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The Promised Land: Part 1

The issuing reflections are probably the most complex of all of those I have written until now, difficult and troublesome for me to reflect upon and even more so verbalize. Nonetheless, I feel a deep need to face a challenge of distilling and then sharing my personal thoughts and observations on this perplexing topics.



Arriving in Changchun, China for The International Animation, Comics, and Games Forum was a very abrupt switch from my previous weeks in Kosovo and Serbia.   Any thoughts of long, leisurely meals with friends and watching good animation went out of my head when I was handed my schedule.

“Breakfast  7:00-7:30 AM PROMPT”.  Immediately after breakfast we boarded a bus for the trip to the Jilin Animation Institute.  Most mornings we went straight into the auditorium to listen to speakers.  The rest of our day was equally regimented right up to our 6:30 PM dinner time.

The only exception was on the first morning when there was a visit to the Jilin Animation Institute from 8:10 to 9:50AM.   The 9 year old school, located in the new industrial park, has a staggering 6,500 students in the institute’s 5 departments:  animation and comics, games, design, and advertising. That is an amazing number of students studying media arts in just that one school alone.  One afternoon I was astonished to walk out of the auditorium to find a group of students standing at attention in military uniforms.  I later learned that every student, including those in the animation department, is required to undergo a month of military training along with their regular classes.


FESTIVAL OF EUROPEAN STUDENT ANIMATION - Belgrade, Serbia, 1 & 2 September 2012

When I left you in my last article I had finally arrived in Belgrade, Serbia after my 19 hour bus adventure from Peja, Kosovo and was enjoying a 4AM meal at my good friend Rastko ?iri?’s home.  I was in Belgrade to attend the Festival of European Student Animation on 1 and 2 September.

I had never visited Belgrade before and Rastko was the perfect tour guide showing me the sights as we ran the last minute festival errands. I had time for leisurely walks and, of course, Rastko took me to charming restaurants for delicious meals.

Belgrade is a beautiful, historic city and The Main Powder Magazine of the historic Belgrade Fortress was a perfect site for the premier edition of The Festival of European Student Animation 2012 (AESA ’12). Located atop a hill overlooking the juncture of the Sava and Danube rivers, the fortress was built as a defensive structure between the 2nd and 18th Centuries, and is now the Belgrade History Museum. The main powder magazine where the festival was held was built between 1718 and 1721 during the large reconstruction of the fortress undertaken by the Austrians who occupied the territory at that time.  The building was a huge technical achievement consisting of two halls with nine pillars each cut into the rock and an entrance passage with massive exterior walls.  Although the temperature outside was very hot we were advised to bring a sweater because the interior of the fortress was extremely chilly.



What do you get when bringing together Mary Norton's award-winning children's book THE BORROWERS and the talents of animation studio Studio Ghibli — magic. Scripted by animation legend Hayao Miyazaki, along with Keiko Niwa, and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, the film captures the innocent, wide-eyed passion that many of Miyazaki's directed films do. It's like they borrowed the adventurous spirit of CASTLE IN THE SKY and stitched in the joy present in films like SPIRITED AWAY and MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO.

Borrowers are tiny beings who live in the walls of normal sized people's homes, borrowing things from the humans that they will not notice such as a lost pin. Arrietty (Bridgit Mendler, TV's GOOD LUCK CHARLIE) is growing up and it is time for her father, Pod (Will Arnett, TV's ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT), to take her on her first mission to collect items for their use. Her mother, Homily (Amy Poehler, TV's PARKS AND RECREATION), on the other hand, either oscillates between mild panic and outright terror and believes that her daughter is way too young to be venturing out into the larger house. In the end, the calm levelheadedness of her father wins out. However, what Arrietty has not told them is that she has already been spotted by the sick boy Shawn (David Henrie, TV's WIZARDS OF WAVERLY PLACE), who has come to live in the country home of his great aunt where his mother grew up.