Where Do People Go?
Where do people go for alternate animation? I don't know, and I am concerned. The Ottawa Festival recently did Raimund Krumme, who combines the best of Beckett and Keaton. His work should be shown in New York and everywhere.
I'm also disappointed with the animators in New York and the independent film community. When we run these programs, they should come out and support each other much more. I don't think they make enough of an effort. There is much that they can learn and enjoy from foreign filmmakers--both independent and others. Animators should support their own art. Animation still isn't properly appreciated as an art in galleries and museums. If you mention it to curators, they do not seem to be truly interested. Not that I don't find commercial work interesting. I never looked at The Simpsons seriously until I looked at two episodes in Ottawa. The writing is superb! Writing won't do everything. Toy Story is brilliantly written, but I can hardly look at it. It's ugly. Despite its three-dimensionality, the visuals are "flat"--although compared to most animation on TV, it looks marvelous. But by my personal taste, computer animation is not for me. I'm waiting for it to work. I want to look at it and be hit on the head and say "Eureka--it works!" I would like to see talents like the Quay brothers working this way and making it happen. I want a great artist to adopt computer animation and come up with something I can care about. Technique is only a means. If they have the art in their heads, it doesn't matter what technique they use.
As to my work with animation in the future, I'm still available to promote animation. If nobody cares, things disappear. When we discontinued the short film programs and the "Best of Annecy" and "Zagreb", letters of protest didn't come pouring in. We're losing venues for certain kinds of animation that we need. When cable television came in, I hoped independent animation would find a new venue. Instead, we have more channels with the same old animation, although people like ASIFA-East President Linda Simensky are trying to change that.
I'm not pessimistic, but I'm skeptical. You need people who care and realize independent animation is an endangered species. Russia, the former Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia--what are their studios doing now? It's sad. We need a new wave of animators who produce work we care about. When you think about how much money went into Pochahantas and what the result was--I hate the intrusion of this into festivals. I don't mind the recruiting by companies like Warner Bros. and Disney, but the focus in the programming should be on art, rather than on commerce.
Mark Langer teaches film at Carleton University in Ottawa Canada. He is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and a programmer of animation retrospectives. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.
Where Do People Go?