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Animation Is Film Festival Spreads Love of Animation

This past weekend, the TCL Chinese Theatre played host to the inaugural Animation is Film Festival. Showcasing 37 animated films from around the world, including several premieres and VR shorts, the festival drew in a crowd passionate about the medium from all backgrounds. Considering that 10 films sold out, it appears that the festival was a rousing success and will hopefully be around for years to come.
Started by Eric Beckman, founder of GKIDS, the festival sought to spread awareness of the animation medium as there was no US-based film festival dedicated to the art. Animation is Film Festival was described as an experiment out of love for the craft and it's clear that experiment was worthwhile.

One main feature of the festival was the Google VR lounge, which showed animated shorts from several creators utilizing virtual reality along with animation in order to get their stories across to the viewer. One Morning..., a short directed by Rodrigo Blaas of Trollhunters, utilized sound cleverly in order to get the viewer to fully interact with their environment. The viewer would be busy watching a bird-like robot intently gazing at them when they would hear creaking sound above them only to look up and find a giant robot looming intimidatingly over them. Although it was only two minutes long, the short was a fun experience that fully immersed the viewer.

Jorge Gutierrez's premiere VR short, Son of Jaguar, places the viewer directly in the middle of an action-packed fight between two wrestlers and showcases the importance of family. You feel as though you are actually in the ring watching these two wrestlers duke it out and it makes the message of the power of family love all the stronger.

While the festival played host for a multitude of premieres, it also showed several retrospective screenings of animated films including Walt Disney's first feature-length animated film from 1937, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Introduced by legendary Disney animator, Andreas Deja, the film was a huge risk for the studio and would have lead to the end at the beginning if it wasn't successful especially considering that it cost $1.5 million to make with an original budget of $235,000. The film ended up being incredibly successful and it paved the way for other feature-length animated films. Without Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Animation is Film Festival wouldn't even exist. Prior to the film, two shorts based on the Snow White fairy tale were shown including Max Fleisher's Betty Boop in Snow White and Lotte Reiniger's Snow White and Rose Red. These shorts showed that one story can have a range of interpretations and that animation is a limitless medium for storytelling.

A featured North American premiere was the French animated film, Zombillenium, from Arthur de Pins and Alexis Ducord. Zombillenium is a theme park that is home to a multitude of monsters hiding in plain sight, including zombies and vampires. When inspector Hector Saxe looks a little too thoroughly into the park, he finds himself transformed into a monster and ultimately becomes a leader for the other monsters when he discovers that the park is failing. With the help of several zombies and Gretchen, a powerful witch, Hector seeks to turn the park around all the while keeping trying to stay one step ahead of the devious Twilight-esque vampire, Steven, and keeping his human daughter, Lucie, safe. Stylistically animated with an upbeat score, Zombillenium is a fun ride with a couple of clever comedy bits featuring modern technology. As long as viewers don't expect a deep message from this film, they will find it quite enjoyable and a visual delight.

Filmmakers de Pins and Ducord along w/
score composer, Eric Neveaux,
answer questions after the Zombillenium screening.  
In a post-film Q&A, de Pins and Ducord stated that they went with 3D computer animation as it most closely matched the style of their graphic novel which the film is based on. The filmmakers initially did a music video proof of concept in order to get people on board with their concept and now Zombillenium opened up in France on October 18, only two days prior to the start of the festival. Described as a prequel to their graphic novel, the film utilized a 200 person crew and took five years to produce. It's unclear how successful the film will be yet and Zombillenium does not have a US distributor at the time of this article.

Animation is Film Festival will hopefully become a mainstay in the Los Angeles area for many years to come. From The Breadwinner, which received a standing ovation at its premiere, to the ridiculously fun Zombillenium, the festival did an excellent job of showcasing a variety of stories from the animation medium and across the world. If you missed it this year, definitely make it a must go for next year as it will certainly return. Animation is a medium with a limitless array of stories and we at Animation for Adults are grateful to the people that put the Animation is Film Festival together in order to spread the message.