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Anima Mundi: A Decade of Memories

Animation plus sun, samba and caipirinha equals Anima Mundi. After a decade of exposing Brazil to the world's best animation and stars, Anima Mundi isn't slowing down, and even if it wanted toit doesn't look like the locals would stand for it.

Michaela Pavlátová designed the poster for this year's Anima Mundi festival, which takes in Rio from July 11-20 and in São Paulo from July 23-27. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

Michaela Pavlátová designed the poster for this year's Anima Mundi festival, which takes in Rio from July 11-20 and in São Paulo from July 23-27. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

An ideal trip is to travel to Rio de Janeiro, while a dream excursion is when you're invited as a guest speaker to Anima Mundi, the annual celebration of life and animation in Rio de Janeiro. This year Anima Mundi prepares to commemorate its 11th year as an important animation festival. We asked 16 would-be cariocas about their experience as guest speakers there. Even the most taciturn artists waxed long and poetic when thinking back on their time in the cidade maravilhosa. Animators we contacted were also afraid they might have missed the deadline. (It's Monday, March 31st!) There's something about Rio that makes these artists jump to share their adventures and memories. Talking about it allows them to recapture the joy and sensual rhythms of their once-in-a-lifetime experience. If you read between the lines, you might even hear the beat of the samba in their words.

Anima Mundi's festival directors in 2002 were (left to right): Aida Queiroz, Marcos Magalhães, Cesar Coelho and Lea Zagury. Courtesy of Anima Mundi. Photo credit: Juvenal Pereira.

Anima Mundi's festival directors in 2002 were (left to right): Aida Queiroz, Marcos Magalhães, Cesar Coelho and Lea Zagury. Courtesy of Anima Mundi. Photo credit: Juvenal Pereira.

1993

David Silverman

Formerly the supervising animation director for The Simpsons, David co-directed Monsters, Inc. Currently, he is consulting for various companies while considering his next project.

So, what can I tell you about Anima Mundi 1993? I met Lea Zagury at a CalArts event and she invited me! At the time I was supervising director on The Simpsons, and spent most of my time at work day and night. So, a trip to Rio was a real eye opener.

Highlights: I got to hang out with the brilliant Paul Driessen, who is as great a guy as he is a talent. New friends Lea Zagury and Marcos Magalhães took me to Sugar Loaf, to the big Christo, and to many dinners that blur together now, thanks to alcohol. I'd say the biggest thrill was doing the lecture about The Simpsons, and the overwhelming response I received. It was the first time that I got a sense of the show's impact around the world. I think I was interviewed by Brazil's MTV, but, well, my memory's fuzzy! I do recall meeting a young Brazilian voice actor who did work dubbing The Simpsons. He sounded just like Skinner talking in Portuguese!

David Silverman (left) cherished the time he spent with fellow guest speaker Paul Driessen in 1993. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

David Silverman (left) cherished the time he spent with fellow guest speaker Paul Driessen in 1993. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

Paul Driessen

Nominated for a Genie Award for Best Animated Short for The Boy Who Saw the Iceberg, Dutch-born animator Paul Driessen has worked with the NFB since the early '70s. In 2000, he was nominated for an Oscar for his independent short 3 Misses. He is currently working on an animated short 2D or Not 2D with fellow Anima Mundi alumni Marcy Page co-producing.

Ah, my first (the first) Anima Mundi. Never been away from home so far in such a welcoming family. Drinking caipirinha at the special cafe and (watching) all the elegant Brazilians dancing the tango at the Lapa, and the beautiful beaches (I grew up with beaches) are still very prominent in my memories.

But also the idea that it was dangerous to stop at traffic lights impressed me with the notion that this was quite a wild country.

However, the sold-out screenings full with excited people and the small devoted group of organizers are my fondest memories.

Bill Plympton was impressed by the enthusiasm of the youth when he visited nine years ago.

Bill Plympton was impressed by the enthusiasm of the youth when he visited nine years ago.

