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Will Vinton, Guest of Honor at 2nd Los Angeles Animation Festival International/Dec. 3 – 7

November 30th, 2010 by Anne Richardson · No Comments · News, Oregon animator

The Cinefamily has invited Portland filmmaker Will Vinton to come lord over their international animation festivities.

This is from the festival website:

Will Vinton Shorts
(W/ Will Vinton In Person!)

He may not be a household name, but Will Vinton has ushered the medium of Claymation into ubiquity. He even coined the term itself, trademarked it the year he established his own studio — and his work has been nothing short of iconic, to the point where any ‘80s time capsule would be incomplete without a figurine of one of his soul-singing raisins. The Domino’s Pizza “Noid”? Yes. The “Gnome King” in
Return to Oz, and Michael Jackson as a moonwalking bunny? Check. And of course, those California Raisins? All vintage Vinton! An Oscar, five Emmies, beloved holiday specials, and thirty-four years later, Will is still breaking ground in his commercial and independent work, and LAAF is proud to both have him as our guest of honor, and to award him for his lifetime spent molding animation memories.

Back in the early ‘70s, Vinton founded his studio in order to explore the potential of Claymation, and this series of shorts is undeniable proof of his success. This special program showcases a wide selection of works spanning his career, from his most obscure work to his most beloved, includingClosed Mondays, his first independent short, which garnered him the 1975 Academy Award for Best Animated Film! The detail and innovation of Closed Mondays is still startling today, so it’s no surprise that three other films in this show (The Great Cognito, The Creation, and Rip Van Winkle) also earned Oscar nods. In addition to these films, we’ll also see more shorts from Will’s deep well of stop-motion mastery, a nostalgic reel of his memorable work in the realm of the thirty-second commercial spot, and a rare screening of the entire CBS special “Meet The Raisins”!

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The Cinefamily/Los Angeles Animation Festival International takes its Vinton love a step further by programming one of Vinton’s less well known works.

The Adventures Of Mark Twain
(25th Aniv. Screening, Brand-New 35mm Print, Will Vinton In Person!)

The world’s first all-Claymation feature film is Will Vinton’s most ambitious, and ultimately satisfying endeavor. Criminally underseen, barely released, yet critically lauded, The Adventures of Mark Twain is a complex multi-layered story that echoes the convoluted richness of Charlie Kaufman’s best creations. What appears to be a kids’ film on the surface (with Huck, Tom and Becky meeting Twain and hitching a ride on his spacebound riverboat) turns out to be rather weighty underneath, exploring the same themes of mortality and ethical conflict that Twain explored in his own works. Where it gets strange, however, is when we quickly realize that said riverboat is on a deliberate suicide run to meet Halley’s Comet (steered by Twain’s bizarro alter ego), and that’s just in the first ten minutes! From there, Will’s daring, lysergic vision of Satan, the black void, Adam and Eve, and meta-representations of Twain’s stories equal what Michael Medved has called “the most original and audacious animated feature film since Disney’s Fantasia.”
Will Vinton will be here in person for a Q&A after the film!
Dir. Will Vinton, 1986, 35mm, 86 min.

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Hooray for Cinefamily recognizing the immense originality of Will Vinton! His lasting impact on animation could be seen in the success of two recent stop motion animated features, Coraline and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, animated by artists he trained, Travis Knight and Mark Gustafson.

How many other filmmakers did Vinton train and/or inspire? I’m hoping the full story of Vinton’s impact on Portland’s filmmaking infrastructure will be revealed in the autobiography he promised me he would someday write. I have cleared a space for it on the Oregon Cartoon Institute bookcase (reference section) and am patiently looking forward to reading it.

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