Animators by day Animation teachers by night.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Where are all the US animation festivals????

Being here at the Annecy Animation festival really makes me wonder why the US does not have any animation festivals anywhere near the scope of Annecy. Sure, there is Siggraph, but I'm talking about animation, not just computer animation. There are so many films represented here from all over the world. Every medium of animation as well. I just find it odd that the country that in some ways invented animation does not have something like this. Maybe the US views animation in a much different way than the rest of the world. Anyway, its really inspiring to see so much animation going on. I'll try to post some of the films that I thought were great and where they can be viewed.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't Annecy in the US?


12:44 AM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Nope. Its in France.

12:50 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Andrew, I feel precisely the same way. There are far and few festivals here. One of the only festivals that I know of is Red Stick animation festival in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Rob Russ was there this year, he was on a panel of people talking about the future of features, a really insightful topic. If you ask him he'll tell you that the audience turn out was extremely small. It's truly a great festival their is animation from across the board. I'd hate to see it die.


5:28 AM

Blogger Prof. Victor Escardó said...

Annecy has more than 50 years as an Animation Festival and Started in Canes, France. Annecy is held in a small village not in a big city, this is also something very good.
In South America we have very good Animation Film Festival similar to Annecy (Once is Anima held in Cordoba, Argentina and the other is AnimaMundi in Brazil). In this festivals we get in touch with animation from all over the earth.
So I think the Spline Doctors should find a small city in the USA and start creating a similar festival!. Just an idea.

Victor Escardo

7:17 AM

Blogger Eric said...

At the end of this month, the Platform International Animation Festival will be happening in Portland, OR. It's going to be a big week of big animation events--I don't know if it will be on the scale of Annecy, but I believe that Platform was started specifically to address the lack of any big animation festivals in the US.

Here's hoping it grows bigger and bigger in years to come. :)

7:27 AM

Blogger samacleod said...

Great point. What a shame. It'd be huge here!

9:54 AM

Blogger Chris said...

This is just a thought, I really don't have enough experience with animations festivals to say with any sort of authority. But, perhaps we don't have animation festivals here in the States because our animation industry is almost "too big" for them. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of independent animations being made here. There's not much need for a festival when the companies that are making the animations can get distribution either in theaters or on TV as it is. Don't get me wrong, though, I'd love to see more independent animations being made as well. It's kind of a vicious cycle, there's no big animation festivals because there's little independent animation, and there's little independent animation because there're no festivals to get distribution or funding.


12:36 PM

Blogger AnimatedTarun said...

Goodness me, 2 years have passed since I went to that animation heaven. I never "actually" saw and realized, what animation IS, until I went there!

Have fun Doc!
P.S- If you see a girl with the most beautiful brown eyes and short dark hair, say hello from me! =)

1:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And you can't really tell the atmosphere you breathe once you're in Annecy... passionate people for animation from all over the world, the paper airplanes inside the theatre, the lake, the small BD bookshop at the Bonlieu... Oh my, it's so beautiful to be in Annecy.


4:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because in the us we have the porn convention in Vegas...

god bless the u.s.a.

5:24 PM

Blogger Marcos Gp said...

Is it call Socialism, and in Europe the government invest in art not expecting any profit out of it, just because is a Social value

5:42 PM

Anonymous David Nethery said...

Closest thing we have to the U.S. is the Ottawa International Animation Festival . There's also the smaller festivals like Kalamazoo,MI and the 2-D or Not 2-D festival put on by the Animaticus Foundation.

But nothing on the scale of Annecy or Ottawa here in the U.S.

7:57 PM

Anonymous Vadim said...

Ah I wish to go there. I'll go to Siggraph this summer

8:11 PM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

The anwser is simple - People don't view animation or cartooning as an artform. I first ran in to this in highschool artclass when what I would love to draw is characters much rather than doing all the realistic things (I'll point out right now that we didn't have to do realism at all if we didn't want to either. We had the freedom of choice. And just for the record, I can draw it.... but much prefer to draw other art styles better) So I'd turn in my artwork after having spent quite some time with it, meeting the requirements, and just having fun with it. When I got it back, I was given a B-. I looked at my teacher and essentially said "Why does this deserve a B-?" He replies that what I drew was JUST cartooning and that it wasn't art. I stood there in a moment of disbelief. I had always thought of cartooning and animation as an artform. It takes the same amount of skill as any other form of art out there! So when I heard that and then to have him repeatedly call me "Just a cartoonist" throughout the semester, I was quite offended by him and his elitist point of view on what was art and what wasn't. He felt that he was doing me a favour (he actually said this... IN WRITTING!) by calling me "just a cartoonist." Since that time, I've begun to hear very similar persepctives by people in the artworld. Especially if they come from an older generation. Some won't even accept CGI as an artform and won't even let it in to their art galleries. Why? Because of the way animation and cartooning has evolved and sepearted from what people classify as art (Then again, some of these same people clame that DuChamp's "The Fountain" is art and that's just an overglorafied urinal! Go figure!) And because in the great scheme of things, cartooning and animation is a more recent invention, it hasn't had the time to establish itself seriously as an art and is more viewed as just "a kid's thing." (And I totally believe its' an art.) So people just don't take it as seriously as a certain overhyped bathroom fixture. So it's one strike against it right there.

