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Mary and Max opens Sundance

The Sundance Film Festival in Park City started last Thursday night, kicking off with an independent animated feature by Adam Elliot. The first reviews appearing online are intriguing – catching many veteran festival goers by surprise. Check out these quotes from Scott Foundas’ review in the LA Weekly:

For the first time in its 25-year history, the Sundance Film Festival opened Thursday night with a movie from Australia. It was also the first time the festival has opened with a feature-length animation — one, I feel confident in saying, that is among the strangest animated films ever made.

Pixar this most certainly isn’t. In fact, where most feature-length animated films, by sheer virtue of the painstaking labor involved, aim to reach the broadest possible audience, Mary and Max — which took over a year to produce, at an average rate of five seconds of finished animation per day — is as insular and private as any live-action “personal filmmaking.”

In the eight years that I’ve been covering Sundance, this is one of the only times the opening night film has been less than a calamitous failure, and maybe the only time it has been a movie of serious ambition, worth talking, thinking and arguing about afterward.

Mary and Max is in negotiations for theatrical distribution and will hopefully open in the U.S. in 2009.

  • Adam Elliot is an outstanding filmmaker and I’m sure the film deserves this attention. Bravo! Can’t wait to see it. The past couple of years are making it more and more clear that we are entering a period in which independent animated filmmakers can create successful, personal films on a grand scale.

  • Adam Elliot has a minimalist style that seems unsettling at first, but then once you understand it, the experience of watching his films becomes more fascinating.

    There seems to be some very interesting trends as of late regarding animated films, mainly independent features, breaking new ground and taking animation into new territories. Although still on the fringe of live action, on the surface it seems some people are taking notice of movies like Mary & Max, $9.99, & Persepolis and giving them a good deal of respect.

  • Azz

    Jeffrey Wells from Hollywood-elsewhere raved about this one. Considering he’s usually a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to animation that’s a good sign. We’ll hopefully see this one in Australia soon.

  • Blasko

    I think that makes it five — count ’em, FIVE — feature-length stop-motion animated films to be released in theaters in 2009 …

    Feb: Coraline
    Apr: $9.99 (wide release)
    Nov: Fantastic Mr. Fox
    Dec: Frankenweenie
    ??: Mary & Max

    Exciting for those of us who love the medium!

  • Awesome! I’ve been hanging out for this a long time — I met Adam Elliott once years ago, not long after he won the Oscar for best animated short. He inspired me to become a film maker.

  • (Correction: I spell checked this post!)
    Adam Elliot’s short film in “The Animation Show” have been stuck in my head for years. Very strange and cool. While I can understand how some people might describe his work as “melancholy,” I think the overall effect is exhilarating and quite funny. From the reviews I have been reading about “Mary & Max” you would think Elliot is some kind of misanthrope. Not really a fair assessment.

  • I really loved HARVIE KRUMPET. An honest, organic cartoon story–foolish, funny and wise. One of the best. When I saw it in a packed theater you could have heard a pin drop, everyone was so engrossed. I so look forward to this new one. Best of everything to Adam Elliot.

  • That is just great! Harvie Krumpet won me over and I have been looking forward to Elliot’s next film ever since. Hopefully this will help make sure Mary and Max gets distribution.