Houston Community News >> China Halts Panda Gifts

9/27/2007-- The fifth installment of the Taiwan International Animation Festival (TIAF, 台灣國際動畫展) is likely to amaze and perplex its audiences with an ambitious lineup that features nearly 700 animation films grouped into sections by theme. The mission: to help Taiwan's industry professionals, animation artists and members of the general public understand the art of animation. TIAF will do this by showcasing a kaleidoscope of animated films and inviting international guest speakers to lecture on their trade and art.

Monsters make up one of the festival's sections. All creatures cute, spooky and mutant play a role. There's even a place for the chimera from the online games of Blizzard Entertainment. The legendary puppet animator Ray Harryhausen, whose animation works for the Sinbad film series are said to have inspired George Lucas' Star Wars and Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings, will also be introduced to local audiences for the first time with his classic puppet animations from the 1940s to 2000s.

In the animation history section, audiences can discover what Mickey Mouse was like before he became famous and won the hearts of children all over the world in Mickey's Nightmare, dubbed by Walt Disney himself. Also on show is Betty Boop's debut.

Another section will be dedicated to stop-motion animation. Oscar and Emmy award-winning claymation pioneer Will Vinton's original anime world will be revealed. Co-curated by Stop Motion Centennial Foundation, this portion of the festival also features the best of stop-motion cinema from Europe, South America, Australia, South Korea, Taiwan and the US. Besides works from these countries, the festival will feature award-winning films from the Annecy, Ottawa and Castelli animation festivals.

The Kaleidoscopic World section contains 23 programs from around the world.

"The programs are an inspiration to artists and audiences alike as viewers can see a great diversity of technology, art direction, style, expression, narrative approach and attitude toward the art form," said programming director Sharon Wu (吳淑玲).

In the Woods and Plants and Surroundings, for example, illustrate how artists entwine the environment into stories rather than treating it as mere background.

The festival's literature program includes 2D and 3D computer animations like The Tell-Tale Heart based on Edgar Allen Poe's short story.

Initiated last year, the Taiwan Competition section showcases some 40 works (selected from more than 200 entries) including Fission, the winner of this year's Student Academy Awards. Wu thinks the strength of local artists lies in the country's multi-cultural environment, which inspires an abundance of ideas and creativities.

"While mediocre works exist, more and more professional films are emerging … . Taiwanese artists have the ability to create lovable characters and designs but most of their work still lacks a proper cinematic sense, a cinematic vocabulary. I believe local animation students should also familiarize themselves with cinematic elements such as montage, editing and mise-en-scene besides the technological aspects, " said the veteran animation filmmaker, theorist and curator who has been living in Los Angeles for the past 20 years.

Wu's affinity for the animation industry in the US is marked in the equally impressive lineup of guest speakers. Tomorrow's lectures will include Steve Anderson, animation director of Meet the Robinsons, who will share his experiences of growing from a story artist to a feature-length animation director; and Jeff Chamberlain of Blizzard Entertainment, who will discuss the making of game cinematics and trailers.

The festival's director and renowned experimental animation director of the UK, Paul Vester, will attend the world premiere of his latest short In the Woods and guide the audience through his art work, which has been applauded by international animation circles. Mark Walsh, supervising animator of Ratatouille will demonstrate how to create lifelike characters and performance art in animation next week.

For fans who like to get up close with the creative processes of anime filmmaking, the free exhibition held at Huashan Culture Park (華山文化園區) from tomorrow to Oct. 7 includes sports production puppets, development artwork and design by the pioneering claymation director Vinton and Chiodo Brothers Studio of the US as well as a presentation specially curated for the event by Blizzard Entertainment, featuring production artwork from the epic online games World of Warcraft and Starcraft II.

Contributed by Taipei Times