Tag Archives: Premier

The Croods Coming Out of Cave at Berlin Festival

The Croods

The Croods

DreamWorks Animation’s prehistoric comedy-adventure movie The Croods will have its world premiere at the 63rd Berlin International Film Festival, it was revealed Thursday.

Directed by Kirk De Micco (Space Chimps) and Chris Sanders (How to Train Your Dragon), and with the voices of Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone and Ryan Reynolds, the 3D movie will be screened out of competition.

Also known as the Berlinale, the festival runs from February 7 to 17 next year. The Croods is scheduled for general release March 22. Co-produced by Nickelodeon Movies and Paramount Pictures along with DWA, it will be distributed by 20th Century Fox.

The Croods takes us back to a previously undiscovered era in the history of our planet known as the Croodaceous, when nature was still a work-in-progress… full of never-before-seen creatures and landscapes.

An old school caveman must lead his family across a volatile prehistoric landscape in search of a new home. The outsized flora and fauna are challenge enough, but the real complication arises when the family is joined by an alarmingly modern caveman whose search for “tomorrow” is at odds with our hero’s reliance on the traditions of yesterday. The imaginative and resourceful newcomer helps the Croods navigate their way through the fantastic world beyond their cave.

This marks Sanders’ first work as a solo director for DreamWorks Animation. He had amassed a list of animation film credits for rival Disney.

DreamWorks first announced the movie — then titled Crood Awakening — in 2005 with British studio Aardman Animations, which had a five-picture agreement with DreamWorks at the time. Three films were made together. Financial results proved disappointing, so DreamWorks and Aardman parted ways in late January 2007.

Turkeys Ready To Be Served in November 2014



The animated comedy “Turkeys” will be released November 14, 2014, Relativity Media and Reel FX announced Thursday.

Turkeys is helmed by Jimmy Hayward, director of box office hit Horton Hears A Who! and animator on such films as Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Monsters Inc. The film is jointly produced and financed by Relativity and Reel FX, and is now set for theatrical release.

The film stars the voice talent of Owen Wilson, who previously voiced Lightning McQueen in Disney-Pixar’s Cars; Woody Harrelson from The Hunger Games; and Dan Fogler, who previously voiced Zeng in Dreamworks Animation’s Kung Fu Panda. Producing are Scott Mosier (Clerks), Craig Mazin (The Hangover Part II), John Strauss (The Santa Claus 2) and David l. Stern (Hotel Transylvania). The screenplay was written by Stern and Strauss, with a rewrite by Mazin. The film will be distributed worldwide by Relativity.

Turkeys is an irreverent, hilarious, adventurous buddy comedy where two turkeys from opposite sides of the tracks must put aside their differences and team up to travel back in time to change the course of history — and get turkey off the menu for good.

Reel FX is a fully-integrated movie studio that develops and produces both animated films and live-action movies. In addition to Turkeys, Reel FX’s growing animation slate includes Day of the Dead (Guillermo del Toro producing) and Beasts of Burden (Aron Warner and Andrew Adamson producing). Reel FX’s own film slate follows almost 20 years of experience as an award-winning one-stop studio for animated content, including films, special attraction/live venue projects and interactive projects, for companies like DreamWorks Animation, Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios.

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.

Persistence of Vision World Premiere in Vancouver


Persistence Of Vision

Persistence Of Vision

Persistence of Vision, a documentary film about acclaimed Canadian animator Richard Williams, will premiere to the world at this years Vancouver International Film Festival. The  83 minute film will show Thursday, October 4th, 6:00 PM @ the Empire Granville 7 Cinemas Theatre #4. The showing will be followed by a Q&A with director/producer Kevin Schreck plus a special guest animator.

First conceived in September 2007, Persistence of Vision began in development as director/producer Kevin Schreck’s senior project at Bard College in August 2009. Filming began in earnest a year later in August 2010, with editing finished about march of 2012.

To pay for such a complex and in-depth film, Schreck “crowd-sourced” his funding through creative project funding website Kickstarter. After posting his project on the site, the general public pledged over eight thousand dollars toward the completion of the film- some even earning producer credits in the film for their larger contributions.

