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The Animation Show

I love short film and I am most fond of animated shorts. I heard about Don Hertzfeldt's and Mike Judge's traveling animation festival called, simply enough, The Animation Show. Starting September 12th at the Castro Theatre, it will tour the Coast for the next 4 months, and if you are in Seattle, Portland, LA, Sacto or the City, get your ass to the show.

The festival, organized by Mike Judge (Office Space, King of the Hill, Beavis and Butthead) and Oscar nominated animator Don Hertzfeldt, The Animation Show features a wide variety of animations from around the world. From contemporary traditional animations, to 1950s educational work, to amazing computer animation, to claymation, to just plain old fashion fun stuff, it's all there. The names represented, from Ward Kimball to Bill Plympton, are an amazing sampler of great stuff.

There is some brilliant comedy. "Strange Invaders," the story of an alien baby named Peanut, is a great laugher. Hertfeldt's classic "Billy's Balloon" brought the crowd to a huge peak just after the intermission, and his legendary "Rejected" was the biggest hit for this crowd that seemed to have come just to see it. British comedy is there, too, with the great "50 Percent Grey." Mike Judge sent his Ricardo shorts and a few of his early pencil tests, which entertained…barely.

More serious subjects included the magnificent "Cathedral," an amazing piece of computer animation that is quite dark, and shows influences from HR Giger to Leonardo DiVinci. "La Course A L'Abime" by Georges Schwizgebel is a wonderful musical journey through painting. "Das Rad," which I think was robbed of the Oscar last year, had the role as closer, and the entire audience found it as moving as I did the first time I saw while judging short films for Cinequest last year. The beautiful German piece is moving, thought-provoking and actually gets a few laughs…in a very German way.

International works from Japan, England, Germany, and the Czech Republic are all pieces that most Americans wouldn't get the opportunity to see. The fine short Mt. Head, by Japanese film maker Koji Yamamura, is a fine short that shows some of the best traditional Japanese animation.

The highlights for me were three. First was the excerpt from "Mars And Beyond," a piece of educational animation that explores the possible types of life found on Mars. Simply beautiful, which makes me happy since Disney is supposedly releasing it on DVD.

Tim Burton's 1982 classic "Vincent" screened. I had heard of it for years, but had never actually seen it. The great story of a young boy who wants nothing more than to be Vincent Price, who just happened to have narrated the short as well.

The opening, closing and intermission shorts were done by Hertzfeldt and were hilarious as they were narrated by the fluffy clouds from "Rejected." And any show that ends with robots is well worth the time.

My favorite part was Hertzfeldt and Judge doing a fine Q+A. While they are only doing the opening nights at the big markets, they were hilarious, fun, and gave a great insight into the work that we saw.

Go and see it. As Fanboys, it is our duty to make sure that we support these festivals so that our kids will get to see the violent, thoughtful, brilliant and twisted animations that these guys are touring around.

Chris Garcia

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