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

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