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San Francisco International Animation Festival preview

The San Francisco Film Society presents the third annual San Francisco International Animation Festival (SFIAF), a four-day event celebrating one of the most fertile, creative and productive forms of artistic, experimental, commercial and industrial media. The International Animation Festival ranges from the latest award-winning features to family-friendly short cartoons and celebrates San Francisco's preeminence as a hub for one of the most vital forms in cinema today. SFIAF will screen November 13 - 16 at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, with special live events at the Apple Store and the Ninth Street Independent Film Center.

Sean Uyehara, programmer for the Film Society said, "The SF International Animation Festival presents animation as a multifaceted practice. We are interested in works that push the definition of animation. From nonfiction features such as Ari Folman's Waltz with Bashir to award-winning shorts like Dennis Tupicoff's Chainsaw -- in the Control Freaks shorts program -- SFIAF presents the richness of the art of animation."

Opening Night
Thursday, November 13

7:00 pm Sita Sings the Blues
Director in Person
Nina Paley, USA 2008
Betty Boop meets bhangra in Nina Paley's celebrated first feature-length film, a beautifully animated East-meets-West visual feast that has delighted audiences around the world, and took the top prize at Annecy, the world's premier animation festival. Composed of several narrative and musical threads, Sita Sings the Blues skips delightfully from era to era and style to style as Paley turns the dissolution of her marriage into fodder for a tongue-in-cheek update of the Ramayana -- the story of the goddess Sita and her star-crossed relationship with Rama. The musical interludes are set to the gorgeous melodies of the irresistible Annette Hanshaw, whose songs intelligently and nostalgically bring into relief what it means to be a modern, yet hopelessly romantic, woman. Written by Nina Paley. 82 min. Distributed by Nina Paley Productions.

8:00 pm Reception with Nina Paley director of Sita Sings the Blues
Complimentary Peroni beer, wine and appetizers at One Embarcadero Center, Lobby Level (in the former Gallery One space).

9:15 pm Sita Sings the Blues (see above)

Friday, November 14

3:00 pm SF360 Live: 2 1/2 -D: New Aesthetics in the 3-D Environment at Apple Store, One Stockton Street, free
Presentation by Webster Colcord and Corey Rosen of the Orphanage. When the Orphanage was charged with translating Genndy Tartakovsky's 2-D style into the typically rounded 3-D environment, they encountered a counterintuitive conundrum: How does one retain the advantages of 3-D CGI, while being faithful to the 2-D aesthetic? This presentation will lay out the creative issues that stand between 2-D and 3-D.

6:30 pm Locomotion
Director in Person: Mike Roush
From the beautiful use of CGI in HA'Aki to the hilarious live-action dada of Tango Finlandia, the short films in this program cast a fascinated eye on the mechanics of movement. Orgesticulanismus reinvents mundane activities through meticulous illustrations depicting precise clockwork-like movements. Hungu spins a frenetic tale of the cycles of life. Marvel as Time Out of Place transforms the streets of London into a study in flux! Observe the Burrowing Owl as it constructs a Rube Goldberg machine! Watch in awe as the Hot Dog pursues life as a firerfighter!
Black Dog (Son Dong-Rack, South Korea, 9 min); Dog Days (Jeff Scher, USA, 2 min); Fly by Night (Jeff Scher, USA, 2 min); HA'Aki (Iriz Pääbo, Canada, 5 min); The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl (Mike Roush, USA, 5 min); Hot Dog (Bill Plympton, USA, 6 min); Hungu (Nicolas Brault, Canada, 9 min); Matter in Motion (Semiconductor, England, 6 min); Orgesticulanismus (Mathieu Labaye, Belgium, 10 min); Retouches (Georges Schwizgebel, Switzerland/Canada, 6 min); Tango Finlandia (Hannu Lajunen, Tomi Riionheimo, Finland, 6 min); Time Out of Place (Semiconductor, England, 10 min). Total running time 76 min.

8:30 pm The Best of Annecy 2008
The Annecy International Animated Film Festival is widely regarded as the most important festival for animation in Europe. We are pleased to present a selection of the best shorts to have appeared in Annecy this year.
KJFG No. 5 (Alexei Alexeev, Hungary, 2 min) Three forest animals practice their art. Lady on the Threshold (Jorge Dayas, Spain, 14 min) Captain Michael Alban arrives in France at the beginning of the 20th century. The House of Small Cubes (Kunio Kato, Japan, 12 min) A house of blocks sinks in the water. My Happy End (Milen Vitanov, Germany, 5 min) All dogs chase their tails, but this one catches it. Oktapodi (Julien Bocabeille, François-Xavier Chanioux, France, 3 min) Two octopuses escape the grasp of a stubborn cook. Portraits Ratés à Sainte-Hélène (Cedric Villain, France, 7 min) How does one construct Napoleon Bonaparte's portrait? She Who Measures (Veljko Popovic, Croatia, 7 min) Are our desires our own or are they products imposed upon us? Skhizein (Jérémy Clapin, France, 14 min) A gigantic meteorite strikes Henri! He now lives 91 centimeters away from himself. Talented Mouse: "Catnip," "Pest Controller," "Oasis" (Leigh Hodgkinson, England, 5 min) The adventures of a mouse who makes prank phone calls. Total running time 69 min.

