ASIFA, the French acronym for Association Internationale du Film d'Animation, has 30 chapters around the world, including five in the United States. Launched in 1995, ASIFA-Atlanta is the international animation association's only chapter in the Southeast. ASIFA-Atlanta will celebrate International Animation Day on October 28 with a number of programs at the Plaza Theatre. Chapter president Fatimah Abdullah talks about why Atlanta puts the "A" in animation.
Why are we emerging as one of the world's hot spots for animation?
Hot spot is a key phrase. Though Atlanta is not the biggest, we are growing at an inspiring rate. Atlanta is also incredibly diverse. With pioneers like Cartoon Network, Primal Screen, Floyd County ("Archer"), and recent newcomers like Bento Box ("Bob's Burgers"), even MoCap studios like Giant (Lord of the Rings, Avatar), the type of animation that comes from Atlanta encompasses the full gamut of animation.
What role does ASIFA play in Atlanta's animation community — both as a place for professional networking and as a gathering place for animation fans?
Our primary role is to bring international animation to audiences in and around Atlanta, and share the work of local animators with our global chapters. Showcasing animated shorts from the international community gives fans and professionals a chance to see diverse styles and techniques. ASIFA-Atlanta works to foster the creation of original work through workshops and showcases. Roll Yer Own, now a decade old, is a festival dedicated to local independent animators.
What is International Animation Day?
International Animation Day is our biggest show and includes work from India, Brazil, China, Portugal, Korea, and Poland.
"12 n 12," in partnership with Moonshine Pictures and the GTRI [Georgia Tech Research Institute] Center at Georgia Tech, is a two-day workshop to create animated promo spots, giving participants a chance to understand client goals and production pipelines.
With so many technical innovations making animation affordable for average people and the proliferation of commercial outlets to showcase animation, what is the next frontier?
Independent animators have access to audiences faster. Storytelling and global appeal is vital in the viral world. Atlanta-based animator Mark Parsons created "The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction" while on break from his day job at Floyd County. His 15-minute animated short went viral in a matter of days.
New experimental techniques allow filmmakers to push toward animated dramas. America may hold the reigns for animated features, but we cannot compare to the spectrum of content produced internationally. Historically, animated features and TV produced in the States are written for kids or subversive comedy for adults.
What does animator Seth MacFarlane's leap to hosting the Oscars mean to you?
I hope it means his involvement in a yet-to-be-announced feature, hopefully animated. After [Pixar's] Brad Bird's Mission Impossible 4, which demonstrated Bird's transition to live-action from mastery of animated storytelling — unbridled camera, illustrations of cinematic space, clever gags — perhaps live-action producers are looking for similar collaborations and Seth knows something we don't.