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Feature FilmStop Motion

Tatia Rosenthal’s $9.99 Debuts in New York


Can’t wait to check this one out! Tatia Rosenthal’s stop-motion drama $9.99 has its New York premiere this weekend. It’s playing at 7pm on Sunday, March 29, at the MoMA, followed by a screening next Wednesday, April 1, at the Walter Reade Theater in Lincoln Center. For additional info, including online ticket purchases for either screening, visit the Film Society of Lincoln Center website. The Film Society also has an article about the film on their blog.

  • Go, New Yorkers, go! It’s fantastic – like “Short Cuts” on a magical-realism tip.

    Shameless self-promotion mode ON! I interviewed director Tatia Rosenthal and you can listen to the podcast here: http://www.animationshow.com/Journal/taspodcasttatiarosenthal Shameless self-promotion mode OFF!

  • Arrggh! Gonna have a new roommate moving in, which is a real tragedy because this would be worth seeing if only for the fact that Tatia is such an unusually great person but also because “$9.99” also seems to be an unusually unique and interesting project.

    More screenings, please!

  • ManekiNeko

    Whoa, is that a GameCube? Haven’t seen one of those in a while.

  • matt

    Go, Aussies, Go (to paraphrase Taylor)!

    Actually, I’d like to know more about the actual storyline of this one. Nothing I’ve heard or seen so far or in trailers has shown me why this actually needs to be animation, as opposed to live-action. I’m not putting it down as I haven’t seen it, and I know the buzz is great and the actors they’ve got are fantastic. I just don’t understand why they chose stop-motion, that’s all. Mary and Max uses it to add an extra note to contrast the dialogue/narration and set tone, even Waltz with Bashir uses the stylised visuals to add an extra level to the narrative beyond what stylised live action cinematography would do, but this one I can’t see so far.

    The tone and dialogue seen so far don’t seem to indicate any sort of impetus for stylised visuals. Like I say, not knocking it, just making an observation. If anyone’s got a useful link that’d be cool.

  • Tami

    Matt if you listen to the podcast Taylor Jessen posted in the first comment here, you’ll hear both the director and Jessen commenting on this issue in length.


  • hey matt, maybe this is a simplistic response but I’ve always thought the individual filmmaker should use the filmmaking technique most comfortable/familiar to them. why do I make animated films? because I draw. shakespeare wrote poems in english because he spoke english.

  • matt

    Hey thanks guys! Tami, I’ll definitely check it out then.

    Tim, no that’s a fair rationale. If you’re comfortable in a certain medium I guess it will be more natural to convey the message that way and that naturalism will be passed on to the audience. That’s cool with me. I guess it’s the Simpsons or King of the Hill argument, where although there’s nothing intrinsically “animation” about them, it’s the way those guys work, it could be argued that both the sitcom format is so stylised animation is an appropriate way to execute it, and also that being freed from ‘reality’ lets you make more adventurous or caricatured story points… Besides, both those shows argue their own validity by just having better writing that pretty much all the live-action stuff they compete against, live-action or not.

    Yes I’ll listen to the podcast and see if I can see the film in Sydney…

  • Tatia and I did talk about this issue a little in our Podcast, but listening to it again I can see I didn’t quite get to it because I didn’t know how to frame the question. Matt, however, thankfully nailed it exactly with a phrase he used earlier: “I just don’t understand why they chose stop-motion.” A perfectly reasonable question to ask, but the word that jumps out at me is “they”.

    “They” make films – I say it, you say it, we all say it. “They” are some unhittable target, creditless when things go right and assuming all the blame with things go wrong, an amorphous mass sitting at a desk writing checks and rolling calls. The studio. The money men. The mucky-mucks. The powers that be. “They screwed up the story.” “They miscast the voice.” “They sure hit one out of the park.” “They should have known better.” We still default to the idea that all animation comes from studios or networks, giant companies with massive resources generating Content wherein every creative decision has been driven by marketing and an avoidance of risk. This is no shared delusion – I’m guessing most of the people reading this are living it five days a week.

    For 100 years animation has been this very very very expensive thing done with cameras and lights and studios, and animation production and distribution has been dominated by studios and networks because they were the only ones with the money and the clever marketing and the aversion to risk that could afford those very expensive cameras and lights and studios. So because marketing people have been making creative decisions, we’ve reversed the proposition and universalized it: All creative decisions must flow from marketing. Too often, we’re right. Traditional animation didn’t go away at Disney because Andreas Deja forgot how to do it. Chicken Little wasn’t done in 3D because they needed realistic feathers.

    But now Nina Paley has animated, directed, produced, designed, and written her own animated feature, and I just watched it over the internet at Thirteen.org. That means the predominant production and distribution model is now officially going out the window, just like the boat-bed at the end of Cat’s Cradle, with the executive and the producer clinging to either side of the desk shouting “Lawrence Lessig as a crime-fighting teenager? I LOVE it!” Now we have to remember that when it comes to making animation, it’s possible that there’s no “they” there. When you see animation, it might simply be artists doing what artists do, with all the decisions flowing up naturally from their skill sets. Filmmaking tools are so cheap that the corporate decision-making process we’ve always taken for granted may now be boiled down to one animator standing alone at home looking in the mirror and saying “Hm, what subject matter inspires me?”

  • Hey thanks for linking to the filmlinc blog. Your blog is excellent and I hope that you’ll come check out the film. Would love to hear your response to it. Thanks, Amanda

  • Tim, sometimes Shakespeare wrote sonnets. Sometimes he wrote plays. He even wrote “Venus and Adonis” and “The Rape of Lucrece”.

    Why? Because each one of these stories asked for a different narrative technique. Heck, maybe he was a Sunday painter too.

    Is a film about the artist, the director? Or is about the audience? Ultimately, it’s about the story -the communion of audience and artist. A narrative technique should serve to foster that communion.

    Matt, for your “King of the Hill”/”Simpsons” argument. I’ve never seen a sitcom actor with the ability to play characters with the subtle perfection of the King of the Hill cast and layout. Those shows are best animated.

  • Inkan1969

    Does anyone know if “$9.99” will have a nationwide distribution?

  • Hah, stop motion GameCube.

  • tatia rosenthal

    distribution will be limited to a few cities, the NY and LA releases are on June 19th. New yorkers can see it at the Sunshine.