Monday, February 23, 2015


At last night’s Academy Awards, animation was once again referred to as a genre in front of the whole world. This must stop. 

GENRE is French for a sort or kind of thing, a category.
MEDIUM is a means of doing something.

Animation has come to be considered a genre because it’s the preferred medium for children’s films, especially in the US, where Disney, with their fairy tale franchise, is the main proponent. 

If only animation studios would broaden their field to include other subjects we wouldn't have this problem of mistaking animation for a genre. That a formerly innovative studio like Disney would limit its output to one genre is a shame. You'd think they'd want to expand their audience by making animated films in other genres like animated action films or animated sci-fi especially since they own the Marvel Comics and the Star War franchises.

Because Disney does some of the best animation in the world don't they owe their audience high quality entertainment in other genres?  New technology and artistic techniques need new subjects. We’re not asking Disney to change, just to diversify. And DreamWorks, Sony, Fox, Blue Sky and Universal too. 

In Europe and elsewhere, animation has been used to make adult films such as
the French-Iranian PERSEPOLIS, the Israeli war film WALTZ WITH BASHIR and  Sylvain Chomet’s French Oscar-nominated TRIPLETTES de BELLEVILLE. It’s disappointing that few, if any, adventurous genres have been tackled in animation since.

We know it’s a box-office argument as animation costs are so high, however these
animated films were profitable:

BASHIR cost $2million and grossed $11,125,849 
PERSEPOLIS cost $7.3 million and grossed $22,752,488
LES TRIPLETTES de BELLEVILLE cost 9.5 million and grossed $14,776.760


Not in FROZEN’s mind-blowing $1,274,219,009 league, but profitable none the less.

It would seem that it’s not so much a question of losing money on a different genre of animation, but of making a more modest profit. And who’s to say that any of those films would not have grossed much more with the Disney promotional machine behind them?

Come on Disney, you are plenty rich enough to take such a risk especially after sweeping the animation Academy Awards this year. DreamWorks, you're a young studio needing a new direction, take a chance on new animation frontiers, go boldly into new genres where no folk-tale franchise has gone before to make it clear that animation is a versatile medium and a sophisticated art, it’s the subject that’s the genre.


Friday, February 13, 2015



The BIGGER PICTURE - National Film and Television School, UK  – Winner of many prizes including Cannes, Annecy. Written, directed and animated by Daisy Jacobs, produced by Christopher Hees. Unusual technique, serious subject: two brothers struggling to care for their elderly mother. Life-sized painted characters with stop-motion props.

The DAM KEEPER - Tonko House Studios, US. Written and directed by former Pixar art directors Robert Kindo and Dice Tsutsumi. CGI with a look of translucent pastels and stunning lighting. The usual warm fuzzy Pixney-type story of trying to make friends and fit in.

FEAST - Disney Animation, US. Directed by Patrick Osborne, produced by Kristina Reed, John Lasseter. A puppy is alarmed by his diet. Strong visual story-telling with a lineless, flat look. The animation is, as always, wonderful but I miss lines. It's not drawing without lines.
CGI with the Meander software used in PAPERMAN. (OSCAR winner 2015)

ME AND MY MOULTON - Mikrofilm and the National Film Board of Canada, Canada. Written and directed by Torrill Kove, animated in Norway and Canada. Girls wanting a bicycle get what they didnt expect and handle their disappointment with grace. Charming, stylish, touching, funny and hand-drawn.

A SINGLE LIFE - Dutch Film Fund, SNS Real Fund and Pathé Cinemas, Holland. Directed by Marieke Blaauw, Joris Oprins, Job Roggeveen, written by Marieke Blaauw. A vinyl record lets Pia travel through the five stages of her life. A very short short with a very grim ending. CGI


BIG HERO 6 - Disney Animation, US. Directed by Don Hall, Chris Williams written by Jordan Roberts, Daniel Gerson. Features Marvel comics characters: a nurse/robot Baymax and robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada and his friends. Strong Asian flavor. CGI (Oscar winner 2015, a sweep for Disney)

THE BOX TROLLS  - Laika Studios, US. Directed by Graham Annable, Anthony Stacchi, written by Irena Brignull, Adam Pava, Alan Snow. Based on the novel Here Be Monsters, a human boy named Eggs is raised by trolls and tries to save them from the exterminator. Stop-motion.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON 2 -  DreamWorks, US. Directed by Dean DeBlois, written by Dean DeBlois, Cressida Cowell. The further Viking adventures of Hiccup and Toothless. CGI.

SONG OF THE SEA - Cartoon Saloon, Ireland. Directed and directed by Tomm Moore, Will Collins. Inspired by Irish folklore, Ben and his littel sister travel through a magical world to return to their home. Hand-drawn.

Directed and written by Isao Takahata. A tiny girl found in a bamboo shoot is raised as a princess by a bamboo cutter. Hand-drawn.