Tag Archives: Foreign

Combustible Heats up Japan Media Arts Festival

Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

Hi No Yojin (Combustible)

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.

Cartoon of the Day: La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet)

La Planete SauvageEnglish Title: Fantastic Planet

La Plan­ete Sauvage Eng­lish Title: Fan­tas­tic Planet

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?

Animated Edmond Was a Donkey A Winner at Francophone Fest

Edmond Was a Donkey (Edmond Etait un Ãne (French)

Edmond Was a Don­key (Edmond Etait un Ãne (French)

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.

Studio Ghibli Animation Retrospective Coming to Vancouver

Studio Ghibli

Stu­dio Ghibli

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.

Cartoon Zebras From South Africa Get Distributor

Khumba

Khumba

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.

Michael Hefferon Appointed President of Rainmaker Animation

Rainmaker Entertainment

Rain­maker Entertainment

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.”

Ireland To Brown Bag An Animated Film

Brown Bag Films

Brown Bag Films

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.

 

Watch NFB Films Free in Canada’s Public Libraries

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

The National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Through its Film Club, the National Film Board of Canada is a priv­i­leged part­ner of pub­lic libraries across the country.

This win­ter, the NFB is pre­sent­ing both clas­sics and new releases in four pro­grams for gen­eral audi­ences and one for children.

To mark Inter­na­tional Women’s Day, March 8, the NFB will be pre­sent­ing screen­ings of the ani­mated short An Artist. In Michèle Cournoyer’s An Artist, a girl demon­strates her gift for music.

Also on offer this win­ter is a pro­gram fea­tur­ing the short films The Vis­i­tor, directed by David Barlow-Krelina as part of the Hot­house 8 pro­gram for emerg­ing ani­ma­tors; and Islet, Nico­las Brault’s whim­si­cal ani­mated ode to the Arctic.

Libraries that screen Islet will be entered into a draw to win the 24-film box set Unikkau­sivut: Shar­ing Our Sto­ries, val­ued at $899.

Chil­dren will love the var­ied pro­gram of five ani­mated films that the NFB has curated for them. It includes HA’Aki by Iriz Pääbo, Sainte Barbe by Claude Bar­ras and Cédric Louis, Christo­pher, Please Clean Up Your Room! by Vin­cent Gau­thier, Glasses by Brian Duch­scherer and the new release Big Mouth by Andrea Dorfman.

For more infor­ma­tion on the NFB Film Club, call Mar­i­anne Di Domenico at (514) 283‑8953 or visit m.didomenico(at)-onf.ca.

Brasil Animado 3D Cartoon Movie Offered for Distribution

Brasil Animado

Brasil Ani­mado

The stereo­scopic “Brasil Ani­mado 3D” is among the slate of fea­ture films from the acqui­si­tions team at ITN Dis­tri­b­u­tion Inc. which will be offered at the 2012 Amer­i­can Film Mar­ket, tak­ing place from Octo­ber 31 to Novem­ber 7 at the Loews Santa Mon­ica Beach hotel.

This year’s films are a mix of high-concept inde­pen­dents in a vari­ety of gen­res, includ­ing ani­ma­tion, hor­ror, thriller, drama, romance, war, action, fam­ily and sci-fi.

In the 80-minute Brasil Ani­mado 3D, Stress is a busi­ness­man who is always look­ing for a new invest­ment oppor­tu­nity. Relax is a film­maker who has been try­ing to get Stress to invest in his projects.

One day, Relax sets up for a meet­ing under the great pink jequitibá, the old­est tree in Brazil. Stress likes the idea, espe­cially because he sees how prof­itable it could be if he charged vis­i­tors to see the tree. The prob­lem is that nei­ther knows where it is. There­fore, they embark in a jour­ney through­out Brazil search­ing for it.

ITN will be con­duct­ing sales for ter­ri­to­ries world­wide in Loews 705. ITN Dis­tri­b­u­tion, Inc. is a lead­ing inde­pen­dent film dis­tri­b­u­tion com­pany that spe­cial­izes in high-quality, star dri­ven inde­pen­dent films for the inter­na­tional and domes­tic TV, VOD, DVD and the­atri­cal markets.

