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About Ethan Minovitz

A longtime contributor top BCDB, Ethan has become our resident research expert. Turned loose inside a database, there is nothing Ethan cannot find. Resident of the Great Northwest, Ethan is fiercely proud of his native Canada. Ethan is a professional researcher in his real life in Vancouver, BC. Ethan would love to hear from you- send a note here.

Vancouver Shows Oscar-nominated Animated Shorts

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Oscar Statuette, Academy Awards

Vancouver’s Vancity Theatre is bringing back its popular program of Academy Award-nominated short films in the categories of Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short from Friday, February 8 to Thursday, February 21.

Here are the Oscar-nominated animated shorts to be shown in an 88-minute program:

Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare (David Silverman, U.S.A., 5 min.)
Maggie Simpson spends a day at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center, where she is diagnosed at an average intelligence level. Longing to be grouped with the gifted children, Maggie finds her destiny by rescuing a lonely cocoon from Baby Gerald, who is busy smooshing butterflies.

Adam and Dog (Minkyu Lee, U.S.A., 16 min.)
The story about the dog of Eden. What happened in those first days of Creation that made Man and Dog so inseparable? The dog, as he lives through this curious world, encounters a strange creature; a human being named Adam — and with that discovers a new-found connection to the world.

Fresh Guacamole (Adam Pesapane aka PES, U.S.A., 2 min.)
Learn how to transform familiar objects into Fresh Guacamole!

Head Over Heels (Timothy Reckart, United Kingdom, 10 min.)
After many years of marriage, Walter and Madge have grown apart: he lives on the floor and she lives on the ceiling. They live separate, parallel lives, never talking, barely even looking at each other. When Walter tries to reignite their old romance, it brings their equilibrium crashing down, and the couple that can’t agree which way is up must find a way to put their marriage back together.

Paperman (John Kahrs, U.S.A., 7 min.)
Paperman tells the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced that the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him.

And for your viewing pleasure… three shortlisted contenders that did not make the final cut:

Abiogenesis (Richard Mars, New Zealand, 5 min.)
In this breathtaking science fiction spectacle, a strange mechanical device lands on a desolate world and uses the planet to undergo a startling transformation that has profound implications for an entire galaxy.

Dripped (Leo Verier, France, 9 min.)
Jack is a strange character. He steals paintings from museums to eat them. He feeds himself with the artistic process of the painter. But one day, the museums are closed, and he will have to paint by himself to survive.

The Gruffalo’s Child (Uwe Heidschötter and Johannes Weiland, United Kingdom, 27 min.)
A little Gruffalo ignores her father’s warnings and tiptoes out into the snow in search of the Big Bad Mouse.

Screening dates and times:

Friday, February 8, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 9, 8:45 p.m.
Sunday, February 10, 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, February 12, 8:45 p.m.
Friday, February 15, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, February 17, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, February 20, 8:45 p.m.
Thursday, February 21, 6:30 p.m.

Vancity Theatre is at 1181 Seymour Street. Call the Film Info Line at (604) 683-FILM (3456) or visit www.viff.org for the latest info and listings.

Maltin, Paulsen and Lamarche to Host Annie Animation Awards

Annie Awards Statue

Annie Awards Statue

Why have just one when you can have four!

Former Annie Awards host and movie reviewer Leonard Maltin and voice actors Rob Paulsen and Maurice Lamarche will share hosting duties, along with a special appearance by long time Annies presenter-favorite, actor and animation industry professional Seth Green, at this year’s 40th Annual Annie Awards, set for Saturday, February 2.

Celebrating the best in animation, this annual black-tie evening will begin with a pre-reception at 5 p.m., followed by the Annie Awards ceremony at 7 p.m. and an after-party celebration immediately following the ceremony. All events will be held at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

“We are very excited to have our hosts share in the 40th celebration of the Annies and know they will bring great energy and excitement to this year’s ceremony,” says ASIFA-Hollywood president Frank Gladstone. Joined on stage by a lively mix of animation luminaries, celebrity presenters and comedic talent — including animation legend June Foray — are Jessica Walter, James Patrick Stuart, Kristen Schaal, Mae Whitman, Sean Astin, Greg Cipes, Jason Biggs, Jessica DiCicco, Lucas Grabeel, Darren Criss and Joey Richter, Kevin Shinick, Jim Cummings and Diedrich Bader, Atticus Shaffer and Tucker Albrizzi, Jamie Bolio, Kevin Michael Richardson and Loretta Devine, Alan Tudyk, Mo Collins, Max Charles, Jon Olsen and Fred
Tatashiore, Sam Witmer and Matt Lanter, and Tony Anselmo.

