enter a short in a local show soon. I’m working on one right now. Congrats to all the winners!

  • Your reactions are understandable.

    My biggest concern is the 25 awards for a festival with about 100 entries, nearly half of which were in the student category.

    We’ve got to find a way to get more people to submit films.

  • celia

    Funny: many of the winners weren’t even there to accept their awards: Fran Krause, Andy Kennedy, David Chai, John Dilworth, Pat Smith, and Allison Craig. Most absent winners had friends speak on their behalf, but some didn’t. Nobody from Titmouse showed up to collect their award.

    Sure, everyone has their reasons why they couldn’t attend. That said, going to an awards ceremony the winners don’t bother to attend made the show feel empty and sad.

    • Paul N

      Don’t know about anyone else, but David Chai lives in California and teaches at San Jose State. Since the semester isn’t over yet, getting to NYC for a screening probably wasn’t an option.

    • hi ya Celia sorry i was off this site yesterday with work stuff… Dillworth is in Spain- Pat Smith is teaching in the far East and Fran is living in LA… as for Titmouse – I think maybe they didnt think they would win? Whatever but so many animators and friends and working associates were there . Including Linda I dont understand how you could feel it was sad? I was so happy to see you! : ) d

  • brian

    The call for submissions is perfectly fine. But some festivals seek out shorts and invite them to submit or even waive the entry fee just to get them into consideration. Perhaps more scouting at other animation and film festivals should be done.

    The Music Scene by Anthony Schephard is a perfect example of a great animated piece and the animator is from Philadelphia. Were any entries from cities like Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta, etc?

  • Outreach has long been a problem for ASIFA.

    The insular nature of the awards and the regular programming is reason why some people don’t submit. I know several animators who keep their entry fees for that reason. If you live outside of NY, why bother?

    And before anyone says “just volunteer for yourself”, that’s all well and good if you don’t mind your ideas getting shunned because a board member doesn’t like new thoughts in their personal dominion. Makes it even tougher if you’re living in another state.

  • brian

    It makes the awards empty and less legitimate if they only give them to people in their circle. Better off just submitting to Ottawa and Annecy. At least they are free and hold more stature.

    On a side note, Prayers For Peace is an excellent short (I had seen that at the ASIFA Atlanta screenings last Summer) and deserved more than just third place.

    As far as outreach, Anon, the Atlanta Chapter of ASIFA does a great job in reaching out and finding animation from all over.

  • Al

    With all due respect, I don’t see a conflict of interest here. ASIFA is a non-exclusive group of independent animators and all members are welcome to submit work to the festival as well as vote. There is no jury and no one member’s vote is worth more than another, whether they are a board member or an SVA freshman. Plus, they use an independent CPA to count votes, so there’s nothing fishy going on.

    ASIFA is a society for independent animators run by independent animators, so barring any members from submitting work seems backwards to me.

    Congrats to all the winners! It was a fantastic show.

  • Great intro. The soundtrack music by Dr. Creosote is the best.

  • You guys are insane

    ASIFA-East board members have always been allowed to participate in the festival and always will because the volunteer board is comprised of active members in the animation community both in their professional and personal lives. In no way are any of the awards just “given to people in their circle”, they are voted on by the hundreds of members who participate in the well-publicized jury screenings. We’ve had 42 years of successful festivals, and while always looking to improve, I believe we have a lot to be proud of

    If one wants to have a discussion on outreach, fine. But unnecessary slander gets you nowhere (and yes, I’m aware I labelled everyone insane)

    -Adrian Urquidez
    ASIFA-East website manager, board member and (horror of horrors) grateful award winner

  • matt d. lee

    I couldn’t agree more with Amid.

  • Brian

    I just see it as a problem when others are trying to gain exposure. Only three students were awarded. A lot of you guys are established so why not give others an opportunity?

    • Brian – anyone can enter and people do from all over the world

      • Brian

        Debra, that is great to hear that people submit from all over. But is the quality of work outside of New York bad? Did the entries from outside NY vote poorly? Do NY animators have an advantage of being able to bring friends/members to vote for their piece over something from North Carolina. From what I saw, most of the winners are right in NY. And that’s fine if the organization awards the NY Animators…but if it’s supposed showcase work from animators up and down the east coast, I didn’t feel like it was fully represented.

  • Brian

    And for the record Adrian, I’m not an angry student or independent animator that didn’t get in. I’m just a fan of animation looking to see new work.