The other - people really don't care a lot for art. Art in our schools is incredibly undervalued by not only other teachers but the students themselves. I've heard stories in the teaching community (And witnessed a few myself when I was doing some voluteer work (Side note: Here in Ontario, you have to complete a manditory 40hours of community service in order to graduate)) But when it came to teaching kids art, they just wouldn't care or give it the same value as Math or English or one of these other major acedemic subjects. The parents, the Board of Education and even the students themselves don't value art at all. There's a select few who do. They usually come from families who have a lot of artists in them who promote art and its' meanings strongly. (Mine included) So because we are in a society that undervalues art (EI: Rarely do you see an art scholarship or award with all those Acedemic awards and stuff to croud them out and pretty much stuff like that.) people are taking art less and less seriously and animation/cartooning even lesser so. The only people who seem to care about it are those involved in the industry (EI: Animation studios, web design studios.... ect), those who grew up in "art families" or those PS3/Xbox 360 graphics nuts. Other than that, you're out of luck.

So because we're in a society that undervalues cartoons and animatio, they couldn't be bothered with an Animation festival. It's only a very recent thing that some more and more people are starting to take a bit more seriously. As an example, up here in Canada, there's always an animation competiton of the sorts going on. One example is the Teletoon Animation competition where the winner gets this huge scholarship. Or you have something like Anime North or something else and so on. Even in British Columbia, something's always up (Then again, they're pretty much the media mecha of Canada). (Actually.... there's only one place in Canada I can think of that doesn't seem to celebrate art and animation at all and unfortunately.... I live there. -_-;; )

However, to get an animation festival, there may be a way around this US animation art block that's happening that I could think of and that's if a major animation company (EI: Dinsey, Pixar, Dreamworks.... ect) sponsered one like Teletoon does from time to time up here in Canada. If you have some major companies supporting such a festival, people will want to come. There will even be people all over the world who'd do anything just to be at that festival.

So that's my two cents (In Canadian currency) for you guys. (Uh... wait.... that's two cents CANADIAN! Arg! Damn it! Can someone exchange this currency for me please so I can have my two cents properly.... please? XD )


12:49 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

Thanks for your insight. Another thing I noticed while I am here in Annecy is how many women are interested in Animation. It seems that animation is very male dominated in the states, but here its split very evenly. All you single guys out there need to do a short and get it into Annecy.

Another thing I have noticed, as with tonights short film screening, is that there is alot of crap. Out of ten shorts, 2 are worth seeing. Yes, not everything has to have a narrative, but some stuff is down right boring. The weird thing here is that there seems to be so much business going on. But I dont every see and foriegn films really make it out into the open market. People are selling the rights to the short they did or developing it into a feature. All in all, its an amazing festival. Animation is alive and very, very well here.

2:53 PM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

"... It seems that animation is very male dominated in the states, but here its split very evenly. All you single guys out there need to do a short and get it into Annecy. ..."

you fortify me working harder ;) and next year i'll be there!

greetings to france and enjoy!

Cheers Frank

4:22 PM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

Oh! No problem, Dr. Gordon! ^^ It's amazing the stuff you'd notice when you sit down and watch the world! XD

As for animation and media being a male dominated field... interesting you should bring that up. Buddy Scalera wrote an entire article on that once. But what he had origionally said had me quite interested and pretty much thinking he's on to something. What he came down to is the "gawk-and-awe mentality" that much of the industry still has for women entering it. When a women enters, they get this "OMG! There's a woman... and-and-and she's ANIMATING! Quick! Let's start gawking!" Stuff like that's discouraging and even demeaning to a degree. When people gawk for the wrong reasons based on crossing the individual gender line, it pretty much says that "most women can't animate/work in the industry worth beans." That's the message that comes across. It may not be the intended message, but that's what's out there. I personally love drawing and media of all sorts which is why you'd usually find me infront of a computer screen somewhere whipping something off and having a good ol' geeky time with it. (I'll totally admit that I'm a major media geek. XD LOL! ) But if someone gawked at me in the industry because I was a woman doing something media-like and it wasn't because I was good at it, two things cross my mind:

1.) They are dishonest about the quality of my work. Seriously, creative critisim is a rather good thing. If I want to improve, SOMEONE has gotta be upfront with me! Dishonesty does NOT rock my socks!