This year’s Winsor McCay recipients are Terry Gilliam, Oscar Grillo and Mark Henn. The Winsor McCay Award stands as one of the highest honors given to an individual in the animation industry in recognition for career contributions to the art of animation. The June Foray award will be presented to Howard Green, and the Ub Iwerks Award will be presented to Toon Boom Animation.

Often a predictor of the annual Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Annie Awards honor overall excellence as well as individual achievement in a total of 30 categories ranging from best feature, production design, character animation and effects animation to storyboarding, writing, music, editing and voice acting. Entries submitted for consideration were from productions that originally aired, were exhibited in an animation festival or commercially released between January 1 and December 31, 2012.

ASIFA-Hollywood is the world’s first and foremost professional organization dedicated to promoting the art of Animation and celebrating the people who create it. Today, ASIFA-Hollywood, the largest chapter of the international organization ASIFA, supports a range of animation activities and preservation efforts through its membership. Current initiatives include the Animation Archive, animation film preservation, special events, classes and screenings.

Created in 1972 by veteran voice talent Foray, the Annie Awards have grown in scope and stature for the past three decades.

Animated Films Made Up 6 of Year’s Top 20 Grossers

Brave

Brave

Six of the 20 highest-grossing North American films of 2012 were completely animated pictures, including Pixar’s Brave, which was seventh overall with $237,262,307.

Others in the top 20 were Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (#10; $216,391,482), Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (#11; $214,030,500), Wreck-it Ralph (#13; $175,990,019), Ice Age: Continental Drift (#14; $161,990,019) and Hotel Transylvania (#16; $145,321,690).

In total, the animated films in the Top 20 delivered grosses of $1,150,135,597.

Although Rise Of The Guardians made much less than predicted, its North American box office gross is expected to exceed the $100 million mark sometime next week.

Almost all other films in the Top 20 had considerable amounts of special effects CGI, including the year’s top performer, The Avengers ($623,357,910). Others using CGI were The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey, Ted, Men In Black 3, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus.

Using little or no animation were the 17th, 18th and 19th finishers, Taken 2, 21 Jump Street and Lincoln.

Animated Films, TV Up For Canadian Screen Awards

Canadian Screen Awards

Canadian Screen Awards

Excellence in both film and TV was recognized Tuesday as the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television announced its nominees for the inaugural Canadian Screen Awards.

The new honors combine the Genies (the Canadian version of the Oscars) and the Geminis (similar to the Emmys).

For Best Animated Short, the four nominees are Bydlo (Producer: Julie Roy; Director: Patrick Bouchard; Distributor: National Film Board of Canada), Demoni (Producer and Director: Theodore Ushev; Distributor: Mtd:films), Edmond Was a Donkey (Producers: Richard Van Den Boom, Franck Dion and Julie Roy; Director: Franck Dion; Distributor: NFB) and Paula (Producer: Julie Roy; Director: Dominic Étienne Simard; Distributor: NFB).

Almost Naked Animals (Vince Commisso, Tanya Green, Tristan Homer, Steven Jarosz and Noah Z. Jones; 9 Story Entertainment Inc.; YTV) is one of the four nominees for Best Animated Program or Series. In addition, the episode “The Green Banana” (Brad Ferguson) was nominated for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series. Another episode, “Horn Swoggled” (Seán Cullen), is up for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series.

Also nominated for Best Animated Program or Series is Producing Parker (Ira Levy, Jun Camerino, Laura Kosterski and Peter Williamson; Breakthrough Entertainment; TVTropolis). For the episode “How Green is my Parker?”, Robin Budd was nominated for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series, while Kim Cattrall is up for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series.

Besides its nomination for Best Animated Program or Series, Rated A for Awesome (Ace Fipke, Ken Faier and, Chuck Johnson; Nerd Corps Entertainment; YTV) gained a pair of nominations for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series in connection with its episode “Scary Go Round.” Two separate nominations went to Brian Drummond and Chiara Zanni.

Rounding out the Best Animated Program or Series nominees is Jack (Francois Trudel, Wong Kok Cheong, Vincent Leroux and Vic Pelletier; PVP Interactif/Productions Vic Pelleter, Spark Animation-Wong Kok Cheong; TVO).

