Recent Articles

The World of Stainboy (2000)

The World of Stainboy is a series of flash animation shorts created in 2000 by director Tim Burton and animated by Flinch Studios. Each of the six episodes is under five minutes in length.The character Stainboy first appeared in two short poems in the book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, also created and illustrated by Tim Burton.

It is difficult to describe what Stainboy is. It’s impossible to have a clear idea of what this tale is about. What we can say is that the series is a parody of superheroes, where superheroes are simply strange creatures, and that Stainboy is another one of Burton’s darkly mischievous and funny creations. In the shorts, Stainboy works for the Burbank police, and at the beginning of each episode he is ordered to investigate and bring in social outcasts. Many of the outcasts are characters from the Oyster Boy book.

If you have appreciated this episode, you can download the other episodes.

Exhibition “L’attimo neorelista”

From January 19 ’08 to February 24 ’08 you can visit the exhibition “L’attimo neorealista” which is being held in Mestre, near Venice, at the Centro Culturale Candiani. It’s a selection of 84 frames from 32 neorealist films. We can’t show you the entire exhibition, but the Centro Culturale Candiani has allowed us to show you the following photos:

Roma città aperta by Roberto Rossellini 1945

 

Paisà by Roberto Rossellini 1946

 

The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette) by Vittorio De Sica 1948

 

Bitter Rice (Riso amaro) by Giuseppe De Santis 1949

 

Path of Hope (Cammino della speranza) by Pietro Germi 1950

Wim Wenders visits Palermo to promote new film (and eat Italian ices)

On Monday January 21st, in front of an assembly of nearly 300 afficionados, Wim Wenders delighted Palermo’s Golden Theater audience with jokes and anecdotes about Shooting Palermo, his new film which will be ready in about four months’ time. The brilliant German director, playwright and photographer who is already renowned for such films as Don’t Come Knocking (Viva Butte, Montana!), Paris, Texas and Buena Vista Social Club, just to mention a few of his masterpieces, has fallen in love with Palermo’s gourmet Italian ices and has decided to shoot a film in Sicily’s capital city in order to stock up on lemon sorbets.

The Palermo Shooting stars Andreas Frege, “Campino”, the lead singer of the German punk rock band Die Toten Hosen ( The Dead Trousers) [a photograph by Andreas Gursky of one of their concerts is on display at The Museum of Modern Art, N.Y.] in the role of a German photographer who comes to Palermo in order to make a break with his past and finds… Sorry you’ll have to see the movie for yourself when it comes out, spoilers verboten!!!

The cast, for now, subject to change without notice, includes the following: Campino, Dennis Hopper, Patti Smith, Giovanna Mezzogiorno, Jana Pallaske, Lou Reed, Inga Busch, Udo Samel, Sebastian Blomberg, Melika Foroutan, Alessandro Dieli, Francesco Guzzo, Giovanni Sollima, Wolfgang Michael, Harry Blain, Axel Sichrovsky, Irina Gerdt and Gerhard Gutberlet.

(Lorraine Eda Rolla)

Phonogram: Rue Britannia

You open this comic book, and suddenly you’re getting people talking about bands you’ve never even heard of. It could be alienating, but although they’re talking about specific bands, the ideas they are expressing are universal. You don’t have to worry about the specifics and can roll with what’s in the story. In fact, everything that’s actually important in Phonogram can be deduced from the context in which it’s used.

A long search for himself, for the meaning of his existence, in which Kieron Gillen tells us the answer to life is music. Phonogram explores the idea that music truly is magic. “‘Phonogram is based on people who realise that metaphor is actually the true foundation of the universe, and so actively manipulate it to achieve their desires”, declares the comics writer publically.

This book contains a lot of passion for Britpop but it’s more of a struggle about the memories of the music rather than an expression of Gillen’s love for it. It analyses the music and the movement with a passion only available to those who really loved it. It also takes the whole thing apart with the venom of those who’ve come out to the other side. The motif of music as a spiritual or magical force is something musicians return to time and time again.

David Kohl is a mage who uses the medium of Britpop music to interpret his magic. He has been tricked by The Goddess into visiting one of her temples. While in the temple, she curses him for the misuse of his powers and then sends him to investigate what is happening to one of her aspects. The aspect in question is Britannia, Goddess of Britpop, who baptised Kohl, was the original source of his abilities and is at least ten years dead. While investigating, he discovers the ghost of a girl who used to have a crush on him. The next day he wakes up to find that his memories have altered.

We realize that our world can begin to change by simply changing our perceptions.

In the end, Phongram is about non-literal ways of seeing the world, alternative perspectives, and so forth.

Now we can turn to the editorial details: the comic book is written by Kieron Gillien and drawn by James McKelvie. It is published by Image Comics.

A run of at least two mini-series is planned. The first volume was a six issue run, collected under the title “Rue Britannia”. In keeping with the Britpop theme, the six individual issues had cover art based on album artwork from that era.The first volume began in August 2006.