Persistence Of Vision

Persistence Of Vision

Persistence of Visionis a documentary look at Richard Williams and his thirty year attempt to make the animated film The Thief And The Cobbler. It was to be the greatest animated film of all time. Not just an eye-opener, but a game-changer. Richard Williams demanded nothing less, investing nearly three decades into his movie masterpiece.

Still best known today for the animated portions of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the Canadian producer-director came to the UK in the 1950s and won accolades for his short films. He formed a production company and reaped the boom in animated commercials and movie credit sequences. But from as early as 1964 he ploughed most of the profits right back into his pet project, a feature inspired by the Arabian Nights and provisionally known as Mullah Nasruddin.

He assembled a team of inspired young artists—and brought in the best Hollywood craftsmen to teach them—and devised what would be the most elaborate, kaleidoscopic, mind-boggling visual sequences ever committed to celluloid. Years passed. Potential financiers came and went. Work continued. But it was only after Roger Rabbit that Williams had a studio budget to corroborate the munificence of his imagination. After 25 years and as many million dollars in the making his labor of love finally saw the light of day…

Kevin Schreck’s documentary is essential viewing on three counts: it showcases Williams’ dazzling, often unprecedented visuals; it reveals how these staggering effects were created; and it’s a heartbreaking portrait of artistic obsession running smack into the business of show…

Burton’s Frankenweenie opens London Film Festival

Frankenweenie (2012)

Frankenweenie (2012)

This year’s BFI London Film Festival festival will open Wednesday, October 10 with the European premiere of Disney’s Frankenweenie, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Tim Burton, organizers announced Thursday.

In partnership with American Express and Disney, and in a first for the festival, the opening night screening and red carpet will go live from Odeon Leicester Square to BFI IMAX and 30 screens across the UK. The 56th festival will also host The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition from October 17 to 21.

Frankenweenie is a heartwarming tale about a boy and his dog. After unexpectedly losing his beloved dog Sparky, young Victor harnesses the power of science to bring his best friend back to life — with just a few minor adjustments. He tries to hide his home-sewn creation, but when Sparky gets out, Victor’s fellow students, teachers and the entire town all learn that getting a new “leash on life” can be monstrous.

Frankenweenie 3D

Frankenweenie 3D

A visually stunning black and white, stop-motion animated film in 3D, Frankenweenie‘s voice cast includes Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short, Martin Landau, Charlie Tahan, Atticus Shaffer, Robert Capron, Conchata Ferrell and Winona Ryder. Disney will release the film in the United Kingdom on October 17.

Burton, Ryder, Short, O’Hara, Landau, producer Allison Abbate and executive producer Don Hahn are expected to attend the festival.

In a first for the BFI London Film Festival opening night, Frankenweenie will receive a simultaneous premiere in 30 cinemas nationwide, with audiences across the United Kingdom able to enjoy footage from the Leicester Square red carpet prior to the screenings. This event is part of the festival’s drive to reach a diverse British audience and put the public at the heart of the festival-going experience.

Frankenweenie is the first animated film that Burton has directed for Disney. Burton also produced along with Abbate, with Hahn serving as executive producer. The screenplay is by John August, based on an original idea by Burton.

BFI head of exhibition Clare Stewart comments on her first opening night choice as festival director:

“Funny, dark and whimsical, this gloriously crafted stop-motion 3D animation from Tim Burton — the reigning prince of outsiders — playfully turns the Frankenstein story on its bolted-on head. Frankenweenie is a perfect choice of opener — it’s a film that revels in the magic of movies from one of cinema’s great visionaries. Tim Burton has chosen London as his home city and hundreds of talented British craftspeople have contributed to this production. To host the European premiere, to present The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition and to take our opening night out to 30 screens means we are making the festival even more accessible for film fans across the UK.”

Abbate adds:

“I am delighted that Frankenweenie, which was produced here in London at 3 Mills Studios, will be opening the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Living and working in the UK, I’ve been able to collaborate with some of the most talented artists in the industry, including the puppet designers and fabricators from Manchester-based Mackinnon & Saunders. In the last nine years, I’ve attended the festival as both a filmmaker and guest, and I know how passionate and enthusiastic the audiences are, so I am thrilled to share the film’s European premiere with them.”

