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Moving Pictures: GLAS Animation Festival

Acclaimed animators and film enthusiasts take over Berkeley in this independent animation showcase.


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A still from Koji Yamamura’s Academy Award–nominated short, Mount Head.

Photo by Koji Yamamura

Often, the word animation conjures images of kids’ TV shows, Disney princesses, Pixar heroes, or Homer Simpson. But the non­profit Global Animation Syndicate (GLAS) aims to change the way Americans think about the art form by hosting an annual film festival that highlights sophis­ticated, unique animated works from across the globe.

“The GLAS Animation Festival celebrates independent animation—and animation as a whole—and showcases what it can be,” says Jeanette Bonds, the cofounder and director of the Los Angeles–based GLAS. “It goes well beyond adult-humor cartoon shows and family-oriented films.”

 

A tribute to director Jim Trainor includes several of his experimental, hand-drawn films. Photo by Jim Trainor.

Now in its fourth year, the Berkeley event features a short-film competition as well as retrospectives, lectures, behind-the-scenes panels, art installations, and discussions with filmmakers. According to Bonds, Berkeley is the ideal place for the creatively inclined fest to take place, as many GLAS members have personal ties to the city and recognize how special it is.

“Berkeley represents what we’re all about: It’s very rich culturally, and people there really care about their craft,” Bonds explains. “It’s also such a supportive arts community.”

 

Dennis Tupicoff’s 25-minute Chainsaw will screen at the  festival. Photo by Dennis Tupicoff.

This year, the festival will shine a spotlight on animation arts and artists from the United Kingdom. Notable guests include Julia Pott, a writer and animator who’s shown her works at the Sundance Film Festival and created shows for Cartoon Network; Irene Kotlarz, who produced animation for the award-winning 2015 documentary He Named Me Malala; and Marc James Roels, cocreator of the lauded stop-motion film This Magnificent Cake. And for the first time, GLAS is partnering with the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, which will host archival screenings of animations by the acclaimed director Jim Trainor, who hand-draws the morphing images in his darkly wondrous films.

 

The co­creator of the 2018 stop-motion film This Magnificent Cake is scheduled to appear. Photo by Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels.

Given the wide array of events—about 70 of them—happening during the four-day extravaganza, Bonds believes both animated-film buffs and newbies alike will find something to delight them in the 2019 offerings. “[The festival] can really open your mind to what animation can be—narratively, structurally, creatively,” she says. “If people see these works, they will be excited and surprised about what the [animation] community can create.”

The GLAS Animation Festival runs March 21–24 at various venues in Berkeley. glasanimation.com.

 

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