10:15 pm Play It by Eye
Director in Person: Webster Colcord
This program reprises our popular survey of the best recently completed animated music videos, mixing established veteran directors with up-and-comers.
The Chemical Brothers: Salmon Dance (Dom & Nic, England, 4 min); Chromeo: Momma's Boy (Stephane Manel, England, 4 min); The Dandy Warhols: Welcome to the 3rd World (Webster Colcord, USA, 4 min); Gnarls Barkley: Who's Gonna Save My Soul (Chris Milk, USA, 4 min); Gnarls Barkley: Run (Happy, USA, 3 min); Grizzly Bear: Knife (Encyclopedia Pictura, USA, 6 min); Hot Chip: Ready for the Floor (Nima Nourizadeh, England, 4 min); Jakob Dylan: Evil Is Alive and Well (Joel Trussell, USA, 5 min); J Dilla: Nothing Like This (Daniel Garcia, USA, 3 min); Lady Sovereign: Love Me or Hate Me (Brian Beletic, USA/England, 3 min); Lil Mama: Lip Gloss (R. Malcolm Jones, USA, 5 min); MGMT: Electric Feel (Tintori, England, 4 min); Morcheeba: Enjoy the Ride (Joel Trussell, USA, 4 min); New Pornographers: Myriad Harbour (Fluorescent Hill, USA, 4 min); The Pacific: Number One (Stephane Manel, England, 4 min); Rex the Dog: I Can See You, Can You See Me (Eric Lerner, England, 4 min); Temposhark: Blame (Motomichi Nakamura, USA, 3 min). Total running time 66 minutes.

Saturday, November 15

10:30 am Meet the Maker: Practice and Craft with Gene Deitch at Ninth Street Independent Film Center, 145 Ninth Street.
Maverick animator Gene Deitch will discuss his 50-plus years in animation, touching on key moments in his career such as heading Terrytoons, being the creative director at UPA and working with writers Maurice Sendak and William Steig. He'll also address contemporary issues in animation. For more information, see note for Gene Deitch: A Retrospective of Films for Children, November 16, 11:00 am.

12 noon Play: The Art of the Animated Film Title
Without a doubt, animation has played a major role in the history and design of film titles. In this program, film title experts from Design Films offer an entertaining showcase of animation and motion design in the modern era. Play brings together clips from more than 20 film title sequences made between 1950 and the present. Veritable films-within-films, these openers have charmed filmgoers while demonstrating how different animation approaches to character, narrative and graphic abstraction can advance a film while crediting its creators. Play features the work of master filmmakers Saul Bass, Friz Freleng, Richard Williams, Art Clokey and many others, and includes sequences from North by Northwest (1959), The Pink Panther (1963), Catch Me If You Can (2002) and Juno (2007). Founded in 1999, Design Films is dedicated to researching and celebrating the design heritage of film. A project of David Peters, Dav Rauch and Kai Christmann, Design Films curates programs about motion design and the art of film titles and has produced events at museums, festivals and conferences in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia. 65 min.

1:45 pm Best of Annecy 2008 (see November 14)

3:30 pm Encyclopedia Pictura
Directors in Person: Sean Hellfritsch, Darren Rabinovitch and Isaiah Saxon
The enigmatic collective Encyclopedia Pictura is enjoying a groundswell of notice for its inventive and precise application of puppetry, construction, mathematics, animation and design, as seen in their wildly creative animated, live action and hybrid pieces. But to hear them say it, this work is merely the manifestation of their passion for esoteric pursuits including "virtual reality, psychokinetic energy, anarcho-primitivism, cryptozoology, natural geometry and psychedelic shamanism." It may prove difficult to say which are more perplexing, their various descriptions of their collective as a congealed version of their individual selves (Sean Hellfritsch, Darren Rabinovitch and Isaiah Saxon) or their music videos for artists like Björk, Evergreen and Grizzly Bear. Either way, EP's work is being noticed and admired on a national level. Their recent presentation of their epic 3-D video for Björk's "Wanderlust" at Siggraph this summer left everyone stunned and thirsting for more. This program is the best chance to see what these guys have been up to in our Bay Area backyard. All three members of EP will be on hand to present this program, giving one the chance to ask, "What would an anarcho-primitivist do?" 75 min.

