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Tribecca preview: animated New York with Bill Plympton

One of the highlights of this springs Tribeca Film Festival is sure to be the Animated New York program curated by Bill Plympton. When people think of New York City’s filmmakers most are unaware of the thriving, diverse independent animation community .
Plympton's illustrations and cartoons have been printed in The New York Times and The Village Voice , as well as the magazines Vogue , Rolling Stone , Vanity Fair , Penthouse , and National Lampoon . His political cartoon strip "Plympton", which began in 1975 eventually was syndicated and appeared in over twenty newspapers. His distinctive style is easily recognized.
Plympton is considered the first animator to draw every frame for an animated feature film entirely by himself. Signe Baumane , also a director and animator, has been inking and painting Plympton's cells for many years. As of 2006 , Plympton has created 26 animated short films , 5 animated features , and has just announced another feature. He has also published a comic book of his cartoons, The Sleazy Cartoons of Bill Plympton. Plympton usually publishes a comic book of his feature before he releases the feature to raise money for the film. Plympton has teamed up with other well known independent animators from NYC and has released two DVD's full of independent animated shorts called Avoid Eye Contact Vol. 1 & 2.
In 2005, Plympton's Short Film, Guard Dog, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

We caught up with busy animation guru at his Chelsea studio for a pre festival interview.

Q: Tell us about the animation Scene in NYC?

I don’t know why NY independent animation is so obscure. It may be that the big studios bury the independent with their promotion and marketing. Also, it’s maybe that there’s still a prejudice that animation is for children and New Yorkers do adult themes.

We need an icon like Woody Allen, John Jarmusch, or Spike Lee to carry the banner and send the word out that NYC has the largest and most successful group of animators in the world.

And even more remarkable is that most of them finance their own films; there are few grants or sponsors to take on their expenses.

How did you select the animated films for this program? What can people expect?

I looked for films that I loved to watch. I know that’s very selfish but I figure if these films amuse me, then they’ll amuse the audience.

Although it is nice to have world premiers, that was not my priority. So many of these films are rarely shown on TV or in movie theatres and because of that, I know the audience would see them fresh.

One thing the audience can expect is that these are definitely not made for kids. I loved cartoons when I was a child and now that I’m an adult, I want to see cartoons with adult themes. And I believe there is a large hunger out there for these kinds of films.

Will the filmmakers attend the screenings?

Yes, the filmmakers will attend the screening. I know I’ll be there at every screening and each member of the audience gets a program of the show and an autograph.

It should be a fun event and I hope that if we get a good audience it will be a regular showcase.

What are the specific dates and times for Animated New York and which films can we expect to see?

Monday: May 1, 9:00pm
Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place (Next to Piers at Battery Park) New York, NY 10038

Wednesday: May 3, 12:30pm
AMC Village VII
66 Third Avenue (at 11th Street) New York, NY 10003

Thursday: May 4, 1:00pm
AMC 34th Street
312 W.34th Street, New York, NY 10001

Sunday: May 7, 10:15am
AMC 68th Street
1998 Broadway (at 68th Street) New York, NY 10023

The program includes:

• The Backbrace, directed by Carolyn London and Andy London (U.S.A)
• Bar Fight, directed by Christy Karacas and Stephen Warbrick (U.S.A.)
• Bathtime at Clerkenwell, directed by Alex Budovsky (U.S.A.)
• Dentist, directed by Signe Baumane (U.S.A.)
• Guide Dog, directed by Bill Plympton (U.S.A.) - World Premiere
• Life in Transition, directed by John Dilworth (U.S.A.)
• Puppet, directed by Patrick Smith (U.S.A.) – World Premiere
• Roof Sex, directed by Sarah Phelps (U.S.A.)
• Sita, directed by Nina Paley (U.S.A.) – World Premiere
• Sex Life of Robots, directed by Mike Sullivan (U.S.A.) – World Premiere
• Santa Goes South, directed by Peter Wallach (U.S.A.) – World Premiere
• Soccer Time, directed by Edmond Hawkins (U.S.A.) – World Premiere

For decades his edgy animation and hilariously out-there scenarios have kept Bill Plympton at the forefront of cartoon innovation. His boundless creativity and outrageous black comedy have earned the Academy Award®-nominee numerous accolades, and a worldwide cult following. As seen on MTV, HBO and in countless national commercials, Plympton’s work has mesmerized audiences, and left them in stitches, but never before have all of his early works been gathered together in one highly-collectible compilation. PLYMPTOONS: THE COMPLETE EARLY WORKS OF BILL PLYMPTON compiles all of his commercials, animated spots and short films for a delicious dose of mutated humor, and is available on DVD

Uproariously funny, PLYMPTOONS takes us on a journey through this political-cartoonist-turned-animator’s canvas of animation, from his first film created during his college days, "Self Portrait," to the Academy Award®-nominated "Your Face," his first solo effort. PLYMPTOONS turns the clock way back for a glimpse at the early manifestations of the signature Plympton style. Featuring more than 20 acclaimed, award-winning shorts plus never-before-seen footage, it compiles the best and the brightest early work of the master of the animated black comedy world.

Dane Allan Smith (2006)


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