Andrea/Duck Dodgers here. I friendly welcome every fan of animation at my blog. The goal is to support the love and rediscovery of Classic Theatrical Cartoons from the Golden Age of Animation, keeping meanwhile an eye on Golden Age "Funny Animals" Comics as well as on modern animated productions! Every SUPPRESSED ethnic caricature to be sometimes presented here is just for HISTORICAL and EDUCATIONAL purpose and NOT to offend anyone. Stay Tooned and Enjoy the place !

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Castelli Animati 2008 - Part Two

Well, they say better late than never, so there you are: as promised, the second and last part of my adventures in Genzano!

One of the main events at the festival was the meeting with some of the veterans of Italian animation, namely Giulio Cingoli, Paolo Di Girolamo, Gibba, Giorgio Castrovillari, and Stelio Passacantando.
Gibba was another one of the guests who didn't come to the festival. Too bad, because not only it would have been nice to meet him in person, but also his films were not screened due to his absence. I would have loved to watch his masterpiece "L'Ultimo SciusciĆ " on a big screen!
Luckily all of the other scheduled shorts were screened, including the Castrovillari-Gibba co-production "Il Merlo", a couple of short films by Stelio Passacantando made with animations by grade school children, a handful of Giulio Cingoli productions, including animated commercials, psychedelic segments from live action movies and a narration of the Italian unification in "La Lunga Calza Verde", and Di Girolamo (one of a few European artists who were offered a contract at the Disney studios in California after WWII) presented some of the works of his animation school students.
Lots of interesting exchanges with the artists themselves followed, including a lively argument involving Passacantando and his relationship with the Italian ASIFA.

Among the events at the festival, there were also the presentations of some books: "Il Cinema di Animazione Italiano Oggi" by Sabrina Perucca offers a view on the current state of Italian animation, and followed the screenings mentioned above, offering a link between the past and the future of animation in Italy.
This was followed by the presentation of the book "Capelli Lunghi", a comic book adaptation of a script by the legendary Italian director Mario Monicelli for an unrealized movie, written in the late Sixties, and revolving around the social revolution taking place at the time.
Another featured book was "Viaggi nell'Animazione" by film historian Matilde Tortora. Including essays and interviews with, among the others, Bruno Bozzetto, John Canemaker and Michel Ocelot, the book follows the entire history of animation, from the beginnings to the more recent applications of artificial intelligence and computer technologies to create virtual worlds. It is dedicated to the memory of Simona Gesmundo, who was among the first ones to study the possible uses of artificial intelligence applied to filmmaking and animation, and her name has also been given to an international animation award (

Le Noeud CravateThe last event I could attend was Saturday night's award ceremony. The final winner was Dennis Tupicoff's "Chainsaw", which to me still remains a questionable choice. Sure, it is an interesting film, to say the least: a flow of several different stories connected with an almost stream-of-consciousness sensibility, mixing fact and fiction, including chainsaws, love triangles and bullfighting. I still don't think it deserved the honor of the first prize though, among many other interesting nominees. Gladly one of the films that I really loved, the NFBC-produced "Le Noeud Cravate" by Jean-Francoise Levesque, received an award, the Fabrizio Bellocchio Award for Social Content. Mixing stop motion puppet animation and 2D animation, the film is a metaphorical narration of growing up and facing for the first time the responsibilities of a job. It was a visually great short, and it offered a very touching yet entertaining interpretation of work life, alienation and following ambitions.
The BridgeAmong the other award winners were "The Bridge" by Vincent Bierrewaerts, another stop-motion film which I think absolutely deserved a prize, and the amazing production "Muto" by Italian artist Blu, entirely composed of animation made through graffiti paintings on public walls. It really has to be seen to be believed, and I can't help but admire the incredible work behind this short film.

Well, that' all for now! Stay tooned for more posts by yours truly, finally back on the blogging scene!

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Snowtime for Woody

A Woody story (with Andy Panda too!) tailored for December days.
Enjoy it!
It maybe just me but the best things in the "New Funnies" series are the covers though.



Thursday, December 04, 2008

I Castelli Animati 2008 - Part One

Hi everyone! I think it's about time to devote a post to this cool animation festival which lasted almost an entire week, and where yours truly Stefano/mmm...donuts participated as an "ambassador" of everyone's favorite blog, Classic Cartoons!

I won't be bothering you with the details of my odyssey to get to the festival from Milan: lots of snow, wind, rain and typically-Italian-delayed trains involved, but that's another story!
So, back to the main subject, the 13th edition of Castelli Animati was hosted in Genzano, near Rome, and while it started on November 26th, my work duties allowed me to attend only the last couple of days, when luckily most of the festival's coolest events took place.

