ENJOY THE MOVIES
Some animated films are made for kids. Some animated films are made for adults. But some animated films are made for audiences of all ages, for everyone to enjoy, and for everyone to appreciate and learn from. Tito and the Birds (Tito e os Pássaros) is one of these animated films made for audiences of all ages, and it's an important film for the times we live in. Directed by three filmmakers – Gabriel Bitar, André Catoto, Gustavo Steinberg – the film comes from Brazil and is set in Brazil, telling the story of one young boy who saves the world. Not with any superpowers or clever tricks, but by using his brain, and by resisting the urge to cave to the paralyzing fear that pervades society these days. It's a gorgeous film, both in the way it looks and its story, and one that I hope finds a global audience as it certainly deserves the attention and acclaim.
"Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation." -Walt Disney. I decided to attend the Annecy Film Festival this year to see some films, in hopes of catching the best best animated films before anyone else. What I discovered is a festival unlike any other, a community of animation geeks, illustrators, filmmakers, storytellers, and cinephiles; a lovely little town known as the "Venice of the Alps"; and a handful of films that show how incredibly versatile and emotional animation can be as a storytelling technique. I fell in love with this festival, which is no surprise considering I've heard great things about it for years. It is indeed one of the greatest film festivals in the world, and I did indeed see some exceptional films.
One important lesson we all learn in life is that happiness is an endless pursuit. There's no such thing as a permanent state of happiness. But this is a hard lesson to learn, and something that takes years to discover, through trial & error, experience, and understanding. On Happiness Road is a lovely little animated film that addresses this very idea, taking us on a journey through past and present in the life of one woman from Taiwan. On Happiness Road is an autobiographical film made by Taiwanese animator/filmmaker Hsin-Yin Sung that is about her pursuit of happiness, and learning what exactly that means, how to get there, and that happiness is not forever, and is not something you can just obtain. It's a very deeply personal film, but also a very meaningful and enjoyable, with a light touch that makes it that much more captivating to watch.
What have I stumbled upon?! What is this genius work of cinema?! Seder-Masochism is the new film by filmmaker Nina Paley (of Sita Sings the Blues previously) and it's totally amazing, brilliant, and hilarious. It's very hard to describe the film, but I will try. Seder-Masochism is an animated exploration of Judaism, featuring Moses and a few other characters singing and dancing to various pre-existing songs (of all kinds). I could almost describe this as fun animated YouTube short extended to a full-length feature, but it deserves more credit than that. It's also a personal film for Nina, as she interviews her father about her upbringing and his views on Judaism, while taking us on a journey into the history of Moses and the Book of Exodus.
It's not often that someone makes an R-rated animated movie. And when one does get made, they're usually not too good, either over-the-top or just nasty. Every once in a while, one comes along that totally blows the the lid off of everything and becomes a huge hit, shaking things up and proving there's an audience for this. Chuck Steel: Night of the Trampires, directed by Michael Mort and made by an independent stop-motion studio in Wales called Animortal, is one of these insane movies that is sure to become an instant cult classic. We really haven't seen an all-out, R-rated animated movie packed with this much absurdity and ridiculous humor since Team America: World Police (in 2004!). Get ready for this one. Scratch that, there's nothing you can do to prepare yourself - except maybe watching Big Trouble in Little China on VHS before.
I'm back in France! Only one month after the Cannes Film Festival, I have returned to France for another film festival - Annecy. For years I'd heard about Annecy, but for years I thought it was a festival only for animators and industry insiders and people who work on the films. Last year I learned that it's actually just another film festival, like any other, and that anyone can attend and see films. So I decided to make my first trip down to Annecy this year and check it out. For those that don't know, the "Festival International du Film d'Animation d'Annecy" is a fest dedicated to animation - all kinds of animation. They show short films, feature films, works in progress, and they host workshops, events, discussions, signings and more. It's basically Comic-Con for animation nerds - and they flock to this tiny town every year to geek out for a week.