Bill Plympton Partners with Child Animator for Animated Short “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond The Forest”

(San Diego) The Holocaust has been treated by almost every medium, but rarely animation — and never by a child animator, until now. Animation short Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest is truly a labor of love, and a cross-generational collaboration between a world-class animation master Bill Plympton, actress Ingrid Pitt, who narrated her last film about the horror of war as she experienced as a child during the Holocaust, and a first-time 10-yr-old animator & artist Perry Chen, who is also an award-winning child film critic.

The film will premiere at the 15th LA Shorts Film Festival on July 23, 2011, an Academy Award-qualifying festival for shorts, and at Comic-Con on July 24, 2011 with a panel discussion “Holocaust Through the Eyes of a Child, Animated by a Child,” about the making of this film.

Perry Chen has used his talents to help other children of many cultures learn the importance of the Holocaust.  The six-minute animation short is Perry’s first film as the sole animator and his second collaboration with twice Oscar-nominated animator Bill Plympton who created the storyboard and character design for the film.  Their first collaboration is the award-winning Guard Dog Global Jam, created by 75 animators around the world based on Plympton’s Oscar-nominated Guard Dog.  Perry created scene 41 in the film which premiered at SXSW in March 2011 and won “Best Experimental Film Award” at the ASIFA-EAST Animation Festival in May 2011.

“Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” depicts Pitt’s struggle and ultimate survival between the age of five through eight during the Holocaust when she and her mom were imprisoned by the Nazis in the Stutthof concentration camp in Poland in 1942, and miraculously escaped in 1945.  Pitt grew up to become a major film and television star, appearing opposite Clint Eastwood in “Where Eagles Dare” and many other films.  She passed away in the UK in November 2010. “Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest” is her last film project.

Starting with Bill Plympton’s 23 traditional pencil sketches as storyboard, Perry Chen used Toon Boom Animation Software & Wacom Tablet to bring this moving story & its contemporary implications alive.  Toon Boom Animation and Wacom are sponsors of Perry’s animation film, drawn by the idea of a child animating another child’s story, across space and time.  Perry and his producer mom Zhu Shen connected with many people who helped to make the film a reality.  The film is directed by Kevin Sean Michaels, with Holocaust expert Dr. Jud Newborn as adviser and co-producer.

Perry Chen and Zhu Shen first met Bill Plympton and Kevin Sean Michaels at Comic-Con in 2009 where they saw Plympton’s award-winning animation short The Fan and the Flower, a crowd favorite at the San Diego International Children’s Film Festival’s screening day at Comic-Con.  Flawlessly, Perry sketched Plympton’s “Hot Dog” character right alongside Plympton’s original drawing.  Impressed, Plympton and Michaels thought Perry would be a good candidate an animator for Ingrid Pitt: Beyond the Forest, a film they’ve been working on.  This is the very first time that Plympton partners with a child artist for an animation film.

“We must know our past to move on into the future,” said Perry Chen, “That’s why it is important to teach today’s children about the Holocaust so that similar tragedies will not happen in the future.  I hope people of all ages, especially kids, will get to see our film.  It’s a great honor to work with animation master Bill Plympton, I’ve learned a lot about making animation film.  For me, it is definitely more fun and exciting to make a film than to review one!”

“We want to thank Toon Boom Animation and Wacom for their generous support, and many other friends, old and new, for helping Perry and me learn animation, make this film, provide feedback, and spread the word,” said producer Zhu Shen.  “It has been wonderful to work with the entire creative team who contributed their great talent and resources.  Though Ingrid Pitt has passed away, her memory and the collective memory about the horror of war will live on through films like ours to help the younger generation understand the history.”

The film has already received rave reviews from acclaimed animation filmmakers and the Holocaust education community.  It has broad potential for 21st Century human rights/tolerance education.  Additional film festivals that this film has been submitted to include: Ottawa Animation Festival, Burbank International Film Festival, Chicago International Film Festival, International Family Film Festival, Savannah Film Festival, San Diego Film Festival, San Diego Asian Film Festival, and Mill Valley Film Festival.

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