Animators’ Labors of Love to Screen at Festival

Canada has never been known for balmy or kind weather, but the climate in the Great White North is apparently conducive to making animated films.

Half a dozen Canadian productions will highlight Shane and Sean’s Best of Contemporary Animation 1991, the traveling festival that has come to Cal State Northridge for its annual visit. Festival producers said they chose this motif to honor the country’s tradition in animation.

“Canadians have consistently put out some of the best-loved animation the world has to offer,” said Shane Peterson, the festival’s co-producer. “Their government supports the art; it pays animators to make films. That’s something you don’t find around the U. S. It’s something that is disappearing around the world.”

Also being shown are films from the United States, Italy and Hungary. They range in length from three to 10 minutes and include examples of computer, clay and traditional cel animation.


Heading the Canadian entries is “The History of the World in Three Minutes Flat,” an Oscar-nominated effort that chronicles man’s struggle to improve his lot. A U. S. film, “Knickknack,” portrays life in a snowman paperweight and features a soundtrack by Bobby McFerrin.

“For these animators, it’s a labor of love,” Peterson said. “It’s not like a live-action film. They don’t make money. They rarely even recoup the cost of making the film. So they make these cartoons for themselves.”

Two of Los Angeles’ best animated filmmakers, Doug Walker and Ian Gooding, will be on hand to introduce “The Housekeeper,” the story of a maid who is employed by a mad scientist and who is inadvertently whisked through the 20th Century, changing the course of history as she goes.

Among the older selections is 1968’s “Thank You Masked Man,” which was based on more than 30 hours of Lenny Bruce’s nightclub routines.


The films are suitable for all ages, Peterson said.

He and the rest of the people at Multiple Maniacs Productions in San Diego spend their summers pouring through animated shorts, both new and old, gathering 20 or so for the festival.

From September to May, the show goes on the road, traveling throughout North America. This is the third year that it has come to roost on the CSUN campus.