Other nominees for Best Direction in an Animated Program or Series are Mike The Knight: “The Knight Hider”/”Trollee’s Sleepover” (Neil Affleck; Treehouse) and Sidekick: “House of Helmut/Supermodels) (Joey So; YTV)

Patrick McKenna was nominated for Best Performance in an Animated Program or Series in connection with his work in the Crash Canyon episode “Poker Night” (Teletoon; Astral)

For Best Pre-School Program or Series, the nominees include the animated Franklin and Friends (Greg Chew, Jocelyn Hamilton, Pam Lehn, Doug Murphy, Derek Reeves and Mike Wiluan; Nelvana Limited/Infinite Frameworks Pte. Ltd.; Treehouse), My Big Big Friend (Ira Levy, Andre Breitman and Peter Williamson; Breakthrough Entertainment; Treehouse) and Stella & Sam (John Leitch, Michelle Melanson; Radical Sheep Productions; Disney Junior Canada).

Brian Roberts has been nominated for Best Direction in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series for his work on the animated My Babysitter’s A Vampire episode “Three Geeks And A Demon” (Teletoon; Astral)

The five nominees for Best Original Music Score for a Series include the cartoon Scaredy Squirrel: “Perfect Pickle“/”Goat Police” (Paul Intson; YTV). Terry McGurrin is nominated for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series for another Scaredy Squirrel episode, “From Rodent with Love.”

Also up for Best Writing in a Children’s or Youth Program or Series are Dennis Jackson, Melanie Jackson for the animated Wapos Bay episode “Long Goodbyes” (APTN).

There are 120 categories for the Canadian Screen Awards, including 22 for film and over 85 for television.

The awards will be presented over three nights. Martin Short hosts the final awards gala, to be televised live at 8 p.m. (8:30 in Newfoundland) Sunday, March 3 on CBC.

Disney Sinks Planned 3-D “Little Mermaid” Release

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid

Due to lackluster box-office results for 3-D releases of Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and Beauty and the Beast, Walt Disney Studios announced Monday that it’s scrubbing plans for a 3-D version of The Little Mermaid in September.

The Lion King 3-D had been a sleeper hit, grossing almost $100 million in the United States and Canada. In late 2011, Disney announced the 1989 undersea hit The Little Mermaid as its fourth and last planned 3-D re-release.

However, the bloom was off the rose for other follow-ups. Beauty and the Beast collected $47.6 million last January and Finding Nemo brought $40.7 million in September, while Monsters, Inc. nabbed just $30.5 million since its release December 19.

Disney had already started work on converting The Little Mermaid to 3-D in November, the studio’s animation chief creative officer, John Lasseter, said in an interview then.

Meanwhile, Disney announced Monday that the partly animated The Muppets 2 will be released on March 21, 2014, with Ricky Gervais and Ty Burrell starring opposite Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy

James Bobin, director of the partly animated The Muppets (2011), returns as the director from a script that he co-wrote with Nick Stoller. The earlier movie was co-written by Stoller and its star, Jason Segel.

Brave wins Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature

Golden Globe

Golden Globe

The highest-grossing animated film of 2012 won the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film on Sunday night.

Brave, co-produced by Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, made $237.2 million in North America alone to have the seventh-highest gross of any movie — animated or otherwise — released last year.

It won out in the category over fellow Disney releases Frankenweenie (Walt Disney Pictures) and Wreck-It Ralph (Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios; Walt Disney Pictures), as well as nominees Hotel Transylvania (Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Animation and Rise of the Guardians (DreamWorks Animation LLC).

Brave director Mark Andrews received the Golden Globe from comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, who feigned drunkenness onstage.

“Holy cow! Being brave is about being true to yourself and allowing your loved ones the same freedom,” said Andrews.

The Golden Globes are presented by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Sunday’s awards ceremony aired live on NBC.

3 Animated Features up For British Academy Awards

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA)

Brave,” “Frankenweenie” and “ParaNorman” are the three nominees announced Wednesday in the Animated Film category of the EE British Academy Film Awards, also known as the BAFTAs.

Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman were singled out for recognition for Brave. Director Tim Burton was named in connection with Frankenweenie, while Sam Fell and Chris Butler were cited for ParaNorman.

In the category “Outstanding Debut By a British Writer, Director or Producer,” director James Bobin is nominated for his role in Disney’s partly animated The Muppets.

For Short Animation, the nominees are Here to Fall (Kris Kelly and Evelyn McGrath), I’m Fine Thanks (Eamonn O’Neill) and The Making of Longbird (Will Anderson and Ainslie Henderson).

The British Academy Film Awards are similar to the Oscars in the United States.

Lincoln received 10 nominations, the most of any film. Lincoln is nominated for Best Film, Adapted Screenplay, Original Music, Cinematography, Production Design, Costume Design and Make Up & Hair. Daniel Day-Lewis is nominated for Leading Actor, Tommy Lee Jones is nominated for Supporting Actor, and Sally Field is nominated for Supporting Actress.