Colin Walsh, managing director of American Express UK, adds:

“We’re thrilled to be further strengthening our partnership with the BFI and the Festival through our support for this year’s opening night gala. In addition to Frankenweenie being a much-anticipated film, what makes this year’s opening night so special is the opportunity for audiences across the country to experience the excitement of a West End premiere. That, coupled with the interactive exhibition giving people an insight behind the scenes of the film, is sure to make this a fantastic start to this year’s festival.”

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition is supported by American Express. The exhibition runs from October 17 to 21 (with a press preview and preview for American Express card members October 16) and will be free to the public. For information on tickets, see bfi.org.uk/lff , starting September 5.

Hours of meticulous work have gone into the making of Frankenweenie, perfecting the figures and characters that bring this amazing story to life. The BFI London Film Festival is presenting the exhibition in association with Disney and principal partner American Express.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition captures the magic of the filmmaking process and gives audiences an exclusive glimpse into the stop-motion animation process brought to life by visionary filmmaker Tim Burton. From original sketches drawn by Burton, to extensive props, sets and puppets, the exhibition showcases the artistic detail and vision that has gone into bringing this heartwarming tale to the big screen in 2012’s most highly anticipated animated movie. The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition delves into the world of a boy who, inspired by science and the love of his dog, brings his beloved pet back from the dead.

There will be exciting workshop opportunities for education audiences to explore the production of Frankenweenie via guided tours of the Exhibit, meeting some of the talented people who made the film and trying their hand at the skills required for animation and set design.

The Art of Frankenweenie Exhibition will take place next door to the BFI Southbank at Southbank Centre’s Festival Village.

The 56th BFI London Film Festival in partnership with American Express runs from Wednesday, October 10 to Sunday, October 21. The full program for the festival will be announced at the press launch Wednesday, September 5.

Nickelodeon’s Robot & Monster Premieres Today

Robot & Monster

Robot & Monster

Nickelodeon’s brand-new CG-animated buddy comedy, Robot and Monster, premieres on Saturday, August 4 at 11:00 a.m. (ET/PT). The series follows the friendship and adventures of the most unlikely best-friend duo, Robot, a mechanical and self-proclaimed genius, and Monster, a happy-go-lucky organic. These pals live in a strange world where robots and monsters, also known as mechanicals and organics, live side-by-side and everybody is united by a love for bacon.

Together, the relentlessly ambitious Robot and pathologically content Monster form an unlikely friendship. Forged in the fires of childhood, they are now inseparable as they try to find their way in the world.

In the premiere episode, “Monster’s Great Escape,” Monster is shocked to discover that Robot had played a practical joke on him during their youth. So, Monster decides to get even by pulling an elaborate prank on Robot. However, practical jokes don’t come naturally to Monster and the joke he pulls ends up being on himself. Next in “Game Boys,” Monster helps Robot achieve his life-long dream of playing in a Pole-O game, a combination between rugby and caber tossing. This could very well be the highlight of Robot’s life… assuming he survives.

Robot & Monster is written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia, real life best friends and comedy veterans who have written for such hits as Rio, The Simpsons, That 70’s Show and Surviving Christmas. David Pressler created the characters Robot and Monster. He is the artist and character designer who has used sculpture and illustration to fuse two of his primary passions, fine art and entertainment.

Brave To Open June 18 at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre



Disney-Pixar’s “Brave” extends its pioneering spirit to its world premiere on June 18, marking the grand opening of Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre.

The red-carpet event is a special presentation for Film Independent’s 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival.

Premiering in Dolby 3D, a state-of-the-art imaging solution providing audiences with a superior 3D experience, Brave is an epic tale set in the mystical Scottish Highlands where the film’s headstrong protagonist, Merida, is forced to discover the meaning of true bravery. The film hits theatres across North America on June 22.

“With a spirited heroine and enchanting setting in the ancient Scottish Highlands, Brave represents some exciting firsts for Pixar,” said Ricky Strauss, president of marketing at the Walt Disney Studios. “We are proud that the world premiere of Brave will serve as the inaugural premiere at the new Dolby Theatre as part of the LA Film Festival, a fitting way to launch Merida’s extraordinary adventure.”

According to Ramzi Haidamus, executive vice-president of sales and marketing at Dolby Laboratories, the 180,000-square-foot, 3,400-seat Dolby Theatre will be a world stage for entertainment and a top venue to host world premieres and launch events.

