Canadian and South Korean animated co-production The Nut Job has a new trailer online. Based on Peter Lepeniotis’ 2005 short Surly Squirrel, this film is ToonBox Entertainment’s first feature length film. This film has a planned release date for January 17, 2014, and features the voices of Will Arnett, Brendan Fraser, Katherine Heigl and Liam Neeson.
Though it hardly seems like it, it is Oscar Time! The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced their short list for the Best Animated Short Film category. This is not the final list, but the final five will come from this list. Canada’s National Film Board leads the pack with three shorts, and Pixar’s The Blue Umbrella did not make the list. It has been a while since a Pixar film has not been in the running.
Tonight, film critic Leonard Maltin and voice actors Pinky and the Brain, urm, Uh, I mean Rob Paulsen and Maurice LaMarche are handing out the Annies at UCLA’s Royce Hall. For 40 years this annual event recognizes the best in animation from around the world.
Through most of the night, things look pretty well split up between the big studios, with one award going to DreamWorks, the next to Pixar, then to ParaNorman, and then to Disney. But when the big awards came down, it was all Disney, with Wreck-It Ralph pulling in Best Music, Voice Acting, Directing and Best Feature. Disney short Paperman won for best animated short.
The full list of winners:
Best Animated Video Game
Journey – Sony Computer Entertainment America
Best Student Film
Head Over Heels – Timothy Reckart
Storyboarding in a Feature Production
Johanne Matte, Rise Of The Guardians – DreamWorks Animation
Editing in a Feature Production
Nicholas C. Smith, A.C.E., Robert Grahamjones, A.C.E., David Suther Brave – Pixar Animation Studios
Character Design in a Feature Production
Heidi Smith, ParaNorman – LAIKA/Focus Features
June Foray Award
Howard Green (VP, Communications for Walt Disney Animation Studios)
Tex Avery Award
Winsor McCay Award
Music in a Feature Production
Henry Jackman, Skrillex, Adam Young, Matthew Thiessen, Jamie Houston, Yasushi Akimoto, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Animated Effects In an Animated Production
Andy Hayes, Carl Hooper, David Lipton – Rise Of The Guardians – DreamWorks Animation
Animated Effects in a Live Action Production
Jerome Platteaux, John Sigurdson, Ryan Hopkins, Raul Essig, Mark Chataway The Avengers – Industrial Light & Magic
Ub Iwerks Award
Toon Boom Pipeline
Character Animation in a Live Action Production
Erik de Boer, Matt Shumway, Brian Wells, Vinayak Pawar, Michael Holzl, Life Of Pi – Tiger – Rhythm & Hues Studio
Character Animation in a Feature Production
Travis Knight ParaNorman – LAIKA/Focus Features
Production Design in a Feature Production
Steve Pilcher, Brave – Pixar Animation Studios
Winsor McCay Award
Best Animated Special Production
Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem – Illumination Entertainment
Best Animated Short Subject
Paperman – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Writing in a Feature Production
Phil Johnson, Jennifer Lee, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Winsor McCay Award
Voice Acting in a Feature Production
Alan Tudyk as King Candy Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
Directing in a Feature Production
Rich Moore, Wreck-It Ralph – Walt Disney Animation Studios
General Audience Television Production
Robot Chicken DC Comics Special – Stoopid Buddy Studios
Wreck-It Ralph– Walt Disney Animation Studios
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.
Vancouver-based Bron Studios announced Tuesday that it is making its first CG-animated feature film, Sole Mates.
Set to begin production next year, the movie is an “animated journey of love, lost and found, with comedic charm and universal themes set in a familiar world from a new point of view.” Bron Studios will team up with Hidden Empire Film Group on the project.
Sole Mates is based on an original concept by Deon Taylor (Chain Letter).
Bron managing director Aaron L. Gilbert will be one of the producers, joining Taylor and Ahmet Zappa (The Odd Life of Timothy Green).
Taylor has produced, directed and written several other projects, including The Hustle (Charlie Murphy) and the drama Supremacy, with Danny Glover.
“Rise of the Guardians” went past the $100 million benchmark at the foreign box office over the weekend.