The EE British Academy Film Awards take place Sunday, February 10 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London. The ceremony will be hosted by Stephen Fry and will be broadcast exclusively on BBC One and BBC One HD, preceded by a red carpet show on BBC Three. The ceremony is also broadcast in all major territories around the world.

The awards are presented by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA), an independent charity that supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image by identifying and rewarding excellence, inspiring practitioners and benefiting the public.

Warner Brothers Diving into Animation Think Tank

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. Pictures has formed a feature animation creative consortium, marking a new and innovative approach to the establishment of a diverse and far-reaching animation slate, Warner Bros. Pictures Group president Jeff Robinov announced Monday.

The mission of the new think tank is to help develop and produce high-end animated motion pictures, with the goal of releasing one feature per year under the Warner Bros. Pictures banner. The select team of accomplished filmmakers will collaborate with the studio to frame and guide a variety of projects from start to finish.

The artists who will be involved in Warner Bros.’ new feature animation venture are John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (Crazy, Stupid, Love, Cats & Dogs); Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets), Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), and Jared Stern (Mr. Popper’s Penguins).

The filmmakers will work both individually and collectively, supporting one another artistically in the making of the films. They will not be exclusive to the studio’s animated film productions; rather, they will also continue to write and direct live-action movies. “This new endeavor reflects Warner Bros.’ ongoing commitment to being a filmmaker-friendly studio, which invites and fosters original projects, continually expanding the entertainment scope of its slate,” WB said.

“Warner Bros. has an extraordinary legacy in the world of animation, including some of the most enduring characters in cinema history. Looking to the future, we have now gathered some of the best and brightest talents in the industry to help us grow and broaden that legacy,” Robinov stated. “Drawing upon their imaginations and inspiration, the studio will produce a slate of new and original animated films that are sure to delight audiences of all ages.”

The first feature in the pipeline is the upcoming 3D animated adventure The LEGO Movie, being directed by Lord and Miller from their own screenplay. Bringing the globally popular LEGO construction toys to the big screen for the first time, the film is being produced by Dan Lin and Roy Lee and stars the voices of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie and Morgan Freeman. The animation is largely being accomplished at Australia’s Animal Logic.

A presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures in association with Village Roadshow Pictures, The LEGO Movie is slated for release on February 7, 2014.

Among the other projects being developed are Storks, conceived and being written by Stoller, and to be directed by Oscar nominee Doug Sweetland (PIXAR short Presto); and Smallfoot, to be written by Requa and Ficarra, from an original idea by Sergio Pablos (Despicable Me), who is also set to direct. The films are being targeted for release in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

The development of animated features will be overseen at Warner Bros. by Courtenay Valenti, Chris deFaria and Greg Silverman. Overall look, character design and the story reel process will be housed in Burbank, California; however, the studio will look to partner with established animation studios for production of the films.

Thunderbirds Creator Gerry Anderson Dead at 83

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson

Gerry Anderson, the creator of such British marionette-animated hit shows as Thunderbirds, Stingray and Joe 90, died peacefully in his sleep at noon Wednesday, son Jamie announced on his own Web site. He was 83.

Anderson had Alzheimer’s since 2010. Having already decided with his family on a care home for himself near Oxfordshire, England earlier this year, he moved in there in October.

“Gerry was diagnosed with mixed dementia two years ago, and his condition worsened quite dramatically over the past six months,” Jamie Anderson wrote.

Gerry Anderson’s most famous series — science-fiction series Thunderbirds, about a space rescue squad — ran from 1965 to 1966. It had two movie spin-offs, Thunderbirds are Go (1966) and Thunderbird Six (1967).

His other animated series included Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-68) and Terrahawks (1983-84). There were also unreleased projects, such as the series The Investigator (1972) and Space Police Star Laws (1986).

As well, the resident of Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire created UFO, Space: 1999, Supercar and Fireball XL5.

“I think a light has gone out in the universe,” said actor Brian Blessed, who worked with Anderson on such shows as The Day After Tomorrow and Space 1999, told BBC News:

“He had a great sense of humor,” he told British Broadcasting Corporation News. “He wasn’t childish but childlike, and he had a tremendous love of the universe and astronomy and scientists. He got their latest theories, which he would expand on. He was always galvanized and full of energy.”

Comedian Eddie Izzard wrote on Twitter: “What great creation Thunderbirds was, as it fuelled the imagination of a generation.” Added TV host Jonathan Ross wrote: “For men of my age, his work made childhood an incredible place to be.”

