Animation Block Party!

Posted by on Aug 3, 2012 in Feature Articles | No Comments

Article written by Caresse Singh.

In the three years that I had known about Animation Block Party, this was the first time I had ever attended.  No offense to the organizers, I was always incidentally out of town, or stuck at work. Finally the stars aligned, and on Friday, July 27th, 2012, Tristian and I agreed on a post-work rendezvous for some dinner and admittedly, some drinks. With full tummies and bruised livers, we made our way to ABP’s Opening Night at Rooftop Films, hosted at Automative High School.

The films were projected on a large screen in the schoolyard, where people sat either on chairs, or benches or gathered on blankets on the grass. Latecomers in skirts or light colored pants stood in the back. As per the Rooftop Film tradition, a band performed with kaleidoscoped visuals of the performance on screen behind them. Then came the films.

There were some we’ve all seen (and love) – David Chai’s “Why Do We Put Up With Them” and Dave Levy’s “Turning A Corner.” A great deal of interesting mixed media, such as Samuel Blain’s “In Dreams” which was a masterfully composited documentary exploring symbols in dreams. And some exquisite CGI, such as Florian Pinto’s “The Natural Order of Things.” For a full list of the films screened, check out

Following the screening, we went to Matchless Bar where we were all rewarded with free beer and I ate two whole French fries. Several familiar faces greeted me including Patricia Burgess, Daniel Vasquez, Jamie Ekkens and many more.

The next day, after a hungover training session, and then sore arms that could barely extend, I met up with Yulfo and headed to the second night of ABP at BAMcinematek, which I must say was more my thing. I’ve talked to several people who do believe opening night was a little less than extraordinary, but that the outdoor, festival vibe was refreshing. For me personally, theatre seats, air conditioning, free-any-kind-of-alcohol, free food, stand up comedy, a ping pong table, magical lighting and a lively band all created for a much more memorable experience.

Surprisingly, the second night included far less familiar faces, but at least Nick Fox Gieg, Lisa LaBracio, Aaron Hughes and Aaron Brewer were all in attendance. I caught the tail end of the screening – the International Shorts, which I found absolutely lovely; personal favorites being Manuel Azuela’s fanciful “Cumulus”, the charmingly tragic “Being Bradford Dillman” by Emma Burch and the fantastically gross “Swarming” by Joni Mannisto.

Yulfo, Adam Ansorge and I, driven by the great Katie Cropper and her beau, Stephen Klein, made our way to BAMcinematek on Sunday for the final installment of ABP. There we met up with Pilar Netwon-Katz and her husband Ivan Katz, as well as Emmett Goodman, Stephen Sues and eventually, Tristian Goik! Narrative Works included some of my major favorites – Nick Fox Gieg’s “More Than Winning”, Steve Stark’s “Bear-Horse”, Stephen Neary’s “Dr. Breakfast” and you know I’m going to mention Rob Yulfo’s “Wino the Rhino”. Actually, I would list them all; the Narrative Works were all extremely thoughtful, concise and humorous.

The screenings were capped off with free corn and beer at Habana, and that corn was amazing. I also tried to get 2 bouncy balls from the quarter machine, but both of my quarters got stuck. A Habana worker promptly opened the machine and remedied the situation.

A very special thanks to Dane Smith for working the door every night and of course to Casey Saffron for his huge role in the organization of the event. A token of gratitude also extended to hosts: Rooftop Films, BAMcintematek, Habana Outpost, Matchless and sponsors: Sakura, Animation Magazine, Withoutabox, Boinx Software, Crumpler, Dragonframe, The L Magazine.

And a reminder that now is as good a time as any to start making new films for next year!

Editor’s note: ASIFA-East members receive a discount to Rooftop Films outdoor film festival all summer long.  You can find the code in our most recent newsletter or contact us.  For the remainder of Rooftop’s film schedule, click here:  From Rooftop:  Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.  Rooftop Films is known internationally as one of the most dynamic film festivals in the world. In 2011, we screened more than 25 feature films, almost all of which are New York, U.S. or World Premieres. We showed over 150 short films in themed programs which have received accolades for being smart, entertaining, and filled with astonishing movies. This combination of brilliant, original programming and stunning outdoor venues makes Rooftop Films one of the best-attended film festivals in New York. We have also begun to expand to other cites. In recent years, Rooftop screened films outdoors in Los Angeles, Toronto, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Camden (Maine) and others. At Rooftop Films, we bring the underground outdoors.