1994

Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton is an award-winning independent animator based in New York. His next feature, Hair High, is now in production. All of his drawings for this film can be viewed live at www.hairhigh.com.

The highlight of Anima Mundi for me was meeting with the young animation students after the screenings. They were so positive and eager to learn. I could see my younger self in their faces. It was a wonderful experience.

Hiroshima International Animation Festival director Sayoko Kinoshita fell into the warm embrace of Rio after her long flight from Japan.

Hiroshima International Animation Festival director Sayoko Kinoshita fell into the warm embrace of Rio after her long flight from Japan.

1995

Sayoko Kinoshita

Founder of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in 1985, animation film director/producer Sayoko Kinoshita has been the festival director ever since. She also serves as vice-president of ASIFA, president of ASIFA-Japan, president of the ASIFA Workshop Group and is special advisor to the Japan Society of Animation Studies.

Congratulations on the 11th Anniversary of Anima Mundi!

Staying at a beautiful cozy hotel nearby the coast of Copacabana, surrounded by so many smiles of the audience satisfied with the world's wonderful animation art, I felt I was glad to be in Rio, after such a long, long flight from Japan. A festival where you can experience a happiness of life with animation art as your best friend that is Anima Mundi. All of this is made possible only by the great efforts of the festival staff working backstage, always with cheerful enthusiasm.

The whole world is suffering economic depression and Brazil is not an exception, and thus, I deeply appreciate all the people at Anima Mundi for continuing the festival while coping with these difficulties.

Personally speaking, I love enjoying caipirinha with the festival staff, feeling the slightly bitter taste of the ocean breeze, as my body naturally takes in the rhythm of samba...it made me feel like staying there forever!

Anima Mundi is a festival you want to participate in again and again.

Marv Newland found time to sketch this drawing of Sugarloaf between adventures in 1998. © 2003 Marv Newland.

Marv Newland found time to sketch this drawing of Sugarloaf between adventures in 1998. © 2003 Marv Newland.

Frédéric Back

Canadian animation legend Frédéric Back is now celebrating his 57th anniversary as an illustrator and his 32nd year as an animator. His work has won many awards including the Academy Award for The Man Who Planted Trees (L'Homme qui plantait des arbres) in 1988 and an Oscar nomination for The Mighty River (Le Fleuve aux grandes eaux) in 1993.

To be invited to Rio de Janeiro by the Anima Mundi Festival was amazing! It is a unique place where nature and people have created spectacular and dramatic contrasts!

The generosity of the Anima team allowed me to discover Rio de Janeiro's splendors and meet with young Brazilian animators, eager to show their works and to learn ways to succeed in this difficult field of production. The festival was really a heaven of friendship and creativity via participation in the "Animathon" and the quality of comments about the screenings.

There is much more to say but I want to express my admirative gratitude to Aida Querioz, Marcos Magalhães and their perseverant friends who succeeded in making Anima Mundi become a yearly and traditional event in Rio and São Paulo, providing discovery and stimulation to the many fans and creators of animation in Brazil!

Many thanks and happy 11th anniversary!

William Moritz's most striking memory from his 1996 trip was seeing Fernando Diniz (above) present his film Eight Pointed Star. © Fernando Diniz.

William Moritz's most striking memory from his 1996 trip was seeing Fernando Diniz (above) present his film Eight Pointed Star. © Fernando Diniz.

1996

William Moritz

A member of the CalArts Film and Video faculty, William Moritz pursues parallel careers as filmmaker and writer. His 44 experimental and animation films have screened at museums worldwide and he has been published widely on animation history.

Anima Mundi was so wonderful that it is hard to choose just one thing as a favorite memory. Rio and the Corcovado, the exotic fruits like açai, meeting Aurora Miranda to chat about her time at Disney (and the Carmen Miranda Museum)...But if I did have to choose, I think the most impressive memory was of the animator Fernando Diniz and his film Eight-Pointed Star. I remember how he was wheeled into the auditorium in a wheelchair, and how sweetly and modestly he said how nice it was to be out of the asylum. Then they screened his wonderful film and he was wheeled away again. I bought a copy of the film, and have showed it every year to my animation students. It stands up very well and makes me sigh at the memory of Anima Mundi.

