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Living in Europe I feel so fortunate to be able to see the best of the best of the new animations and I often wonder why these films are not shown in the United States on a regular basis.  When I looked at the San Francisco Film Society's list of films for their upcoming animation festival, November 11 through 14 at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, I was delighted to see some top notch films on the list.

Theodore Usher's films are always complex and challenging and Lipsett Diaries is certainly no exception. The short film is in the form of a private journal evoking Canadian film maker Arthur Lipsett's tormented life, from a childhood marked by loneliness to his suicide in 1986 at the age of 49.  Theodore's haunting images are complemented by the script written by Chris Robinson, author of a number of books about animators and Director of the Ottawa International Film Festival.

from Lipsett Diaries

I saw the Hungarian student film I Am Simon by Tunde Molnar at the Poznan Animation Festival in Poland.  The film gave me the feeling that I was indeed seeing the world through a dog's eyes.  The black and white line drawings add to the feeling.

Bill Plympton's The Cow That Wanted To Be A Hamburger is a departure, story wise, from his past films, but this fable about the power of advertising and motherly love conquering all still has Bill's strong drawn images and the bold, primary colors fit the story perfectly.

The Brazilian graffiti artist known as Blu, uses urban surfaces as his canvas to create Muto which has a strong ecological theme.  The film has won numerous prizes at international festivals.

I have been an avid listener to National Public Radio's Story Court since its debut.  When I learned that the very talented Rauch Brothers,   Mike and Tim, had been selected to animate a selection of these great oral histories for the PBS documentary show POV I was very excited.   The first episode debuted on 17 August and unfortunately I have only been able to watch the shows on my computer.  SFFS Festival goers will have the opportunity to see two episodes of the Story Court project.  Danny & Annie, Parts 1 & 2 is a classic love story of a couple remembers their 27 years of romance as they face the finality of loss.  I have not seen the second film Q & A.

The modern children's book classic The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Alex Scheffler has been brought to life by Jakob Schuh and Max Lang at the award winning Studio Soi in Germany (I don't know why the film is listed as French since it certainly is not).   The Gruffalo tells the magical tale of a mouse who takes a walk through the woods in search of nuts.  He encounters three predators, an owl, a fox, and a snake, who all want to eat him.  The cleaver mouse uses his wits to survive, creating an imaginary monster who turns out to be only too real.

The 27 minute film was commissioned by the BBC and debuted on BBC One at Christmas 2009.  BBC One presents a lovely piece of animation for children of all ages each holiday season such as Lost and Found and Wallace & Grommit, A Matter of Loaf and Death.