A distant second at the movies, the DreamWorks Animation movie made $20.1 million in its fifth overseas weekend overseas from 7,400 venues in 59 countries. The total foreign gross now stands at $119.4 million.
Distributed by Paramount, Rise of the Guardians opened in second place in Australia, collecting $3.7 million from 259 locations.
Budgeted at $145 million, the animated fantasy features the voices of Alec Baldwin and Hugh Jackman. This week, it’s opening in India.
As in North America, the live-action The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey topped the foreign box office. It made $138.2 million at 18,200 screens in 56 countries.
Meanwhile, the Disney 3D family animated film Wreck-It Ralph brought in $4.7 million in its seventh week in 29 countries. It’s made $57.7 million in foreign countries so far. Strong North American results mean a worldwide total of $226.5 million.
Sony Animation’s horror comedy Hotel Transylvania, grossed $1.9 million at 1,755 screens in 50 overseas countries. Its total foreign gross has reached $162 million.
Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki’s first film in five years will come out next year, distributor Toho announced Thursday.
Miyazaki will release wartime romance Kaze Tachinu, based on the novel of the same name, usually translated as The Wind Has Risen.
He created Spirited Away, which a 2003 Oscar for Best Animated Feature. His last movie was 2008’s Ponyo.
The protagonist of Kaze Tachinu is based on flight engineer Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Zero fighter, Japan’s best known Second World War fighter aircraft.
Also next year, longtime Miyazaki collaborator Isao Takahata will release his first new film in over a decade. Kaguya Hime No Monogatari will be based on Taketori Monogatari (The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter). Japan’s oldest novel, Taketori Monogatari is thought to have been written over 1,000 years ago.
Mikael Hed, chief executive of Finnish gaming company Rovio, says the company is going ahead with a 2016 feature film based on his company’s famous avians, the Angry Birds. But Hed is not happy just making a feature film, he plans on taking the giant of children’s animation, Disney.
The Rovio chief executive told AFP that the animated 3D film– which will not be released until the summer of 2016– could lead to the company setting up an animated movie studio that would compete with California-based Walt Disney Animation Studios.
“If this goes very well, that is what is going to happen. Certainly we are structuring this in a way so that it’s possible for us to continue to produce more movies after this one,” he said.
Rovio seems to be starting out right… they have brought in John Cohen, producer of computer-animated comedy “Despicable Me” to produce it, and David Maisel, former chairman of Marvel Studios, as an executive producer.
And animated films are not the only front Rovio is taking on the animation giant. The company already has two theme parks, on in Finland and one in Great Britain. They are building a third Angry Birds Land in Asia next year at a site near Shanghai.
Is that enough to take on Disney? Only time will tell… but it does seem that Rovio is aiming high for a one-trick pony.
Katsuhiro Ohiro’s short film Hi No Yôjin (Combustible) has won the Grand Prize in the Animation Division of the 16th Japan Media Arts Festival, organizers announced Thursday.
Set in mid-18th century Edo (the old name for Tokyo), Combustible centers on Owaka, a merchant’s daughter, and her childhood friend Matsuyoshi. Though the two are attracted to each other, Matsuyoshi’s family has disowned him, forcing him to make a living as a fireman. But just as their relationship is starting to bloom, Owaka’s family begins to move forward with plans to find her a husband. Unable to forget Matsuyoshi, in a fit of crazed passion, Owaka causes a huge fire to break out, burning down the town. The two lovers happen to cross paths again in the midst of this blaze.
The backdrop for this spectacle is one of the great fires that frequently occurred in the metropolis of Edo. Using traditional Nihonga (Japanese-style) paintings as a motif for the animated images, the work meticulously recreates the manners, implements, and lifestyle of Tokyoites some 300 years ago. In addition, by combining hand-drawn animation with 3D computer graphics, the creators have sought to develop an innovative form of expression through moving images.
Excellence Awards were given to the animated feature films Asura (George Akiyama and Keiichi Sato; Asura Film Partners), The Life of Budori Gusuko (Gisaburo Sugii; The Movie Committee) and Wolf Children (Mamoru Hosoda; “Wolf Children” Film Partners), as well as the short film The Great Rabbit (Atsushi Wada; Sacrebleu Productions/CaRTe bLaNChe).