Festival director Lea Zagury (left) relaxes with animator Alexander Petrov and his wife, Natalia Petrova. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

Festival director Lea Zagury (left) relaxes with animator Alexander Petrov and his wife, Natalia Petrova. Courtesy of Anima Mundi.

1997

Caroline Leaf

Caroline Leaf has been based in London for the last three years, mostly working on her painting. She teaches part time at Konstfack in Sweden, and is currently animating a commissioned film for Acme Filmworks in Los Angeles.

I have many vivid memories of visiting Anima Mundi in Rio de Janeiro and of that memorable city. One night our generous hosts took the guests of the festival out to dinner and then to a club for dancing. The evening was still very warm. I remember driving up into hills and around twisting small roads, and then stepping through an old wooden fence and into a small leafy garden under the stars. The band played and people got up from their tables singly or in groups and danced samba. I watched Lea samba, and fell in love with the dance, I, who cannot dance.

All the next year back in Boston I went weekly to the Brazilian Cultural Center in Central Square, in a grey industrial part of town, and took samba lessons.

The women of Brazil made a lasting impression on Marv Newland of International Rocketship Limited. © 2003 Marv Newland.

The women of Brazil made a lasting impression on Marv Newland of International Rocketship Limited. © 2003 Marv Newland.

1998

Marv Newland

Vancouver resident Marv Newland makes animated movies through International Rocketship Limited and provides designs and directs animation for other companies on a freelance basis. In April 2003, Cinematheque Quebeçoise will present a retrospective of International Rocketship films in Montreal.

It was a journey full of exotic wonders, warm hearted, spirited audiences and generous hosts. I have many memories of Anima Mundi, however, legal and moral issues related to most of the activities engaged in during the festival in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo limit me to mention only the following:

At the first evening screening Marcos Magalhães, one of the four directors of Anima Mundi, presented a beautifully crafted 3D puppet which danced when you turned a wire crank built into the copper half globe upon which the puppet was mounted. He gave it to one of the other guests, Georges Lacroix. Was this a prize for best film produced by a guest of the festival? Was this some wonderful gift of appreciation for a trust fund set up by Georges on behalf of Anima Mundi? I was barely able to get to sleep that night thinking about the fine trophy.

A day later I forgot all about the prize as festival director Marcos took us surfing in his vintage VW bug. When we drove away from the Copacabana hotel the remaining three festival directors waved goodbye and wept openly into cocktail napkins. (Other international animation festivals should take note here as to how to display hospitality toward their guests.)

I drank something called garota de Ipanema, a kind of white wine served in a heavy coffee mug. I ate quindim a custard baked in a hollowed out custard cup and served upside down on a plate. I drank caipirinha, a large glass goblet full of sliced tropical fruits and a cold, clear fluid. After a few of these they say in Portuguese, roughly translated here into English, "You look like you just came out of a cow's mouth."

Joanna Quinn sketched this scene from Anima Mundi 1999. © Joanna Quinn.

Joanna Quinn sketched this scene from Anima Mundi 1999. © Joanna Quinn.

The festival provided me with a driver, Cardoso, and a translator, Fernanda, who drove me to among other places, Prainha, a famous Brazilian surfing beach. Cardoso hung out at the chop hut (beer joint) watching satellite TV and Fernanda kept her cell phone active in case she had to organize rescue operations for me, or Cardoso.

On the Brazilian beaches men wear chop (beer) logos printed directly on the crotch area of their swim suits, and I purchased postage stamps larger than many of the bikinis worn by the women in Rio.

