Animation On the Block

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Animation fans seeking an alternative to computer generated critters and rotoscoped drug addicts can look forward to Casey Safron’s Animation Block Party, a three-night blowout of New York-centric cartoons beginning July 22. A performance by Vic Thrill and the Saturn Missile kicks off the first night on the front lawn of Williamsburg’s Automotive High School. A program of (in Safron’s words) “fun and crazy” cartoons follows, including the latest from New York’s favorite independent animator Bill Plympton, Safron’s own “The Projector Incident” and an assortment of toons with titles like “Mary-Kate and Ashley Conquer the Bed Bugs,” “The Day The Dog Dressed Like Dad” and “Don’t Fuck With Love.” Night two moves to the Galapagos Art Space for a higher-minded program of experimental work (including “Siniestro,” a stop-motion short that might give Tim Burton nightmares), a panel discussion by a quartet of veteran NYC animators and free beer. The Party wraps on the 24th at BAM with an assortment of longer narrative cartoons including “Moongirl” from Nightmare Before Christmas director Henry Selick and “The Wraith of Cobble Hill.”

July 22 at Automotive High School, 50 Bedford Ave. (at Lorimer St.), Williamsburg; 7, $8. July 23 at Galapagos Art Space, 70 N. 6th St. (betw. Kent & Wythe Aves.), Williamsburg; $8. July 24 at BAM, 30 Lafayette Ave. (betw. Ashland Place & Felix St.); 6:50 & 9:50, $10.

To keep the animation party going, BAM’s Animation Around the World schedule includes selections from The Ottawa Animation festival, which is the most prestigious animation festival in North America and The Clermont-Ferrand Festival du Court-Metrage, which comes from France. Both boast an impressive selection of highlights and award winners, and as expected, the results are definitely a mixed bag of technique, mediums and narrative voice. The Ottawa Festival names among its standouts, Robert Seidel’s “_grau,” but I found that the odd punctuation of its title the most intriguing aspect of Seidel’s impressionistic erosion. Ottawa’s Signal film, on the other hand, is a wonderful example of the economy of good storytelling. NYC indie fave, Will Krause, managed to fit over five minutes worth of story into a 50 second piece, all with the energy and enthusiasm that reminds you why cartoons are fun and indie cartoons are even more so. The pieces on Clermont-Ferrand’s schedule presents Europe’s most varied: Schwigebel’s “A Man Without a Shadow” is a painted effort with a camera in perpetual motion; “Never like the First time” is animated biography done correctly; and “Rubber Johnny” sent me into an emotional tailspin so powerful that I’m going to need some recuperation time before I have another go at it.

Through July 31. BAM Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Ave. (betw. Ashland Place & Felix St.), 718-777-FILM; $7-$10.

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