Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Exhibition at Galerie Ardulik, Paris

I've been friends with Jean-Jacques and Diane Launier for many years.  We keep meeting in Paris and San Diego Comic Con, and we've been trying to set up an exhibition of my art from "Cheatin'" for a while. 

Well, finally it happened.  On September 22, I flew to Paris, did a full day of press and then attending the opening at their Galerie Ardulik.  It's a wonderful gallery, they've had exhibitions of such luminaries as Moebius, Peter de Seve, Bobby Chiu, H.R. Giger, and films from Disney and Pixar.  So I'm in some pretty fast company.

I must say that they did an excellent job with the art selection and the mounting of the show.  Perhaps it's the best exhibition of my art that I've ever seen.  There was a nice crowd at the opening and I sold a few pieces, but I was very fatigued and got a little drunk. 

The next day, I got to relax and prepare for the big show at Jean-Jacques and Diane's museum, Art Ludique.  It was a fabulous exhibition of art from video games, and it was a knockout.  The art and videos were stunning, plus they had a lot of concept drawings and sculpture models.  Every piece was so compelling!  But the highlight was a life-size video recreation of walking through Revolutionary Paris in 1789 - like being transported to and immersed in another world and time.  It was incredibly realistic, I had to watch the 5-minute "walk" a number of times because it was so compelling. 

The cool thing about the Launiers' exhibitions is that they consider animation, graphic novels, comic art and video games to be valid forms of art.  In fact, they believe they have much more resonance with the public than the art in the Louvre - and I agree.  Of course, here in the U.S. and specficially in NYC, it seems the art crowd couldn't care less about comic culture - it's below them, it's for children.  This is why I rarely go to art museums and galleries.  Most of the new art stuff there is so aloof, it doesn't communicate with me.  Also, there's no real emphasis on drawing and draftsmanship. 

(And that's why my favorite gallery here in NYC is the Society of Illustrators.)

But if you're in France, or going to France, or know someone in France, I encourage you to check out or recommend my exhibition at the Galerie Ardulik.  It will run until October 31, and it's a great show!   For more information, please visit:

Merci beaucoup,


Monday, September 21, 2015

Pixelatl Festival, Mexico

I met Jose Inesta in Annecy a while back - he's a really cool guy and a lover of animation.  Last year, he invited me to his festival in Cuernavaca, Mexico, however, I had a scheduling conflict and I couldn't make it there.  But my friends who did go came back raving about the event, so I said I'd love to come this time. 

Cuernavaca is a large town about an hour and a half south of Mexico City.  It's a beautiful place, full of palm trees and cute shops.  The festival takes place in a five-star hotel, Las Mañanistas Casa Nueva.  It's one of those large landscaped, protected hotels with walls all around.  It seems like it's 20 acres wide, with parrots, peacocks and pink flamingos wandering everywhere, including the hallways.  There is a giant spa and two large swimming pools, so you know I was happy.

The event wasn't just animation, it also included games and comics - there were thousands of students there to hear from such professionals as Jorge Gutiérrez ("The Book of Life"), Phil Tippett ("The Empire Strikes Back"), Mark Osborne ("Kung Fu Panda") and myself.  The noble purpose of the 5-day festival is to build a culture and perhaps an industry for animation in Mexico.

My screenings were packed, standing room only, and the students were so interested in animation and the possibility of a career in it - their excitement was contagious.  I also did a "coffee talk", where we took over a hotel dining room to discuss the business and art of animation more intimately. 

I do hope this event becomes successful, because it's very important for the future of Mexican animation.  Two of my favorite programs were talks given by Jorge Gutiérrez - he was born in Mexico City but now lives in Texas, and he talked about his career in TV cartoons, and his big success with "The Book of Life" - he was totally entertaining.

                                                  with Jorge Gutiérrez at Pixelatl Festival

My good buddy, Mark Osborne, discussed the making of "Kung Fu Panda" for Dreamworks, and then he showed some amazing clips from his newest unreleased film, "The Little Prince" - it looked gorgeous. 

                                     with Mark Osborne, Sam and festival director José Inesta

So, if you're looking for a festival that has amazing guests, luxurious environments, awesome food and amazing audiences, then check out the Pixelatl Festival in Cuernavaca.  I give it an "A".

--Bill Plympton

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Telluride Film Festival, Part 2 - "Anomalisa"

As you saw from the photo in Part 1, while I was in Telluride, I ran into my old friend, Tom Noonan.  I first met him years ago at Sundance where he showed his films.  He's a fellow Lower-East Sider and I used to go see his plays.   In fact, I cast him as the voice of the principal in my high-school horror film "Hair High", and we went to Slamdance together in 2004 to promote it. 

Ironically, he was in Telluride to promote his work as a voice artist for Charlie Kaufman's new animated feature, "Anomalisa" (try to remember that title) where Tom did about 30 voices for the film, and David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh provided the voices for the two lovers.

It was a real pleasure to meet Charlie Kaufman, I've been a fan of his for a long time.  He doesn't say much, so we didn't really connect.  However, the film is a unique, very special animated feature.  If you've seen "Being John Malkovich", "Adaptation.", "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind", or "Synecdoche, New York" (all films written and/or directed by Kaufman), well, this film is equally weird. 

