The person speaking on the public address system took great delight in announcing the performance of ‘Wayward Girls and Wicked Women’. This aptly titled programme paid tribute to the few female stars of the Hollywood cartoon, as well as showcasing new work by women filmmakers. Betty Boop, Olive Oyl and ‘Red’ from Tex Avery’s Red Hot Riding Hood represented Hollywood. Among present-day films was Girl’s Night Out by Joanna Quinn. This lively and humorous cartoon shows what can happen when a group of factory girls have a hen-party. Full of Grace from Belgium animator Nicole van Goethem shows what happens when two nuns visit a sex-shop. Black Dog by Alison de Vere develops some of the themes from her earlier films, and is an excellent example of narrative-without-words. On a more serious note Some Protection tells how a girl gets trapped in a spiral of rebellion and punishment when she is sent to Borstal “for her own good.”
In a programme of ‘New British Animation’ my favourite was The Jump by Neville Astley and Jeffrey Newitt. Pencil animation on white paper gives the subject added vitality. Two pilots abandon their aircraft only to find that one of them has both parachutes. The Web by Joan Ashworth is a gutsy puppet animation building to a gripping climax, based on Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast about a mad cook who attacks his master with a meat cleaver. It was made at the National Film School. Barefootin’ is a pop promo with plasticine animation by Richard Goleszowski, which succeeds in extracting a great deal of visual humour from the theme of bare feet. Children of Wax by Kathleen Houston is a beautifully crafted film based on a Zimbabwe folk tale.
‘Kitsch ‘N Synch: Framing, Timing, Comedy’ was the punny title given to two programmes that demonstrated how action and staging can be crucial to the success of a film. David by Paul Driessen of the Netherlands features a character who is so small we only know where he is by the tracks he leaves in the sand. John Law and the Mississippi Bubble by Richard Condie, a financial farce set in the 18th Century, is a timely tale in the light of the recent stock-market crash. Rocky, Sten et Perre by Metin Huseyin features a road sign, three rocks and several cows. This unlikely combination adds up to much more than the sum of the parts. Air Pirates of the Outback is a puppet film from Australia by David Johnson. A parody of early cliff hanger films which tells the story of Lilly Smith – aviator extraordinaire. The quality of the puppets and sets was excellent.
‘Chips with Everything: A History of Computer Animation’ presented computer graphics landmarks. It was interesting to see the progress of computer animation over the past twenty years at one sitting. The early films were extremely basic and repetitive. Hunger (1973) by Peter Foldes of Canada was one of the few films to tell a story. It uses a metamorphosis of line drawings to demonstrate a rich man’s gluttony for food and women. Luxo Jnr (1986) by John Lasseter of the USA was the best of the recent computer animation. His angle-poise lamps acting out a sketch filled with emotion.
Paul Vester presented a programme of films of his own choice. Some were his own productions and the others were by filmmakers he admired. His own work has been seen on TV by countless millions, such gems as Paxo Chicken Crossing, Toshiba “Hi-Fi I” and Babycham “Pub”, accompanied by his zippy and colourful Sunbeam. The work of Bruce Conner, Jane Aaron and Oskar Fischinger were among the other filmmakers presented by Paul. It is interesting that this man, who has achieved success with a classical cartoon style looks to filmmakers who manipulate live-action images. Paul invited questions from the audience at the end of the screening, a welcome touch which should be encouraged at all future Festivals.
A Trade Fair could be found tucked away in one of the Watershed Galleries. Here Film Sales Ltd, Chromacolour, Viewplan, and E.O.S had on display some super equipment and materials for the dedicated animator. There was also a room in which video screenings were run almost continuously. This was a sensible facility now that videos are a really convenient, low cost way of copying and presenting films.
Irene Kotlarz and the Animation Festival Committee are to be congratulated for finding an excellent new base for the British Animation Festival.
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Printed in Animator Issue 22 (Spring 1988)