Back in the theatres, the Anima Mundi audiences were enthusiastic and appreciative. In Rio and São Paulo there were requests for autographs and drawings of obscure background characters from a couple of my films. They pay close attention. After the screening of International Rocketship films, the festival directors presented one of the precious dancing-on-the-globe puppet trophies to me. The presented these extraordinary gifts to each festival guest as if being invited to Brazil were not in itself quite enough. Anima Mundi is a top-notch festival in every department. I only wish I could tell you about the most memorable aspects of this animation extravaganza

1999

Eric Darnell

A director at PDI/DreamWorks in Redwood City, California, Eric helmed the animated feature Antz, and is currently directing the animated feature film Madagascar, due out in 2005.

There are so many wonderful things about Anima Mundi so many experiences that I will never forget but the warm, friendly and talented people that I met and got to know will always shape my fondest memories.

Janno Poldma (left) and Paul Bush are seen through the eyes of Joanna Quinn. © Joanna Quinn.

Janno Poldma (left) and Paul Bush are seen through the eyes of Joanna Quinn. © Joanna Quinn.

Joanna Quinn

A native of Birmingham, England, Joanna's first film Girls Night Out (1987) won three awards at the Annecy Film Festival and Famous Fred (1998) and The Canterbury Tales (1999) received Academy Awards nominations. Joanna is known for her work in commercials, short films, title sequences, book illustrations and teaching.

My favorite memory was a night out in Rio when we went to an antique shop which turned bar by night. It was great lounging around on splendid furniture, drinking beer and watching people sambaing carefully around the ornate tables and chairs. Here are some sketches I did whilst I was in Brazil. Notice everybody is laughing. It was absolutely brilliant!

Joanna Quinn captures Jacques-Rémy Girerd (left) and Chris Robinson in Rio. © Joanna Quinn.

Joanna Quinn captures Jacques-Rémy Girerd (left) and Chris Robinson in Rio. © Joanna Quinn.

Jacques-Rémy Girerd

Based in Valence, France, Jacques-Rémy Girerd founded and directs for the prestigious Folimage studio. His short film Charlie's Christmas won the Cartoon d'Or in 1998 and was nominated for an Emmy. His full- length animated film, The Prophecy of the Frogs, will be released this year.

The friends of Anima Mundi are incredible; they're welcoming and truly sincere people. We all, at Folimage, adore them. Their simplicity, friendship and quest for quality are strong values in the animation world. We love you!

2000

Iain Harvey

Following a career in publishing, Iain Harvey entered the world of animation as executive producer of The Snowman. In 1993 he formed The Illuminated Film Company and produced such award-winning projects as The Very Hunger Caterpillar & Other Stories, T.R.A.N.S.I.T., Christmas Carol: The Movie and War Game.

Nights in Rio even in winter are for relaxing: music, friendship and dare I say it drinking! The superb hospitality of the Anima Mundi Festival allowed us to explore many aspects of Brazilian culture but as always it is the unexpected that yields the greatest pleasure. Joining Normand Roger and Marcy Page on our last evening, I was left with memories that will last as long as I have a zest for life!

We went to one of the many bars scattered around the city. This particular one did not seem to have any special distinguishing features, and I doubt if I would find it again, but once we entered we sensed something special. It was packed in a way that added to your pleasure rather than crushed it. Somehow you could slide around people, find seats, and get drinks with no delays or hindrance. Even though people were absorbed in their friends company, we still felt welcome. We had been taken to the bar by a local contact of Normands, who had heard of this excellent band. I went along for the ride.

There were four musicians, and though I was not familiar with the style of music, it was infectious, brilliant and unmistakably Brazilian. Quickly we became absorbed in the mood of the night: a couple danced sensuously and oblivious to those watching and listening. I dont mind admitting I was jealous no way could I ever have moved like that; it was instinctive and as if from the floating world.

I stood by an open window, enjoying the warmth of the night air, the sounds, the movement and the colors the various shades of ochre that the houses opposite were painted in. Time actually did seem frozen for a while. I didnt want the evening to end I wanted to remain forever in Rio!

