ASIFA Central is the Midwest USA Chapter of ASIFA, the International Animation Association (l’Association Internationale du Film d’Animation). Founded in France by a group of professional animators and chartered by UNESCO in 1960, ASIFA’s goal is to encourage the art of animation and further international understanding and goodwill through the medium of the animated film. There are about 4500 members and 30 chapters world-wide including eight in the USA. ASIFA Central was begun in Chicago, Illinois, in 1975 and has involved many of the professional and independent animators in the Midwest.
ASIFA/Central began as an association of professional and independent animators in Chicago, and has grown to encompass a larger regional area. Members come from Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, and as far away as Canada, Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.
Because of this wide geographical spread, ASIFA/Central has evolved from its’ original emphasis on meetings and screenings to a more virtual organization. The newsletter, “Frame by Frame”, provides the membership with information as well as a forum for interaction. Because the publication is quarterly, it features in-depth articles rather than timely announcements. Recent issues included, an overview of animation sites on the web, an interview with former ASIFA/Central member Jim Richardson (who recently moved to the Will Vinton studios), and an article on finding employment with the big animation studios.
A major annual event is the spring conference/retreat which brings together members for a weekend of screenings, presentations, anijams and conversation. At the fifth retreat in April of 1998, the ASIFA/East and ASIFA/Northwest reels will be screened, and guest animator (and former ASIFA/Central member) Kim White will talk about her production work on “A Bug’s Life” at PIXAR. The ASIFA/Central member’s reel will be premiered, which includes the anijam created at the 1997 retreat.
In addition, students attending the retreat will present storyboards in the Helen Victoria Haynes World Peace Storyboard competition. The winner receives production support for the creation of an animated film about World Peace. Phil Simoncelli was the first to win this award.
ASIFA/Central was the first chapter ASIFA to publish an ASIFA webpage. Webmaster Byron Grush has received several awards for this site, which he updates from New Mexico. The web site features articles from past newsletters, a members page and gallery, and general information about ASIFA.
Founding members of ASIFA/Central in 1975 included Wayne Boyer, Byron Grush, Millie Goldsholl, Robert Edmonds and Art Pierson. For over a decade and a half, Dave Daruszka served as president. During his tenure, ASIFA/Central co-sponsored many programs and brought in visiting animators including: Don Bluth, June Foray, Gordon Sheehan, and Shamus Culhane. For years, the chapter coordinated the judging of animation at the Chicago International Film Festival.
When this writer became became president in 1991, the center of ASIFA/Central moved to Michigan. As an all-volunteer organization, the board members each have an area of responsibility. Future plans include: expanding the annual retreat, building links to member information on the web page and through the newsletter, continuing to develop web presence, and coordinating distribution of the member’s sample reel.