tyrus wong art

Tyrus Wong Documentary Streaming Free this Month

Tyrus focuses on artist and Disney Legend Tyrus Wong, and is a remarkable and humble film directed by Pamela Tom. I initially came across this film when browsing Kickstarter and knew that animation fans would help her raise the funds for this incredible story to be told. Since then, the film has screened in many festivals. Under-credited and treated poorly at the time, this film serves as a much needed reminder of the struggles that even the most talented people of color faced in America while trying to have their own “American dream.”

The film aired on PBS last week, and will be streaming on their site until October 8th, 2017 under the PBS “American Masters” series. Under this umbrella, the screening now concludes with a new interview by former Pixar artists and founders of studio Tonko House, Dice Tsutsumi and Robert Kondo, as well as an excerpt from their 2014 Oscar-nominated short The Dam Keeper. I also recommend you check out the PBS site, as it contains lots of additional informative content.

Streaming For Free until October 8th!

Tyrus was a prolific artist across multiple mediums and industries, right up until his death last December, and I highly encourage you to learn about his life and let it inspire you to persist.

You can learn more about the film at its official website.

Academy Awards statuettes

The 2017 Oscar Nominations

What a time to be alive and in love with animation. This year saw a record number of film qualify, and I know that we’ll just continue to see each year yield a larger pool of contenders. We’re seeing more diverse films, more innovation, bigger budgets, smaller budgets and a more global representation. Not saying that in previous years we weren’t, as indie films have been cracking the nominations a number of times in the award category’s sixteen-year history. That’s a whole other post I’m excited to dive into! But for now, let’s take a look at the 2017 Oscar nominations.

I have to be honest. I love the Oscars. But it’s also one of my biggest pet peeves as an animation fan. There have been a lot of debates about the validity of the animation categories, particularly feature animation, and how votes are cast. They have tried to fix this by adding more voting members, but one can’t help but continue to be a little cynical about it all. Again, I do enjoy watching the Oscars–for me personally, growing up, it was always a yearly motivation. It’s a very self-indulgent night for film. It also tends to be a fun night to poke fun at animation, either by having a comedian introduce the section with disparaging jokes, or have a director whose film is 95% VFX win and then thank everyone except for the artists who literally made it. It’s also been dominated by the same company for years, which, as the article I linked previously highlights, does have you asking questions. And that issue doesn’t just plague the Oscars, but rather every awards show. Even the Annie Awards–a show specifically for animation–has had its share of controversy in the past, and like the Oscars, have taken steps to remedy it, such as revamping the voting and adding an Independent Animated Feature category, a debatable move in itself.

Another thing that often irritates me during awards season is, sadly, the fans at times. I have had enough debates with animation fans of forums such as ASIFA-Hollywood president Jerry Beck’s Cartoon Research Facebook group to know that there are many self-proclaimed “Disney purists” out there who will blindly support the company. I think we’ve all seen that in some degree, whether someone says they loved the new Star Wars because they just love Star. And we are all very guilty of it too. I love Disney, but I’m not so blinded that I can’t criticize it.

I think the thing that frustrates me about these types of people is that their mind is made up before it even gives any other options a chance. Or even worse, they pick their clear winner without having actually seen all of the nominated films. That, in my mind, immediately invalidates your opinion. You can’t be a fully-informed voter if you are NOT fully informed. You can’t judge based on some of the information. You may have loved Moana, but perhaps The Red Turtle will blow you away. You can’t know that unless you see it. I remember sitting with friends after seeing Inside Out wondering how any Disney/Pixar film could top that, and then Zootopia came along and knocked me completely on my ass. I saw pictures for My Life as a Zucchini and didn’t know what to make of it at first, but gave it a try, only to realize that it was one of my favorite films–animation or otherwise–of the year.

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New York International Children’s Film Festival 2017 Line-Up

Founded in 1997, the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) has become a staple of the NYC animation scene. What started as a single weekend with a few screenings has blossomed into a massive, weeks long event featuring sold-out screenings of films both old and new, short and feature length, and animated and live-action, as well as workshops, Q&As with filmmakers, awards, and parties. They’ve just posted their full 2017 festival line-up, and I’m so excited for their animation offerings! I’ll be highlighting a few below.

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