“The world premiere of Disney-Pixar’s Brave in conjunction with the LA Film Festival is perfect for kicking off the next era for Dolby,” said Haidamus. “We are committed to creating the best entertainment experiences, and now with the grand opening of the Dolby Theatre, we are honored to host the best as well. This is the first of many exclusive and exciting events — from movie premieres to awards ceremonies — in which Dolby and our technologies will play a featured role.”

Celebrating 18 years, the Los Angeles Film Festival will make the special presentation available to festival attendees with platinum all-access or gold passes. An additional gala screening of the film will be held the next day at Regal Cinemas at L.A. LIVE for pass and ticket holders.

“We are thrilled to present the world premiere of Brave, a beautiful adventure story, to our LA Film Fest audience,” said festival director Stephanie Allain. “As Disney-Pixar’s first film with a female protagonist, it fits perfectly with our celebration of Women in Animation programming we’ll be holding during the Festival.”

The Brave world premiere is sponsored by VisitScotland.

Nick To Debut Skateboard Series April 27

Wild Grinders

Wild Grinders

Professional skateboarder and entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek (star of MTV’s Rob & Big, Fantasy Factory and Ridiculousness) brings a cartoon comedy, set against the exciting backdrop of the sport of skateboarding, to Nicktoons with the new series, Wild Grinders, premiering Friday, April 27, at 7:00 p.m.

Inspired by Dyrdek’s real-life experiences, each original half-hour episode follows the adventures of a group of friends bonded by their love of skateboarding. The 26-episode series, created and executive produced by Dyrdek, is produced in partnership with Home Plate Entertainment and Dyrdek’s Four Down Productions. Agogo Corporation, Moonscoop, Telegael and Copernicus Studios are also co-producers on the HD production. Following the premiere, Wild Grinders will air regularly on Fridays at 7:00 p.m. (ET) on Nicktoons.

“Partnering with Rob Dyrdek on his passion project has allowed Nicktoons to show viewers an entertaining new branch of Rob’s increasingly popular brand,” says Keith Dawkins, SVP/General Manger Nicktoons & TeenNick. “Rob’s established fan base and new viewers will enjoy watching the antics of Lil Rob in this new series featuring authentic characters in fun and extreme situations. Wild Grinders illustrates the increasingly popular sport of skateboarding and the culture that surrounds it.”

Wild Grinders becoming an animated series and airing on Nicktoons is another one of my boyhood dreams come true. I came up with the name when I was eleven years old, when I needed a name for my first skate crew – who knew it would turn into such a mega brand. The journey we took to get to this point has been nothing but WILD,” says Rob Dyrdek, creator and executive producer of Wild Grinders. “This series has everything, comedy, action and skateboarding. It is something I am very proud of and definitely will be a series kids will love for years.”

Wild Grinders is a kickin’ animated comedy about Lil Rob, a quick-thinking skater kid. The series also features Lil Rob’s talking right-hand dog Meaty (inspired by his own bull-dog of the same name), his best friend Goggles, and their middle school skate crew. The series follows the friends, known as Wild Grinders, on their escapades around their hometown of Sprawl City and at their beloved skate spot, The Lot. This smart, witty and talented posse from diverse backgrounds skate in and out of dilemmas, undertake new challenges and experience adventures together. From an undersea skating quest (inspired by Dyrdek’s real life dive with sharks) to starring in a zany reality show, each episode of Wild Grinders is infused with fun and friendship.

The Wild Grinders cast includes: Rob Dyrdek as the voice of Lil Rob and Gene; Chelsea Chanel Dudley, the rapping receptionist from the Fantasy Factory, as the voice of FLIPZ; Sterling Brim, Rob’s co-host on MTV’s Ridiculousness, as the voice of Meaty; Kel Mitchell, Nickelodeon’s Kenan & Kel, as the voice of Jay Jay; and comedian Erin Fitzgerald, Ed, Edd & Eddy, Monster High, as the voice of Stubford, the self proclaimed nemesis of Lil Rob.

