Saturday, August 7, 2010

Grim Natwick Film Festival

To celebrate Wisconsin Rapids' native, Grim Natwick (lead animator of Betty Boop), Wisconsin Rapids held a Betty Boop festival August 5-8. Part of this festival was the Grim Natwick Film Festival for WI aniamtors. My two short films, The Arctic Shoulder and Barnyard Mayhem, got into the festival so I got to spend the last two days hanging out with the other filmmakers.

It was a really great experience and I got to meet a lot of cool animators. Most notable was Nina Paley, creator of 'Sita Sings the Blues'. She married the film and completed this feature length animation in 3 years by herself. It was quite inspiring listening to her talk.

Here's a break down of the weekend:


-Luncheon: Got to sit down and have lunch with the rest of the filmmakers and some of the Betty Boop festival committee. Betty Boop herself even made a brief appearance! It was great meeting the fellow animators, half of which were from the UW Milwaukee.

-Nina Paley Panel: After the luncheon we made our way to the Cultural Center where Nina Paley had an exhibit going on. It featured stills and painting from 'Sita Sings the Blues' as well as some of her comic strips. The panel included Nina Paley, David Farmbrough (filmmaker), Frances Auld (academic professor), and Cathy Meils (festival director). The discussion centered around 'Sita Sings the Blues' as well as the free culture movement which Nina Paley is heavily involved in. She released her film for free and there are no restrictions on it. She welcomes people to do whatever they want with the film. The only money she makes from it are through donations and merchandise. She's been fairing quite well that way. For more info on her film, visit the website:

-Film Festival Screenings: The screenings happened in two parts, one section for the UW Milwaukee animators and a second section for the rest of the local animators. It was cool to see everyone else's films; a lot of stop motion pieces which was neat. After the screenings, there was Q&A sessions. It's always interesting listening to filmmakers talk about their work!

-'Sita Sings the Blues' Screening: Watched the film which is a musical, animated interpretation of the Indian epic the Ramayana. The screening was followed by a Q&A with Nina Paley. It's quite the beautiful film. Very nicely done. After the screening, I chatted with a couple of the other animators who's work was shown in the festival. Nina Paley came out and said, "Hey animators!" and talked to us for awhile. Pretty cool.


-Round Table Discussion: Seriously the highlight of the festival for me. All the filmmakers at one table discussing animation was totally awesome! I didn't do too much talking but it was fascinating listening to everyone else talk. Nina Paley had some great things to say about the industry as well as the owners of Believe Animation studio in Green Bay. Robyn Van Ert who produced the film NONAMES participated as well and talked about the making of her film. Frances Auld was there too. She had some very interesting things to say as well. The passion for animation was so apparent throughout the whole 2.5 hour discussion. Great stuff.

-Grim Natwick Museum: During some free time, I stopped by the museum to check out some of Grim Natwick's drawings; quite inspiring I must say! Stephen Worth from the ASIFA-Hollywood was there talking about Grim Natwick's life and animation. I wish I could've listened to him talk all day! He knows so much about animation and is quite insightful!

-Film Festival Screenings: Another set of screenings followed by Q&A sessions. Afterward, I had a nice chat with Tina and Darren from Believe Animation. The goal of their studio is to bring animators back to WI. I always enjoyed listening to them talk about their company. You can tell how passionate they are about it.

And thus, ended my first film festival experience! It was a wonderful time! I left inspired and ready to rock this Senior Project! Bring it, MCAD!

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