New Face Awards were given to the short film Futon (Yoriko Mizushiri), the TV animation Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine (Sayo Yamamoto; Monkey Punch/TMS Entertainment Co., Ltd. and the Belgian short Oh Willy… (Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels).
The following were jury selections in the Animation Division. All are from Japan unless otherwise specified:
Feature films: Afterschool Midnighters (Hitoshi Takekiyo), Berserk Golden Age Arc II: The Doldrey War (Toshiyuki Kubooka), Friends Naki on Monster Island (Ryuichi Yagi and Takashi Yamazaki), FUSE –Memoirs of the Hunter Girl (Masayuki Miyaji), Rainbow Fireflies (Konosuke Uda)
Short films: awaiting (Hakhyun Kim; South Korea), crazy for it (Yutaro Kubo), Deposit of Sentiment (Saori Suzuki), Grain Coupon (Xi Chen; China), Harbor Tale (Yuichi Ito), I am alone, walking on the straightroad (Masanori Okamoto), I’m also a bear (Tsuneo Goda), KiyaKiya (Akino Kondoh), Love Games (Yumi Yound; South Korea), My socks (Ikuo Kato), New Tokyo Ondo (Misaki Uwabo), No Rain No Rainbow (Osamu Sakai), Nyosha (Liran Kapel and Yael Dekel; Israel), Possessions (Shuhei Morita), Recruit Rhapsody (Maho Yoshida), Sunset Flower Blooming (Yuanyuan Hu; China), The Sakuramoto broom workshop (Aya Tsugehata), The Sardine Tin (Louise-Marie Colon; Belgium), Yonalure: Moment to Moment (Ayaka Nakata and Yuki Sakitani), 108 prayer beads (Han Han Li; China)
TV animations: Carefree Fairies (gdgd-partners), Kids On the Slope (Shinichiro Watanabe), tsuritama (tsuritama partners)
The Japan Media Arts Festival honors works of excellence in a diverse range of media — from animation and
manga to games and media art. This year, a record number of 3,503 works were submitted for the festival, including 1,502 works from 71 countries and regions around the world. More applications had been submitted for this, the 16th festival, than in any year since its inception in 1997.
The Exhibition of Award-Winning Works will be held from February 13 to 24 at the National Art Center in Tokyo and other venues.
A cartoon we get asked about a lot (and I do mean a LOT!) is La Planète Sauvage (English Title: Fantastic Planet). Not one I saw when I was growing up, but many of you obviously did. This joint production by French and Czechoslovakian filmmakers was seen as a metaphor for Soviet oppression of Czechoslovakia, and pressure from the Communist government.
On the fantastic planet of Ygam, located in a far solar system, a race of huge blue creatures called Draags keep Oms as domesticated pets. Oms are the descendants of the human survivors of Earth, comparably antlike in size and mistreated by the Draags. With the aid of a Draag knowledge device, an escaped orphaned Om manages to unite a society of wild Oms to revolt against their oppression. The wild Oms attack the Draags in their most vulnerable spot, a mystical moon orbiting around their home world: a moon which holds a powerful secret to the Draags’ existence.
Originally brought to America in the early 1970s through Roger Corman’s New World Pictures “European Acquisitions,” the film was wildly successful on the B-movie circuit with the “post-hippie trippers,” seen as a metaphor for class struggle.
Production design based on the artwork and drawings of Roland Topor.
First shown publicly at the Cannes Film Festival, May 1973. Commercial release: December 6, 1973. Re-released in February 1977.
Also known as: “Divoká Planeta” (Czechoslovakia), “The Fantastic Planet”, “Planet of Incredible Creatures” and “The Savage Planet.”
So when did you first see this sci-fi social commentary animated film? Does it still hold up today?
Franck Dion’s animation “Edmond Etait Un Ane” (“Edmund Was a Donkey”) won the prize for best international short film Friday at the 26th Festival international de cinéma francophone en Acadie, held in Moncton, New Bruswick.
