Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Animation in Toronto

Not about production, but the film festival.

While the Toronto International Film Festival hasn't historically been a hub for animation fans, industry or gossip ... this year, three features and shorts offer a cross-section of styles and stories, and a well rounded perspective of the genre's roots, art and audience ...

A Town Called Panic (part of the Midnight Madness program) is a raw, surreal Belgian stop-motion tale featuring characters that look like cheap toy figures. It follows Horse, Cowboy and Indian's quest to nab pointy-headed sea creatures who stole their house ...

My Dog Tulip (Discovery) is veteran animation artist Paul Fierlinger's funny and touching hand-drawn (with the latest paperless computer software) adaptation of J.R. Ackerley's beloved book about his 14-year relationship with an adopted Alsatian ....

Waking Sleeping Beauty (Real to Reel), a juicy insider look at the dramatic, game-changing renaissance and executive tussles of Disney's floundering animation studio in the 1980s - not strictly a cartoon but a key work in understanding the current boom. ... "The bittersweet ending of Waking Sleeping Beauty is that we started repeating ourselves and audiences will tire of that," says [animation producer Don] Hahn

Notice how there's animated shorts and features ricocheting around that you've never heard of? Animation is on a roll across the world, local stuff, international stuff, television and theatrical stuff, all of different lengths and price ranges. The medium keeps getting bigger because the uses of animation keep getting bigger. Commercials and visual effects and video games and television graphics.

Beyond that, the big driver is money, and the tall piles of it that animation now makes. Increasingly, Hollywood focuses on cartoons as profit centers. That's why there's more toonage in production around the world than ever before.

If it were otherwise, it would be 1972 all over again, and animation would be small, colorful side show to which the Big Boys paid minimal attention.


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