There’s a lot of good stuff happening at the Ottawa International Animation Festival this week. Eric Goldberg, Henry Selick, David Silverman and Ronnie del Carmen will be speaking up there, Don Hertzfeldt, Suzan Pitt and Jim Blashfield are having retrospectives, and there’s the to-be-expected impeccable selection of shorts as well as features like Mary and Max , $9.99 and My Dog Tulip. Inbetween this animation frenzy, I hope you’ll take the time to check out the retrospective of filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek. His films screen Friday, October 16, and Saturday, October 17, at the Arts Court Theatre, both nights at 7pm.
It’s a disservice to label VanDerBeek (1927-1984) merely a filmmaker because he was so much more than that. He was a multimedia artist years before the term even existed. He was constantly getting his hands dirty with new technologies and trying to figure out artistic and educational applications for them. This included creating huge murals via fax machine, projecting film onto steam, and designing interactive multi-screen TV shows. No surprise that VanDerBeek was also a computer animation pioneer who starting experimenting with CGI in 1965.
His short films–often surreal, often funny, and always a visual free-for-all–combine animation, collage, cut-out, photography and video, with manic cutting that looks more contemporary than ever. Terry Gilliam has said in interviews that it was VanDerBeek’s cut-out films, and specifically Breathdeath (which will be shown in Ottawa), that inspired his animation style for Monty Python. I’ve personally been influenced by VanDerBeek’s work since I first saw it last year, and I recommend you check him out in Ottawa later this week. The screening will include examples of his analog and CG films, as well as rare film clips of VanDerBeek at work and at play.