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Elisabeth Bartlett is blogging the festival scene from Cannes to Los Angeles.
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Interview with Sean Uyehara Founder of the San Francisco International Animation Festival

I had the chance to talk to Mr. Sean Uyehara, founder and programmer of the San Francisco International Animation Festival, about film, animation, and this year's fest.

What's the mission of the Animation Festival?

The idea is to present films that give a good overview of the state of the field.  We try to bring the best films in the field to San Francisco, and also try to shine a light on the practice of animation in general.

Any major challenges with this year's festival?

Well, I can't think of any problems- that's not how we think about it.  It's our work and it's exciting.  The only other animation festival that's similar to the one we have here in San Francisco (in its international nature) is Platform in Portland, Oregon.

One overall challenge is that the public has the general idea that animation is for children... So that's one thing we have to overcome.    


Talk about the geography of animation.  How significant is it that the festival is in San Francisco, such a hot spot for animation?
There are certain zones of animation all the world, and one is in San Francisco, especially if you count visual effects.  Clearly the Bay Area encompasses a strong animation effort...
San Francisco has a lot going for it.  Technology related to animation- in that way makes it an easy fit.
But pretty much every major city in the world is involved in this practice (of animation).

How do the latest technology changes affect the content we see?

Well for example, Sita Sings the Blues, our opening film, was made in flash primarily all by one person, Nina Paley...  The fact of a feature film made like this, with this level of detail, resolution that are really intense could have never been done before. 

It doesn't mean technology drives the process, it just means that the way people are working is different.

What is your view on the state of independent film?
Independent film has gone through a huge change, especially since the late 80s to now...From independent now to boutique independent...Especially in documentary and animation, independent film is really making a comeback now.

How do film festivals play a role in the state of independent film?
Film festivals allow independent films access to a marketing machine..And more importantly they help play a role in connecting filmmakers to potential audiences and collaborators.

What's your view of video on demand and online video streaming?
There are good things about it...Film industry distributors and exhibitors have to figure out a way to integrate it into what they're doing rather than fearing it.

Do you have one best film success story that tops all?
I can't single out one film, but we're proud of the animation festival.  It's done what we thought it would do and exceeded our expectations.  This is our third year and last year it doubled in size.  This year we are really excited- we have Bill Plympton, Nina Paley, and Gene Deitch all coming. 

Do you see differences in content that are geographic?

Certain styles are associated with certain countries, and it's sometimes situated around Universities, or cities,there's some variance in different countries... But overall there's a huge degree of variance in style in communities. 
Animation affords artists a way to express themselves in a directly subjective way.  Its status is different in the way of direct attention paid to single frames.  So differences within the genre schools of animation are more pronounced than differences in live action and other genres. 


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About Elisabeth

Bartlett Elisabeth
Blogging about the festival scene from Los Angeles

Los Angeles

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