Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gijon International Film Festival, Spain, Nov. 19-26

I think it was two years ago the last time I was invited to the northern coast of Spain, for the Gijon International Film Festival. They had planned a terrific retrospective of my films, and did a terrific job putting it all together.  But for me, the big highlight of that trip was hanging out with two of my film idols, Terry Gilliam ("Brazil", "Time Bandits") and Richard Lester ("A Hard Day's Night", "Help!", "The Three Musketeers", and essentially the creator of the music-video format).  These guys were such an influence on my work and we all hung out like we were old buddies.

You can see my blog post about that trip here:

So this year, they invited me and my new feature "Revengeance" - we got great audiences to show up and a lot of great press coverage.  What's really interesting is that the two big newspapers in Spain both made references to Donald Trump in their reviews.  The central villain in "Revengeance" is a corrupt politician, so the Europeans now believe that this film was made as a satire about The Donald.  But the script was finished long before Trump ran for President, it's just a coincidence.  But hey, that's OK, especially if it will get more people to be curious and excited about seeing the film.  So be it!


While in Gijon I was able to catch up on some of the new animated features that could end up in competition with "Revengeance" on the festival circuit:

"In This Corner of the World", a Japanese film by Sunao Katabuchi, who worked with Miyazaki, is a story about a young couple caught up in World War II, experiencing the bombing of Hiroshima.  The style is very manga-like, and to my Western eyes, it was hard to follow the individual characters.  Of course, it was very horrific, the bombing of Japan, but I wish they'd make a film about the Rape of Nanking or the devastation of China by the Japanese Imperial army. 

The other animated film in competition was the French film "The Girl Without Hands" by Sebastien Laudenbach.  This film is from one of the Grimm Brothers' more obscure and violent fairy tales. The style has very minimal brush strokes that at times become very abstract.  The effect is quite beautiful, and that's why I believe that "The Girl With No Hands" will win a lot of prizes.

Another film I saw, though it's not animation, is "Train to Busan", by Yeon Sang Ho.  It's a zombie film that's filled with so much character and humor that I was totally engaged for the entire film, even if there were no English subtitles. 

The Gijon Festival has excellent programming and it's in a beautiful historic city, snuggled up against the mild waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  So I give the festival an A+.

Love and kisses,

Bill Plympton

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