It's a story about a motivational speaker visiting Cincinnati and falling in and out of love with one of his fans.  The animation is realistic stop-motion, which doesn't really use animation to its best surreal potential, but I think that was his point.  That in a way, we're all puppets.

Other people may have different reactions to the film, but to me the concept is about how we all are looking for that special love, a unique voice, and often it turns out that when we think we've found it, that person just turns out to be like everybody else. 

I heard that the film won the big prize in Venice, so perhaps it will get good distribution.  But I'm afraid that he'll run into the same problems that I had with "Cheatin'", since here in the U.S., distributors believe that there's no market for animation aimed at adults.  "Anomalisa" has a very mature and sophisticated story - plus there's nudity and sex.

However, I pray that this film will break through that evil stereotype and open the doors for more adult-style animation, like my upcoming film, "Revengeance".  So, good luck to you, Charlie Kaufman.

--Bill P.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Telluride Film Festival, Part 1

I've screened my animated shorts at the Telluride Festival about 5 times, 4 times in the normal festival and once at the Telluride MountainFilm Festival.  My first time there was around 1989, when I showed "How to Kiss" and it was a real mind-blower.  Not only were the films and the audiences wonderful, but the location was utterly spectacular. 

And it seemed like all of the big Hollywood directors and stars were there - and that was where I met the great animator, Chuck Jones, who was an important part of the festival.

After the festival, I made a specific note to return to Telluride, however after entering new films, year after year, I kept getting rejected.  It wasn't until 2010 that I made my return with my short "The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger".  It felt great to be back, and now I've been going there a lot more frequently - thank God.

It's still one of the primo festivals in the world.  I wasn't able to see many film this time, because of my social schedule.  I was there to do some business - and even though Telluride discourages agents, lawyers, corporate executives and distributors, I was able to make some valuable business connections. 

                         With my old friend, Tom Noonan, and my new friend, Charlie Kaufman.

The highlight for me was the Academy of Motion Pictures party - it was like going to an Oscar party, with Danny Boyle, Sid Ganis, Todd Haynes, Rooney Mara and Charlie Kaufman in attendance.  I saw Kate Winslet flirting with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and after a few drinks, I had enough guts to introduce myself to one of my favorite comedic actors, Seth Rogen. 

 Fortunately, he turned out to be a big fan of my work and he was very friendly - but then, he was friendly to everyone.  I mentioned to him that I have a new script for an animated short, and his voice would be perfect for it - and he seemed excited.

One thing that confuses me about Telluride - they just opened a new, large cinema, the Werner Herzog Theater. (seats 650 people)  Why name it after Werner Herzog?  Sure, he comes to the festival a lot and he has made some nice films, but there are certainly other filmmakers who have larger reputations and are more frequent guests.  To me, the real problem with Werner is - he hates films.  I talked to him and asked him about the fact that he never watches movies and only sees about 4 films a year!  He confirmed that fact and said that he doesn't like the films that are coming out these days.

Now, maybe he was putting me on and trying to make a joke, but I've heard this about him from other people.  If any of you blog-readers out there are friends with Werner Herzog, please set me straight.  In any case, it seems to me to be an insult to cinema to name a theater after a guy who hates watching films. 

                     With famed animator Richard Williams, promoting his new short, "Prologue".

I'll have more on Telluride in my next blog - in the meantime, you can check out the Telluride experiences of my executive producer, James Hancock, here:

--Bill P.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Secret Festival

About a month ago, I was told that my new short film, "The Loneliest Stoplight", voiced by Patton Oswalt, was accepted into a very prestigious film festival.  But I was warned that telling anyone about my film's scheduled screening at this festival was a serious "no-no"!

Why is this program line-up so hush-hush?  Because this festival likes to announce their program on the first day of screenings - which seems to me like a silly way to promote a festival.  However, it seems to work very well for them - this festival is now one of the top-rated festivals in the world, and it always seems to premiere a lot of future Oscar-nominated films, and usually even the winning films.

How they do it, I do not know - but it's been one of the reasons that this festival, as remote and expensive as it is, remains so popular and hard to get into - films like "Blue Velvet", "Bowling for Columbine", "Brokeback Mountain", "Capote", "Juno", "Slumdog Millionaire", "Up in the Air" and "The King's Speech" all premiered there.  Last year, they screened "Foxcatcher", "Wild", "Mr. Turner", "The Imitation Game" and "Birdman" - wow!

You've probably already guess that I'm talking about the Telluride Film Festival, and even though I'm writing this 4 days before the festival begins, I think I'm reasonably safe - we'll post this blog on the opening day of the festival, so at least everyone will know.

So, if you have any friends going to Telluride, please tell them to come and see my newest short film, "The Loneliest Stoplight".  It will be screening with "Mom and Me", on Friday, Sept. 4 at the Le Pierre at 8:15 pm, on Saturday, Sept. 5 at the Nugget Theater at 9:30 pm, and on Sunday, Sept. 6 back at the Le Pierre at 1 pm.  Please check Telluride's web-site for more information:

And when I return next week, I'll file a full report on the festival, including photos and celebrity sightings.

--Bill P.