Daily post 23 Nov 2008 11:26 am

Oscar duties

- Yesterday, the Academy had the NY screen off of the animated shorts entered for competition. Some 40 short films were projected for about 25 people – 15 members and the rest guests. The program started at 10 am and continued up to 8 pm – a V E R Y long day. A couple of members came down from Montreal to vote, some from upstate NY and the rest city dwellers.

There were a lot of mediocre films, some very bad films and a couple of excellent films. The usual for animated short collections.

Here’s a list of the films screened in the order that we saw them. I tried to find links for some of them and had difficulty in locating the directors for some of them.

40 Responses to “Oscar duties”

  1. on 23 Nov 2008 at 2:08 pm 1.Emmett Goodman said …

    There are some great films listed there, although I have to admit I have not seen all of them. Still, you know the Academy going to get its butt kissed, and nominate the Disney and Blue Sky stuff. But La Maison En Petits Cubes (The House of Small Cubes) is a great film, as is those by Don Hertzfeldt, Andy and Carolyn London, Signe Baumane, and Koji Yamamura. Guess we’ll find out soon.

  2. on 23 Nov 2008 at 7:51 pm 2.Jenny Lerew said …

    Please don’t make dismissive assumptions about such as Glago’s Guest, which while done at a large studio is as much a personal short as anything else. A short film is a short film is a short film, and after all, for the first couple of decades the awards were for–gasp–maintream cartoons, Bugs Bunny and Silly Symphonies, etc.
    It’s only the last 45 years or so that a lot of what we think of as “personal” or “arty” films have (often) held sway. And what’s Wallace & Gromit exactly-worthy, or unworthy? Whose butt was kissed when they won?

    Bias, as I’ve written before, cuts both ways.

    Anyway, I just sat through the shorts submitted for another prominenet animation competition, and I wish more of these titles were among them so I could have seen them. I’m jealous!

  3. on 24 Nov 2008 at 12:14 am 3.Emmett Goodman said …

    I don’t mean to be biased. That’s just how its looked the last few years. But what do I know. Please don’t take my word for it.

  4. on 24 Nov 2008 at 6:33 am 4.Alison Eldred said …


    I notice that you need a link for the Varmints film. This was produced by Studio aka, and directed by Marc Craste.


    If you click on “News” you’ll find a link to a trailer.

    Alison Eldred

  5. on 24 Nov 2008 at 8:59 am 5.Michael said …

    Varmints was a well received film. It came at the end of the program and could have easily lost the audience. Every stayed in place – quite a feat for a film at the end of a 10 hr. day of cartoons.

    Emmett, the last five shorts to win the Oscar were:
    Peter & the Wolf
    The Danish Poet
    The Moon and the Son:An Imagined Conversation
    Harvie Krumpet.
    No Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney or WB films among them. Let’s call spades only when they are spades.

  6. on 24 Nov 2008 at 10:02 am 6.George Griffin said …

    Michael, thanks for posting the links. Here are a few more:
    “Boar Attack” by Jay White, http://www.slycedar.com/
    “Chick” (sometimes referred to as “The Chick”) by Michal Socha, http://www.platige.com/index.php?lng=en&tu=90

    As it happens, they are among my favorites from Saturday for a variety of reasons, chiefly their fresh design, quirky stories and brevity.

    Ditto Dennis Tupicoff’s “Chainsaw,” http://www.chainsawfilm.com/ minus the brevity.


  7. on 24 Nov 2008 at 2:47 pm 7.Emmett Goodman said …

    Mr Sporn,

    I want to take back the snide comment I made at the beginning here. This was a vague impression I got from only a few years of watching following the Oscars. I am aware of the films that have won. I didn’t think my comment would get this sort of reaction. Once again, I am sorry.

  8. on 24 Nov 2008 at 3:32 pm 8.Dave Levy said …

    Emmett, you didn’t say anything wrong actually. You only predicted that Disney and Blue Sky would get nominated. I don’t think that’s a wrong prediction, for whatever motivation you assigned it. We know that the big studios flex publicity muscles and have larger pools of voting Academy members in their midsts… That said, its nice that the WINNING films came from the independent world because these are the filmmakers that have to work much harder to get their films seen.