Jurors Chris LeBlanc, Émilie Moreault and Nisk Imbeault recognized the National Film Board of Canada release “for (Dion’s) capacity to create an effect of total immersion in in a skillfully conceptualized universe, and for the universality of the theme that can touch on all human marginalities.”
Tied for the “Coup de coeur du public” prize was Phil Comeau’s feature-length documentary Frédéric Back: Grandeur Nature. Back is a Canadian artist and director of short animated films.
Friday’s award ceremony was held during the festival’s evening at the Capitol theater.
Between December 14 and January 3, the Vancity Theatre and The Cinematheque — both located in downtown Vancouver — are co-hosting Castles in the Sky: The Masters of Studio Ghibli.
It’s a major retrospective of films from the world-renowned anime studio Studio Ghibli founded in Tokyo in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki.
Perfect for transcending the winter greys, these films prove that Studio Ghibli is every bit the equal of any animation studio in the world or in film history.
All Studio Ghibli films presented at the Vancity Theatre will be screened in 35mm in the English-language versions. All films at the Cinematheque will screen in Japanese-language prints with subtitles.
These films are open to all ages. Princess Mononoke is classified 14A; all other titles are rated G or PG. The Vancity Theatre offers a special rate of $7 for youth under 19.
Tonari No Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro)
“Best Animated Film of All Time”- Time Out Magazine
“Whenever I watch it, I smile, and smile, and smile” — Roger Ebert
Friday, December 14, 6:30 p.m.; Friday, December 21, 5 p.m.; Sunday, December 23, 3:50 p.m.; Monday, December 24, 2 p.m.; Friday, December 28, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1988, 35mm, 86 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voiced by Dakota and Elle Fanning, Tim Daly
Two little girls and their father move into a beautiful old house in the countryside to be near their mother, who is seriously ill in hospital. Largely left to fend for themselves, Mei and her big sister Satsuki encounter a strange and beautiful world of forest sprites named “Totoros.” Miyazaki’s most beloved film is simply magical and magically simple.
Kaze No Tani No Naushika (Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind)
“A joy to watch.”- New York Times
Saturday, December 15, 3 p.m.; Sunday, December 16, 4 p.m.
Japan, 1984, 35mm, 117 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazake
Voice cast includes Alison Lohman, Shia LaBeouf, Edward James Olmos, Chris Sarandon
Miyazaki’s first film as writer-director (based on his own successful manga) is an extradinarily rich fantasy film, an eco-allegory set in a feudal, toxic future and a spirited adventure movie. Led by the courageous Princess Nausicaa, the people of the Valley of the Wind are engaged in a perpetual conflict with powerful insects called “ohmu,” guardians of a poisonous (and spreading) jungle.
Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)
Enchanted and enchanting… fast and funny; weird and wonderful. Mostly wonderful.” — Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Saturday, December 15, 5:20 p.m.; Monday, December 17, 6:30 p.m.; Thursday, December 20, 5:30 p.m.; Monday, December 31, 2 p.m.
Japan, 2001, 35mm, 125 min., English, Classification: PG
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Daveigh Chase, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Michael Chiklis, John Ratzenberger
Chihiro and her parents are en route to a new home when they drive through a mysterious tunnel and enter a deserted town. When her folks start gorging on food and transform into a pair of pigs, Chihiro discovers this place is not quite as empty as she had imagined. This is a place of spirits, gods, monsters and witches.
“Picks up a resonance, weight and complexity that makes it all but Shakespearean.… No other word for it: a masterpiece.” — Tony Rayns, Time Out
“SIX STARS (exception must be made for the exceptional). Spirited Away is a feast of wonderment, a movie classic and a joy that will enrich your existence until you too are spirited away. I don’t expect ever to love a film more.” — Nigel Andrews, Financial Times
Gake No Ue No Ponyo (Ponyo On The Cliff)
“You’ll be planning to see Ponyo twice before you’ve finished seeing it once.… It offers up unforgettable images [..] images that use the logic of dreams to make the deepest possible connection to our emotions, and to our souls.”- Kenneth Turan, NPR
Sunday, December 16, 2 p.m.; Wednesday December 19, 6:30 p.m.; Monday, December 24, 3:45 p.m.; Saturday, December 29, 4:15 p.m.