Anderson was born Gerald Alexander Abrahams in London’s Bloomsbury district on April 14, 1929. He started studying fibrous plastering, but it gave him dermatitis and he had to stop.

For a while, he did photographic portraits. Anderson also worked at Gainsborough Films and as an air traffic controller.

With friends, he founded AP Films. But with few commissions, he jumped at the chance of making the puppet series The Adventures of Twizzle in 1956.

Then came his career high point, Thunderbirds, which aired on Britain’s ITV.

Filmed on Slough Trading Estate in Berkshire, the series told of emergency service International Rescue, operated by the Tracy family. It was often aided by Lady Penelope (voiced by Gerry Anderson’s wife Sylvia) and Parker, her butler. The Andersons had used Fireball XL5 and Stingray to perfect their “supermarionation” technique.

“Thunderbirds are go!” was the show’s catchphrase.

In June this year, Anderson talked about getting dementia.

“I don’t think I realized at all,” he said on BBC Berkshire. “It was my wife Mary who began to notice that I would do something quite daft like putting the kettle in the sink and waiting for it to boil.”

Until very recently, Anderson remained interested and involved in the film industry, keen to revisit some of his earlier successes using the latest technology available. His last producer credit came in 2005 on New Captain Scarlet, a CGI-animated reimagining of his 1967 Supermarionation series, which premiered on ITV. Most recently, he worked as a consultant on a Hollywood remake of his 1969 series UFO, directed by Matthew Gratzner.

He was “a quiet, unassuming but determined man,” said Nick Williams, chairman of Fanderson, the official Gerry Anderson fan club.

“His desire to make the best films he could drove him and his talented teams to innovate, take risks, and do everything necessary to produce quite inspirational works,” he said. “Gerry’s legacy is that he inspired so many people and continues to bring so much joy to so many millions of people around the world.”

He also worked as a celebrity ambassador for The Alzheimer’s Society, helping to raise awareness of the disease and much-needed funds for the society.

Harry Oakes, the cinematographer for Thunderbirds and several other Anderson series, died December 11 this year.

Gerry Anderson was married to Betty Wrightman from 1952 until their divorce in 1960. That year, he married Sylvia Thamm; they divorced in 1980. In 1981, he married Mary Robins.

Besides his wife and son Jamie, he is survived by three children from former marriages, Joy, Linda and Gerry Junior.

Fanderson will pay a full tribute to Gerry Anderson in FAB 74, due next March.

Donations in his memory to the Alzheimer’s Society were requested via www.justgiving.com/RememberingGerryAnderson.

Haowei Hu’s Seasons Wins at London Film Awards

Seasons

Seasons

Seasons,” directed by Haowei Hu of the United States, was named Best Animated Film on Sunday at the London Film Awards.

Seasons is a surreal motion graphics animation based on the changing seasons. Beginning with spring, the richly hued illustrations in this work come alive as they transform in color and rhythmic tempo to reveal the full seasonal spectrum.

The London Film Awards is London’s premiere film awards body, which celebrates and awards the work of independent film’s best and brightest contemporary filmmakers and screenwriters spanning the globe. The Official Jury selected one exclusive Gold Lion Award Winner for each official competition category, the awards’ highest and most esteemed honors.

A full list of the 2012 winners can be found at the competition’s official site, www.londonfilmawards.com.

“Our 2012 competition marks an incredible year for the London Film Awards. LFA received submissions representing some of the world’s most talented filmmakers,” said awards executive director Joey Paulos.

“After careful consideration, we have distilled the very best of this year’s entries,” said Joey Paulos, Executive Director of the London Film Awards. “We are honored to celebrate the talent and commitment of each of these accomplished artists.”

The Grand Jury Prize was presented to Beauty and the Breast, directed by Liliana Komorowska of Canada. She also won the award for Best First-Time Director. A first-time documentary filmmaker offers a compelling insight into the devastating reality of breast cancer, as seen through the eyes of several female patients helping demystify the deadly disease while painting poignant and often humorous intimate.

The Special Jury Prize was presented to Womble, directed by Robert Pirouet of the United Kingdom. Years have passed and what’s changed? Jim Labey sits waiting in the corridor of his old school waiting for a job interview. The problem? The other side of the desk is Piers Mourant, an old classmate of Jim’s… and Pier’s remembers everything!

The Best Feature Film was presented to Pechorin, directed by Roman Khrushch of Russia. It’s based on the Russian classic Mikhail Lermontov novel The Hero of Our Time. All events shown as they are reflected in the mind of the dying hero as a series of irrevocable mistakes and interpreted anew: it is either reconsideration or repentance.