Richard Williams’ and John Canemaker Pordenone Trailers

Charlie Chaplin caricature from Richard Williams Pordenone 2011 trailerGreta Garbo caricature from Richard Williams Pordenone 2011 trailer 02Stan Laurel caricature from Richard Williams Pordenone 2011 trailer 03Oliver Hardy caricature from Richard Williams Pordenone 2011 trailer 04

(Copyright: Richard Williams)

Last year, I blogged about the premiere of Richard Williams’ short film Circus Drawing at the opening night of the Le Giornate del Cinema Muto (The Pordenone Silent Film Festival), in Italy, and his long-standing relationship with the festival.

In reading about this year’s Pordenone Silent Film Festival on The Bioscope blog here I came across an image from a trailer he apparently did for this year’s festival. However, the festival site says it was made for last year’s event, but was interesting enough to post some images from same. The festival site notes:

The trailer is a small monument of traditional animation: Richard Williams has gone back to the technique of 1905, with every frame a drawing on paper (no cels, no computers). On June 13[, 2011] the logo was shown at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater, before the screening of Frank Borzage’s Humoresque.

John Canemaker Pordenone TrailerThe 1905 date is a bit facetious, since the first animation using drawings is usually considered to be J. Stuart Blackton’s Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906), which used a combination of chalk on blackboard and cutout animation.

I also noticed an image from the trailer that John Canemaker did for the 2009 festival. The festival site reports that,

This 35-second film, in b&w and colour, is … a tribute to three pioneers of silent animation. First we see the artist’s hand draw Fantoche on a black sheet of paper. This character, created just 100 years ago by Emile Cohl, then changes into Winsor McCay’s colourful Little Nemo, who pirouettes and bows to the audience, to be replaced in turn by Felix the Cat. Otto Messmer’s famous feline has an idea, which makes him grin in satisfaction, showing four pointed teeth. The idea? To use his tail as a lasso, to rope the Giornate logo, and drag it onscreen.

Walter Veltrone, Richard Williams and John Canemaker at 2007 Pordenone Silent Film FestivalBoth trailers (aka signal films by some festivals) were shown silent with live musical accompaniment. Williams’ love of silent film may possibly explain the fact that the two title characters in his unfinished The Thief and the Cobbler never spoke. And Canemaker, of course, wrote the definitive books on both McCay and Messmer.

Finally, I couldn’t resist posting this 2007 photo of Williams (center) and Canemaker (right) posing with Rome mayor Walter Veltrone which I grabbed from Canemaker’s website.

P.S.: Perhaps it’s about time someone put together a program of some of these animated festival trailers/signal films which have been produced by leading filmmakers and studios around the world?

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

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