Japan, 2008, 35mm, 101 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Matt Damon
Miyazaki’s strange and beguiling fantasy film about a sea spirit – it’s an odd eco fable about the terrible power of the sea, but illustrated with such beauty and imagination it transports us entirely into another world. Rated G, this is suitable for children of all ages.
“Miyazaki knows the secret language of children; he dives deep into the pool of childhood dreams and fears and, through his animagic, takes children down to where they can breathe, and feel, and be free.” — Richard Corliss, Time
Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke)
“Complex, superbly rendered, and wildly eccentric — even by Miyazaki’s own standards.”- J Hoberman, Village Voice
Sunday, December 16, 6:15 p.m.; Tue. December 18, 6:30 p.m.
Japan, 1997, 35mm, 134 min., English, Classification: 14A
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Billy Crudup, Billy Bob Thornton, Minnie Driver, Claire Danes, Gillian Anderson.
Set during the Muromachi Period (1333–1568) of Japan, Princess Mononoke is the tale of a mystical fight between humans and the Animal Gods of the forest. Aimed at a slightly older audience than most Ghibli fare (it is classified 14A), this epic folk tale shows the influence of Akira Kurosawa (a Miyazaki fan himself) and of John Ford, too. The film was the most successful ever at the Japanese box office (prior to Titanic), and named the film of the year in Japan’s equivalent to the Academy Awards.
“A symphony of action and images, a thrilling epic of warriors and monsters, forest creatures and magical spells, with an underlying allegory about the relationship of man and nature.” — Roger Ebert
Tenkû No Shiro Rapyuta (Castle in the Sky)
“Frequently astounding.” — Richard Harrington, Washington Post
Saturday, December 22, 12 noon; Sunday, December 23, 5:45 p.m.
Japan, 1986, 35mm, 124 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Anna Paquin, James Van Der Beek, Cloris Leachman
An island in the sky? The story of a young boy who sees a girl floating down from the sky. He comes to her aid in her flight from sky pirates, the army and secret agents. An adventure story influenced by Treasure Island and Gulliver’s Travels, Castle in the Sky is dynamic, imaginative family entertainment with valuable lessons about technology and ignorance.
Kurenai No Buta (Porco Rosso)
“Smooshes fantasy and history into a pastel-pretty yarn as irresistible as his feminism.” — Jeannette Catsoulis, New York Times
Saturday, December 22, 4:10 p.m.; Sunday, December 23, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1992, 35mm, 94 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Michael Keaton, Cary Elwes, Susan Egan, David Ogden Stiers
Pigs will fly! This cockeyed tribute to Humphrey Bogart and Ernest Hemingway features an anti-fascist flier (who happens to look like a pig) tracking sky pirates over the Adriatic in the 1930s. An exhilarating romp with a melancholy undertow — and amazing flying machines!
“Teems with Miyazaki’s personal passions [..] rendered with the utmost detail and beauty. As stirring as Casablanca, and as sophisticated as Only Angels Have Wings, it’s a sublime chivalric fable.” Nick Bradshaw, Time Out
Majo No Takkyûbin (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
“Astonishing in its visual splendor and delightfully entertaining, this magical family film about a little witch-in-training, from Japan’s celebrated animator Hayao Miyazaki, is not to be missed.” — Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, December 26, 2 p.m.; Wednesday, January 2, 4:15 p.m.; Thursday, January 3, 2 p.m.
Japan, 1989, 35mm, 103 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Voices: Kirsten Dunst, Debbie Reynolds, Phil Hartman, Janeane Garofalo
In keeping with tradition, 13-year-old witch Kiki dusts off her broom and flies away from home for a year of independence and self-discovery in the big city. Her only companion is her beloved black cat, Jiji.
Hauru No Ugoku Shiro (Howl’s Moving Castle)
“A stunning example of a pure, disorienting dream logic that cinema provides all too rarely.”- Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
Thursday, December 27, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, December 29, 2 p.m.
