Animation Show of Shows gives different perspective


Courtesy Ron Diamond

Animation Show of Shows gives different perspective

By Kira Lovell

Independent films have historically had trouble finding dependable audiences, independent animated films even more so. The 19th Annual Animation Show of Shows is trying to change that with a showcase of animated short films to the public, as well as the animation industry. 

The showcase will premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St. and will run March 2–8. Ron Diamond, its founder and curator, asked, “Have you ever seen an Academy Award nominee on the red carpet who was an animator of a short film?” 

Diamond said he views hundreds of short films each year in preparation for the Show of Shows, many of which few people ever see.

The showcase features 16 short films from around the globe, including ones by Disney animator Glen Keane and Pixar director Pete Docter as well as artists from France, Belgium, the U.K., Canada, Switzerland, Germany, and Sweden, according to its official press release.

“We’ve presented it in previous years, and it’s always been an extremely popular program,” said Lori Hile, outreach and media coordinator for the Siskel Center, adding that much of its audience is young people like college students, and people who are studying animation, or simply just love anime and animation as a genre. “We’re thrilled to bring it back for another year.” 

Devin Bell, associate professor at the DePaul University School of Cinematic Arts, said some independent film animators‘ techniques are as good as anything out of a professional studio and some even have a stronger voice. 

“What’s cool about right now in this time in filmmaking is that independent animators are way more capable and sophisticated and empowered than they’ve ever been in history,” Bell said.

This year’s show includes traditional and digitally animated shorts, as well as more experimental films. One, “Casino,” by Steve Woloshen, was done by hand-drawing directly onto film stock. Diamond also pointed to “The Burden,” an existential stop-motion musical by Swedish artist Niki Lindroth von Bahr, as being a stand-out. 

Of independent film festivals and showcases like this one, Bell said, “In general, I’ll always get behind independent animation shows because I can’t wait to see what a range of people have to say when they have it on their terms.” 

That reason is why the Gene Siskel Film Center is proud to show the Show of Shows every year, Hile said. 

“It gives people a sampling of all these different styles and ranges from all different countries and different perspectives in one sitting,” Hille added. 

The hope of the showcase is to advocate for independent animated short films, according to Diamond. 

“When I come across truly exemplary, beautiful stories that can make me laugh or weep or just flat-out cry in the most profound way, it makes me want to share that because I know that the vast majority of people in the universe don’t know that these films exist,” Diamond said. “It would be as if you knew that you had a source of food and everyone else was starving, and they didn’t even recognize what you were holding in your hands as food.”