2.) Since when did my gender matter when it came to art skill? I'm being wow'd for being a few chomozones different from being a man?

The thing is, media isn't very forgiving when it comes to being gender neutral. That "gender line" has a tendancy to scare people away.

Now I'm going to wander a little here on a slightly different topic... but it still relates - "House Husbands." Now there's one gender line that's been visciously attacked by housewives everywhere. The home has traditionally been viewed as a "woman's domain" for a very long time. So when a man decides that he wishes to become a househusband and wants to help raise children or clean house, he almost instantly becomes the subject or ridicule or like in the media industry, he's gawked at in the wrong ways. Now just for your information here, studies have also gone on to prove that there's a lot of benifits to househusbands such as their influence on children and developmental psychology. (And some of those findings are totally amazing!) But in all studies, it showed that men are extremely capable parents and are just as effective as their female counterparts. But because of the huge housewife backlash associated with househusbands, they are either gawked at or disrespected.

So back to women in media, they actually have similar feelings when they try and enter the industry. We aren't gawked at because we're good, but we're gawked at because we're woman and that's discouraging (just like the househusbands in the last paragraph). So in order to get more women in, the industry has to be gender neutral and stop gawking at stupid stuff. For me, I'd like to be gawked at because I'm good and people want me to cook up whole new levels of awesome. But if people gawked at me because I'm female, now that's just plain rude and says to me that I can't cut it because my gender is different.

So what other factors contributed to less women in the industry and why is it so male dominated? The answer is history. Throughout history, how many famous "great masters" are women? You can probably count them on your hands, couldn't you? The reason for that being is because traditionally, women didn't get respect when it came to art at all. Matter of fact artwise, women were often victems of art theives (And anyone on the internet knows that when someone steals your work and clames it as their own is extremely horrible!) OR they has to disguise themselves as men in order to get any credibility. One of these "masters" that comes to mind is Rodin. For the longest time, Rodin was believed to have done all the work himself and took credit for everything. BUT in reality, it was really a woman that did all the work and Rodin just slapped his name on it and took all the credit for it. It starts to make me wonder how many other cases were there with some of these other "masters" were actually cases of art theift. But anyways, because of the frequent disrespect women had gotten from art historically, they just don't feel so comfortable there so they didn't venture in to it as much. It's only a very recent thing in history where there's more and more women in the arts. But in some areas like media and animation, there's still an invisable gender line sitting there that if it was crossed, people look at you the wrong way and that's just not right.

The industry should be keeping a gender neutral tone about it and not make so much of a big deal if there are women there or not. It should be a "Yeah. So what?" instead of an "OMG! Women are here!" thing. So it's really up to the industry to do whatever it can to welcome BOTH genders than to set up these really weird and invisable lines in the sand.

So that's my next bit of two cents there in American curren--- hey! Who's that funky guy on the back of your coins? Uh... Did his eyes just move? Is he watching me? *Long pause* Maybe you'd better take this.... it's giving me funny looks. XD

6:03 AM

Anonymous Sam said...

Dr Gordon, did you see any abstract animated shorts at Annecy?

The reason I'm interested is that I'm working on an abstract short and I know they are incredibly difficult to do well (i.e. keep the viewers interest!).

When people are asked what types of animation they find boring, abstract animation is usually top of the list! But other than at animation festivals, it's difficult to see what people are doing, so I'm just interested to know if anything abstract caught your attention (or if it was just crap!). Thanks

1:22 PM

Blogger Dr. Gordon said...

I was able to go to a couple of screenings of shorts. Most of them were painfully difficult to sit through. I did see a film that was somewhat abstract. It was done with zoetropes. I liked it because it has some really intereting design elements. The thing about abstract animation and abstract art in general is that I feel the artist reallyhas to have a good base of understanding traditional art before the wander into the abstract. Overall, Annecy was amazingly fun. I had alot of fun meeting up with different friends. I advise anyone who wants a jolt of inspiration to attend next year. I try and post some more about the festival in the near future...


2:51 PM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

Hey, Dr. Gordon? Do you think you can post about all the details that happened at Annecy for us? I'd love to hear about that!

As for me, going to Annecy next year or anything like that isn't exactly a possibility for me. This is mostly based off of my financial situation (Currently = 6000$ CAN in the hole for a car accident and finally proving once and for all that Newton was entirely correct about two huge masses not being able to occupy the same space at the same time.) and other factors at this time (EI: Trying to get my five years in the media field.) So I guess you can say I'm a touch envious of you going to Annecy! XD LOL!

So do you think you can please post the details?

And on a different note, is it alright if I put a link to you guys on my blog? It's free traffic, albeit not much (People seem way more interested in viewing my profile than my blog for some weird reason), but at least the little bit that I can manage.

5:17 AM

Anonymous Mike said...

