WUD Film celebrates animation with five free screenings of modern or established animated classics at the Marquee Cinema on March 23-25.
As a festival title, “Animation Is Film!” reads like a resounding call to action. There’s an urgency embedded into its exclamatory nature, as if the organizers are fighting an uphill battle for the medium to gain respect and recognition. They shouldn’t have to, but the hierarchical structure of the film world continuously suggests—especially at the most visible levels—that animation isn’t worthy of the respect afforded to “traditional” film. Fortunately, for the sake of discerning viewers everywhere, events like Animation Is Film actively combat depressingly regressive viewpoints.
From March 23 to March 25, WUD Film will host five free screenings at Union South, featuring modern or established animated classics. Leading things off on March 23 at 7 p.m. will be Don Hertzfeldt’s recent World Of Tomorrow trilogy, which stands apart as both an existential masterpiece and one of the greatest short film runs in cinematic history. On March 24, Brad Bird’s debut feature The Iron Giant will screen at 6:30 p.m. The Iron Giant‘s legacy, impact, and influence still resonates across today’s animation, nearly 25 years after its release. Directly following The Iron Giant will be Fantastic Planet, René Laloux’s experimental—and occasionally brutal—sci-fi parable for respectful coexistence. The film is also celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, and its central plea for societal peace still carries weight.
Animation Is Film will close on the 25th with another double-feature, starting at 6:30 p.m.: Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis and Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue. Both features are united by way of adaptation: Perfect Blue‘s source material is the novel Perfect Blue: Complete Metamorphosis while Persepolis has Satrapi adapting her original graphic memoir of the same name (alongside co-director Vincent Parronaud). Both films share other commonalities but are visually and thematically distinct. Persepolis‘ wars are both literal and figurative, while Perfect Blue‘s are cultural and internal. Each remains essential viewing more than a decade after their respective releases (Perfect Blue in ’97, Persepolis in ’07).
All five films feature protagonists who undergo a coming-of-age—or, in the case of World Of Tomorrow, coming-to-age—and learn extraordinarily harsh lessons about the nature of their surrounding world. Through their trials, an element of profound humanity emerges even in the most fantastical circumstances. Above all, these are films about hope, about perseverance, and, importantly, about animation’s transcendental power. All of the screenings will impart instrumental lessons about what can be accomplished within the medium. It’s up to us to continue to champion and celebrate those accomplishments, and Animation Is Film is a perfect means to do just that.
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