    Jenny is right that biases run both ways, but, I don’t think that changes the fact that indie films are the underdog films. The fact that the recent winners of the animated short are indie films speaks to the artistry going on in the independent world. I’ve been at lots of children’s film festivals where the moment a Disney logo flashes on the screen the audience is already won over. The audience lights up before they see one frame of the film. An indie filmmaker has to live or die exclusively on the merits of what they create, not on the legacy of a studio that did its best work btwn the years of 1928 and 1942.

  9. on 24 Nov 2008 at 4:51 pm 9.Kate Myers said …

    Hi Michael-

    I just want to mention a quick correction. The Girl Who Cried Flowers by Umesh Shukla is a US film; not India.



  10. on 24 Nov 2008 at 5:11 pm 10.Michael said …

    Thanks, I made the change.

  11. on 24 Nov 2008 at 11:48 pm 11.Matt Jones said …

    I’ve got all my fingers & toes crossed for the OKTAPODI team!

  12. on 25 Nov 2008 at 2:35 pm 12.Jenny Lerew said …

    Now *I* want to apologize, Emmett!
    But don’t worry–really(as has been written)it’s all a matter of who’s looking and who’s showing at any particular time. It really is true that bias cuts both ways-I’ve been in groups that disdain both indie and/or non-indie films-and I don’t feel comfortable in either case. There are audiences where quite unfairly people squirm or have no patience with unusual, non-mainstream animation, and also plenty of cases where a group of attendees or judges look very dimly on that same Disney logo popping on…it can sometimes depends on the context of the screening and the expectations. That’s only human.

    “An indie filmmaker has to live or die exclusively on the merits of what they create, not on the legacy of a studio that did its best work btwn the years of 1928 and 1942.”

    –I agree with the first part of that statement…but the second..! Should the people working at Disney just stop trying? Everything old is new again, including new animators who are still young and still learning, and still making films as best they can, in all circumstances. Believe me, many of us studio people also live or die based on what we create, even if we work under a large umbrella. I believe it was also true of the studio workers in 1940. : )

  13. on 25 Nov 2008 at 11:18 pm 13.Dave Levy said …

    Like many others, I have the perspective of being an indie and a big studio guy. I spent 8 years straight at Nickelodeon directing on their number one show, Blue’s Clues. So, I know the pride one gets from working on commercial work. I think I understand where you are coming from.

    While I gave my job more than 100% of my energy every day, I was careful that it didn’t (exclusively) define me as an artist or a creative person. On the side I made indie animated films and pitches and wrote books, all of which allowed me to develop my creative voice. And, of course, I was aided by the production savvy I learned by working at Nick and for Sporn and others.

    My advice to those at Disney today would be to hold on to their OWN dreams because jobs are temporary even when one is working at their dream studio on a dream project. It is very telling that the major point of commercial animation is to render its makers anonymous. Big studio animation is supposed to look like the work of one hand. Artists have the choice and chance to reach far beyond that. Certainly, the industry would be a creatively richer place if more did so.

  14. on 26 Nov 2008 at 10:45 am 14.Steve Segal said …

    Thanks Michael for posting this list. Was Doug Sweetland’s Presto (Pixar) eliminated? A Maison En Petits Cubes (The House of Small Cubes) is a charming film, but I feel it borrowed heavily from the Sibelius: Feline Fantasies segment of Allegro Non Troppo (the cat in an abandoned house recalling better times). Not that that’s a bad thing Doug’s film borrows from Avery’s Magical Maestro.

  15. on 26 Nov 2008 at 11:25 am 15.Chris Robinson said …

    Studio or not, Glago’s Guest is like a forgettable poo. It aint one of those blasts that you have every so often nor is it one of those god-awful constipation moments where you just can’t get it all out.

    I’d be hard pressed to choose between Kafka’s Country Doctor and I am So Proud of you – both are fantastic films—which likely means they won’t get nominated. ACademy members seem to like cozier films.

    And Emmett, don’t apologize. You’re right in your assumption.