Marcy Page's oil painting, Abraçando o Jacaré, recalls the night she, Iain Harvey and Normand Roger visited a club with a chorinho band and watched a couple dance with abandon. Iain stands by the open window. © M. Pag

Marcy Page's oil painting, Abraçando o Jacaré, recalls the night she, Iain Harvey and Normand Roger visited a club with a chorinho band and watched a couple dance with abandon. Iain stands by the open window. © M. Pag

Marcy Page

A native northern Californian, Marcy Page has pursued animation for almost 25 years. She freelanced as an animator for companies in the San Francisco Bay area and also taught animation production and related classes before immigrating to Canada. She has been producing animation for the National Film Board of Canada since 1990.

It was truly amazing to see what these organizers had been able to achieve in Brazil on behalf of this art form with their idealism and their passion. Thousands and thousands of Brazilians in Rio and São Paulo see the films of this festival the numbers are truly impressive. It is a festival that is almost completely turned toward the public seemingly with an evangelical mission of raising consciousness about this art form. The prizes are all "public prizes," which serves to invest the audiences with an increased sense of involvement, responsibility and ownership of this art. In addition to the screenings, I also witnessed hundreds of young people lining up each day to do the "pixillation," clay animation and computer animation exercises. I also met young Brazilian animators who were presenting their first, independent animated films at the festival whose initial exposure to animation techniques had been through these very same festival workshops in previous years. Indeed it became clear that the number of Brazilian submissions to the festival had increased exponentially in the years that the festival was operating. Create an animation festival and the animation will come.

The finest night of all was our last night in Rio de Janeiro when we went to see Roberto Santa Marta, a young musician and aspiring animator, play with his band in a small club. Lulu Farha, who was lending his sound studio and technical wizardry to Normand Roger's sound workshop at the festival, accompanied Normand, British animation producer Iain Harvey, and myself to the club. (The neighborhood was supposed to be a little "dangerous," but that seemed to only add to our sense of forbidden fruit.) Roberto's band played a type of music called chorinho. The name we were told means "little tear" but despite the connotation of blues in the name, the music was so incredibly lively that the club was rocking on its foundation. There was one incredible set of dancers dancing in a gafieira style that seemed to cross French café dips and swings with a gypsy abandon...fantastic. Roberto's fingers moved so fast on his bandolin as to defy belief. It was positively transcendent. When we all finally came to a landing and I asked Roberto what the name of his group, Abraçando o Jacaré, meant, he said that the name literally means "to hug a crocodile." He smiled (a very beautiful smile) and further explained that, "To play chorinho is very, very hard...like hugging a crocodile." Such is Brazil.

May the festival have an easy time with its own embrace of the next decade. Happy anniversary.

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Michaela Pavlátová, seen in the left photo shooting Unava pro dva (Lassitude for Two), turned down a marriage proposal from the audience at Anima Mundi 2001. Happy William (right) is the Flash animation on which she's presently working. Unava pro dva © Negativ S.R.O 2003. Photo credit: V. Polak; Happy William © Michaela Pavlátová, 2003.

2001

Michaela Pavlátová

Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Michaela originally worked as an animation director ( Words, words, word), and then combined animation with documentary film ( On Grandma) before directing a live-action feature ( Double Solitude). When she discovered how real actors don't obey, she returned to Flash animation and is in production on Lassitude for Two (Unava pro dva). Michaela's work can be viewed at www.volny.cz/mpavlatova/show/

The Anima Mundi audience is the best, most active, most spontaneous, most "animated." I enjoyed all of this in the discussion after showing my films. I felt adored like a queen; they let me feel beautiful and intelligent. I think there was also one very cute offer for marriage from the audience. (I was silly I did not accept.) I recommend, if you ever have a problem with self esteem (or want to get married), Anima Mundi will help!

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2002

Carlos Saldanha

A native carioca, Carlos Saldanha has been part of Blue Sky's creative team since 1993, after finishing his animated short Time for Love. Carlos was Blue Sky's supervising animator for the talking and dancing roaches in the feature film Joe's Apartment (1996) and the co-director on Blue Sky's first animated feature film Ice Age (2002).