In the premiere episode, “Deconstructed,” the Wild Grinders must figure out a way to save their beloved vacant lot skate spot from Track Huckersterball, the meglo-maniacal, greedy local business man, who plans to use the land to build a theme park. Then in “Close-Up,” hotshot TV Network head honcho Chip Fliggington is looking for a new reality star. When Lil Rob catches his eye, Chip casts him and the Grinders in a series of terrible reality shows.

The Wild Grinders series will be distributed internationally by Moonscoop, who also serves as the consumer products provider/supplier.

Cat in Paris, Gruffalo’s Child premiere in Florida

Une Vie de Chat

Une Vie de Chat

The Oscar-nominated French animated feature “A Cat in Paris” and the British featurette “The Gruffalo’s Child” will both have their southeastern United States premieres at the Florida Film Festival, to be held from April 13 to 22.

Both films can be seen at 4 p.m. Saturday, April 14 at the Garden Theatre and at 12 noon Sunday, April 15 at Regal Winter Park Village A.

The premier showcase in Central Florida for American independent and international film, the 2012 Florida Film Festival will have 168 films representing 31 countries. In a record-breaking year, the festival received more entries (1700+), and is offering more films and world premieres (28) than ever before.

Directed by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol, the 65-minute Une Vie De Chat (A Cat in Paris) is presented in French with English subtitles. Folimage, the distinguished animation studio behind Mia Et Le Migou (Mia and the Magoo), now brings us this brilliantly hand-drawn adventure set in the shadow-drenched alleyways of France’s City of Lights.

Dino is a cat that leads a double life. During the day he lives a comfortable pet existence with his owner Zoé, a little girl who refuses to talk, and her mother Jeanne, a police detective. At night he assists Nico, an agile yet honorable burglar, in high-end robberies. One night, Zoé decides to follow Dino on his escapades, and the troubles begin.

Nominated for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Academy Awards, European Film Awards, and Cesar (French Oscars) Awards, this thoroughly charming gem is a true delight and clever homage to classic film noir. Children and parents alike will enjoy the unique visual style, the acrobatic chases from rooftop to rooftop across the Paris skyline, and the amazing Billie Holiday and Django Reinhardt soundtrack. What an experience!

It’s preceded by the 27-minute The Gruffalo’s Child, directed by Johannes Weiland and Uwe Heidschotter. This equally endearing companion film to the 2010 Oscar nominee for Best Animated Short, 2009’s The Gruffalo, features the same all-star cast of voices, including Helena Bonham Carter, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson and Robbie Coltrane. An eager young Gruffalo (voiced by Shirley Henderson) ignores her father’s warnings and embarks on a late-night adventure in search of the Big Bad Mouse. She meets Snake, Owl and Fox, but no sign of the fabled Mouse…. Does he really exist?

Showing in competition, Shorts Program 5: Animated Shorts – with a total running time of 89 minutes — will be screened at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 18 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, April 21 at Enzian. Here’s a rundown:

Fresh Guacamole (dir. PES; U.S.A., 2012, 1.5 min.)
World Premiere
New York stop-motion legend PES (Roof Sex, Western Spaghetti, The Deep) is back with this latest take on the culinary arts. Pass the chips!

The Flying House
(dirs. Winsor McCay, Bill Plympton; U.S.A., 1921/2012, 8.5 min.)
Southeast Premiere
Restored, remastered, and now featuring the voice talents of Patricia Clarkson and Matthew Modine, Winsor McCay’s timely and topical classic short film from 1921 has been lovingly brought back to life for a whole new generation by Florida Film Festival favorite Bill Plympton.

(notes on) biology
(dir. Ornana; U.S.A., 2011, 6 min.)
Florida Premiere
An animated account of an organism adapting to its environment. Nothing fights boredom like a superhero elephant!

(dir. Kangmin Kim; U.S.A./South Korea, 2011, 8 min.)
East Coast Premiere
A film about the relationship between a son, a father and a birthmark. Induced by the intense heat of an old Korean bathhouse, a man falls into a dream and relives an important memory.

Another Dress, Another Button
(dir. Lyn Elliot; U.S.A., 2011, 3 min.)
Florida Premiere
Ever wonder what happens to all those spare buttons that come with new clothes?