  16. on 26 Nov 2008 at 12:28 pm 16.Elliot Cowan said …

    I’ve rewritten this post several times trying to achieve the right tone.
    Instead I’m going to copy and paste Michaels comment from the top of the post:

    “There were a lot of mediocre films, some very bad films and a couple of excellent films.”

    To this I’ll add that the mediocre films were incredibly mediocre, the very bad films were exceptionally bad and the excellent films really were very excellent.

  17. on 26 Nov 2008 at 12:31 pm 17.Michael said …

    Presto was not eliminated. It wasn’t properly labelled as “Animorphic” and they began it squeezed. They pulled it and put it into the “Animorphic” group which ended the show. Presto was the last film screened. Several people, who had already seen the film, walked out before it was shown.

  18. on 26 Nov 2008 at 12:39 pm 18.Nicholas Tam said …

    I’m very pleased to see that Le noeud cravate (The Necktie) made the cut. I’ve only seen a handful of the long-listed selections, but it was one of the best shorts I’ve seen in a long time.

  19. on 26 Nov 2008 at 2:15 pm 19.Jack Smith said …

    The link to the “Descendants” website does not work…

  20. on 26 Nov 2008 at 3:54 pm 20.Hans said …

    I’ve seen many of the listed films at the Holland Animation Film Festival, and I must say that “Phantom of the Cinema” is by far the most inventive and imaginative short animated film that I’ve seen in years. Go and check it out!

  21. on 26 Nov 2008 at 4:17 pm 21.Michael said …

    I’ve fixed the link to “The Descendants.”

  22. on 26 Nov 2008 at 4:46 pm 22.Jenny Lerew said …

    Chris Robinson: you didn’t read Michael’s list of what has won the Academy Award for the last several years? The one that belies the idea that Emmett put forward about a bias FOR mainstream, studio-driven product. In other words, though he had a impression, he was in fact not “right” in his assumption that the Academy puts big name/moneyed shorts over indie ones. That is a fact.

    Your manner of describing “Glago’s Guest” is interesting as you have no problem at all taking paid advertising from Disney and Dreamworks on your own web page. “Animation Pimp”, right?

    I believe you and anyone here, whatever one’s ultimate taste,would be impressed by Chris Williams as a director. story guy and as a person. He’s not a sell out, not a corporate shill, simply an engaging, passionate and warmhearted story guy. We certainly aren’t close pals-I barely know him-but I’ve seen him talk about his work several times.

    I”m mindful that I’ve critiqued at least one short Mike has posted here in pretty emphatically harsh terms, only to feel chagrined when I exchanged emails with the filmmaker, who came across as a thoughtful, sincere and classy guy.

    Nether of us used scatalogical terms in any way, either. When one does that it really pushes the anger button, I have to say. Just being honest here, no offense intended-from me. Peace out & all that.

  23. on 26 Nov 2008 at 5:17 pm 23.Chris Robinson said …

    Jenny, I think the point was that the Academy in recent years always has at least 1-2 studio films. I’ve noticed it too. Sure, they don’t win, but they still get nominated over many better films.

    As for rest, I don’t think you read my post clearly. I said that I don’t give a damn where Glago was made. My opinion of the film has nothing to do with it being a Disney film. I actually quite enjoyed Presto just as there’s a bunch of indie films (House of Cubes) that I don’t really dig all that much –even if they did win awards at festivals.

  24. on 26 Nov 2008 at 5:20 pm 24.Chris Robinson said …

    ps. I think apologizing for a harsh critique of a film just because you like the director and he’s nice is one of the big problems with this animation community. Who gives a damn what the director is like?

    I know hundreds of animators who are great people, but sometimes they make crappy films. Conversely, I (very rarely, mind you) make poor programming decisions…but should people’s judgement of Ottawa programming or my writing be gauged by whether i’m a nice guy or not?

  25. on 26 Nov 2008 at 6:33 pm 25.Jenny Lerew said …

    I didnt write the contextual, personal stuff about that filmmaker because he’s “nice” and didn’t mean to suggest anyone should care for his film on that basis. But rather to point out that there are human beings behind these titles. I’d feel the same way were the person someone who I personally disliked, I promise you.

    I saw many of the AA nominated titles listed. Some were just awful. I’m pretty sure, however, that the fimmakers were trying, even if I think they failed. Out of respect for them I’d choose other terms to discuss their work than comparing their efforts to defecation.