Future Film Festival Awards ’08

The Lancia Platinum Grand Prize, the prize for best long animation film or best special effects, was awarded to Makoto Shinkai’s Byousoku 5 Centimeters (5 Centimeters per Second: A Chain of Short Stories about Their Distance) . A special prize was awarded to Michael Arias’ Tekkonkinkreet.

The members of the jury were the Italian filmaker Enzo d’Alò, the screenwriter Giorgia Cecere and the head of animation of Lumiq Studios, Carlo Alfano.

The public has voted the short films selected for Future Film Short. The winners of Premio del Pubblico Groupama were Attentiòn al cliente by Marcos Valìd and David Alonso (first prize of 1000 euro) and Scaramuccia of Federico Guidi (second prize 500 euro).

The Autodesk Digital Award was awarded to Alibi by Anthony Lamolinara (Direct2Brain) and Making of “Carnera” by Renzo Martinelli (EDI Effetti Digitali Italiani).

Halas and Batchelor part two

In the 1950s, Halas and Batchelor were able to expand their work yet further, producing films on purely artistic subjects. Experimental work as early as the 1950’s included stereoscopy (with Norman McLaren) and advanced forms of film puppetry, combining the multi-projection of film in close synchronization with the live player on the stage and the production in the 1960’s of about 200 8mm cassettes to illustrate through brief animation loops important points in scientific and technological instruction linked directly to the textbook. The 1950’s represented the true birth of the studio as a recognised source of high quality animated films. It continued to make public information films for governmental offices. These high quality films, especially their shorts for the Marshal Plan, The Shoemaker and The Hatter (1949) and, for the Ministry of Health, Fly About the House (1949 ) were instrumental in attracting funding for the studio’s future development. Its UK profile was further enhanced with the production of the Charley series (1946-47) for the Central Office of Information.

They are best known, however, for their adaptation of George Orwell’s Animal Farm (1954). Rumors persist that the film was funded by a CIA covert operation, but Halas insisted that it was humanist and anti-totalitarian rather than anti-Communist, and the film is a considerable achievement: a feature length work of poignancy and deep emotion which revises our expectations of animal characters as comic or sentimental figures. The sombre satire of Orwell’s novel is muted by a controversially upbeat ending in which the animals once again mobilize in resistance to authoritarian leadership but the film’s highly politicised viewpoint still seems a bold and unusual one, particularly within the context of the British film industry of 1950s.

During the production of Animal Farm Halas & Batchelor employed over seventy people based in different offices in London, including a studio in Stroud. In texts held in their archive, the number of staff employed during the production series varies from author to author: figures range between 70 to 100. At the start of production in 1951, the studio experienced a large increase in personnel: some of these were former employees from Anson Dyer’s studio. To support the production of Animal Farm, Halas & Batchelor established Animation Stroud Ltd. in 1951 under the management of Harold Whitaker. The Stroud department became an established part of Halas & Batchelor and became the training base for new staff and new generation of animators. In order to sustain its high level of output and development, the studio was proactive and flexible in identifying and exploiting new markets. It achieved this by recruiting talented staff and advisors whose skills and knowledge helped to achieve these results. The company actively promoted this aspect of its work in promotional leaflets and in the trade press. Due to the high demands that making these films put on the studio, they were forced to divide the studio space into different units and different production areas. This also led to setting up divisions dedicated to key commercial areas of the studio. Much of the structure has not changed from that of the 1950’s, except for the creation of additional units aligned to different commercial areas that the studio oversees.

Even with production centered on Animal Farm, the studio was able to continue making commercials, information and educational films. A survey made during current research of the creative output of the studio during this period gives an indication of the range of films they produced. At the proposed launching of the new television channel ITV in the UK in 1955, Halas & Batchelor were already investigating the impact the launch of commercial television would have on animation studios. The most significant effect of the new station was the increased number of commissioned commercials, and in particular animated commercials, by advertising agencies. By 1955 the number of studios producing animation increased as a response to this demand.

By 1955, Halas & Batchelor was promoted as the largest cartoon studio in Europe. The economics of animation have always been precarious, and Halas and Batchelor primarily supported their unit by the mass production of commercials for television, the production of sponsored public relations films, films made in association with other production companies, and by sponsored entertainment series undertaken for television, such as the Foo-Foo cartoon series and the Snip and Snap series. The latter introduced paper sculpture animals, and both series, made in association with ABC-TV, enjoyed worldwide distribution.

Tromsø International Film Festival – ’08 award

The ’08 award winners at Tromsø International Film Festival are now official. Five films have received awards, two have gotten received mentions. The festival’s main prize, the AURORA, was given to the French film WATER LILIES directed by Cèline Sciamma. The prize money guarantees the film full cinema distribution in Norway. This year’s opening film, THE KAUTOKEINO REBELLION, won the FICC jury’s Don Quijote prize.

The AURORA prize is given by the Tromsø International Film Festival committee. The prize is 100.000 NOK sponsored by FILM&KINO, and ensures the film’s distribution at Norwegian cinemas.

The prize goes to: WATER LILIES. Directed by: Cèline Sciamma, France 2007.