Japan, 2004, 35mm, 119 min., English
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Cast: Voices: Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons
Teenager Sophie is cursed by the Witch of Waste and finds herself trapped in the body of an old woman, and is unable to tell her mother or anyone else what has happened. She finds help of sorts with the wizard Howl, living as a servant in his astonishing walking castle. Sophie is an innocent who must prove her resourcefulness, courage and conviction in a bewildering, alien world.
Heisei Tanuki Gassen Pompoko (The Raccoon War)
“Pompoko is a delightful, often uproariously funny film, at once childishly irreverent and thoughtfully mature. Being a Ghibli work, it is beautifully rendered and technically impeccable, with a great number of memorable set pieces.”- Tom Mes, Midnight Eye
Thursday, December 27, 2:15 p.m.; Sunday, December 30, 3:30 p.m.
Japan, 1994, 35mm, 119 min., English
Directed by Isao Takahata
Voices: Jonathan Taylor Thomas, Clancy Brown, JK Simmons
Imagine Watership Down, Studio Ghibli-style. Instead of rabbits, we have raccoons. And not just any raccoons — these critters have magical powers of transformation. As their habitat is stripped and paved by the encroaching humans, the good-natured but rather undisciplined forest creatures embark on a campaign of disruption and distraction.
Neko No Ongaeshi (The Cat Returns)
“An enchanting, magical fable with a twisted vein of surrealism.” — Neil Smith, BBC
Friday, December 28, 3:45 p.m.; Sunday, December 30, 5:45 p.m.; Monday, December 31, 4:20 p.m.
Japan, 2002, 35mm, 75 min., English
Directed by Hiroyuki Morita
Voices: Anne Hathaway, Cary Elwes, Judy Greer, Elliot Gould, Tim Curry
Schoolgirl Haru bravely saves a cat’s life — and finds herself summoned to the Kingdom of the Cats for her pains, where she is to become the wife of the Cat Prince! When she refuses, she starts sprouting whiskers and furry ears.… What’s a girl to do?
Mimi O Sumaseba (Whisper of the Heart)
“A beautiful film.” — David Jenkins, Time Out
Wednesday, Janurary 2, 2 p.m.; Thursday, January 3, 4 p.m.
Japan, 1995, 35mm, 111 min., English
Directed by Yoshifumi Kondo
Voices: Brittany Snow, Cary Elwes, David Gallagher, Courtney Thorne Smith
A lovely change of pace from Studio Ghibli, this is a teenage first-love story, set in a realistically observed modern day Tokyo. Bookish schoolgirl Shizuku meets her soul mate with a little help from a portly cat.
Call the Film Info Line at (604) 683-FILM (3456) for the latest info and listings.
South Africa’s Triggerfish Studios’ 3D animated feature Khumba has been picked up for North American distribution by Millennium Entertainment. The film has just completed production. Khumba is a half-stripped zebra who sets out on a daring quest to earn his stripes.
Khumba was co-written by Anthony Silverston (Zambezia) and Raffaella Delle Donne (Zambezia), with Lion King writer Jonathan Roberts. Anthony Silverston also directed the feature, and Stuart Forrest of Triggerfish Animation (Zambezia) produced it. The film stars Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place, Rio, The Perfect Game), AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Bridge to Terebithia, Soul Surfer) and Loretta Devine (Crash, I am Sam, Grey’s Anatomy).
When Khumba, a half stripped zebra is blamed for the lack of rain by the rest of his insular, superstitious herd, he embarks on a daring quest to earn his stripes. In his search for the legendary waterhole in which the first zebras got their stripes, Khumba meets a quirky range of characters and teams up with an unlikely duo: an overprotective wildebeest, MamaV and Bradley, a self-obsessed ostrich. But before he can reunite with his herd, Khumba will have to come face to face with Phango, a scary leopard who controls the waterholes and terrorizes all the animals in the Great Karoo.
“Millennium Entertainment is eager to earn its stripes with the lovable ‘Khumba’, which marks the company’s first venture in the world of animation,” said Millennium Entertainment CEO Bill Lee. “We look forward to connecting the film and its endearing cast of animals with the whole family.”
