Monday, March 28, 2016

Ca'Foscari Short Film Festival

There's a wonderful writer named Giannalberto Bendazzi - a number of years ago, he put out the definitive history of animation.  It's a comprehensive look at every country in the world, its animators and its films - to attempt something like that is crazy, but Mr. Bendazzi did it.  And now he has a new, revised edition of the book, all the chapters are updated, and it's now so big, it takes up three large volumes.

In any case, he felt so strongly about my films, he invited me to the 6th Annual Ca'Foscari Short Film Festival in Venice, Italy.  Now, this young festival doesn't have much money, but how could I say no to Venice and Mr. Bendazzi?

So, after landing in the Venice airport, I took one of those very cool water taxis (they look like those old 1930's Chris Craft runabouts) to my very old, very beautiful Hotel Palazzo Stern.  Everything was first class.  I had two students who were at my beck and call (whatever that means) to get me whatever I needed or escort me wherever I wanted to go. 

The festival is not strictly an animation festival, in fact, there were more live-action shorts than animated ones, and there were a lot of student films - so, needless to say, I spent a lot of time sightseeing.  My guides took me to the Lido, where 25 years ago I visited the Venice Film Festival.  I had a film screening there and amazingly, I don't remember a thing - was I drunk on Italian wine?  But I do remember the glorious beach.

I then visited the requisite tourist stop, San Marco (St. Mark's), which is very beautiful.  There is a wonderful difference between NYC's architecture and Venice's buildings - as I was riding in my water taxi along the Grand Canal, my eyes almost exploded because these Italian buildings had so many decorations, statues and faces.  Each building was a masterpiece of fantasy. 

If you walk down a NYC street, say, Fifth Avenue or Park Avenue, it's all boring glass and concrete.  Each building looks pretty much the same, and there's nothing to really catch your imagination.  If I were an architect, I'd put some fantastic designs, sculptures or large faces on those edifices.  Why not?  Money's no object for today's real-estate moguls, so why not build something that stands out and is actually fun to look at?

Everyone says that all of the people that live in Venice can't afford it, and are moving out, and soon the only industry there will be tourism.  In fact, it's becoming a sort of Italian Disney Land. 

The festival was put together by Maria Roberta Novielli. and she did a terrific job with very little money, but with a vibrant corps of volunteers from Venice's Ca'Foscari University. 

So if you have an animated short, or even a live-action one, please submit it to the Ca'Foscari Short Film Festival, and please try to go, it's a wonderful event!   I give the festival a B+.

--Bill Plympton

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

"The Brainwashing of My Dad"

I met Jennifer Senko in the early 70s at an art gallery opening at Pratt - and we've been friends and more since then.

It's interesting, because when I met her she was seriously into art and fashion, and I was heavily into politics - mostly because of my fear of being drafted into the Vietnam War. Over the years, we've retained our close relationship and we both moved into filmmaking, but while I concentrated on humor and entertainment, Jennifer went into politics.

The exciting news is that her latest film "The Brainwashing of my Dad" is opening up in the U.S. and it's a terrific film. In fact, long ago I met her dad and he was a great guy - then he started listening to talk radio, particularly Rush Limbaugh, and his politics swerved to a hard right wing position.

So Jen decided to make a documentary about her dad's drastic political transition, examining the huge influence Fox news and talk radios have had on the political direction of this country.

She interviews other people in the film who have had loved ones turn into political zombies - plus, there's a very educational examination on the history and the tricks used by right wing media to control the country.

I loved the film and I recommend that anyone who cares about America to talk to your friends and go see "The Brainwashing of My Dad", now in select theaters and available on Itunes.

Find out more here:

Bill P.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Green Gravel Comedy Festival & Monstra Festival

I just got back from a round of traveling, only to find that March is half over already!  And I'm falling behind on blogging, while I'm trying to finish the animation for "Revengeance", so I think I'm going to have to double-up, and write about the last two festivals I went to.

In the first week of March, I flew out to Iowa City for the Green Gravel Comedy Festival, and Jim Lujan flew in from L.A. so we could present some footage from "Revengeance" together.  I arrived on Friday, March 4 and hosted a show of my own short films at the FilmScene Theater, and then on Saturday Jim and I talked about the new film at the University of Iowa. 

The crowds were great, people stood in line after to get signed sketches from me, meanwhile Jim got to go to a show hosted by Rachel Bloom!

As soon as I got back to New York, I had to fly to Lisbon, Portugal for the Monstra Animation Festival.  Now that Salma Hayek and Roger Allers' feature "The Prophet" is being released internationally, I've found that some festivals want me to come and introduce the film, and the Monstra Festival was one of those places.

But I felt that if I was going to take a long flight to Portugal, I should do more than just introduce a movie, so I suggested a couple of other events.  I offered to host a Master Class and then I wanted to show parts of "Revengeance" as a work-in-progress.  The festival organizers liked those ideas, and made some room on their schedule for those events.   So BAM!, I was on my way to the Iberian peninsula.

I had been to Monstra before, the director of the festival, Fernando Galrito, invited me about 7 years ago to present "Idiots & Angels" (if my memory is right) and I had a blast.  So, those wonderful memories brought me back.  And, truthfully, it's one of my favorite destinations - the beautiful baroque architecture and decorative tile buildings are such a joy to behold.  Also, I loved swimming on the beach and eating fresh cooked fish in the sun, then going back into the water.

But the coolest aspect of the Monstra Festival was the terrific audience. They're quite knowledgeable about animation and they love to laugh.  For those reasons, I give the Monstra Festival an "A" - be sure to send your film there! 

--Bill Plympton

Friday, March 18, 2016

Another "Revengeance" update

Hey, it's Wendy, Bill Plympton is away at a festival but he asked me to post an update on his new feature.  

The production team is working very hard to finish up the coloring for "Revengeance". Each scene in the film has a distinct mood, so the color design is crucial for communicating that.

We recently finished coloring a flashback sequence in the film, and Bill wanted an aged look to the visuals. So, as you can see, the colors here are quite different from the rest of the film. Where the rest of the film is very saturated and colorful, the flashback sequence is more nuanced and monochromatic.

Here are a few stills from the flashback sequence, where our main character Lana recounts her childhood with the Inland Emperors (the biker gang at the center of "Revengeance"):

Stay tuned for the film's release!