5:15 pm Control Freaks
Are we the masters of our destinies? Does your response depend on whether or not you are an air-filled cell on a sheet of plastic? Fantaisie in Bubblewrap might help you to formulate an answer. Some wrestle with their baser desires, as do the characters in Dennis Tupicoff's Chainsaw and Signe Baumane's notorious and funny Teat Beat of Sex series. One might think The Control Master would shed light on the issue, but Run Wrake's science fiction/comic book piece leaves more questions than answers. In the end the characters presented here might be constrained by inertia (as in Johnny Kelly's Procrastination) or fate (as in Ivana Sebestová's Four), but like the inhabitants of The Cable Car, dangling from a thin wire, they are all in it together.
Cable Car (Claudius Gentietta, Frank Braun, Switzerland, 7 min); Chainsaw (Dennis Tupicoff, Australia, 24 min); A Child's Metaphysics (Koji Yamamura, Japan, 9 min); The Control Master (Run Wrake, England, 7 min); Fantaisie in Bubblewrap (Arthur Metcalf, USA, 4 min); Four (Ivana Sebestová, Slovak Republic, 16 min); Procrastination (Johnny Kelly, England, 5 min.); Teat Beat of Sex: Episodes 8-11 (Signe Baumane, USA/Italy, 7 min). Total running time 79 min.

7:15 pm Waltz with Bashir
Ari Folman, Israel/France 2008
Waltz with Bashir -- like Persepolis and Chicago 10 before it -- focuses on a politically charged, nonfictional event with such force and thoughtfulness that it recasts the dramatic potentials of long-form animation. A standout of the main competition section at this year's Cannes Film Festival, Ari Folman's tour de force explores the posttraumatic stress-clouded memories that are the legacy of his service in the Israeli army during the massacres at Sabra and Shatila in 1982. (It would not be an exaggeration to say that in the Middle East "Sabra and Shatila" carry the weight and watershed sense of history that "9/11" does in the United States.) Set off by a recurring nightmare, Folman is moved to find out whether his horrific wartime memories are real or fantasy. He sets out to locate others he fought alongside of, finding that excavating the truth is not only painful but also quite difficult. Due to the malleable, expressive nature of animation, Waltz with Bashir communicates essential ideas about the subjective nature of truth. It's an uncompromising look at the effects of war and one of the most powerful films of the year. Written by Ari Folman. In Hebrew with English subtitles. 88 min. Distributed by Sony Pictures Classics.

9:45 pm Idiots and Angels
Director in Person
Bill Plympton, USA 2008
Indie animation king Bill Plympton's newest feature is a dark and humorous allegory about morally bankrupt men. A misanthropic schlub named Angel is horrified to wake up one morning with wings sprouting through his shoulder blades. He initially tries to hide them to rid himself of this "problem," but after mastering flight he begins to use the wings for his own greedy ends. The wings, however, seemingly have a mind of their own and over time they gradually begin to change Angel's outlook on life. Fans of Plympton will be enthralled by Idiots and Angels (for which he drew every cel himself), but also will note a much sparer style and color palette than in his past films. Anchoring Plympton's trademark style of hand-drawn and surrealistic transformations is a somber and weighty noir. With no dialogue, the film's music and sound design add to its unmistakable elegance, even as it depicts some of the most selfish and hateful people one could ever meet. Written by Bill Plympton. 78 min. Distributed by Plymptoons.

Sunday, November 16

11:00 am Gene Deitch: A Retrospective of Films for Children
Gene Deitch in Person
Well before the term became a political hot potato, Gene Deitch was known throughout the animation world as a "maverick." In the 1950s the Oscar-winning director and former creative director at UPA was brought in to revitalize Terrytoons, where he created Tom Terrific and Mighty Manfred. He also helmed the animation division of Weston Woods, adapting many beloved children's books into wonderful films. In addition to Deitch's 50-plus years in the business, he also is a jazz aficionado, an accomplished musician and a cartoonist. Deitch's many artistic endeavors are the natural result of his genuine and generous talent. This program will focus on his child-friendly works including adaptations of stories by Maurice Sendak and William Steig, his Oscar-winning classic Munro and some of Deitch's own favorites and surprises. Titles include: In the Night Kitchen (1987), The Three Robbers (1972), Munro (1961), Where the Wild Things Are (1973), Down and Outing (1961), A Picture for Harold's Room (1971) and Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1993). Total running time 75 min.

1:00 pm Idiots and Angels (see November 15)

3:30 pm Waltz with Bashir (see November 15)


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