Stuart Forrest, Triggerfish Animation Studios’ CEO stated, “This is another exciting step-up for Triggerfish Animation Studios as we continue to break new ground in establishing our company as Africa’s leading entertainment franchise. We are thrilled to be working with Millennium and feel our film is in good hands with a talented group behind the theatrical release.”
Deal was negotiated during the AFM between Millennium Entertainment’s VP of Acquisitions, Tristen Tuckfield and international sales agent Cinema Management Group’s President, Edward Noeltner whose company also handled all international sales on Triggerfish’s first 3D animated feature Zambezia.
Rainmaker Entertainment Inc. has appointed feature film and TV executive Michael Hefferon as president and executive producer, Craig Graham, newly appointed chairman and CEO of the Vancouver-based CGI animation production studio, announced.
The appointment of Hefferon reflects Rainmaker’s continuing expansion into both areas of client CGI animation services, as well as original production with entertainment partners worldwide, such as the studio’s partnership with the Weinstein Company on the upcoming feature film Escape From Planet Earth.
Hefferon joins a team of professional animation and creative talent at Rainmaker led by Kim Dent Wilder, senior vice-president of production and operations.
Hefferon brings to his leadership role at Rainmaker an extensive career in the TV and feature film industry, having produced more than 500 half-hours of programming for television and numerous theatrical motion pictures. Hefferon joins Rainmaker Entertainment from Bardel Entertainment, where he served as vice-president of business development and executive producer, and oversaw the Vancouver animation company’s numerous high-profile productions and associations with broadcasters worldwide.
He previously served as managing director of Australian CGI animation company Flying Bark Productions PTY Ltd, and as senior vice-president of production and development for German animation studio BFC Berliner Film Companie Productions GmbH, where he also was co-producer on the animated feature film Happily N’ever After.
Earlier in his career, Hefferon headed up animation co-productions for Gullane Entertainment/HIT Entertainment and served as vice-president of production and development for Toronto-based animation company Catalyst Entertainment. Hefferon also was founder and President of Phoenix Animation, his own studio, which quickly gained a reputation as a high-quality production studio with such credits as FernGully: The Last Rainforest, Thumbelina, A Goofy Movie and All Dogs Go To Heaven 2.
Hefferon will continue to serve as executive producer on his current series projects with Bardel Entertainment.
In addition to Hefferon’s appointment, Bardel Entertainment CEO Delna Bhesania was appointed to Rainmaker’s board of directors.
“We are extremely pleased to announce Michael Hefferon’s appointment to Rainmaker Entertainment. Michael ranks among the top echelon on television and film production and business executives whose extensive experience and impressive track record of success will prove to be of great benefit to our company as we continue our growth as a co-production partner and animation service provider,” said Graham.
“At the same time, we are delighted to welcome Delna Bhesania to Rainmaker’s board. A globally recognized animation executive, we look forward to Delna bringing her wealth of animation experience to our group.”
Irish animation house Brown Bag Films is set to begin pre-production on their first feature length animated film early next year. Nightglider will be co-produced by Brown Bag Films and Wind Dancer Films, and directed by Brown Bag Films’ creative director Darragh O’Connell.
Brown Bag will also be the lead animation studio for the production. Wind Dancer will partially finance the film, and secure additional financing for the project through advance international and domestic sales. Wind Dancer is best known for its live-action feature projects, including the Mel Gibson feature What Women Want. Nightglider will mark its first animated feature.
The film will be written by Jeremy Shipp, and produced by Brown Bag Films’ Gregory R. Little with Wind Dancer’s Matt Williams, David McFadzean, Dete Meserve and Judd Payne. Little developed the project and brought it to Brown Bag upon joining the company.
The animated film will tell the story of a flying squirrel raised as a tree squirrel who becomes convinced that he’s a super-hero when he discovers that he can fly.
Brown Bag Films was founded in 1994 by Cathal Gaffney and Darragh O’Connell in Dublin, Ireland. Brown Bag Films have a slate of original television and family feature properties in active development and are also engaged in international co-productions and service work.