  • Pete

    As a personal note, Prayers for Peace should have won either 1st place student or best in show, it was not only made from the heart, but it was painstakingly technically proficient and embraced the body and soul of what animation can truly be, a fine art medium, animation shouldn’t just be cartoons. The whole show felt political to me. Not only the President of the Festival giving himself 2 awards, but Bunny Bashing winning Best Humor short. I saw stuff in the Jury screening that I thought were exceptional in terms of humor, but the filmmakers less famous. Though there was also an experimental masterpiece called “Twist of Fate” by the brilliant Karen Aqua in the Jury screening, and I was astonished to see it didn’t get in !! But I know it is democracy, maybe my tastes don’t translate to the general membership.. for me it was just sad, and as Celia noted, most of the winners didn’t even bother to attend it.

  • Katie Cropper

    I’m going to take a middle of the road approach here. full disclosure, I’m an asifa board member, I write the weekly newsletter, I vote and attend the judging screensings, and I submitted a film this year and got nothin’. yep, nothing. I would also like to point out for a good number of years Dave Levy submitted a film and had long streak of not getting a single award. -just a fact here.

    that being said, ASIFA East is an incredibly small operation. The reason we get butt tons of student film is because it is possibly one of the cheapest US fests in the student category and nearly all the colleges send in mass collections of films. -I aggree that I think prayer for peace should/would have taken the top prize but ‘to have and to hold’ was screened on a seperate night because on student night the DVD didn’t work. I MEAN REALLY this is how tiny the little changes effect these awards.

    MERIT is a worthy reason for winning award no matter WHO made the film and wherever it gets screened. I stand by that thought and I don’t think it would be fair to deny someone credit if it had been earned.

    lastly regarding a broader call for entries and needing more advertising, tough sh*t. The board members bust their asses for no pay on a weekly basis to keep ASIFA East running and keep it punk rock. I’ve clocked enough hours to say I think its a damn good show even if people can’t afford to fly across country to pick up a damn award (which is a piece of paper and hearty hand clap BY THE WAY). Not to mention nearly half the audience doesn’t even pay their damn dues, people are lucky to get coors light this year at the reception because we had enough that we didn’t have to suffer through millwakees best. Also, bite me.

    • Andrew

      As for the “Merit” arguement, yes Levy’s film is very good, it will probably play in many, many film festivals. It was recently in Tribeca as has been noted. However, if even the most talented filmmakers on this planet, if say Steven Spielberg was running a Dreamworks Film Festival and he then won 2 Awards,it would look odd to people. Any organization in which the sitting president is winning awards is just kinda goofy looking. Subsequently, there might also be a reason why half the ASIFA membership doesnt want to pay their dues.

  • Brian

    I’m not knocking David Levy as a talent or you for that matter. The work I saw was rather good. It would just be nice to see new blood. It just seems bogus to award multiple awards to the same people. Due to the overflow of submissions, maybe limit filmmakers to submit 1 film per year? All I am asking for is diversity.

    I won’t bite you.

    • Brian.
      Although some of these criticisms are somewhat valid, what you are looking for isn’t so straight forward.
      Members can only vote on what’s been entered.
      If it’s not been entered then how does one vote for it?

      • amid

        Elliot wrote, “If it’s not been entered then how does one vote for it?”

        It may not be evident to someone who’s on the board, but to an outside observer, there’s clearly something wrong organizationally if ASIFA-East can’t attract more than 100 entries for an awards ceremony with a forty-year track record.

        I suspect the group’s insularity is at heart of its inability to connect with the larger NY animation community. Look around NY and you’ll find a huge and vibrant animation community, yet the organization chooses to focus on a small subset of artists who produce a particular type of work. Friends patting each other on the back is nice for the friends who are doing the patting, but the group’s shallow focus does a disservice to representing the contemporary NY animation scene.

      • I don’t entirely disagree but as I’m not a member anymore it’s something I’m no longer required to consider.

      • Mister Cranky

        I am loathe to agree with Amid on any subject, but he’s called this one correctly – ASIFA-East is a self-congratulatory circle-jerk. After one year of membership, I got the hell out – this group wasn’t going to get me anywhere professionally.

      • Brian

        So there’s an overflow of students but yet there aren’t enough entries? So why not give more than 3 awards out to students?

      • Brian

        Amid said, “…the group’s shallow focus does a disservice to representing the contemporary NY animation scene.”

