Winnie the Pooh
Fyodor Khitruk died today. He was the leading Soviet animator from about the 1960s to until the Soviet Union ended in 1991. I met him briefly at the 1989 International Festival of Animation here in Los Angeles. He had brought the leading animators from each of the 15 Soviet republics to L.A. with him. They stood around muttering something like, "What are we doing in America?" "I don't know, but Fyodor said that we had to come."
I remember that he was an extremely imposing personality, probably the most dynamic person at the festival even though he was a dumpy old man. He was the sort of man who dominated a crowd even when he was just standing around doing nothing.
Khitruk was born just before the Russian Revolution, so he lived through the entire Soviet era. His animation tended to be the "arty" style that won awards but lost money because it was too intellectual. The Soviet government subsidized that sort of thing in the name of "we are not profit-oriented capitalists", but when the Soviet Union ended and the new Russian government was profit oriented, Khitruk could not get his films funded any more because they were not commercial. He mostly taught animation at the Moscow Academy since then.
He was not known for anthropomorphic characters, but he made very cute films of three Winnie the Pooh stories in the 1960s and 1970s that are nothing like Disney's, and are good enough to justify his obituary on Flayrah. Here is the second of them.
Where to even begin, except to say: Dead Pooh. Yes. Here, we’ll let the perpetrators try to explain: “Trash-collecting bear by day, crime-fighting martial artist by night. Dead Pooh protects the citizens of Woodland City from the menace of the Candy King. In the best traditions of parady, Comi-Kazi presents the latest hero to arise to confront the forces of darkness for truth, justice…and a jar of honey!” Sure to raise the hackles and the temperature of Marvel fans and Disney fans alike. This loony full-color one-shot is written by Al Sharpe, illustrated by Marat Mychaeis and Sean Davis, and scheduled for release from Antarctic Press in March. Oh bother.
Your humble ed-otter was pleased and proud to attend the 2012 presentation of the Annie Awards for 2011, which took place at UCLA on Saturday the 4th. The Annie Awards are the “Oscars” of the animation industry, presented every year by the International Animated Film Society (ASIFA). It was a busy year for the awards, with many of the numerous categories having up to 10 nominees. And of course, entries with an interest for furry fans were well-represented. The big winner of the evening was clearly Rango, with five wins including the big one, Best Animated Feature. It also won for Writing, Character Design, and Editing, as well as the new Members’ Favorite category (the single category voted on by all ASIFA members, regardless of their professional or fan status).
Interestingly, it was not a complete Rango sweep, as Rio won for Character Animation (by Jeff Gabor) while Kung Fu Panda 2 won for Production Design, and Best Director (Jennifer Yuh Nelson). Secrets of the Masters, the back-up short included on the Kung Fu Panda 2 DVD, also won for Best Animated Special Production (which honors OVA’s and direct-to-DVD projects). Disney’s 2D Winnie the Pooh also racked up one win, for Feature Film Storyboards by Jeremy Spears. The winner of Animation in a Live Action Production (a new category that was just introduced last year) was Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Minkyu Lee won Best Animated Short Subject for his 17 minute 2D film Adam and Dog.
At the 39th Annual Annie Awards, movies featuring anthropomorphic animal characters took many top awards.
Rango was the big winner, with four awards, including Best Animated Feature. The movie with the most nominations, Kung Fu Panda 2, only won two, but one of them was Best Director for first time theatrical director Jennifer Yuh Nelson.
Other such movies with wins include Rise of the Planet of the Apes, winning Character Animation (in a Live Action Feature), Winnie the Pooh, which won Storyboarding, and Rio, for Character Animation (in an Animated Feature).
2011 has come and gone. Before we all get excited about 2012, now is a good time to take one last look at the best the past year had to offer. In movies, anyway.
The Annies announced their nominees earlier this month, so for once that award will be first up in the rundown. The last month has also been full to the brim with critic’s awards, which can influence the Academy.
It will be a five-nominee year for the Best Animated Feature Oscar. 18 films were sent in for a chance at nomination for the award, and all were accepted. The motion-capture debate seems to have been for naught; all three films under question were accepted, though only one is a contender.
September is an important month for next year’s awards. Major film festivals earlier in the month (which didn’t feature anything remotely furry, so this is their last mention), plus the beginning of screenings of studio hopefuls and even the first precursor award make September the unofficial beginning of “awards season” for movies.
Meanwhile, back in the furry fandom, a major player has had a setback, completely changing my Ursa Major predictions.
This year looks to be interesting in all three awards. With Pixar flopping and all sorts of new rules, the Best Animated Feature Oscar may be a surprise this year. The flop also affects the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature. Finally, the fandom’s own Ursa Majors’s Best Anthropomorphic Movie will see something entirely new; a movie made by the fandom.
Conspiracies are being flung around concerning the firing of New York Post entertainment reporter Nikki Finke after her scathing story concerning document shredding by Disney to dodge a Winnie the Pooh ownership lawsuit. Foremost is the theory that Disney pressured the Post management to sack the bearer of bad news.