The Vintage Tempest’s SPARK Animation Vancouver 2017 Preview

24 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Vancouver, BC is just one of a few hubs for aficionados of the animation industry to congregate to celebrate this medium. The Spark Animation Conference and Film Festival (Oct 26-29, 2017) lets enthusiasts, creators and innovators get together to appreciate this medium. This year’s event looks exceptional, especially with it closing with two highly anticipated Asian films that will eventually get a proper theatrical release in North America. But there’s more to this event than these two movies.

Comedy is the spotlight with Big Bad Fox by French filmmaker, animator and cartoonist Benjamin Renner. This laugh-out-loud collection of stories about Rabbit, Duck and Pig are by no means variations of Warner Brothers famous trio. There’s a different personality to them and this film is worth checking out Saturday night, the 28th of October. If people do not see it at this festival, I’m sure it will make its rounds elsewhere as GKIDs is handling distribution.

In what I’m particularly interested in watching is the National Film Board of Canada‘s Skin for Skin so I can appreciate the majesty of the work on the big screen. The two films I am speaking about are Mary and the Witch’s Flower, made by Studio Ghibli veterans who have formed their own production company. Studio Ponoc will debut this movie on January 18, 2018 in select theatres. I’m hoping Cineplex in Canada will get on board because it’s North American release should not be limited to one country. The other, Big Fish & Begonia, deserves a proper big screen treatment too. The beauty of this product comes in how Ghibli-esque this product looks and that no small screen can do the majesty of Asian architecture justice. When all three films sport picturesque backgrounds, this event must not be missed!

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Sunday – October 29, 1:30 PM

moderator: Jorge R. Gutiérrez with Ana Ramirez

In this special look at Pixar’s latest feature, Coco, see exclusive clips from the film and learn how filmmakers crafted a stunningly beautiful film about a family set against the backdrop of Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration.

Through extensive research and years spent honing the story, this presentation will illustrate the challenges and successes inherent in taking audiences on a journey that straddles both the land of the living and the dead.

Sunday – October 29, 5:30 PM
moderator: Larry Bafia with Jorge R. Gutiérrez & Paul Sullivan

Award-winning Google Spotlight Stories and The Book of Life Director Jorge R. Gutiérrez take us behind-the-scenes on his “super personal” new Virtual Reality short, Son of Jaguar. The themes of family and tradition permeate Son of Jaguar, as we see the once mighty masked luchador, Son of Jaguar, facing his legacy, his family and what it means to be a part of something bigger than himself.


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Thursday – October 26, 7:00 PM
2017 // Canada · Ireland · Luxembourg // Dir.: Nora Twomey // 94 min // PG
Language: English

Scotiabank Theatre, Auditorium #1, 900 Burrard St., Vancouver, Canada

Based on the best-selling children’s novel by Deborah Ellis, The Breadwinner tells the story of 11-year-old Parvana who gives up her identity to provide for her family and try to save her father’s life. Parvana’s father Nurullah had told stories about history and imagination to Parvana as she helped him in the marketplace of Taliban controlled Kabul in the year 2001. When he is arrested Parvana finds the courage to look for him when everyone else had given up hope. She becomes a storyteller, remembering a brother she has once known. Every day is a challenge as Parvana tries to bring home enough food and water to support her mother, sister and little brother. She meets a fellow girl in disguise called Shauzia and together, they form a bond that will give them the strength to endure the war that comes to their doorstep in the Fall of 2001. The Breadwinner is a celebration of children — for children, whatever their age, wherever they live.

The Breadwinner is a co-production between Aircraft Pictures Canada, Melusine Productions Luxembourg and Cartoon Saloon and will be released in 2017. The film is directed by Nora Twomey with screenplay by Anita Doron and Deborah Ellis.

Friday – October 27, 11:15 PM

VIFF Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. (@ Davie)

Animation isn’t all about likeable superheroes and princesses. Case in point: this program of edgier material which includes everything from killer cats to killer appliances — with a couple of uncomfortable laughs spattered throughout for relief.

Naked Island – We Drink Too Much (2016)
Scratchy (2017)
Revelation: The City of Haze (2017)
Bad Vibes (2015)
Fierce (2017)
Preston (2016)
Minou (2016)
Dead Horses (2016)
Creature Pinup (2017)
Ys (2017)
Milky Shot (2017)
Final Fantasy XV: Omen Trailer (2016)
Bedtimes ‘Wood Swimmer’ (2017)
Arno Silence Force ‘The Great Battle’ (2017)
Monju Hunters of Sofugan Island (2016)
Life Smartphone (2015)
Little Lungs ‘Snowboarding’ (2017)
Little Lungs ‘Birthday’ (2017)
Winston (2017)
For Educational Purposes Only (2016)


Saturday – October 28, 9:30 PM
2017 // France · Japan
Dir.: Shoujirou Nishimi, Guillaume Renard // 90 min

VIFF Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. (@ Davie)

Angelino is just one of the thousands of deadbeats living in Dark Meat City, a ruthless megalopolis in sunny California. By day, he runs the streets of the city delivering pizzas. At night, he squats in a seedy hotel room with his homie Vinz and an army of cockroaches. Following a scooter accident caused by the heavenly vision of Luna, Angelino starts experiencing violent headaches and hallucinations. Following a terrifying chase by men in black, Angelino is captured and learns the truth about his origins: he is half human and half Macho, a creature from the dark matter of the universe.

Sunday – October 29, 5:00 PM

VIFF Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. (@ Davie)

Animated short films and Canada are ubiquitous, and this program of Canadian-made projects highlights the continuing tradition of great Canadian animation. From Calgarian duo Kevin D.A. Kurytnik and Carol Beecher’s NFB produced Skin to Skin to a locally produced music video for Bear Mountain’s ‘On My Own,’ this year’s crop of Canadian offerings will leave you feeling proud of what our artists continue to accomplish.

The Ballad of Animated Dave (2017)
Fox & the Whale (2016)
Yoga to Be Kidding (2017)
Bear Mountain ‘On My Own’ (2017)
Sunny & Gerd in Spring Cleaning (2017)
Valentina (2017)
Farewell Fire (2016)
American Gods: Coming to America 25,000 Years Ago (2017)
One Hell of a Party (2017)
Skin for Skin (2017)
If You Fall (2017)
Toronto Foundation ‘Your Plan for Toronto’ (2016)
Sophia (2017)
Nom Nom (2017)
Makeunder ‘Great Headless Blank’ (2016)
The Other Side (2017)
Doors (2017)
Eggscape (2017)



Sunday – October 29, 7:30 PM
2017 // Japan // Dir.: Hiromasa Yonebayashi // 102 min

VIFF Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. (@ Davie)

From Academy Award®-nominated director Hiromasa Yonebayashi (When Marnie Was There, The Secret World of Arrietty) and Academy Award®-nominated producer Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) comes a dazzling, beautifully-animated new adventure for all ages. Mary & the Witch’s Flower is based on Mary Stewart’s 1971 children’s book The Little Broomstick, and tells the story of a young girl named Mary, who discovers a flower that grants magical powers but only for one night.

Sunday – October 29, 9:30 PM
2016 // China // Dir.: Xuan Liang, Chun Zhang // 105 min
Language: English (dubbed)

VIFF Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour St. (@ Davie)

The story follows a girl named Chun, who on her 16th birthday is turned into a dolphin so she can explore the human world. During her journey, she is saved by a human, and to bring him back to a life she must protect and nurture his soul, which has taken on the form of a tiny fish.

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