Fresh from the Festivals:
April 2000's Film Reviews

by Maureen Furniss

Within the world of animation, most experimentation occurs within short format productions, whether they be high budgeted commercials, low budgeted independent shorts or something in between. The growing number of short film festivals around the world attest to the vitality of these works, but there are few other venues for exhibition of them or even written reviews. As a result, distribution tends to be difficult and irregular. On a regular basis, Animation World Magazine will highlight some of the most interesting with short descriptive overviews.

This month, Maureen Furniss reviews the winners of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences’ Twenty-first Annual College Television Awards. Awarded at an elegant ceremony in Los Angeles, California on Sunday, March 12, 2000, the awards represent the best in student work.

Traditional Animation Winners:
First Place: The Reunion (1999), 12 min., directed by Dwight Hwang, Cal Arts Character Animation, USA. Info: Character Animation, California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA 91355 USA. Tel: 1 805 255 1050. E-mail:
Second Place: Mum (1999), 7 min., directed by Nicholas Peterson, Cal Arts Experimental Animation, USA. Info: Experimental Animation, California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA 91355 USA. Tel: 1 805 255 1050. E-mail:
Third Place: Giovanni & Alice Fly South for the Winter (1999), 3 min., directed by Kevin Gralewski, Cal Arts Character Animation, USA. Info: California Institute of the Arts, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA 91355 USA. Tel: 1 805 255 1050. E-mail:

Non-traditional Animation Winners:
First Place: Luz (1999), 8 min., directed by Jose Javier Martinez, UCLA Animation Workshop, USA. Info:
Second Place: Hollow (1999), 3 min., directed by Jason Shulman, Ringling School of Art & Design, USA. Info: Jason Shulman. Tel: 1 661 297 0516. E-mail:
Third Place: Rip Dash: Galactic Hero (1999), 9 min., directed by Hugh Elesh, Chapman University Film and Television Production, USA. Info:

If you have the QuickTime plug-in, you can view a clip from each film by simply clicking the image.

In reviewing the student animation winners selected by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, certain generalities can be made. Most notable perhaps, is that ‘the leader’ in animation training within the United States apparently continues to be Cal Arts, which provided all three winners in the ‘traditional animation’ division. Having said this, however, there are a number of questions which arise about the student work as a whole and about the categories used by the Academy.

Curiously, the category of ‘traditional animation’ contains examples of charcoal on paper, puppet and mixed media/cel animation. The ‘non-traditional’ category apparently is reserved for computer-generated imagery. To my mind, ‘traditional’ suggests cel-animated productions, most likely following the Hollywood style of cartoon animation. Non-traditional suggests most of the formats employed by the student winners in the ‘traditional’ category. Where does computer-generated imagery fit into all this? Well, that’s a good question; perhaps in its own category. In any case, dividing the animation competition into these two categories is somewhat confusing.

From the following reviews, you can see that my overall impression is that these works are all strong visually, but in most cases the storytelling aspect is somewhat lacking. Only in one case did I feel the work was constructed and edited adequately, to reflect a clear sense of purpose in the film. What this suggests to me is that these students are primarily visual artists, as opposed to writers -- not particularly surprising, I suppose, since they are enrolled in animation programs. Since I am very interested in non-narrative work, in general, I do not want to suggest that story-driven animation is somehow superior to other work. Rather, I am pointing to what I see as a general tendency of student production: more emphasis on the style of the visuals than the cohesiveness of the work as a whole. Still, it is nice to see visual experimentation taking place, since the commercial animation world is so visually limited.

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