Oscars bring foreign flair to animation race
By Jordan Riefe
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Oscar organizers on Thursday night celebrated this year's nominees for best animated film, including two foreign language movies that use traditional hand-drawn animation in an era when computer images dominate the art form.
This is the tenth year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has given out an Oscar for animated movies, and it is the first time two foreign language films -- France's "A Cat in Paris" and Spain's "Chico & Rita" -- made list of nominees.
"A Cat in Paris" is a French crime drama by Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gangol and Spanish romance "Chico & Rita" is from Javier Mariscal and past Oscar winner Fernando Trueba, who won the foreign language film award for 1993's "Belle Epoque."
"We are very surprised because normally animation is an American market," Mariscal told Reuters. "It's very strange that Hollywood saw our film and liked it enough to nominate it."
The makers of the two movies were joined by fellow nominee, director Jennifer Suh Nelson with "Kung Fu Panda 2." "Puss in Boots" director Chris Miller was absent and "Rango" creator Gore Verbinski sent a taped message thanking the academy.
Actor Patton Oswalt, best known to animation audiences as the voice of Remy in the 2007 Oscar winner "Ratatouille," hosted the event. Clips of the movies were screened, and Oswalt and audience members asked questions that focused mainly on story and technique, especially the difference between traditional hand-drawn, 2D animation and computer generated movies.
Mariscal confessed that he often uses digital technology, but for "Chico & Rita" he and Trueba found traditional 2D best suited the story of a musical couple that journeys through the jazz clubs of Havana, New York and Las Vegas.
Notably absent from this year's nominees is Pixar Animation, the studio that has dominated the field with computer-animated movies such as "Up," as well as Steven Spielberg's "The Adventures of Tin Tin," also created using digital images. Continued...