  26. on 28 Nov 2008 at 2:38 am 26.cam christiansen said …

    I am the director of I Have Seen the Future – (Canadian) I Wanted to update you a link to our website. http://www.anlanda.com

    Also just to pipe into the conversation I feel no hard feelings to those who slag movies they do not like. (Even mine potentially) It is natural and honest so not to worry. Just Giv`R

    Best wishes. c

  27. on 02 Dec 2008 at 7:32 pm 27.Enrique Garcia ( Perpetuum Mobile ) said …

    Hi Michael,

    I am one of the directors and producers
    of “Perpetuum Mobile” ( Spain ).

    I would like to ask what is the real meaning
    of being selected as one of the 40 OSCAR
    qualifiers animated shorts.

    Is there an “official” site from AMPAS
    ( the Academy ) where all these shorts
    are listed ?

    After this broad selection of shorts …
    What’s next ? The final 5 Nominated ?



  28. on 03 Dec 2008 at 9:22 am 28.Michael said …

    Hi Enrique. This list is basically just a list of the films that were entered and were qualified to compete. We saw these films, and another group were put onto a shortlist – about 10 of the films.

    The Academy doesn’t release a list of the films entered, nor does it release the names on the shortlist. I find out when I go to vote. As a matter of fact, I only learned that I was on the shortlist, a couple of years back, when they called to ask me for a second print of the film.

    The final five nominees are released with all the other nominees on Jan 22nd about 8:30 EST.

  29. on 11 Dec 2008 at 12:26 pm 29.Margaret Milner Schmueck said …

    Hi Michael,
    I am one of the producers of Peter Baynton’s “Over The Hill” (UK)

    Here is a webpage for the film

    and here is the director’s website

    Many thanks,
    Margaret Milner Schmueck
    Split Second Films

  30. on 11 Dec 2008 at 1:05 pm 30.Michael said …

    Thanks for the contacts. I loved your film.

  31. on 12 Dec 2008 at 2:16 am 31.Margaret Milner Schmueck said …

    Thanks for your nice comment and thanks also for providing us with this incredibly useful resource.
    So, I am looking forward to checking out all the links and especially learning at a later date which films have made it to the next round.
    How exciting!
    The very best of luck everyone!

  32. on 14 Dec 2008 at 10:34 am 32.Maria Severine said …

    Hi Michael,

    My Name is Maria and I am the producer of “Descendants”.
    thanks so much for putting out the list. Just a small correction for: Descendants it’s USA/Germany not UK.

    Best wishes and good luck to everyone!
    Maria Severine Pazoukhine

  33. on 14 Dec 2008 at 11:28 am 33.Michael said …

    Thanks, Maria, for the correction. Good Luck with the film. I quite enjoyed it. Whoopi Goldberg’s performance was particularly good, and the cgi grapics matched it.

  34. on 20 Dec 2008 at 9:13 pm 34.Enrique Garcia ( Perpetuum Mobile ) said …

    Hi Michael,

    Thanks for your precise explanation !
    Let’s see what happens on January 22nd, 2009 ;-)

    By the way … Congratulations to all the
    Directors, Producers and Artists from
    all the OSCAR Academy Award pre-selected Animated
    Shorts !

    Hi Maria Severine, it’s nice to have you also
    around. Congratulations for your excellent
    piece of art “Descendants”. Good Luck !


  35. on 29 Dec 2008 at 2:04 am 35.sam said …

    Hello there,

    Just curious to know if anyone had received the call for a second print as Michael indicated above.

    I Wonder which films have made it to the next round

  36. on 29 Dec 2008 at 10:32 am 36.Michael said …

    There are eight films on the short list (I don’t know any of the titles.) The running time ofr all eight is under 90 mins, so no half hour films are in the running. I’ll know the list on Jan 17th when I vote for the five nominees which will be announced on Jan. 22nd.

  37. on 01 Sep 2009 at 11:30 am 37.Darcy said …

    Can Margaret or anyone tell me where I can view Peter Baynton’s “Over The Hill”?
    Darcy, Seattle WA

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