Miss Devine
(dirs. Mike Rauch, Tim Rauch; U.S.A., 2010, 3.5 min.)
Southeast Premiere
In this StoryCorps animated documentary, cousins recall their Sunday school teacher and neighbor from their childhood growing up in Bradenton, Florida.

(dir. Jonah D. Ansell; U.S.A., 2011, 8 min.)
Featuring the voice talents of Christopher Lloyd and Kathy Bates, and “inspired by the wit of Shel Silverstein and wisdom of William Shakespeare,” this bittersweet love story in verse features a dead old man who wants to say a last goodbye to his wife.

Flowers for Jupiter
(dir. Chris Mars; U.S.A., 2011, 6 min.)
East Coast Premiere
Blending multiple animation styles and live action, renowned visual artist and former Replacements drummer Chris Mars brings his surreal vision to life in this beautifully creepy and macabre tale of a young girl who has lost a finger in an accident she can barely remember.

Summer Bummer
(dir. Bill Plympton; U.S.A., 2011, 2 min.)
Southeast Premiere
A man with a case of shark paranoia hesitates before diving into a pool. Classic Bill!

Dr. Breakfast
(dir. Stephen Neary; U.S.A., 2011, 7 min.)
Southeast Premiere
A surreal meditation on the quirky but rejuvenating nature of friendship. When a man’s soul bursts out of his eyeball and roams the earth on a destructive path, two wild deer care for his catatonic body.

Tales of Mere Existence: “Random Observations About Sex” & “Sick of This
(dir. Lev Yilmaz; U.S.A., 2011, 6 min.)
World Premiere
Past Florida Film Festival multiple Audience Award-winner Lev from San Francisco returns with two more one-of-a-kind commentaries on sex, relationships, and the state of things: “Random Observations About Sex” and “Sick of This.”

Floyd the Android – “Dim Bulb
(dir. Jonathan Lyons; U.S.A., 2011, 2 min.)
An enterprising robot must change a light bulb in a display at the top of an extremely tall skyscraper.

Reddish Brown, Blueish Green
(dir. Samantha Gurry; U.S.A., 2011, 3 min.)
Southeast Premiere
Inspired by a baby book found on the street in Philadelphia, this unique work uses found objects as a catalyst to explore a family’s destructive journey through childhood.

Bedtime for Timmy
(dirs. Thomas Nicol, Becky Griesheimer; U.S.A., 2010, 3 min.)
Florida Premiere
It’s not easy to get to sleep when you’re convinced there’s a monster in the room.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day
(dir. Don Hertzfeldt; U.S.A., 2012, 23 min.)
Bill finds himself in a hospital struggling with memory problems in this stunningly adventurous conclusion to the two-time Best Animated Short Grand Jury Award-winning trilogy by Enzian/Florida Film Festival veteran Don Hertzfeldt (Everything Will Be OK and I Am So Proud of You).

With a total running time of 91 minutes, International Animated Shorts will be seen at 5:45 Saturday, April 21 at Regal Winter Park Village B and 1 p.m. Sunday, April 22 at Enzian. This is what’s on tap:

Things You’d Better Not Mix Up
(dir. Joost Lieuwma; Netherlands, 2010, 2 min.)
North American Premiere
Sometimes you just have to point out the obvious. Charming beyond all measure, this light-hearted romp offers one chuckle after another.

The Last Norwegian Troll
(dir. Pjotr Sapegin; Norway, 2010, 13 min.)
Southeast Premiere
Humble is the Norwegian landscape in this whimsical tale of a once-young troll who wakes up old and alone in the modern world. Featuring the voice of Max von Sydow.

(dir. Richard Mans; New Zealand, 2011, 5 min.)
East Coast Premiere
The world was once a bleak and desolate place. When a band of imaginative sci-fi creatures arrives, they bear the secret of life and all its beauty.

(dir. Juan Pablo Zaramella; Argentina, 2011, 6.5 min.)
Florida Premiere
A common man has a secret plan to escape the clockwork of his life. When his beautiful and equally inventive co-worker discovers his ploy, she shows him it takes two to tango.

(dir. Blanca Esteve; Spain, 2011, 1.5 min.)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Southeast Premiere
Morphing black and white imagery complements this poem about a special kind of woman.

