For the next week, Casper audiences will have a chance to see a variety of new animation shorts from around the world — the first time the international production is visiting Wyoming.
The “Animation Show of Shows” opens Friday at the Rialto Movie Palace, with 76 minutes of 13 family-friendly films. The annual release from ACME Film Works features animation creators ranging from Pixar/Disney to students testing the latest innovations at leading animation schools. Following a short intermission, the showcase finishes with four films that the organizer recommends for ages 13 and over because of mature themes.
ACME Film Works producer Ron Diamond founded and curates the “Animation Show of Shows,” which is making its Wyoming debut in Casper.
“People who make short films, it’s a little bit like poetry,” Diamond said in an interview. “There’s something from their heart that they’re telling that needs to be heard.”
The “Animation Show of Shows” has been presented around the world in animation societies, studios, festivals and many schools including Harvard and CalArts for 18 years, according to ACME Film Works. But Diamond, who’s resume also includes the International Tournée of Animation, wanted more people outside the animation industry to see the compilations of short animations on the big screen.
In 2015, he started screening the show in movie theaters around the world with funding through a crowd sourced Kickstarter campaign. Many of the films featured over the years have received major awards at prestigious festivals. Nine have won Oscars and 32 have been nominated for the prestigious award, according to the press release.
The 17 films from 11 countries in this year’s showcase range from hand-drawn and stop-motion animation to the latest CGI techniques. Audiences will find themes from civil rights to wacky humor, according to the press release. The list includes “About a Mother,” with echoes of Shel Silverstein’s “The Giving Tree” and “the latest in 360-degree storytelling” by Academy Award winner Patrick Osborne.
This year’s “Animation Show of Shows” has already been screened in more than 70 cities across the North America. This is the first time the show has come to Casper, Diamond said.
One short that Diamond finds hysterically funny is about a kid trying to stay awake in class.
“It’s this battle between the necessity of being attentive and the reality of being a human being,” he said. Then there’s Pixar/Disney’s “Piper,” which is about a young bird terrified to go in the water, though it’s the only way to find food.
“It’s a very charming tale about perseverance, and learning that the unknown can be frightening, but maybe there’s a way to understand it in way that wouldn’t be intimidating,” Diamond said.
Other shorts are more abstract, like “Last Summer in the Garden” by Bekky O’Neil, a student at OCAD University in Toronto. The hand-painted impressionistic coloring is a “rumination of nature, seasons, and the unavoidable speed bumps on the road of life,” according to its description.
“My film in a sense, I would say is visual poetry,” O’Neil said in an interview. “The beauty of animation — I think that it really transcends language.”
Her film evokes real and metaphorical gardens while it recounts a woman’s journey through a time of death and rebirth. The “Animation Show of Shows” opens her film to wider audiences, which can experience her film in movie theaters, she said. She’s also excited that screenings aren’t just in large cities, but smaller communities.
“It’s been such an immense privilege,” O’Neil said. “It’s really amazing to be able to share this work in the format it was designed for.”
Animation isn’t just for aficionados — but for a variety of audiences and is especially beneficial to young people, Diamond said.
“We remove any racial or ethnic barriers, because we accept each character, and we can identify with each character,” Diamond said. “And the artistry that goes into it is something that is going to be a part of many people’s lives going into the future.”