        Not to mention if it’s called ASIFA-East, it does a poor job representing the East Coast animation scene…unless new chapters be created in other East Coast cities and call this one ASIFA-NY.

      • Andrew

        Brian – 2007 – Don Herzfeldt won ASIFA East and he’s a West Coaster, so it’s y’know kinda loose.

  • brian

    Hi Elliot.

    I get the situation…I am just not happy about it.

    If I recall, one of your films played at Ottawa last year but it was out of competition. You played along side Day and Night and Gorillaz Stylo. Do you feel that films of that calibur should compete with other independent animations?

    I respect award ceremonies and festivals that take chances. I just feel lke ASIFA often plays it safe.

    • Hey Brian.
      I couldn’t care less what films play as long as they’re good (although it was very funny to have my zero budget film play with the massive budget Pixar film).
      Pixar are quite welcome to enter their films if they please but I don’t imagine they’d get in.

  • brian

    On top of that I appreciated Elliot’s reply compared to the childish remarks from Asifa board members

    • Actually, my initial reaction was “Who is this pinhead?” but I revised it.
      I stand by the bawdy attitude of my former ASIFA pals.

  • Katie Cropper

    cooler heads prevail, which is fine. Elliot by the way was/is? an active board member and is much better with the internet than myself.

    I’m not much for censorship, and felt compelled to share my frustration with the amount of effort our tiny team puts out throughout the year to put on events, screenings and the awards only to come across somewhat un-supportive blog posts. This time around I just chose not to bite my tongue.

  • Brian


    That’s totally understandable. You were defending the organization you work with. Just don’t say you’re going to take a middle of the road approach and then end it with saying “bite me” and “tough shit.”

    Elliot, that’s fine if I’m the only pinhead with this opinion but it’s still my opinion.

    But through my experiences at film festivals and awards ceremonies (which have been numerous), they are essentially a popularity contest and tend to favor more well known names.

    • Andrew

      This film festival is so Ghetto. Seeing board members getting all rude on message boards and talking about flaws in their own system, that a DVD not working can inadvertently lead to winning a 1st place prize. Ghetto ! And then they bash the dwindling membership ! You guys want to alienate everybody ? Like I say, Robert Redford runs Sundance but you dont see him putting Quiz Show into competition, it would undermine the whole event. The Story Corps dudes won twice, Mo Williems twice, Plympton twice, and Levy twice. Come on guys, it’s like excess.

    • Matt D. Lee

      On a lighter note, taking a step back, I admire the farce/humor of this entire award situation. It’s worthy of a headline on “The Onion” or it’s like a scene straight out of “The Naked Gun”

      @Brian – its ok, I’ve been called a pinhead by Elliot as well, so I guess we are both in the pinhead club (which reminds me, i gotta start working on the membership cards! :)

  • Paul N

    ASIFA-East’s winner’s list always feels like the east coast version of the Annie Awards winner’s list to me. Same names, different year.

  • Well, here’s my take on this situation:

    (Disclosure: I am an ASIFA East member (not Board Member), and I won the Music Video Category at this years festival)

    -The voting is legit, but favoritism can always be an issue when your surrounded by peers voting. Hence some of the new york animation “elite” like Bill Plympton will win almost every year. Being familiar with an artist greatly affects your opinion of the work your watching. That being said, the board members are independent animators as well, and they shouldn’t be punished for being active in the community.

    -Newcomers can win as well (Like myself this year, which I was very honored by)

    -This year did have a low turnout from the independent winners, but that doesn’t detract from the quality and legitimacy of their work in the show.

    -People from other cities win all the time, in the past few years many students from UArts (Philadelphia) have won.

    -Regardless of who wins what. The ASIFA-East board has been doing an amazing job setting up events and screenings/figure drawing/q&a’s throughout the year that more than make up for their small membership fee.

  • chicky poo

    Who has money to pay for membership dues. Most of New York animators are either unemployed or get paid for work once every 16 weeks if they get paid at all. That organization also has a reputation for favoring a lot of unethical treatment of workers as well, so why would people flock to thier festivals? Or enter them?

    • To be fair, if you pay the $35 a year and only goto a couple figure drawing sessions and screenings, your still getting more than your money’s worth.

      “That organization also has a reputation for favoring a lot of unethical treatment of workers as well” Could you further explain this?

