Lost And Found | Joan C. Gratz

There’s something pretty special about Portland. Bill Plympton and Matt Groening hail from there, as does Gus Van Sant. Claymation pioneering maestro Will Vinton established himself there and master animators such Joanna Priestley, Joan Gratz and Jim Blashfield all call it home. It’s even home to the rising giant-killer Studio Laika, which has given us Coraline and ParaNorman. So … wassup in Portland? The locals will tell you this animating phenomenon is a result of unrelenting rain but who knows? Whatever the cause, we are richer for it. This program showcases some great films and a history of one of the true animating capitals of the world, which, for a city not much bigger than Newcastle or less than half the size of Adelaide, has been punching WAY above its weight for 40 years.

Closed Mondays
Will Vinton, Bob Gardiner
USA, 7'39, 1974
The film that started the iconic Will Vinton Studio – their student film that won an Oscar. Beginnings don’t get much more auspicious than that.
Joanna Priestley
USA, 4'11, 1985
An early work by one of the true Portland masters. An honest and open film exploring the fundamental motivations and fears of any great filmmaker.
Choreography For Copy Machine (Photocopy Cha Cha)
Chel White
USA, 3'37, 1991
Chel White was a driving force behind the important Portland studio Bent Image. Created using a plethora of photocopier images, Photocopy Cha Cha is regarded as his most important and influential auteur work.
The Great Cognito
Will Vinton
USA, 3'15, 1981
As the Will Vinton Studio locked in its position as America’s pre-eminent claymation studio, it set higher and higher benchmarks for the technique, as evidenced by this joyous little wonder.
Utopia Parkway
Joanna Priestley
USA, 4'38, 1997
Increasingly, Joanna Priestley’s work explored abstract, experimental and even sculptural themes. Utopia Parkway is a fascinating example of one of her most renowned works created during a period of transition in her style, technique and fascinations.
Insect Poetry
Marilyn Zornado
USA, 6'22, 2001
Marilyn Zornado is another of the influential animators immersed in the Portland animation scene. From the early period of her career, Insect Poetry captures beautifully her innate sense of timing and her uncanny ability to create an immensely entertaining aura within every frame.
Jim Blashfield
USA, 5'13, 2007
Jim Blashfield has been animating moving-image work of one kind or another longer than he usually cares to say. His music video roster in the 70s and 80s reads like a who’s who of pop and rock royalty. In the last 20 years, he has created some of the more inspired experimental gallery and installation-style moving-image artworks. And Bunnyheads remains a festival stalwart, which always seems to be screening somewhere.
The Machine
Rob Shaw
USA, 5'13, 2009
Originally a graduate of the Philadelphia University of the Arts, Rob Shaw joined Bent Image Studio in 2006. Primarily an animator of commercial work, he nevertheless is revered (at least in the US) as the man behind the quirky Saturday Night Live version of Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer. Less known for his auteur work, The Machine showcases his skewed eye as a director and his mastery of the stop-motion technique.
Rose Bond
USA, 8'43, 2008
In 2007, Portland hosted Platform, an event which turned out to be one of the best animation festivals ever staged, taking animation well beyond its purely cinematic confines. One of the most talked about pieces – ElectroFlux – was a specially commissioned animation mural created by Rose Bond that inhabited the entire top floor of a down town building.
Andy Collen, Amy Blumenstein-Collen
USA, 5'52, 2004
Animators, entrepreneurs, impresarios, tireless supporters of all manner of animation initiatives, part-time brewers of outstanding flavoured meads (except for the jalapeno), and providers of MIAF’s home-away-from-home in the Pacific North West, Andy and Amy Collen established the Happy Trails Animation studio, which continues to turn out an exciting mix of commercial and purely creative work.
Adam Fisher
USA, 1'00, 2011
Adam Fisher’s films are starting to turn up at an increasing number of festivals and many of them have the short, sharp, hand-made aesthetic typical of a dedicated animator on the rise.
Coffee Critics
Jesse Brennan
USA, 6'32, 2008
Portland is one of the world’s great coffee and café capitals and much of the unquantifiable cultural aura that Portland exudes is generated from within its array of laid back, spacious and welcoming cafes. This film beautifully captures a convergence of mindsets that this diverse culture breeds.
Sven Bonnichsen
USA, 3'46, 2010
In the wake of Platform not securing resources to continue, Sven Bonnichsen founded the North West Animation Festival. Too modest to formally enter his latest film Mutate, we took it upon ourselves to include it in the line up anyway.
Ruby Rocket, Private Detective
Sam Niemann, Stacey Hallal
USA, 3'18, 2012
The gritty, poorly lit path of hard-boiled, parody animation is littered with the corpses of those that just never saw the fatal bullet coming. But these guys have absolutely nailed it – and with a twist for good measure.
Dear Pluto
Joanna Priestley
USA, 4'15, 2012
One of Joanna Priestley’s most recent works and an example of the digital animation style she has lately been using. Many of her new films contain wisps of her abstract work interwoven with a more accessible, often lighthearted, narrative structure with bright, vibrant colours multiplying the overall impact.
Split Ends
Joanna Priestley
USA, 3’35, 2013
AND … hot off the press. Priestley’s very latest film showing she has lost none of her passion and eye for purely abstract work as she further embraces and masters the tools of the digital animation age.
Lost And Found
Joan C. Gratz
USA, 3'45, 2012
Joan Gratz is universally acclaimed as one of the living masters of auteur animation. Her graceful coloured-clay films are rightly considered classics. For many years, she and Joanna Priestley worked under the Will Vinton Studio umbrella and even today have studios in the same building. Her latest film, Lost And Found, was invited on the spot after a single viewing on a smart phone in a café around the corner from the Northwest Film Center. It is a masterclass of the technique, plain and simple.
Mona Lisa Descending A Staircase
Joan C. Gratz
USA, 6'58, 1991
The big one! We’ve screened it before – but not for a while. It’s just not possible to tell the story of animating in Portland without including this Oscar-winning film.

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ND = no dialogue / S = subtitles




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