Don Hertzfeldt Qualifies “It’s Such A Beautiful Day” For Oscar Consideration

Heads up! Animator Don Hertzfedlt (Rejected) is publicly screening his first feature this week at The Cinefamily (at the Silent Movie Theatre) in Hollywood.

This special engagement of It’s Such A Beautiful Day – a feature-length combination of his magnificent “Bill” trilogy of short films – will qualify the 70 minute film for Academy Award consideration. Screenings begin tonight at 10:30pm – and will play through Monday (each subsequent night at 10pm, except Sunday at 9:30pm). Tickets and info here.

Hertzfedlt has already begun self-distribution of the film and will be bringing it to Portland, Dallas, New York City (Oct. 5th at the IFC CEnter), Tucson and Chicago, among other cities, in the next few months. Complete list of theatres and dates is posted on Don’s Bitter Films website. Here’s a glimpse of what to expect:


  • Jonathan
  • Pedro Nakama

    My spoon is too big!

  • Ryoku75

    During the 70 minutes that this film runs I could draw 700 stick figures, wait no, anyone could draw those 700 stick figures.

    Yes its nice to see a somewhat hand drawn film again, but stick figures?

    • Elliot

      Have you read into his process? A lot more goes into his films than just drawing stick figures.

      • CG Animator

        Didn’t Art Babbit say something to the effect of “if you can’t animate stick figures convincingly, you won’t be able to animate fully detailed characters convincingly”? ie, “If you can’t animate something with barely any detail at all in a convincing manner, how the hell are you going to animate a three dimensional character that moves correctly with proper weight, performance etc.”

      • Ryoku75

        No, but if you’re willing to share the details I’ll gladly listen.

        • http://www.moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

          Ryoku75,

          Here’s my thoughts on it. Cartoons in the past have proven you can have the most limited animation imaginable (Roger Ramjet, Jay Ward, Bevis and Butthead, South Park etc.) or you can break the entire concept of animation down to minimal stick figures. But its great writing, strong design (and yes, stick figures can be strong design), staging, timing and pacing will win audiences over any day of the week. Strip everything down to the most primal level, and what do you have that’s left? The essentials of great filmmaking. You don’t need much more than that to make a great film. The animation may be stick figures, but there’s a certain level of aesthetics that’s always present in Hertzfeldt’s films. The fact that Hertzfelt does all his films as stick figures isn’t just the limit of his drawing ability, its a commentary in and of itself. If you haven’t seen Rejected, by all means YouTube it, its hilarious and you can see the mans brilliant. I bet this film will probably be funnier and more emotionally moving than the most expensive and fluid corporate studio feature animation you’ve seen this year.

          But that’s my humble opinion. :)

          • Ryoku75

            At Mike:

            I do enjoy simplistic things but they need a structure of sorts, with no structure the result is just a pool of melted chocolate.

            After reading your well typed and quite polite post I did decide to watch “Rejected”, I couldn’t see any of the pacing, timing, nor writing that you mentioned, maybe I need my glasses.

        • Mac

          Its like arguing about Jackson Pollock. Invoking the quotes and values of Old Time Disney Industrial Worker Bees for something like this is totally pointless.

          • http://moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

            Why? I think you could apply Illusion of life principles to something like this. Who says those principles are only limited to Disney films? Hertzfelts films are still funny. They wouldn’t be funny if they didn’t have any semblance of good staging, structure, and design, even if it’s at it’s barest minimum, those principles can still apply. A guy like Don Hertzfelt can be an inspiration to anyone who wants to be an animator, because he makes up for his lack of drawing ability with all of his other strengths (His great sense of timing and his own abilities as a storyteller.) Being a skilled draftsman isn’t always a requirement for being a good animator (or an artist/ or a filmmaker for that matter. Appeal can come in all forms). He proves that. And looking at this trailer, yeah, it’s pretty experimental, but it’s not entirely abstract. There is something emotional at the heart of it, which is pretty profound coming from a stick figure…

    • Mac

      “Oh man, if only he hadn’t gotten there first, I’d be the indie darling drawing stick figures.” Give me a break.

      Self distribution is what I don’t get. Takes a lot of guts!

      • http://www.moviecappa.blogspot.com Mike Caracappa

        Ryoku75,

        Okay, well, to each their own then. I’m glad at least you took the time to check out the film. :)

    • Jon Hanson

      Sure, anyone can draw stick figures just like everyone can type words, it’s what they do with them that’s important.

  • Eric Graf

    Opens tonight and closes Monday? That won’t qualify it for an Oscar. It’s gotta run a full week.

    • Jon Hanson

      It actually says it goes from thursday to friday, so 5 days. Does that count? It would be incredibly unfortunate if it didn’t and fell short by 2 days…

  • http://drgrobsanimationreview.com/ Gijs Grob

    I strongly recommend this film. Judging from its source material (the three shorts), it’s funny and moving, and utterly beautiful. The stick figures actually work perfectly with the colourful other images to tell an emotional tale.

  • http://www.brianratigan.com/ ratigan

    Each chapter in Hertzfeldt’s trilogy is increasingly engaging. An Oscar would be well-deserved and long overdue.

  • Funkybat

    I’m a little surprised (though on this site, I probably shouldn’t be) to see so many people ripping on Hertzfeldt because his films’ feature simple stick figure characters. I’m probably one of the biggest advocates out there for well-drafted characters who have solid designs based on classic principles. That said, I will not refuse to give the devil’s due to simple, even crudely animated shows or films that just “work” because of various other factors.

    Hertzfeldt is up there with Trey and Matt of “South Park” (if not above them) when it comes to making silk purses out of the visual equivalent of sow’s ears. The stuff is just. freaking. hilarious. Admittedly, it’s a matter of taste, but I suspect people who don’t find films like “Rejected” funny wouldn’t find them funny if the content were exactly the same, but they were well-rendered and detailed to the level of a Disney feature.

    What makes a successful cartoon usually comes down to how entertaining it is, if it makes us laugh, think, or even cry. I’ve seen a lot of well-crafted stuff in film festivals & even online that wasn’t particularly memorable, but everyone I know who has seen “Rejected” excitedly remembers it if they see it come on screen or even hear someone mention it. They often don’t even know the name of the short or the artist, they just know it was cool. I’ve had several friends who aren’t really into animation try to describe it to me, hoping I’ll know what they’re talking about. I just type “Rejected Hertzfeldt” into YouTube and they start laughing and yelling in glee.

    The short clearly “works” whether or not it’s “well drawn.”

  • Grant

    I saw the film, its really incredible. As always Hertzfeldt hits his timing perfectly everything reads and the film moves fluidly and at a good pace. If you get hung up on a small little surface detail of the film than you wont be able to sit back and truly take in how incredibly he captures the beauty of everyday life as well as the sensation one feels in living out their days.
    In addition the stick figure characters he has traditionally used in everything else work phenomenolly as always especially when coupled with great contrasting footage, techniques and effects.
    A much better film going experience than the other animated feature I saw earlier this year from a big studio that will remain nameless in terms of seeing something original, well-executed, and inteligent.
    Anyone who hasn’t seen it and who is an animator would enjoy it purely on the basis of how well he captures the thought process of approaching filmmaking. At least it hit close to home for me.

  • Ryoku75

    I just watched Rejected with my glasses on and I have to say, no amount of CGI or deep rivveting stories could top that masterpiece.

  • Kevin

    “I am in pain.”