  • Andrew

    Yes, indeed ASIFA is a democracy. But if Orson Welles ran a film festival and showed Citizen Kane, and the voting audience consisted of Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead, and Gregg Toland, I’m sure it wound win, and it’s a great film, but so what, what the hell does that prove ??? This whole “Democracy is great” line is like so empty. Also, god knows how those ballots are scored when you have a 0-10 spread. The film Pete highlights by Karen Aqua was in both Annecy and Ottawa and rejected here, probably because she didnt have cronies. Prayers for Peace was the best film in the show, and how it was thrown at the very beginning like a special mention, and apparantly lost out to a Broken DVD played on another jury night with more eyeballs, I mean come on people. Also, the Patton Oswalt one was great comedy, great audio, Oswalt is a great standup, but it was barely even animated, so wierd for an animation society… And funny how Titmouse which just opened a studio, snubbed the whole thing.

    • “…and apparantly lost out to a Broken DVD played on another jury night with more eyeballs…”

      Just a quick note – I was at both the student screening and the final screening, Experimental/Music Video/Whatever Else, where the winning student film was finally screened. There was definitely FAR LESS people in the audience that night compared to the student screening which means it did not win the category based on number of votes alone as you are insisting.

      What it DID do was separate it from being judged against the other student films. If it had been screened up against ‘Prayers for Peace’, who knows? ‘To Have and To Hold’ may not have had a screw and wing nut to stand on (a little stop-motion humor). But when viewed by itself, alone, of course it got high ratings. It was a pleasant little stop-motion film and as my college instructor said ‘TSTS’ (Too Short To Suck).

  • Rob

    Glad there’s a discussion on this!
    Asifa-east is incredibly insular, but I can’t help be believe that the best film that’s submitted is the one that wins. The jury screening method is nice, as it lets all films entered be shown, but at the same time, you have to rely on other members to not vote based on other reasons. Trying to get work from Dave Levy for example. Flawed, but its hardly Asifa’s fault.

    My issues are two: The student screening were set up with a gong show fashion. For filmmakers who paid both a membership fee and a entry fee only to have their film passed over because two impatient board members want to see the next film, that’s ice cold. Only a few films were skipped, and yes, they were slower and lengthier than others, but that’s got to feel terrible, and I don’t think Asifa-east should be spurning anyone in its limited membership.

    Secondly, the ‘Excellence in Humor’ seems like a wrong step. Films can be fanatically written, without being funny necessarily. If this isn’t a ‘comedy’ festival, its bizarre this is the only writing based award available (Shouldn’t it be Excellence in Writing?)
    And why did Christmas Shoes win? It wasn’t written by the filmmakers? Wasn’t the basis for the comedy coming from the standup clip? If Patton Oswald accepted the award, fine, that makes sense, but It just seems like the film on its own, relied entirely on it. It would not have held up with different audio, so why is this a good film, if the best part is borrowed from a different source?

    All due respect to the filmmakers, Bunny Bashing was an originally funnier film.

    • Brian Musikoff

      @Rob- It’s fair to point out that Christmas Shoes was awarded in the Commissioned Works category as John Kuramoto and I were lucky enough to be commissioned directly by comedian Patton Oswalt and his associates. The audio is an outtake from his last comedy album that he wanted Kuramoto and I to visualize. Yes, our goal and assignment was to create an onslaught of visual laughs to plus the humor of an already hilarious recording. While John and I didn’t write the dialogue, he and I created a multitude of gags for the the storyboard, designed characters to best fit the feel of Patton’s humor and directed the video to compliment Patton’s humor through the most precise timing we could. Mr. Patton Oswalt was cool enough to grant us full creative control on this job and we are absolutely honored to recognized by our peers for “Excellence in Humor” for that very reason.

  • Andrew

    @ Rob – That Gong Show thing occurred on the Experimental Jury Screening as well, only once, but a certain filmmaker’s film was shut off,granted maybe it wasn’t genius, but he was in the room. And it’s funny how they complain about low entries, non paying members, “you should be lucky you get Beer at all.”

    • Rob

      I absolutely understand where it comes from. The student film night was 3 hours long (and has been in the past). I can almost see the calling time rule being made after last year’s festival, directly after the 7 minute experimental ‘Aesthetic Species Map’ that was screened both during jury and when it won for experimental film. I think that rule would not exist this year, if the voting asifa members had realized that, while experimental, Aesthetic Species Map probably wasn’t as accessible a film as it would be a piece of video art or something, and probably did not need to win an award last year. It just felt like audience members didn’t see a narrative or characters and did a knee-jerk vote for the experimental award.