PLATFORM, PLATFORM, PLATFORM. This is our chance! Let's make it successful.

8:50 AM

Anonymous Sam said...

Thanks Dr Gordon. I completely agree with your points about abstract art. I think some artists do create abstract art because they think it is easier than representational art, but the best abstract painters always had a solid understanding of colour, form and composition, they didn't just randomly splatter paint on to a canvas!

I sometimes think that motion graphics is the new abstract animation.

12:26 PM

Anonymous Olivier Ladeuix said...

I came back from Annecy too and I loved it.

The city is really pretty. The weather was mostly sunny. Like Andrew said, some shorts were great, some shorts were terrible but overall it was a great festival. I fell asleep during some of the screenings like the Panorama but some others were full of little gems.

And with my classmates we got to meet Andrew in person which was very inspiring. He showed us some funny tests they did with the rigs and a walkthrough one of his shot with Linguini trying to enter his flat with his bicycle.

Regarding women in animation, funny enough I met 4 or 5 animators from Aardman or ex Aardman animators and they were all women but dont expect me to generalise to the entire Stop Motion business.


8:49 AM

Blogger David Gray said...

I enjoyed your talk at Annecy, Andrew, it was great fun. It was very enlightening to see the thought processes behind your animation.


3:11 PM

Blogger Aaron Clement said...

Absolutely! I'm going to the 'Animation Festival' here in Melbourne tomorrow... One of our animator's has a short in there that I'm going to watch called 'Little Dog Turpie'. Animation is a great creative medium... and I sometimes don't know why more people arn't as into animation as much as they are... I'm crazy about animation and it's good to read about other animator's who are also crazy about it! Good job! I listen to your podcasts, too... there great!

4:43 AM

Blogger Olivier Ladeuix said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:03 PM

Blogger Olivier Ladeuix said...

and do not forget to check the animations featured at the begining of each screening from the Gobelins students.

4:04 PM

Blogger K. Zwolfer said...

Dear Andrew,

Your neighbors here in the Bay Area, The San Francisco Film Society, will be putting on its second annual Animation Festival in the fall. Last year we screened One Man Band and Iron Giant as a special program, with guests Mark Andrews and Andy Jimenez. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of our San Francisco International Film Festival. Who know maybe that same success will carry over into the Animation Festival...

5:20 PM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

To pick up on what Olivier said before about women animators, there's not to say that there isn't any women interested in the media arts. There still are. One of the examples that comes to mind is a group of Japanese artists that go by the name CLAMP. It used to be a larger all women group, but now they're down to a group of four. But anyways, they're pretty successful at what they do and they're still producing works. But that's just one example. There's also a few women wanting to enter the industry too. As an example (And you totally have every right later to toss sporks at me for what I'm going to say next. Promise! XD ) I'm totally interested in media arts. Media is such a huge part of my life since I first picked up a pencil. So as you can imagine, I would love to take part in this field. So that's definately not to say there aren't women who are interested in it out there. I don't think I need to repeat why there's so few because I already said it before.

6:23 AM

Blogger Fränk Spalteholz said...

@kamui.exe ... Oliver said nothing like that. And yes there are many women in the animation business ok! But that wasn't the topic!

10:26 AM

Blogger Kamui.EXE said...

Shwah? Aw fudge! I'm getting stuff all mixed up again. I was pretty sure Oliver said something on it. Sorry about that! I must have been sleep-computing again.

11:18 AM

Blogger Katharine said...

Hi. I just wanted to address a few issues that have come up in this discussion.

I think the big reason why there are so few animation festivals here in the U.S. is because in the U.S. there is almost no funding for independent animation.

Torill Kove, the winner of this year's Oscar for Best Animated Short (for her delightful film, The Danish Poet)found funding for her film through (I believe) the Canadian government.

Look at the American submissions for short animated films. They are ALL done by large studios that have the budget to indulge in making shorts, which don't make money on the open market. There are a few independent American animators, such as Don Hertzfeldt and Bill Plympton, but they are the exception, rather than the rule.

Just as there is no funding for films, there is no funding for festivals, either. The minute someone can make a buck by funding short animations and running an animation festival, you'll see it happen in the U.S.

3:46 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think theres probably many reasons why we have fewer animation festivals in the US, but I know one reason can be the lack of funding by state or federal orginizations. All over the wrold the animation industry is supported by incentives and government grants, another reason why so much of the animation is being sent overseas. When the arts are supported its only logical that the support will bring about great venues for these arts.

3:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If anyone is still interested in attending US animation festivals, I know of one happening this weekend in New York City. It is the Animation Block Party being hosted in part by Rooftop Films. It will run from Friday through Monday, July 27 through the 30th. Friday's show is located in Williamsburg, with the following three shows being held in different locations throughout the city. Check out for more information.

11:37 AM


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