Last night ASIFA-Hollywood held a membership screening of Battle For Terra which opens theatrically today in the United States. I saw the film last year at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, where it won the prize for Best Feature. A lot of us (myself included) were bummed that Sita Sings The Blues didn’t win the prize, but we still admired Terra (as it was called then) for its storytelling and visual scope.
Now in 3-D, and away from festival competition, I watched the film again last night — and I have to admit I enjoyed it a lot more the second time around. I even think the 3-D enhanced the experience. I did a Q & A with director/co-writer Aristomenis Tsirbas after the screening and was amazed to learn that the entire film was produced in L.A. with a crew of 20 people, in a building on the corner of Wilshire and LaBrea, over a period of two years. Tsirbas, a Hollywood effects animator, spent years working on the concept, originally conceived as a live action film – and spent many hours of down time creating a short which he used to sell the concept to investors. Despite its all-star voice cast, Battle For Terra is an independent film in the truest sense of the term. It had an extremely low budget and was made way outside the traditional studio system. And it’s turned out to be quite an entertaining little sci-fi family film.