A number of interesting new DVD compilations of short films have recently been announced starting with The Astonishing Work of Tezuka Osamu from Kino Video, featuring 13 personal films by the renown “god of manga” and “father of anime” made between 1962 and 1988. (The last, his 1988 animated self-portrait, which is also included, was made as part of an ASIFA-International anijam, may have been his last film.) I must admit to not having seen his early TV series, such as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, when they first came out; instead, I became initially became familiar with his work through such delightful films as Jumping (1984) (see above) and Broken Down Film (1985), which were regulars on the festival circuit in the 1980s and early 1990s. These films have been absent from video in the U.S. in recent years, though they have been available on DVD in France and Australia. The DVD will officially be available on July 28th, though you can place advance orders at Amazon and Deepdiscount.com. (Thanks to Mark Mayerson.)
On the 100th anniversary of his birth, the Iota Center is offering Jules Engel: Selected Works, Volume I (see the trailer above). Engel is best known as the founding head of the Experimental Animation program at the California Institute of the Arts, one of the world’s premiere animation schools; previously, he worked for Disney and (more importantly) UPA. The Center notes:
This first volume of Engel’s selected animation work offers fifteen of his films ranging from one of his earliest experimental works (Carnival, 1963) to one of his last (The Toy Shop, 1998). Arranged chronologically, the collection offers one view of the artist’s progression over almost four decades. Also included is an excerpt from Jules Engel: An Artist For All Seasons, a documentary from Janeann Dill, Ph.D, containing rare footage of his artwork and interviews.
I first got to know Engel some 20 years ago, when I did what became several stories about the CalArts Experimental Animation program. Over the years, he rarely spoke of his own work and instead boasted of such alumni of his program as Henry Selick and Glen Keane; and when the Ottawa International Animation Festival paid tribute to him in 1992, he insisted that they only screen films by his students. Thus, this DVD will certainly help shed more light on Engel’s career as a filmmaker.
Kristin Thompson, in reporting on David Bordwell’s blog on what she saw at the latest Il Cinema Ritrovato organized by the Cineteca Bologna, and their annual look at films released 100 years ago, notes:
Maybe it’s just my impression, but the hundred-year packages seem to gain in prominence and popularity each year. Presumably in response to such popularity, the festival has just released a DVD with a selection of 22 shorts from this year’s 1909 program: Cento anni fa: Il cinema Europeo del 1909/European cinema in 1909 (running two hours and twenty minutes …). It contains only about a fifth of the roughly 100 films screened, but many of the others are available in online archives. DVDs of previous years’ programs are in the works, with 1907 soon to come. The DVD and other publications of the festival are available here.
Speaking of early films, David Bordwell subsequently noted that Kino Video is releasing a three-disc set of Gaumont Treasures: 1897-1913, which is due out on September 1st. The collection includes films by three major French pioneers: Alice Guy (who also had a considerable career in the US), Louis Feuillade and Leonce Perret.
A filmmaker conspicuous by his absence is Émile Cohl, the pioneer animation filmmaker whose works (mostly for Gaumont) have been available as a region-free PAL DVD supplement to the book, Émile Cohl: L’inventeur du dessin animé (Émile Cohl: Inventor of the Animated Cartoon), by Cohl’s grandson Pierre-Courtet Cohl, which I previously made note of here.