Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bucheon Animation Festival

About four months ago, I was invited to the Bucheon International Animation Festival in South Korea. I'd heard good things about the festival, and they wanted to screen four of my films, so I thought I should go.  But of course, this was before Trump got into a war of words with the fearless leader of North Korea, Kim Jung-Un.  Well, as my trip got closer the rhetoric became red hot, and I wasn't sure there would be a Korea for me to visit.  People said, "Don't go - you'll never survive the nuclear blast..." but I did, and to my great surprise, the people there seemed oblivious to the war-like threats between these two bombastic leaders.  In fact, they seemed very apolitical.

So with that in mind, I was able to relax and enjoy the animated films - they had a wonderful program of feature films including "Revengeance" (co-directed by me and Jim Lujan) and four great short programs, plus programs of student and commissioned films.

The last time I was in Korea - about 10 years ago - I was told that Seoul had around 30 animation schools, which blew my mind because even the U.S. only has about 20.  So I figured that upon my return to South Korea, I'd find a populace mad for animation.  However, to my disappointment there weren't mobs of fans at the festival.  Even though there were some great animators there - Eric Goldberg ("Aladdin") brought the great Burny Mattinson, who has worked for Disney from 1953 to the present.  He's a great storyboard artist and directed "The Great Mouse Detective".  Their table was a fascinating revelation on the roles of art directors and storyboard artists on a big animated feature.

Luckily, I won 2 prizes at the closing ceremonies at BIAF (one for "Revengeance" and one for "No Snow for Christmas") and I felt a real warmth and friendliness from the staff there, from the director all the way to the volunteers.  It's a festival with a lot of heart - be sure to enter your film next year in the lovely Bucheon Animation Festival.

Now that Oscar season has started, I've been getting a lot of DVD's to watch - here's a short list of the highlights so far:

"High Rise" by the great Ben Wheatley, a powerful metaphor of British society captured in a high-rise apartment building - starring Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Jeremy Irons and Luke Evans.  The film is very brutal and graphic, which is typical Ben Wheatley.  I give it a B+.

"Blade Runner 2049" - A delight to see, directed by Denis Villeneuve.  But unfortunately a bit confusing.  I think I liked the first film better, but this film could qualify for my stoner film list.  I give it a B.

and "Okja", by Bong Joon Ho.  Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tilda Swinton and Giancarlo Esposito. This one came out of nowhere for me - I had never heard of it before, yet when I started to watch it, I was amazed by the originality, the humor, the details - what a crazy film!  It's about a huge mutant pig created to solve the world's hunger crisis, and how it prevails with the aid of a little girl and a crazy animal liberation gang.  Check it out, it's a wonderful film.

And finally, I was invited to the 93rd birthday celebration for the great New Yorker cartoonist, George Booth.  It was held at the prestigious Society of Illustrators, and a bunch of my old illustrator buddies were there: Steve Brodner, Peter de Seve, Felipe Galindo, plus J.J. Sedelmaier, who organized the whole event and the exhibition of Booth's cartoons.  For 93 years old, George is very sharp and funny - he was quite friendly to me even though he had no idea who I was.  I hope that when I get to be 93 I'll be as funny as George is.

                                                                   with George Booth

                                                                         with Peter de Seve

Now I'm off to Argentina for another animation festival there - you can read my report on that next week.  See you then!

Bill P.

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