Need some animation fun this weekend? The Los Angeles Animation Festival (LAAF) starts tomorrow in North Hollywood and continues through Sunday.

The festival, first launched in 2007 and held off-and-on since, offers a robust slate of over 40 independent shorts in competition, as well as numerous talks and panels, plus the L.A. premiere of Joanna Priestley’s experimental feature North of Blue and a screening of the Colombian indie feature Virus Tropical, which we’ve covered previously.

Co-founded by film and animation industry veterans John Andrews and Miles Flanagan, LAAF takes a unique best-of-both-worlds approach to its programming: its short competitions and feature programming is strongly focused on the independent side, while its speakers and events take advantage of its L.A. location and pull in major names from throughout the industry. Here are some of the stand-out programming highlights:

  • The opening night party on Friday will feature a concert performance by Tom Kenny, the voice of Spongebob, and his 13-piece soul band The Hi Seas, featuring songwriter/producing legend Andy Paley. The party, which includes cosplay, vendors, freebies, food, snacks, and full bar, is donating a third of the proceeds to Women in Animation.
  • On Saturday, the festival will honor Titmouse co-founder Chris Prynoski with a special evening. Prynoski will be joined by friends in the industry for an on-stage Q&A, plus a short program of his animation work, an award presentation, and an after-party.
  • A panel about the history of the family in the animated sitcom will feature panelists David Silverman (The Simpsons), David Krinsky (King of the Hill), Jaydi Samuels (Family Guy) and Carl Jones (Boondocks), moderated by Jerry Beck and Patty Jausoro.
  • A panel about feature films with Jorge Gutierrez (The Book of Life), Shannon Tindle (writer of Kubo and the Two Strings) and Trisha Gum (co-director of the upcoming The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part) will focus on the challenge of getting a film to screen: “A hard look at the stop, start and do over again process of making the animated feature, with a variety of experiences and cases as examples. How does audience expectation and corporate expectation influence the direction these movies go and change over the course of development and production.”
  • These two programs of archival animation sound quirky and entertaining: “Rare Anime Unleashed!” curated by producer/writer Eric Calderon will showcase a collection of hand-picked anime rarities and oddities, while “Bizarre Pixilation of Chuck Menville” celebrates the wacky 1960s and ’70s films of Menville and his partner Len Janson. The latter will be followed by a panel discussion with friends and collaborators of the filmmaking duo. Below is one of their films, the Oscar-nominated Stop Look and Listen.

LAAF will take place at the MayFlower Club (11110 Victory Blvd, North Hollywood, CA).

For the full schedule and ticket info, visit Tip: The festival pass, at just $50, offers a big savings over individual tickets and gets you access to all the parties, panels, and screenings.