Spot­light on Great­ness

The 46th Edi­tion of the An­nie Awards prom­ises to be an­other mem­o­rable night cel­e­brat­ing the year’s best achieve­ments in an­i­ma­tion.

Animation Magazine - - Event Focus -

While it’s true that do­ing great cre­ative work can be its own re­ward, re­ceiv­ing a shiny award from your peers in the an­i­ma­tion com­mu­nity is also pretty amaz­ing! That’s why we al­ways look for­ward to the An­nie Awards, or­ga­nized by the Int’l An­i­mated Film So­ci­ety, ASIFA Hol­ly­wood, which is held on Fe­bru­ary 2 at UCLA’S Royce Hall in Los An­ge­les.

As Asifa-hol­ly­wood exec di­rec­tor Frank Glad­stone puts it, “A wide choice of an­i­ma­tion tech­niques, a broad se­lec­tion of sub­jects, in­creas­ingly cre­ative de­signs and an en­com­pass­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion of films from other coun­tries and var­i­ous points of view is go­ing to make this year’s An­nie Awards an ever more di­ver­si­fied event. Look­ing at the slate of nom­i­nees, I think this year’s de­ci­sions will be ex­tra­or­di­nary.”

Asifa-hol­ly­wood pres­i­dent and an­i­ma­tion his­to­rian Jerry Beck points out, “We had over 16,000 en­tries this year, which is a record. It re­flects the in­creased ac­tiv­ity well be­yond the tra­di­tional fea­tures, TV shows and shorts from in­de­pen­dent an­i­ma­tors and stu­dents around the world. It re­flects an­i­mated films made for stream­ing ser­vices, the in­ter­net, gam­ing — even an in­creased amount of an­i­ma­tion se­quences con­tained in live-ac­tion movies and tele­vi­sion. And the qual­ity of the films is on the in­crease as well: I can hon­estly state that each nom­i­nee is truly wor­thy of win­ning an An­nie.”

Beck says that one of the rea­sons the An­nie Awards is one of the most pop­u­lar ku­dos­fests of the year is its any­thing-goes at­mos­phere. “Even though we are dressed up like prom night (I even wear a tux), there is an in­for­mal vibe,” he notes. “My fa­vorite as­pect is hear­ing the crowd cheer when they see a nom­i­nee on screen just be­fore the award is an­nounced. The joy on the

(Clock­wise from top left) The Bread­win­ner team won the An­nie for Best Indie Fea­ture. Coco di­rec­tors Adrian Molina and Lee Unkrich with pre­sen­ter Wendy Mal­ick. An­nie win­ner An­thony Gon­za­lez (Miguel in Coco) and a mys­te­ri­ous luchador (di­rec­tor Jorge Gu­tier­rez). Tom Kenny pre­sented a spe­cial award to Sponge­bob cre­ator Stephen Hil­len­burg. win­ner’s face when ac­cept­ing the statue. The after-party, run­ning into col­leagues, or old friends I haven’t seen all year. I even like the food! It’s lit­er­ally the an­i­ma­tion in­dus­try’s party of the year — and we all know that the coolest peo­ple in Hol­ly­wood are in the an­i­ma­tion com­mu­nity.”

Of course, with so many peo­ple to rec­og­nize in 32 cat­e­gories (in­clud­ing movies, TV pro­duc­tions, games, shorts, vfx and VR projects) the length of the show re­mains a con­cern.

Time to Shine

As Beck ex­plains, “Years ago, we put to­gether a team be­hind the scenes that pro­duces the An­nie Awards show, and it has been a pretty smooth pro­duc­tion for the last 20 years. We love our home at Royce Hall on the UCLA cam­pus — though we se­ri­ously con­sider other lo­ca­tions, par­tic­u­larly with more seat­ing. But we come back to Royce be­cause the staff there make us so wel­come. The only tough thing is try­ing to sched­ule the show to fit into a two-and-a-half-hour pro­gram. We have so many awards and so lit­tle con­trol over the length of re­cip­i­ents’ ac­cep­tance speeches. We don’t want to cut any­one off. So, the chal­lenge is try­ing to get to the post-awards re­cep­tion be­fore we starve!”

While the An­nie Awards is Asifa-hol­ly­wood’s most high-pro­file ac­tiv­ity of the year, the org con­tin­ues to do very im­por­tant work be­hind the scenes as well, es­pe­cially in film preser­va­tion and se­cur­ing stu­dent schol­ar­ships. “The preser-

va­tion high­lights of the last two years will be screened to the pub­lic in Fe­bru­ary at the Ham­mer Mu­seum in West­wood, Cal­i­for­nia,” Beck tells us. “Th­ese in­clude lost Max Fleis­cher car­toons, and rarely seen Paul Terry Ter­ry­toons and Ge­orge Pal Pup­petoons from the 1930s and ‘40s. Our An­i­ma­tor Ed­u­ca­tors Fo­rum is now award­ing grants to fac­ulty as well as our tra­di­tional stu­dent schol­ar­ships. The AEF Fac­ulty Grant pro­gram pro­vides sup­port for in­di­vid­u­als or groups with ex­pen­di­tures as­so­ci­ated with re­search and schol­arly ac­tiv­ity in the field of an­i­ma­tion. On top of that, ASIFA is con­tin­u­ing its com­mit­ment to open source an­i­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy; we pro­vided a spon­sor­ship grant to Syn­fig, a 2D vec­tor graph­ics an­i­ma­tion pro­gram.”

All this hard work in sup­port of the art­form also pays off for ASIFA’S de­voted staff and vol­un­teers. Beck says the best part about be­ing the pres­i­dent of ASIFA is the amaz­ing feed­back he gets from the mem­bers of the com­mu­nity. “Many are be­gin­ning to re­al­ize that ASIFA is more than the An­nie Awards,” he notes. “We are schol­ar­ships, film preser­va­tion, an­i­ma­tion ed­u­ca­tion, ar­chives and fi­nan­cial aid for our need­i­est. I’m par­tic­u­larly proud that our an­i­ma­tion group is now rec­og­nized on par with the Os­cars, Em­mys and other sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tions that cel­e­brate the art and craft of mo­tion pic­tures. No longer an out­sider — after 46 years, it al­most feels like an­i­ma­tion and the An­nie Awards are an overnight suc­cess!”

(Hun­gar­ian Na­tional

(Bits Pro­duc­tions/split

(Magic Light Pic­tures) (Dream- (Nick-


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