by Jon Bosworth
Shane Douberly has a brilliant vision of the future in Jacksonville. He isn’t one of these yahoos that comes flying into town with big ideas and no real sense of place about Jacksonville, he’s been going the hard road in this town for a decade. Shane is a classically trained illustrator and a painter. In the culturally unforgiving Jacksonville of the late nineties and early oughts, Shane has gone from rock and roller to visual artist to animator to filmmaker. He has hit every jolting bump on the rocky road that is life as an artist here. So it isn’t altogether unfamiliar to me when I meet up with Shane at the Riverside Art Market and he is passing a stack of handbills for the 2011 Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival to his Drips Black business partner William Waller. Just like flyering for a rock show back in the day, except now Shane is a successful businessman co-running one of Jacksonville’s most exciting creative firms and directing Florida’s only animation festival. He’s already been through all of the cynical perspectives of loathing and loving a town that seems so oblivious. He’s past mad and well into being downright optimistic. That brilliant vision of the future is one where 5 Points comes alive for a weekend over spring break with animated adventures, all of the stores lit bright in the cool spring evening, streets closed off and filled with video game promotions and mascots and projections on buildings and a whole town literally animated about being the home of Florida’s animation festival.
“I think when you have something grass roots that’s already got global attention, I mean we’ve got 25 countries represented in the festival this year and its not even an international film festival. So when you’re getting global attention like that and you’re spending your own money on it and it’s now a 501c(3), you wonder what it would take to get the city on board. I would like to see some city cultural funding sifted to us,” Shane says, so he may still have some cynicism left. That vision of a neighborhood lit up with the Citrus Cel he admits is in some distant future.
Last year’s inaugural year was an abusive one for Douberly and Waller. Although they only invested around $800 in cash after sponsorships and partnerships, the time necessary to get such an endeavor off the ground is daunting enough, but with Douberly and Waller’s insistence on quality – a virtue that has certainly earned them their reputation as Drips Black – made the launch of Citrus Cel a difficult one. However, once aloft they acquired some truly spectacular animated films, including the premiere of a Bill Plympton animated short. This year has continued the momentum from last year, and they have found an industry eager to participate.
“The difference this year is that more of the industry has caught on. I’m not sure if the community has really caught on, but the industry is aware of [Citrus Cel Animation Festival],” Shane lists of the names of giants that range from Adobe Software Systems to Academy Award winning attendants to workshops by one of the Robot Chicken animators. If you have any interest in animation, this is the weekend for you to go to 5 Points. If you think that animation is just a bunch of kid stuff, then this festival will teach you differently.
“Citrus cell is one of those things that people don’t quite understand. They think its about cartoons, but half of the things you see on TV or on film has been digitally altered or animated in some way. This is the digital age, this sort of stuff is cool,” Shane explains.
Certainly the programming of the festival this year will prove prudish animation-haters wrong with entries that range from dark and viciously poignant, if not ambiguously troubling, to a claymation sex scene. On the other hand, if kid’s stuff is what you are into, bring the kiddies to the festival Saturday morning. The films in the Vitamin C program are made just for them to enjoy a rather artful old-fashioned Saturday morning cartoon sitting. The kid’s stuff starts with the Lil’ Squirts Animation Workshop at the Cummer. The workshop is free and kids can learn to make their own complete animation and bring home the DVD. From noon until 2 at the Cummer there will be a stop-motion puppet fabrication shop or the Vitamin C program at the 5 Points Theatre. Shane even warns there may be a costumed mascot entertaining the kids. Just because animation has grown up, does not mean its forgotten its roots.
Another new addition to this year’s fest is “Juiced,” the 26-hour Animation Project. Similar to the 48 Hour Film Project, animators group into teams of three and when the contest starts they receive a link to a shared folder that has elements from which they must create an animated short.
If you aren’t sure animation is your thing but you’re interested in sticking your toe in the water, come see an individual film or program for $6.50-8.50. But if you are a lover of Adult Swim, dark animated shows, and all of the visual imagination that animation invites, you should just pay the $65 for an all access pass and fill your weekend with color and motion. The Citrus Cel Animation Film Festival runs from April 8-10.
The Lost Thing
This brilliantly stylish film takes place in some fairy tale land not too unlike our own. In a dusty, Australian sort of urban world world of machines and complacency ala Terry Gilliam, this deadpan story of a bottle cap collector trying to find a place for his “lost thing” is a delight to watch and fun albeit confounding story of finding magic and realizing it is ordinary. This film won an academy award.
This brooding tale is something between the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Coraline, and Twilight. A drug-addicted bird boy falls in love with a shy mouse-girl and their worlds of isolation and imagination end up entangled in a way that cannot release them from their isolation. This starkly post modern existentialist tale is hardly a children’s cartoon.
This film is alternately beautiful and terrifying. Some of the scenes of middle-American farmland sit on the screen like a rippling Andrew Wyeth painting that pulses with a flicker of life unavailable in his work. But the tragic story of the boy who is forced to spend an evening with an elderly woman, likely his grandmother. But the grandmother leases a room to a scowling renter and boy’s imagination evinces his terror without revealing quite what it was that gave him that fear.
On Melancholy Hill
This is the latest video from Gorillaz. An exciting romp through undersea adventures with the Gorillaz gang. This music video employs a compelling mix of real video, computer CGI, and traditional animation to bring an otherwise droll Gorillaz jam to life.