      I know how dumb i sound when I say this but: For mostly being filmmakers, I really wish the asifa jury were generally better film critics.

      • Calling time during jury screenings is practiced at festival jury screenings all over the world.
        Just because a film has been called for time does not indicate that it’s a bad film.

      • morgan

        i’ve been on film festival selections also, and calling ‘time’ is fine, i know i’ve done it before, but i don’t think id ever do it if the guy who made the thing is sitting right next to me. This, I think is the point being made above; that when the submitter is in the room, a little bit of decorum/diplomacy could be used, especially when they are a paying member, and his film is only 10 minutes wrong.

      • morgan

        typo, 10 minutes long, not 10 minutes wrong.

  • I love ASIFA EAST , It has been my home, my inspiration,outlet for my art and above all a place to meet with my peers and enjoy the art of animation. Very selfishly I have never served on the board or quite frankly, lifted a finger to help the organization run . I feel like the special people who do give of themselves do so out of the same love I have for ASIFA – we owe these board members a debt of gratitude . To ask that the board refrain from entering the festival means we would have to HIRE a board? Clearly that is impossible- also asking the board not to submit films would mean that active professionals who want to get recognition for their work would not want to serve on the board. That would be a disaster for the organization.

    I attended the independent night when David Levys film was screened – I went up to him after the screening and happily told him he was going to win- not because he was president but because it is a really good film and the undertow in that film is amazing… I am sad for David that his long sought after win this year was called into question. We the members of ASIFA voted for this film. It won fair and square.

  • Like every festival/awards program, ASIFA-East has its share of issues, and could be better than it is.

    The knee-jerk defensiveness that many members have is a telling trait as to why these problems continue to go unaddressed.

    Dave winning the award isn’t such a big deal, his film is solid and was as worthy as any -more worthy than most.

    How about him presenting the award to himself, though? A very legitimate criticism, I don’t see how anyone can deny that. Will ASIFA continue on as it always does, or will it make an effort to understand and address that and other legitimate critiques?

    The difference is whether it’s an organization to serve as the East Coast Animation Community’s liaison to the world or simply a club to boost the resumes of its members. A 24fps Elk’s Lodge.

    • You cad.

      • Brian

        Elliot, out of curiosity, why did you leave ASIFA?

      • Brian- why must you be so icky?

      • Hugo was born and all my free time evaporated.

      • Brian

        Debra, I was really just asking. He kept saying that he was a former member. All I wanted to know was why he stopped being a member.

  • Richard, Richard, Richard this is the FIRST YEAR that awards have gone to board members and guess what David did not award himself the prize – Linda did- and PS wasnt your resume boosted at that ceremony? You are a card caring member of this happy little 24fps elks lodge.

    COME ON this is a TINY organization run on not a shoe string but a flimsy thread …

    If you feel so strongly about the revolution that must come to this old dinosaur please take my challenge : join the board and make the change you want to to see. Spend your time sweating in the back room of the dank and dirty newsletter and then have the peeps tell you “no Richard your films cannot be entered in the festival back to the newsletter and chop chop!!!

  • morgan

    I LOVED Dave Levy’s grandpa film, and as an Asifa member, I gave it a 10 out of 10 on the ballot, and
    told him how much I liked it after the jury screening. It is a wonderful personal work, which you can watch over and over again.

    But my criticism and this from being somebody who doesn’t really like Award shows (whether it’s the Oscars, the Grammy’s, Emmys, Globes etc.) I think when you are going to have a Film Festival in which it’s setup in this format, that every selected film has an Award attached to it, you are opening the door to a very competitive all-round attitude. I think competition is great for sports, competition is healthy in many ways, but when you turn making Art into a Sport, particularly 1st prizes, 2nd prizes, 3rd prizes, and then when same people are winning multiples, and in different categories, which a few people are pointing out here, and the losers are there in the audience, but the winners are off in CA, people will be persnickity etc.. There are connotations to 1st-3rd prize Awards as being sortof like judgments on people, I think particularly this has a rough effect on
    all them students, these a group of people who already feel they are being judged day in and day out by art school teachers w/ very subjective grading methodolgies.. and are trained by society to continually seek External Validation.