The jury: Vigdis Lian (leader of the Norwegian Film Institute), Bent Hamer (Film director), Petter Benestad (cinema director at Kristiansand Cinema og leader in The Norwegian Association of Cinema Directors).

The Don Quijote award is given out by the FICC jury – the international federation of film societies and non-profit cinemas.

The prize goes to: THE KAUTOKEINO REBELLION. Directed by: Nils Gaup, Norway 2008.

The jury: Hege Kristin Widnes (Tromsø Film Society), Ada Guilà Puig (Fed. Catalana de Cineclubs, Barcelona), David Miller (British Federation of Film Societies).

The FIPRESCI award is the international film critic award.

The prize goes to: THE SECRET OF THE GRAIN. Directed by: Abdellatif Kechiche, France 2007.

The jury: Katharina Dockhorn (Filmwoche, Welt, Blickpunkt. Germany), Eero Tammi (Filmihullu, Finland), Øyvor Dalan Vik (Dagens Næringsliv, Norway).

The Norwegian Peace Film Award is given out by Tromsø International Film Festival, Center for Peace Studies at the University of Tromsø and the Student Peace Network.

The prize goes to: LITTLE MOTH. Directed by: Peng Tao, China 2007.

Honourable mentions: WHAT REMAINS OF US. Directed by: Hugo Latulippe, Francoise Prèvost, France 2004 and THE BAND’s VISIT. Directed by: Eran Kolirin, Israel, France, USA 2007.

The jury: Efrat Ben-Ze (Ruppin Academic Center and Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem), Unni A.B. Sørensen (Student Network for Peace, Tromsø), Hisham Zaman (film director, Oslo).

THE TROMSØ PALM is given to the best short or documentary from the “Films from the North’ program.

The prize goes to: KESÄN LAPSI (Summerchild). Directed by: Iris Olsson, Finland 2007.

The jury: Mika Ronkainen (filmregissør og produsent, Klaffi Productions, Finland), Endre Lund Eriksen (director and director, Tromsø), Torunn Nyen (Festival Director of the Norwegian Short Film Festival).

Laws of seeing

Many art students in college don’t like studying Arnheim’s Art and Visual Perception. I like Arnheim’s books, especially Art and Visual Perception; I’m interested in art psychology and I believe that anyone who wishes to study modern art, should study this branch of knowledge and thus take advantage of the fact that non objective or abstract art doesn’t offer us the distraction of a specific narrative. This, in fact, is what give such works of art their extreme opticality.

I guess Gestalt theory offers us a useful tool towards an understanding of the laws of seeing: proximity, similarity, closure and continuity.

A viewer’s mind tends to group visual forms in order to achieve simplicity or stability. This organizing principle in the way we see forms is a natural tendency of mankind for not only do we tend to detect symmetry: but we prefer to find symmetry in art.

Painters have an innate knowledge of how these systems influence and fascinate their assumed target viewers. Painters use the concept of object recognition to develop figure-ground relationships. They do their best to manipulate the viewer’s attention so that a specified part of the painted suface is perceived as the object of interest or “figure” while other areas are seen as background. In fact, because the viewer’s attention is focused on the object, the ground becomes of secondary importance.

Modern painters have been concerned with making every part of a painting’s surface vital. Composition is one of several ways that painters can undo or subvert the figure-ground ways of seeing. This involves a vast amount of mental organizing .

Our acceptance of abstract art can be seen as the product of an evolving visual sophistication: our culture has invented new ways of seeing paintings. Abstract painting demonstrates the significant development of a new visual paradigm.

Six little jungle boys (1945)

‘Six Little Jungle Boys’ was part of ‘The Joy of Sex Education’

What’s abstract art?

When I was younger I preferred classical art to abstract art because as I told people “it’s more real”. Now that I’m a bit older and have more experience, I can tell you that this was a mistake. Abstract art is more real than classical art is.

Let me ask you “Isn’t color real in an abstract painting? And what about texture?” I’m sure you don’t have to think about the answer. Yes, color and texture are just as real in abstract paintings as they are in classical art. The term abstract refers to form only.

The term non-objective art would probably be more appropriate than abstract art. Abstract art can be ambiguous in a way that realist paintings aren’t. Abstract painters have some intuition about the kind of dialogues that a painting will engender because of its difference in volume and direction. Their paintings come from something in the real world.

If we really want to get to know abstract art we should ask ourselves how it began. I don’t like the Marxist approach which is a sort of cliché after Peter Burger’s talk about avant-garde origins. I don’t have any thing against the theory of the influence of socio-economic revolution on abstract art, but I think the true forces at work here are the invention of photography and the search for purity.

It’s true that economic independence allows artists to gain artistic independence and freedom from the dictates of style. But I doubt this is enough to explain the artistic revolution.

Who would desire a portait if he had the possibility of using the new technological tools? Many artists feared this would be the end of art. Painters were, in fact, forced to search for new subject matters which could embody their internalized ideals. Many artists found a solution in eliminating details and the illusion of space.