Its not an official festival its more of an end of the year get-together. Casey Safron explained the rationale behind the Animation Block Party held at Club Sugar, a downtown Manhattan club on Nov. 29, 2005.
Its very relaxed, Safron continues. Theres no official program. We wait for the crowd to gather and then begin the screening. Our real festival was back in September. We get over 600 films submitted to us every year, so this is a chance for us to show the latecomers and the overflow from the festival. Students from NYU, the School of Visual Arts and Parsons can screen their films and get reactions from people outside of school.
The festival has been evolving over time it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, Safron said. Annecy and Ottawa are like the Cannes and Sundance of animation. There are tons of festivals for DV and Hi8 films, but not for animation were trying to fill that gap.
The Block Party began as a small screening at Sugar in July 2004 that attracted close to 150 people. Word quickly spread, thanks in part to a NEW YORK TIMES article. In September 2004 some 300 people showed up for a rooftop screening at a club in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, a haven for upcoming artists. In 2005 there were two Block Party festivals, one on Valentines Day and the second in September, complete with juried awards and sponsored prizes.
The Nov. 29 screening consisted of 19 films from students, studios and independent animators, with 2D, Flash, CGI and clay all represented. Highlights included Ben Meinhardts innocent-yet-corrupt DANCING ANIMALS IN LOVE; PUBLIC BATH, inspired by Tak Hoon Kims memories of his Korean childhood; THE GLASS SWORD, Irvan Hanafis anime send-up; and INTERROGATING ERNIE, a very strange case of scientific inquiry from Ken Lidsters Loose Moose Studios (creators of Lipton Teas Brisk, Baby! commercials).
Safron is planning Block Party next festival, due in July 2006. Once again, it will be a sponsored, juried affair with two days of screenings and other events. Information on the Animation Block Party, past and future is available at www.animationblock.com