The rise of animated feature film

(Contributed Photo)
(Contributed Photo)

The Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema (WFAC) has no problem sharing that fact with the public that animated feature films are not just for children. From November 15-17, WFAC took over Chrysalids Theatre in downtown Kitchener to screen over ten films ranging from anime to documentaries on animation.

“I outgrew what was originally a project I began when I was helping organize the CTRL-A [anime club] at the University of Waterloo … It had been a passion of mine to show how anime, animation of all kinds, there is no real distinction … to tell whatever stories they like,” said Joseph Chen, founder and curator of the festival. “Animation is unlike any other form of movie making … we wanted to give a chance for the best of those films … we wanted the same opportunities to animation fans have in Japan to be able to see [the films] on the screen.”

From screening only three films on one day to screening world premieres over three days, WFAC has grown exponentially. Now in its thirteenth year, WFAC has seen some major changes since its humble beginning. WFAC originally started at CTRL-A, an anime club still active at the University of Waterloo. Chen focused on bringing anime and animated film to students at WLU, UW and to members of CTRL-A. This quickly grew and in 2001 Chen held the first WFAC at the Galaxy Cineplex in Waterloo at Conestoga Mall.

Though WFAC is now renowned as an internationally respected animated film festival and one of the few of its kind, Chen still feels as though animation is still not as respected as it should be.

“Animation is the most creative of all cinematic forms. It has the most potential and if you think about it, a lot of modern films are not possible without animation. What we call special effects, CGI, is nothing more than photo realistic effects. Animation has changed the imagination of the film maker in being able to bring the vision that their mind [has] to the audience,” he emphasized.

The Thief and The Cobbler
The common saying “all good things come to those who wait” has never been so applicable for a feature film ever. The Thief and The Cobbler is one of the most infamous films in history due to the documented struggle between artist and corporation.

Richard Williams, a Canadian animator best known for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, dedicated thirty years to his magnum opus. However, in 1992 with only fifteen minutes left to animate, the project was seized by The Completion Bond Company, who was funding it, and quickly finished the film. They turned it into a musical entitled The Princess and The Cobbler and Williams never got to complete his vision of the film.

However in 2006, filmmaker Garret Gilchrist created a re-mastered version unofficially known as The Recobbled Cut online to great success. What was shown on Saturday November 16 was the fourth cut of Gilchrist’s reimagining of Williams original dream.

Was it worth the wait? Hell yeah.

The Thief and The Cobbler is visually stunning and mind bending. Williams is able to create optical illusions that appear to be three dimensional in certain scenes.

At first, it seems like there are too many side stories that make the film overwhelming which isn’t helped by  the visually heavy focus of the film. The Thief and The Cobbler tells the story of Tack, a cobbler who accidentally injures ZigZag—King Nod’s right hand man—and is brought to the palace where he meets Princess Yum-Yum. While this is happening, we are introduced to the nameless Thief who is unsuccessful in his endeavours. The Thief, shown shortly after King Nod’s prophetic vision about the collapse of his kingdom, steals the three golden balls which keep the city safe from attacks which causes chaos.

It is a lot to handle, but  all the convoluted side plots twist into one and end with a brilliance and subtlety that is not often seen in cinema. The charm of The Thief and The Cobbler is the amount of reverence that Gilchrist has for the preservation of William’s original feature film. Mixed in between highly polished scenes are William’s original work cuts, which creates a strange juxtaposition that gently reminds the audience of the film’s intense history. This is a classic film that merits the attention it originally deserved. en it was first conceived.

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