Women in Animation and Bill Everson
Women in Animation
As several articles in this issue point out, women have often played a key role in animation. Unfortunately, within the animation industry itself, there remains a dearth of directors and others in key creative positions. While this is starting to change, their participation pales in comparison to the dominant role they play among independent animators, whose films often constitutes half the offerings at major international animation festivals. This is where women have also come into their own have been in the executive ranks, both here and abroad.
Thus, as this issue is devoted largely to women in animation, it is not surprising that we offer a selection of pieces by and about independent animators Thus, Poland's Aleksandra Korejwo, in her first attempt at writing an article in English, provides us with a startling autobiographical essay, rich with poetry and imagery, that attempts to explain the sources of her inspiration.
Rita Street explores the evocative films of Rose Bond, while William Moritz profiles the popular, but now largely forgotten pioneer experimental filmmaker, Mary Ellen Bute, and Giannalberto Bendazzi provides an appreciation of Claire Parker, whose role in animation history has often been subsumed to her husband.
As Linda Simensky points out in her article, "Women in the Animation Industry--Some Thoughts," the way women get to the executive suite in today's animation industry often differs markedly from the way men get there. This is clearly illustrated by my interview with Jim and Stephanie Graziano, who both came to be major players in television animation by distinctly different routes.
Jill McGreal in her piece, "Out of the Animation Ghetto," reports on how women, in both the executive and creative side of the business, are transforming animation at Britain's innovative Channel 4. Marcin Gizycki, meanwhile, explores the past and present roles women have and are playing in Russia, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia in his piece, "Splendid Artists."
One of the more exciting and useful organizations around these days is Women in Animation. Rita Street, its founder and leader, provides a brief memoir on what led to its founding and explains its activities and aims.
The way women have been portrayed in animation has often been a subject of concern in recent years, but that is certainly not a problem with regards to UNICEF's Meena and Sara projects, which are being used to fight destructive stereotypes seen in third world countries. Neill McKee and Christian Clark, who are both active in these projects, report on them in "Meena and Sara: Two Characters in Search of a Brighter Future for Women."
Our focus on women in this issue appropriately concludes with the second of Frankie Kowalski's "Desert Island Series."
New to this issue is our first set of film reviews of James and the Giant Peach and All Dogs Go To Heaven 2, by Wendy Jackson and Frankie Kowalski, as well as our first festival coverage from Giannalberto Bendazzi, who reports on Cartoons on the Bay, in Amalfi, Italy.
I always like to say that my interest in film and animation stems from being an industry brat, my father having worked at Fleischer and Famous Studios during the 1930s and 1940s. He was also a film buff, who had the pleasant habit of renting old silent films to show to family and friends on Friday nights. Although he died just before I turned 6, my older brother and I both maintained a strong interest in film; thus, at age 12, he took me to a series of films at New York's Museum of Modern Art, where I imbibed such classics as Intolerance, All Quiet on the Western Front and Rashomon.
However, it wasn't until I happened on the Theodore Huff Memorial Film Society, run by William K. Everson, who died on April 14, that my passion for films and filmgoing really started to take focus. The Society, back in the 1950s, held its screenings in somewhat seedy meeting halls that also hosted such events as reunions of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. More importantly, it provided a place for film buffs and scholars to meet, discuss and argue film. In those days before Cinema Studies became a respectable academic discipline, the Huff Society was key to the education of many a budding cinéaste, myself included.
I need not go into a litany of Bill's accomplishments or activities, which including being a tenured professor of cinema studies at New York University, despite being a high school dropout. Though animation was not his prime focus, he was not averse to showing Chuck Jones or Friz Freleng cartoons before they became fashionable.
I recall the time he was on an American Film Institute committee evaluating my proposal to do an oral history interview with animation pioneer J.R. Bray; to his (and my) surprise, he was the only one who knew who Bray was, and essentially shamed the others into approving my grant. For that and all the other kindnesses he showed me and others, I will always be grateful.
Harvey Deneroffharvey@awn.com Editor-In-ChiefAnimation World Magazine