    Consequently, I always find Award shows negate a discussion of the ideas, Award shows are not quite like Film Festivals, people always, always, always argue over the awards, “I think this should have won instead of that” my horse vs your horse, and often it just it becomes like Baseball or Hockey, but with a strong political tinge; i.e. “Russell Crowe will never win again because he threw a telephone at somebody and he’s not a nice person” and so forth.

    I dunno if ASIFA has ever considered having a film festival in which you don’t have awards, or maybe limited awards, take out the 2nd and 3rd prizes, and
    bar double wins ? like just ‘Best Student Film’, ‘Best Short Film’ This may be an unpopular idea, but I think that might encourage a more fun, lively, less inclusive, and healthier all-round less judgmental atmosphere. Or maybe I’m completely wrong.

    • nice ideas I am all for showing great work AND having fun – that is a festival!

  • Debbie, I don’t know why you want to make it personal. ASIFA-East is an organization and it sounds like you’re saying the organization is beyond critique. Why would anyone want to be a part of such a thing?

    That’s a problem.

    Everyone in this business does a lot with limited resources. That’s no excuse for anything.

    I’ve made public suggestions for improvement of the Festival which have been belittled.

    I’ll offer them again.

    1) If a disk/tape doesn’t work on the night of the judging, refund the money. It’s a tough break.

    After all these years of asking, I’ve never gotten a clear answer on how the voting works. The best I can understand is that it’s a cumulative vote which is averaged. It makes no sense for a film screened under other conditions to compete with these terms.

    2) Publish the methodology of the voting calculation. Including how craft awards are selected.

    3) Use categories of the formerly ASIFA-sanctioned festivals (Annecy, Ottawa, Zagreb, etc).

    4) Have the screening nights result in a “short list”. The winners determined through online voting open to members -a unique passcode per member/per vote would be simple enough.

    5) Ditch the craft awards.

    6) Decide whether its an awards show or a festival. Right now it claims to be a festival, when in fact, it’s not. It’s an awards show. Either is fine. Pick one and go with it.

    7) Have an actual presenter at the ceremony. There are plenty of talented (and cheap) comedians and actors kicking around New York who would LOVE to M. C. the event. Yes, it’s cute to have the President of the Chapter do it but it could be better.

    Those are just a few simple suggestions for the awards, there’s a lot more that could be done for the Chapter to make it a proactive organization that is a beacon for animation and not just a social club.

    There’s always room for improvement. Getting pissed off and snippy a careful criticism is just, well, lame, why would anyone want to be a part of an organization that meets new ideas with such hostility?

    • Rob

      I agree with some of these others not so much.
      1) The whole breakage not working thing? Tough cookies it should work. The sooner artists realize that they should test and double test there work before they send it to a festival or a client the better off we will all be.
      2) YES
      3) YES
      4) I think the members should vote on a short list then have a guest panel judge the winners (1st, 2nd, 3rd, honors). Those judges can’t have a film in the festival that year but maybe it could be a requirement that they have previously had a place award at ASIFA-EAST.
      5) YES
      6) I totally agree with this. Coming off of submitting my film to over 150 festivals I got duped by a few festivals that were award shows. I am not indicating that ASIFA is that smarmy in the least but the whole awards thing isn’t all that. I think if they re-engineer it to point #3 it will accomplish this.
      7) An Easy thing to do in NYC.

      Over all I think your suggestions are great and I also feel that it will allow ASIFA’s dedicated stewards easier access to submit films without hints of outrage or animosity. Not that I feel that way just from the posts its kind of indicated.

      • morgan

        *7.) Comedians who could host –

        here’s a few names –

        Jessica Delfino (who I think also has done animation)

        Rob Paravonian (nobody’s heard of him, but he is hilarious and also does songs)

        Andy Blitz (who has also been a writer for adult swim shows)

        Myq Kaplan

  • was kidding around… sorry if it seemed other wise…actually truly sorry but your knee jerk comment landed in my front yard and was not exactly all warm and fuzzy.

    I just think it was a miracle this org has trouped on… and why ditch the craft awards indie people are “making” things

    re :comediennes ah what will we pay them with? And I for a multitude of reasons
    not the least being that comedy has a target…to work and I dont think this is the academy-

    no one is getting pissed of and snippy here- but you could take a tranquilizer…

  • ok kidding re trank… but you see – comedy needs a target
    like the Pres taking down Trump with his Birthing Video
    and how cool was the lion king ? and disney having the long form?

