12th Chicago International Children's Film Festival by Marie Cenkner

I had the pleasure of again being part of the animation jury for the Chicago Children's Film Festival. This year opening night is October 6th. The festival runs through October 17th. The animation was outstanding this year. I would like to highlight some of my favorites for you.

Four films that I found particularly outstanding for creative use of animation were The Artist, It's Always Me, Sandburg's Arithmetic and Alice. The Artist by Michele Cournoyer, National Film Board is, I believe, rotoscoped. It is the story of a young girl, musically inclined, and not understood by her family. A very lovely film from all points of view. It's Always Me -- Letter Monsters by Joia Hesserbarth, USA. This drawn, mixed media film about a dyslexix girl, is a very engaging stream-of-consciousness story, though it is a little weak in the narrative wrap-up. Sandburgs Arithmetic by Lynn Smith, Canada. Carl Sandburg reads his peom, "Arithmetic." Drawn animation, paint and crayon, loose style, contribute to a film which is excellent for stimulating creativity in the viewer. Alice by Bellanger Nicolas, France, is a short three minute story of a little girl's day at nursery school. Drawn animation in simple crayon line style makes for a very original presentation.

There were also several traditional cartoon-style drawn animations worth noting. Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me, by Pernilla Hindsefelt and Jonas Dahleck, Sweden, is excellent drawn animation and design. The story is about instruments at night in a large upscale restraurant with a trumpet flirting with a violin, and, of course, a surprise ending. It reminded me of Tubby the Tuba. The Hen House by Kari Hakkinen, Finland, has excellent animation and design. The director descripbes it as "A hilarious animation about the stress caused by profit responsibility in a hen house run according to a hierarchical system." The Three-legged Cat by Evan Frizzell, Weston Woods, USA and New Zealand is great animation of charming tales about a peg-leg cat who is mistaken for a hat and taken on a ride atop her owner's brother's bald head.

Two drawn animtions with especially good and entertaining messages for children were The Little Wolf, and The Polar Bear. Little Wolf by An Vronbaut, England is good design and animation about the smallest member of a wolf pack who goes astray and is retrieved in an unusaul way by his brothers. The Little Polar Bear: The Teddy, by Teo Kerp, Germany is about the third party of a trio who feels neglected and a little jealous when the other two decide to adopt a discarded teddy bear.

There were 4 stop motion animated films this year. Hot and Spotty by Kevin Griffiths, England, is one of the classic "Old Bear Stories" by Jane Hissey, stop motion toys. Gogs by Sion Jones, Deinior Monis and Michael Most, Wales, is clay animation, well animated and designed. "A stone age family whose lives are ruled by the elements discover fire... but are uncertain how to use it properly." A very comical film. The Chamber Stork by Katarina Lillquist, Finland, is nicely done object, stop motion puppet animation. A poet finds an enormous egg in his tiny room. It hatches and the ensuing "raising the creature" adventure changes him forever. The Barber of Seville by Natalia Dabibha., Wales production and Moscow production, is 28 minutes of ambitious puppet animation with elaborate sets, camera movements and very smooth animation of the well known opera.

Of special note are several films from the series, Rights From the Heart - Part II, produced by the Canadian Film Board. Each one asks a hard question about children and the burden different political and social circumstances inflict on them. No solutions are offered. Jonas and Lisa by Zabelle Cote and Daniel Schon is drawn animation on the question, "What can they do?" of three children, an overworked mother and an alcoholic father. Ex Child by Jacques Drovin is a pin screen film on "A soldier at 13, Why?" A young boy is inscripted into the army. Baroque 'n Roll by Pierre M. Trudeau is stop motion and cut paper animation on "A Racist, Why?" Part I and II are available fro purchase from Facets as are many other animated films (312 281-9075)

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