Saturday, April 24, 2010

San Francisco International Film Festival 53 (SFIFF53) - Hertzefeldt Heaven!

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival screens April 22–May 6 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas, the historic Castro Theatre, the Landmark Clay and the Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley. For tickets and information, go to or call 925-866-9559.

The 53rd San Francisco International Film Festival presented the Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award to Academy Award–nominated short filmmaker Don Hertzfeldt. After a brief introduction and presentation by Rachel Rosen, Mr. Herzfeldt accepted the award in a remarkably shy manner. He spoke of the frustrations of growing up to be an artist in Fremont, California, how he is a self-taught animator and then announced, "I brought some movies."

The screening included: THE MEANING OF LIFE, his Oscar nominated REJECTED and EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, his classic BILLY'S BALLOON and two of his latest works, INTERMISSION IN THE THIRD DIMENSION and the second part of his "...OK" trilogy, I AM SO PROUD OF YOU. After the shorts screened (to a rapturously adoring audience, I might add!), he was joined by Mike Jones of IndieWIRE for a little interview.

Mr. Herzfeldt remained softly spoken, though there were several highlights that he seemed to focus on. Primarily, he was inspired to go into film by Stanley Kubrick's work, but live action was too expensive. So, based upon a sketching journal and squibbles from post-its, he conceived his first four student films, in four years. He doesn't seem to work from a script, per se, but from his subconscious wanderings, all of which are fairly somber and strange. In the midst of the conversation, he presented a long lost film, found by his "family in Europe, in a chest with a body holding a can of film". The short was WISDOM TEETH, which is done in a pig German and supertitled and a ghastly hoot! Afterwards, he said, "I'm glad they gave me the award before they saw it!"

There was a period of audience Q&A, which only lent time for a few questions, including "What is his most powerful tool?" "My eyes." A question about feature animation was met with how pitching ideas got old really fast, and he finds that working for himself is much more rewarding. And then, for reasons I can not recall now, he relayed a story of one of his greatest influences: Monty Python's Flying Circus, and an evening where he was able to wander backstage at a sold out performance and ended up sitting in the front row. Someone thought he was Johnny Depp. Hee hee...

Maxxxxx saysre Don Herzfeldt: "Sweet, sweet eye juice!"

You can contact Maxxxxx or myself here: JayCBird@AOL.COM

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