With its 12 hours of screenings a day, it would have been hard for anyone not to find something to enjoy among the hundreds of films, and it has been no exception for me.
The films were divided into several categories, including the Italian and the International showcases, and the contestants for the International awards.
Highlights included the retrospectives for several international artists, whose films proved to be the most popular with the audience, and that's no wonder when these artists are people like animation greats Bruno Bozzetto (one of my heroes), John Dilworth, and the lesser-known outside of the film festivals circuit Signe Baumane and Gil Alkabetz.

Bozzetto himself had to present the screenings of his works, but unfortunately he was among a bunch of guests that eventually couldn't make it to the event. He had to present a DVD collection of Signor Rossi cartoons, one of his most popular series (which by the way, at the moment has no plans of being released outside of Italy - sorry about that!). Some of them are receiving here the first proper release after years, all restored and remastered!

Mr. Rossi Buys a Car
But first, a little bit of history: the character wasn't intended to be part of a series. It was created for the one-shot cartoon "An Award for Mr. Rossi", and its origin dates back to the late Fifties, when one of Bozzetto's films got rejected from an Italian festival. His answer was this short, intended as a jab at film festival juries (and trust me, after attending this one too, I couldn't help but confirm how Bozzetto was right!). Anyway, like many other times in animation history, the character was popular with the audience, so it stuck and became part of a series. It became so popular that the artists of the studio even "killed" him in the feature "Allegro Non Troppo", just like Avery or Crumb would have done! (with the exception that Rossi survived in comic form)

Wheew! Enough with the history lesson! Back to the main topic, to celebrate the aforementioned DVD set, two Signor Rossi shorts were screened, "Mr. Rossi Buys a Car" and "Mr. Rossi Goes Camping". They both were a laugh riot, and it's amazing (if not kinda scary) to see how true they are even after forty years.

The Dirdy Birdy
Another short that killed the audience was John R. Dilworth's "The Dirdy Birdy". After over ten years of it making the rounds at film festivals across the world and collecting awards, I think it's safe to say that there must be some sort of subconscious fascination with watching a bird's naked ass. Either that or the fact that, to put it in John's words, it's the love theme that makes it sort of timeless. Or maybe just because, no matter what you think, it is a genuinely funny cartoon.

Israel native Gil Alkabetz discussed three of his award-winning productions: "Rubicon" offers an interpretation of the Arab-Israeli conflict through the classic "wolf, sheep and cabbage" riddle. "Morir de Amor" originates from the concept of being reminded of a particularMorir De Amor moment of your life through a song: with this premise two parrots and their old owner start reminiscing over the past, leading to an unexpected conclusion. A nice little touch is the author's choice of showing the present and past parts of the film with two different visual styles. The last Alkabetz cartoon from the Saturday afternoon screening was the more children-oriented "A Sunny Day", with a nice illustrated storybook feel.

Signe Baumane was the artist with the smallest amount of films that could possibly be shown during the festival's Saturday afternoon family-friendly programming. If you don't know what I'm talking about, let me just say that she came to Castelli Animati to promote her newest production, "Teat Beat of Sex", an outrageously funny (and
Five Infomercials for Dentists
explicitly educational, to quote the disclaimer that introduces each episode) series of short films featuring a girl's narration of her sexual experiences. These films were part of the late night screenings on Friday, along with a documentary about the Latvian artist and the hilarious "Five Infomercials for Dentists". Two of her earliest cartoons were chosen for the Saturday afternoon selection, the twisted fairytales "Tiny Shoes" and "The Witch and the Cow" which, more than her later works, have a distinctive Eastern-european feel.

A pleasant surprise from the Saturday afternoon screenings was the premiere of Italian artist Marco Pavone's full-length animated movie "ZeroZero", produced by a small team and with a low budget. At first, I honestly didn't think that the semi-bidimensional computer animation could work well throughout an entire 90-minute movie (I often can hardly stand that kind of animation in a short film), but I was wrong: it was really enjoyable, and I think that the animation was functional to the general tone of the movie, creating some great scenes and atmospheres.

The story itself is pretty simple, it's about a child who learns to overcome his fears and finally makes his dreams come true. In this case, the narration takes place in 1940s USSR, and the child is none other than a young Yuri Gagarin. Try to guess what his dream might be! What I liked the most was the fact that the creator was aware of the limits of this production, and instead of even trying to come up with some pretentious Pixar rip-off, he used the obvious limitations to his advantage. The final result is far from perfect, but it sure proved to be an enjoyable view. I suppose the film is going to be shown at other film festivals worldwide, so if you hear about it, take my word and give it a chance!

That's all for now, stay tooned for the second part of my report!

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