Anima Mundi has a special meaning to me, because besides being a fantastic event created by an amazing and talented group of artists, it takes place in Rio de Janeiro my hometown, and it's always great to be back home to share my experience with the animation community there. The festival also is incredible because it focuses on all styles of animation as an art form, ranging from experimental work all the way to the latest computer-generated feature films. It's hard to pick the best moment I had there, because there were so many, but last year for the celebration of their tenth anniversary, as a surprise, we (the guest speakers) were presented with a wonderful handmade puppet-like trophy that actually moved when you turned the crank. This moment was very memorable for me because it was also my birthday. It was a fun celebration!

Peter Lord

Peter Lord co-founded Aardman Animations in 1972 and serves as its chairman and managing director. As a director, he has been honored with two Academy Award nominations for Best Animated Short, for Wat's Pig (1996) and Adam (1992), for which he also received a BAFTA nomination.

Without doubt there's something strange and distorting about being a "Special Guest" at a festival. On one hand, everyone treats you with incredible kindness and generosity; on the other it's difficult, between general merrymaking, dining, giving interviews and meeting the Mayor, to appreciate the festival as the average attendee might.

But that applies to almost any festival. Anima Mundi, I can report, is distinguished by a particularly warm and generous atmosphere and Rio, as a venue, has a pretty good reputation for the high life. In fact from time to time, while I was there, Rio seemed to me a caricature of itself. What do you expect? Stunning scenery, football on the beach, beautiful people, dancing, music, partying? Joie de vivre? Yes. All present and correct. I've seldom been in the company of so many people gently but firmly dedicated to enjoying life.

Peter Lord found that Rio fit all his preconceived notions of the good life, plus the audiences and the festival venue added to the happy experience.

Peter Lord found that Rio fit all his preconceived notions of the good life, plus the audiences and the festival venue added to the happy experience.

But, hey, this isn't a plug for Rio, nor yet a recommendation that everyone should go to Anima Mundi as a special guest (nice thought though). So between the sightseeing, the eating, drinking, dancing and shameless hedonism of it all, what do I remember? Well, two things. First the great audiences. The festival's big screen was in a temporary cinema erected in a square outside the festival headquarters. Whenever I went (not often enough), it was packed with people who seemed genuinely receptive to animated films in all their diversity. The obvious comic crowd pleasers did indeed please the crowd who made plenty of enthusiastic noise to emphasize the point, but the obscure, the abstract and the challenging were also received with real warmth and intelligence, which doesn't happen at all festivals by any means.

And the second memory is simply the National Bank Building, which provides a handsome and spectacular venue for the festival. Some festivals are centered just around cinemas and screenings, some have a club bar, others bookshops and trade stalls. But Anima Mundi has animation happening out in the open all day and hungry crowds queuing up to take part. In one of the main halls, students and volunteers manned cameras and recorders where the general public, very many of them children, could come and try their hand. One group were doing pixillation children in a variety of fancy dress costumes grew, shrunk, changed sex, flew, skated and disappeared into tiny boxes. Another group, dear to my heart were producing clay animation, building models and animating them on two or three stages. While a third group were busily drawing flip-books and zoetropes. All in all, the hall was ringing with noise, energy, creativity and fun. It was hard to fight your way through crowds of people not merely sitting and watching but actually making animation. And the long queues of people waiting their turn showed how much desire there was to get involved.

A hugely enjoyable festival certainly, but also a place where tomorrow's animators are being actively encouraged in a marvelous creative atmosphere.

Darlene Chan is managing editor of Animation World Magazine. After receiving a bachelor's degree from UCLA, Darlene happened into the motion picture business and stayed for 14 years. She served as a production executive for Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Pictures, Davis Entertainment and Motown. She produced Grumpy Old Men (1993) for Warner Bros. In 2001, she joined Animation World Magazine. One of her most cherished journeys was a long visit to Brazil ten years ago.

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