A Morning Stroll
(dir. Grant Orchard; United Kingdom, 2011, 7 min.)
This nifty little chicken never misses his morning stroll. Winner of the Sundance 2012 Jury Prize in Animated Short Film and nominated for the 2011 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film.

Bride Can
(dir. Ronak Taher; Australia/Iran, 2011, 7 min.)
East Coast Premiere/Second U.S. Screening
Blunt and artful criticisms on gender oppression and the objectification of women in Iranian society are the subjects of this surreal, Python-esque animated work.

The Maker
(dir. Christopher Kezelos; Australia, 2011, 5 min.)
Florida Premiere
Recognizing your purpose in life can make for a lonesome reality. The puppet and the puppet-maker rely heavily on one another in this harsh, romantic tale.

The Holy Chicken of Life and Music
(dir. Nomint; Greece, 2011, 3 min.)
Southeast Premiere
There is no reason. There is only the chicken.

(dir. Tor Fruergaard; Denmark, 2011, 8 min.)
In Danish with English subtitles
Southeast Premiere
A claymation couple attempts to reignite their sex life by visiting an illicit swingers lounge. Adultery has never looked so adorable.

Prita Noire [Black Doll]
(dir. Sofia Carrillo; Mexico, 2011, 8 min.)
In Spanish with English subtitles
Florida Premiere
Prita’s curiosity pushes her to break the boundaries of her strange and confined existence.

Robots of Brixton
(dir. Kibwe Tavares; United Kingdom, 2011, 5.5 min.)
East Coast Premiere/Second U.S. Screening
Sitting on the brink of a social collapse, the youth of this futuristic city are thrust into chaos when police forces invade, and the strained inner-city populace erupts into violence echoing that of 1981.

The Goat and the Well
(dir. Ben Cady; United Kingdom, 2010, 5 min.)
East Coast Premiere
A determined little goat wreaks havoc on a grouchy old lady fetching water and milk.

The Gloaming
(dir. Nobrain; France, 2010, 14 min.)
East Coast Premiere
A man who wakes up stranded in a desert plain stumbles across an odd puddle. From the moment he molds it into his world, he’s lost control of its fate… and his.

Also at the FFF, Academy Award-winning director, screenwriter and producer Barry Levinson will present Liberty Heights and engage the audience in a live Q&A. Foodies will unite for a one-of-a-kind discussion on books, blogs, TV and film provided by culinary superstars Marcel Vigneron (Syfy Network’s Marcel’s Quantum Kitchen, Bravo’s Top Chef), Chad J. Galiano, Gui Alinat, Jeff Potter and Martha Hall Foose.

The complete schedule of films and events is officially launched and available online at www.FloridaFilmFestival.com. Ticket prices start at $10.

Connery’s animated “Sir Billi” premieres in Sonoma

Sir Billi

Sir Billi

Sir Billi,” the first full-length animated feature to be produced entirely in Scotland, will get its first international screening April 13 at the 15th annual Sonoma International Film Festival.

“We are thrilled to host the U.S. premiere of Sir Billi, featuring the powerfully dynamic voice of Sir Sean Connery. Tessa and Sascha Hartmann have produced a highly entertaining, family-oriented film that sizzles with fun, non-stop action and an awesome title track sung by Dame Shirley Bassey, which was composed by Sascha. Bring on the Scots!” said festival director Kevin McNeely.

The Hartmanns, the husband-and-wife duo who produced Sir Billi, will arrive in the United States for the film’s premiere.

“We chose the Sonoma International Film Festival because it’s a festival with a difference, where the personal approach by the organizers gives one a feeling of passion and consideration, where every independent film they select is important,” said Tessa Hartmann.

Screened in the festival’s marquee theatre — the 1930s Renaissance-style Sebastiani Theatre — the film will screen at 5 p.m. April 13. Festival passes are available now, and individual film tickets will be available for purchase after April 2. Tickets and passes can be purchased by visiting SonomaFilmFest.org or calling the box office at (707) 206-4484.

Sascha Hartmann directed Sir Billi from a screenplay written by his wife, based on an original story they developed together. John Fraser is producer, with Connery serving as executive producer.

“Ours could be perceived as a ‘David and Goliath’ adventure in market terms but where else is one to start if venturing into animation? Shoot for the top with the talent and simply deliver something that the audience responds to. We are the epitome of the underdog! The underdog that with firm resolve, persistence and tenacity created something that is close to being called miraculous — a finished film,’ said Sascha Hartmann.

