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December 16, 2005
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March 9, 2005
February 14, 2005
July 7 Scrapbook

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It's been a very busy and exciting month for me. It started with a trip to Taipei for the Taiwan International Animation Festival. I was met by cute Stephanie, a teacher of animation at the University, whom I had met earlier in Annecy. She was my guide, translator, gal Friday and scooter chauffeur for the week.

The Taiwan Festival had organized a complete retrospective of my short films and animated features. The audiences were fantastic, very eager and knowledgable about animation, my films in particular. As in many Asian countries, animation is a popular art form in Taiwan and the industry is growing fantastically.

After each show, the kids lined up to get autographs and buy merchandise, which is one way I'm able to remain independent. I did a couple of lectures and screenings at the Taiwan Technology Institute, one of the great animation schools in Taiwan. I was able to view some of their student films and I was very impressed.

When I returned to New York, I had just enough time to do laundry and repack my bags for Annecy. Now Annecy, in my mind, is the greatest animation festival in the world. It's a combination of so many great things - great films, all the famous filmmakers, super food, wild audiences and the best parties. Plus, it's in a beautiful city by a gorgeous lake, with swans swimming along the quaint canals.

About two months earlier, when the Annecy film selections were announced, Pat Smith and I learned that none of our films got into the competition sections. We were commiserating over drinks and decided to have our own screening of "rejected" films at Annecy. We gathered a bunch of films that never got in to the prestigious festival, booked a bar ("Ma Belle Excuse") and printed up programs for a show called "Annecy Plus". So, even though I didn't have a film in the festival competition, people could still see my new film "The Fan and the Flower", which was written by Dan O'Shannon and features a voice-over by Paul Giamatti.

This frustration over the festival's selection process is nothing new - in 1987, my Oscar-nominated film "Your Face" never got in, and just last year "Guard Dog", my other Oscar-nominated film, was totally excluded from Annecy. Preselection juror Rosto said that it was "nothing new". So, this year, I was a man with a mission.

The opening night of Annecy was a blast - the large theatre was packed for the French premiere of "Madagascar", the new Dreamworks feature. But Serge Bromberg, the artistic director, introduced a short to precede the feature. He stated that, in the grand tradition of Walter Ruttman and Oskar Fishinger, they were presenting "Spiral", the work of a new abstract genius, W.P. Murton. Well, the film started as a complete abstract bore - a sphere spiraling against a graph background, with a single piano note repeated ad nauseam. The audience didn't know how to react, until a baby started crying and then everyone started laughing. The Emperor was now revealed to be stark naked - it was a colossal hit and when the credits showed Plymptoons as the production company, people started to yell "Bill! Bill!"

The film was the scandal of the festival for the rest of the week. People either loved me or hated me for producing such a film. Although it was my film, Mr, Murton was the creator, and he was somewhere in the woods of Northern California, getting inspiration for his next film.

After such a high on the first day, we all settled into a nice rhythm of seeing films in the morning, going swimming in the lake, hanging out at an afternoon party, eating and drinks, seeing an evening film, then going out for a nice late dinner and partying all night long.

The other highlight was, of course, the screening of the "Annecy Plus" program - we did some local press, and I was worried that the outdoor screening would be mobbed - but the weather was perfect and the crowd was just right. I want to thank a few people - Stephane for supplying the space, Jonas Raeber for the use of his projector and film, Nik Phelps, Rolf and Jasper for the fabulous music, and Pat Smith for co-producing the show.

Thanks to all the filmmakers for supplying their films (check out the program posted here), all the great fans that showed up, and of course Serge Bromberg, who supported the project from the beginning - it was very important that I got his help.

All the media were there, also the preselection jury - and even the mayor's wife. It was such a hit, the bar ran out of beer halfway through the show. I want to thank everyone for making the show such a great hit.

Upon returning to New York, I was able to catch a few films from the Asian Film Festival. Some were good, some not so good, but the highlight for me was the animated film "Mindgames" from Masaaki Yuasa, from Studio 4C. It's totally different from any other animated film I've ever seen. The art is very simple, almost Western in style, and the humor and storytelling is exactly as the title implies - crazy ideas are tossed around, then played back and fast-forwarded. I know "trippy" is an overused expression, but "Mindgames" is the trippiest film I've ever seen. Please go check it out, and have a great summer.

The cartoon for this edition is called "Great Moments in Motherhood". It was commissioned by my girlfriend, editor of Viva magazine, Gini Kopecky. I was very happy with this piece - I like the art and ideas, although I feel there is too much copy jammed in. This cartoon was a big success - at least that's what all the mothers told me. You can find this cartoon in my new self-published collection of cartoons called "Sloppy Seconds".

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