ASIFA - 14th Annual Animation Show of Shows

While ASIFA is showing in a few places around San Francisco, the one I went to (and the one that I could get into with an rsvp) was hosted by Dolby Labs today, Nov 5th at 7:30pm. The event is free as usual as ASIFA is a non profit organization with an aim to promote and encourage animated films. The organization is open to anyone, whether someone who is in the industry or just someone who enjoys animated films.The auditorium at Dolby was pretty awesome. They had speakers everywhere, from the ceilings to behind openable walls. Additionally, since two of the films that were being shown were in 3D, we all got to wear super fancy 3D glasses. Not those flimsy kinds that you get at movie theaters, these were nice solid ones with very cool polar lens and anti-theft tracking chips.I overheard someone introducing himself as Steve Seagal. I may have just heard wrong as he didn't seem to be the actor but I did hear him talk about currently teaching History of Animation and having had worked at Pixar in the past in the interactive technologies department back when Pixar had one. Pretty cool.

The following are my thoughts on some of the films. They are not all the films that were shown but were the ones that stood out to me and that I have something to say about.

The first film that was shown was Disney's Paperman. I've already written a review on Paperman back with Wreck-it-Ralph so I won't go too much into it but I will say that it's still great the third time watching it and that I absolutely love the music. Particularly the part starting with where the woman sees the paper airplane sticking out of the flowers and then starts chasing after it as the plane flies away.

The Brain Centrifuge Project by Til Nowak, from Germany, was a very interesting and hilarious film. It was about "the effect of amusement park rides on IQ". The film was styled like an interview and showcased some pretty amusing yet horrifying amusement rides, such as rides that will fling people 360 degrees around and a ridiculously long ferris wheel that takes 14 hours to go around. I'm personally not the type that goes on extreme rides, I've only started going on roller coasters recently, so when I saw those rides my thought wasn't "that looks so cool, I want to go on that" but rather "holy craaaaap".

Here and the Great Elsewhere, by Michele Lemieux, was an amazing film done with pinscreen. Pinscreen is basically a screen with a bunch of pins stuck through it and thus casts a shadow. The film was done entirely with pinscreen in a short of stop motion type of animation. There was no pen or pencil or computer graphics done to create the animation and for that the piece  was amazing. The images were highly detailed, had form and volume, depth and perspective, and a contrast of lights and darks. Unfortunately the film did feel like it dragged on, particularly due to it's abstract storyline making it hard to follow.

Pixar's Carlo Vogele made an independent film called Una Furtiva Lagrima. The film follows a dead fish's journey from the market and into the pan, all while the fish is singing the aria. While the film may be hard to grasp initially, as the aria was not sung in English and thus I didn't know what it was about, for I did not know if it was suppose to be something serious as the fish laments about the fleetingness of life, or if it was a ironic piece. The process behind the film making was also interesting as real fish were used and Carlo described how he had to handle the fish and pose them with strings and wires and working with the fish half frozen.

Flamingo Pride, by Tomer Esheds, was shown in 3D. This was amazing and hilarious. The film tells about a heterosexual flamingo who experiences growing frustration as he struggles to distinguish himself from the gay masses and find true love. I was already loving the film with all the pink flamingos dancing, partying, and hey girl, but I loved it even more with the appearance of two tigers.

Daffy's Rhapsody, also shown in 3D, by Matt O'Callaghan, was unfortunately a let down. The characters and the world were modeled in 3D. While I'm not one of those "you're ruining my childhood with your new fancy technology" kind of person, the CG in this case did ruin it somewhat for me, particularly due to how the characters were shaded. Elmer looked waxy and had really weird light pink lips but they were shaded on the inside of his mouth and Daffy had a really glossy body. Yes, feathers have a certain amount of gloss to them but the amount that was on Daffy just made him look very slick and shiny. I also felt the idea of this short has already been done with Bugs Bunny in Rabbit of Seville.

The final 3 films shown were considered parental advisory and I'll just say they were "interesting" and leave it at that.