Expanded to a feature length CGI film from a 2006 short concept, this is a roller-coaster adventure about the race to save the last beaver in Scotland, led by Sir Billi and voiced by Academy Award winner Connery. Sir Billi is a vet by profession, skateboarder by passion and grandfather by love. He is joined by Tony Award winner Alan Cumming (The Good Wife), who voices Gordon, a goat and Sir Billi’s confidante.

Connery has been heavily involved in the making of the film since its inception and eagerly agreed to take on the lead role of Sir Billi after being contacted by the husband-and wife-producing team.

“I’m excited to be a part of this incredible film and Scotland’s first animated feature,” said Connery. “Sir Billi is truly a first-class film, with an exceptional cast, and is sure to delight audiences of all ages. There’s an incredible amount of work that goes into animated productions, and I am delighted that Sascha and his team have completed what has been a labor of love. I am thrilled with the final cut!”

Academy Award-nominated Scottish composer Patrick Doyle (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Sense and Sensibility“, created the film’s music score and also lends his voice as a key character in the film.

Sir Billi‘s endearing multi-generational family story and cliff-hanger action spikes in the storyline provided me with just the right elements to compose a score I’m proud to say is among my best work to date,” said Doyle. “My goal was to shine a light on the soul of this colorful cast of loveble characters through the power of music.”

“Being a part of Sir Billi meant so much because animation has always been a fascination of mine especially because I am from Scotland and know all of the areas where the film is based,” said Doyle. “The fresh look of Sir Billi and its original storyline gave me all the inspiration needed to create some of the best composition work I feel I’ve done.”

British singing legend Bassey also joined the project to perform the title track “Guardian of the Highlands,” marking the first time that Connery and Bassey have worked together since the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Bassey was also seen last summer on the red carpet at the Scottish Fashion Awards escorted by the film’s director, Sascha Hartmann. She was wearing a couture gown in the Sir Billi tartan, which was designed by Scots designer Graeme Black.

Scotland’s first full-length animated feature also showcases the voice acting talents of Miriam Margolyes (Harry Potter, Romeo & Juliet), Alex Norton (Pirates of the Caribbean, Taggart), Ford Kiernan (Chewin’ the Fat, The Last Great Wilderness), Barbara Rafferty (The Wicker Man, River City), Greg Hemphill (Still Game, Chewin the Fat), Kieron Elliot (How to Train Your Dragon), Ruby Wax, John Amabile, Larry Sullivan, Chris Jai Alex and NYC night queen Amy Sacco.

Said Sascha Hartmann: “To get this film made and completed has really been a true labor of love. We received a good studio offer to go to Los Angeles about three years ago with a deal that was pretty exciting, but we decided to remain in Scotland, keep creative control and produce a truly Scottish product! Granted it’s taken longer than we expected and we had to raise more finance, which was challenging, but this is an expensive business and it has to be done right. Fortunately, animation stories are timeless, and so there are no restrictions on them. Thanks to the support of our producer and mentor John (Fraser) we made it.

“Sir Sean has been incredible too. We have worked hand in hand with him for over six years. From day one we knew Sir Sean was perfect for the role of Sir Billi — being a true Scottish hero and also a grandfather himself. No matter how many times I hear his legendary voice on the film, it still gives me a thrill!” said Hartmann.

Said Fraser, a Scottish industrialist: “We’re well aware how competitive this market sector is with the heavyweight animation studios out there — I guess you could call it a ‘David and Goliath’ adventure, but we believe we have produced an end product that is something to be proud of as independent film makers. At the end of the day, this film was produced and made in Scotland, because that’s what we believe in. Investing in local creative talent, jobs and ultimately investing in a Scottish film industry. Sascha and his team couldn’t have worked any harder so the rest is in the hands of the gods, as they say.”

Said Cumming: “I think it is amazing that they have persevered so long and hard to get this project made in Scotland, when there was absolutely no precedent for anything like this there. Their enthusiasm was so great, and I’m very predisposed to doing Scottish things. Though neither [Sir Sean nor I] live in our home country, we feel very connected to it.”