From the Fall 1988 issue of Animation Magazine
The 19th International Tournee of Animation
by Phil DenslowIf you love international animated short films (like I do), and if you collect animation on videotape (like I do), you know that it is hard to combine these two interests. It's difficult to find any independent animator's work from this country on video, much less from places like Yugoslavia. Thus, the release of a videotape version of The 19th International Tournee of Animation is an exciting event.
For those of you who think that animation begins and ends with the Hollywood Cartoon, this tape will be a revelation. For those of you more familiar with international animation, it provides, for the first time, a commercially available package that includes top notch films from Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Israel, Japan and the United States.
As its name implies, this is the nineteenth in a series of programs put together to showcase international animation for American audiences. The examples were chosen for theatrical distrbution as a group in 1985, and they should not be taken as the definitive or even typical examples from each country, but rather as what was picked that year. Hopefully, several packages like this will eventually be released. Then the viewer/collector can get a more complete idea of the kinds of animation done in different parts of the world.
All 14 films in this group are award-winning examples of the animator's art. Materials and techniques such as clay and computers are represented, as well as a wide variety of drawing styles. The moods run from sentimental to bizarre, the humor from slapstick to satire. Most animated films that do well internationally do not rely on language to communicate their ideas, rather they use images and sound in a way that can cross all national borders. Nine of these films are in this category. The rest use English speed or captions.
Groups of short films like this one can serve as a sort of ink-blot test of anyone's personal likes and dislikes; each viewer will have their favorites. Festivals such as Annecy, Hiroshima, Toronto, Zagreb, the Los Angeles Animation Celebration and the Academy Awards have given prizes to these films, so you don't have to take just my word that this is a high quality group.
There are two films from the United Kingdom, Conversation Piece: Early Bird by Peter Lord and David Sproxton, and Skywhales by Phil Austin and Derik Hays. Skywhales is a fantasy adventure story that creates an entire world and life cycle of its own. Early Bird depicts with object and clay animation the morning of a disk jockey who lives in his studio.
Italy is represented by Incubus by Guido Manuli, and two very short films by Bruno Bozzetto, Sigmund and Moa Moa. Bozzetto demonstrates the benefits of TV sports viewing and the perils of being stranded on desert islands, respectively. Incubus takes us into the dreams of a hapless city dweller.
Canada has 3 entries as well. Charade by John Minnis is about a pantomime duel. Tony De Peltrie by P. Lachapelle, P. Bergeron, P. Robidoux and D. Langlois is a breakthrough use of computer graphics for character animation. Anijam by Marv Newland features sequences by 22 different filmmakers which are linked together using the last drawing of each artist's section to begin the next.
Bitz Butz by Israel's Gil Alkabetz is perhaps best described as a battle between the dark and light portions of the image. From Japan comes Osamu Tezuka's Jumping, which gives us the point-of-view of someone with great leg strength leaping around the countryside. Casaba Varga's Luncheon, from Hungary, uses clay and food to animate a creature with a large appetite.
Dujan Petricic of Yugoslavia does a tongue-in-cheek retelling of Romeo and Juliet, where the Montagues have two heads and the Capulets only one. The Netherland's Borge Ring tells us the story of Anna and Bella, two sisters who are reminiscing over a photo album. From the United States there is John Canemaker's Bottoms's Dream. This is a stream of various images derived from Shakespeare's A Midsummer's Night Dream.
Anyone who saw the original theatrical release of this Tournee will be disappointed that Vincent by Tim Burton and Rich Heinrichs, The Big Snit by Richard Condie and four films from the 1994 Olympiad of Animation could not be included. But this should not diminish the achievement this video release represents. The effort required to get the rights to all of these fine films must have been immense. I hope that it is enough of a commercial success to encourage further efforts in this direction. The 19th International Tournee of Animation is the first of what I hope will be many of its kind.
Animation Magazine: published by Thoren Publications, Agoura Hills, CA (818) 991-2884.