Looking Back at the Los Angeles Animation Festival

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By John Andrews

The Los Angeles Animation Festival had a successful run Dec. 3-7 at Cinefamily’s The Silent Movie Theater on Fairfax in Los Angeles.

In a post-festival statement, founders and co-directors Miles Flanagan and John Andrews write: “We are pleased that the festival brought animation fans and professionals together and put them in contact with some unique, cutting-edge material, much of it courtesy of our great partners at Cinefamily. The festival also achieved our main goal of providing a nice, informal environment for artists to network and connect. We’re confident that we’ve found a formula for growth in the years ahead. There’s a real need for this kind of event in L.A.”

The festival opened with the new Jan Svankmajer film Surviving Life and an MTV animation retrospective. Other highlights included a 25th anniversary screening of festival honoree Will Vinton’s The Adventures of Mark Twain; screenings of the hot new anime film, Takeshi Koike’s Redline (the audience prize winner for best feature); and a sold-out closing-night screening of Sylvain Chomet’s The Illusionist in Jerry Beck’s regular Animation Tuesdays slot.

Will Vinton’s shorts program was co-hosted by Craig Bartlett, former Will Vinton Studio director/animator and creator of Hey Arnold and Dinosaur Train. Teachtown’s Terry Thoren did a Q&A with Vinton after the Twain feature. Also, Pixar’s Teddy Newton presented a revelatory “making of”  for his short Day & Night with a Q&A moderated by Beck, and Los Angeles band Jesus Makes the Shotgun Sound performed the score to Fantastic Planet live to picture.

A panel on show-staffing hosted by the Animation Army and Fringe Talent included Fanboy and Chum Chum’s creator Eric Robles and Fish Hooks creator Noah Z. Jones, as well as recruiters Debra Blanchard, Lisa Kaye and Jill Gilbert, and animator Ron Noble. Several other international features, including Jiri Barta’s In the Attic, Chinese director Liu Jan’s independent feature Piercing 1, animator Brent Green’s experimental feature Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then and Japanese feature Midori-ko directed by Keita Kurosaka were acquired and screened through the programming prowess of Cinefamily’s International Animation team, Hadrian Belove and Alex McDonald.

Audience Award for Best Short was sponsored by Toonboom and went to Allison Craig’s Barko. Other contest winners were Geoffrey Johnson for Dr. Frankie, in the category Character Screentest; Jordan Baseman for Dangerous Experiments; and Sara Pocock’s 7th, in the category Unfinished Masterpieces. The jury included show creators Peter Hannan (Catdog) and Noah Jones (Fish Hooks) and award winning filmmakers Corky Quakenbush (MADtv), Jen Sachs (Velvet Tigress), Maureen Selwood (Flying Circus) and Sheila Sofian (Survivors).