    I heard the Donald ground down his fakey teeth to little stumps…which is my point…
    somebody is going to get hurt cause the level of comedian ASIFA could afford is BAD
    rank beginner etc…then there will be shrink bills to pay…

  • morgan

    a few points:

    1. Broken & non-playing DVD’s – I agree with Richard that this is not fair, there should be refunds. Since this whole thing is based upon Competition and winning, to screen a Student Film w/ another Jury audience (as has been documented here), it should be screened in comparison with works in the same category.

    2. Educational films – I saw around 20+ Educational films in the Jury Screening however only one single entry was shown & awarded in the festival. I think there is room for a spectrum to be shown, I saw some great entries from Andy & Carolyn London in the Jury screening for example which were of merit to exhibit to the Public.

    3. Experimental – A few people have pointed out the Karen Aqua entry, but I also really liked Brett Thompson’s ‘Fluid Toons’ – again only one entry made the cut and was shown and awarded at the Festival. I think that avant garde /abstract/ expressionist/fine art works have
    a place and they shouldn’t mitigated. Unless of course Asifa just wants a narrative/story driven/ commercial kind of aesthetic. BUT I’m new to Asifa, so… I don’t know the exact aesthetic criteria which this organization wants to focus on. SO I Could be mistaken here, I’ve pre-selected for some festivals, where they are looking for a certain genre to exhibit over another, and that has to be taken into account and should be explained in voting.

    4. Double Winners – this happened a few times and I think this is where the terms “inclusive” and “insular” are arising as a result. It can cause a ‘Clique’-like atmosphere to see the same people called up to the stage a few times in a row. The Cool kids at the lunch table effect.

    5. Ballot Tabulations – Richard just mentioned this, I have no idea how this is done, but rating from zero to ten is a wide spectrum, if it is just averaged as such, love-it or hate-it films which score very high and very low, may be suffering as a result. Therefore a more controversial filmmaker, someone like Michael Moore, who may have Politically Inflammatory or whatever sort of content, may not make the grade. But again, if the idea is to avoid and weed out that kind of work, this math can work perfectly fine.

    6. Award Show vs. Festival — To follow up on something else Richard is elaborating on. I prefer Film Festivals to Award Shows any day of the week, this obsession
    with awards and winning is unsettling to me personally, it can take the fun out of life to make this all about awards, but if you are doing an awards ceremony, the reason why Award Shows use comedians is to take people down a little so things don’t feel too ‘Elitist’ and ‘Cliquey’, as it can ease competitive tension to have an outsider MC. I don’t like to think luminary animators like Plympton or Dillworth or anyone are too sensitive and beyond reproach that they cant handle being made light of. I wouldn’t put down all the struggling and starving comedians in this city necessarily as Bad and Bottom Rung, I go to stand-up shows every week, and I always run into nobodies who are not celebs, but are very, very funny and very talented..

    7. I’d like to pick up on something Brian keeps talking about, and everyone keeps shouting him down, and that’s the disproportion of Awards – someone said here there are more Student Entries than any other category. Why then are there only 3 Student Awards ? Conversely, you have a whopping 12 Awards for Commissioned Works ?? That’s just not fair. But then again, I think the best Film Festivals are only semi-competitive, they are about showing the films and talking about them, and maybe a few awards at the end to boost recognition for deserving filmmakers.

  • Tchad Blake

    I know he had responded to many of these criticisms in the past, but it is surprising that David Levy has not offered any words here.

    • Dave put up an in-depth post on his blog today that touches on several points discussed here. Check it out if you’re interested. I’m sure he would love people’s feedback.

  • Anne D Bernstein

    Just wanted to quickly chime in here. I missed the awards two years in a row. I mean, on Mothers Day? That was a poor choice. (This year it was on my sister’s bday–no fault of asifa.)

    Yes, I often feel that I already know the who will be getting awards without even going. I don’t have to name names. They are all talented (and many are my friends) but it IS pretty predictable, except for the student categories. Even if the judging is fair, it definitely does give off the vibe of an inner circle that has an advantage.

    And regarding membership, I have wondered for about a decade why ASIFA can’t send out a postcard (or these days an email) to say “Your membership will expire soon. Please Pay.” It is the only membership organization I have EVER belonged to that expects you to “keep track” of whether you are a January or July member and remind yourself to send a check. Of all thing, somehow this bugs me the most. I know they are shoestring, but in the age of email, this should be a priority. After many years I just decided to let it lapse…this is not true or any other group I belong to.

    Just my quick reactions.