ITN releases 24 films per year with ITN’s direct con­nec­tion to all major retail­ers and rentals in North Amer­ica, such as Red­box, Net­Flix, Wal-Mart, Block­buster, Tar­get and Video-On-Demand. ITN pro­duces, dis­trib­utes and acquires films worldwide.

I am always thrilled to have a pres­ence at AFM and expect busi­ness to be very brisk at our office,” said ITN pres­i­dent Stu­art Alson. “With inde­pen­dent film soar­ing to new lev­els, the demand for our film library is sig­nif­i­cantly higher this year. As always, our team’s objec­tive is to nego­ti­ate and close the best pos­si­ble deals with key buy­ers from around the world.”

A full cat­a­log of ITN titles and trail­ers can be viewed at itndistribution.com.

Creators of Chicken Run Release A Pig’s Tail

A Pig's Tail

A Pig’s Tail

The Humane Soci­ety of the United States has teamed up with Acad­emy Award-winning film com­pany Aard­man Ani­ma­tions to pro­duce a four-minute ani­mated children’s film titled “A Pig’s Tale” expos­ing prob­lems with fac­tory farm­ing from the per­spec­tive of a piglet named Ginger.

The film’s release coin­cides with Food Day, a national move­ment for healthy, sus­tain­able food.

Aard­man Ani­ma­tions, cre­ators of Chicken Run, Wal­lace and Gromit and other beloved ani­mated fea­ture films, pro­duced the short film A Pig’s Tale under a grant from the Steven C. Leuthold Fam­ily Foundation.

The Humane Soci­ety of the United States is thrilled to cel­e­brate Food Day with the release of this endear­ing and edu­ca­tional short film,” said Joe Maxwell, vice-president of out­reach and engage­ment at The HSUS. “We hope A Pig’s Tail will launch a con­ver­sa­tion about how food gets to the table and help end inhu­mane prac­tices in the pork industry.”

Added Aard­man Ani­ma­tions direc­tor Sarah Cox: “I was very proud to direct this film for The Humane Soci­ety of the United States because it is about an issue I pas­sion­ately believe in. It is so impor­tant that chil­dren under­stand where their food really comes from, par­tic­u­larly the con­nec­tion between meat prod­ucts and the treat­ment of the ani­mals that they are made from. I wanted the cam­paign to be pos­i­tive and opti­mistic, so I cre­ated a strong and lik­able lead char­ac­ter — a lit­tle piglet called Gin­ger — and gave the story a happy end­ing because that is ulti­mately what we are try­ing to achieve.”

The film fea­tures voices from actress Cather­ine Taber and voice actor James Arnold Tay­lor of the ani­mated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Orig­i­nal music was pro­duced by singer and song­writer Steven Delopoulos.

The film, intended for chil­dren ages 7 to 10 and acces­si­ble to all audi­ences, fol­lows Gin­ger and her mother as they expe­ri­ence life on a typ­i­cal indus­trial fac­tory farm. After Gin­ger is taken from her mother, she is deter­mined to escape. The film fol­lows her jour­ney, and the evo­lu­tion of a farmer who opens his eyes to a more humane and sus­tain­able way of farming.

The film cen­ters on indus­trial pig farm­ing, where most breed­ing pigs are con­fined day and night dur­ing their four-month preg­nancy in ges­ta­tion crates, cages roughly the same size as the ani­mals’ bod­ies, pre­vent­ing them from even turn­ing around. The pigs are then placed into another crate to give birth, re-impregnated, and put back into a ges­ta­tion crate. This hap­pens preg­nancy after preg­nancy for their entire lives, adding up to years of vir­tual immobilization.

Recently, such lead­ing food com­pa­nies as McDon­alds, Burger King, Wendy’s, Cracker Bar­rel, Oscar Mayer, Costco, ConA­gra and Kroger have agreed to elim­i­nate ges­ta­tion crates from their pork sup­ply chains. This cor­po­rate shift away from crates comes on the heels of nine Amer­i­can state laws ban­ning the crates.

A Pig’s Tail is avail­able online.