Thanks to Neil for answering so many of your questions. He’s signing off:
263 Questions, and I managed as many as I could in the time we had, and stole more time from the next thing. They are now about to pry the computer from my fingers and send me back on the road.
Thank you to everyone who asked the questions. They were all so good. Thanks to the Guardian for hosting this.
John O’Donnell asks:
Do you believe that good can triumph over evil? Situation being what it is.
I don't think of good and evil as being distinct free-floating things. I think there are people, doing what people do, sometimes selfishly, sometimes short-sightedly, sometimes even monstrously. (For me, one
You couldn’t find a more fascinating pop culture figure to receive this treatment: Gaiman is a British novelist best known for the comic book series “The Sandman,” a groundbreaking fantasy comic about the world of dreams, which is generally believed to have ushered in the genre of contemporary dark fantasy. After his breakout years in the eighties, Gaiman successfully transitioned from comics to novels with hits like “Stardust,” “American Gods,” “Coraline,
Constructed of 11 fantastic animated shorts showcasing a wide range of techniques within the medium’s spectrum, plus four documentary portraits on selected filmmakers, this feature-length festival of wonder overflows with sublime craftsmanship, but it’s also one of the most profound cinematic experiences of the year. The level of introspection and insight on the human condition contained in these colorful gems surpasses that of most films, animated or live-action, released in recent memory. What they might lack in running time individually, they make up in poignant observations and moments that will stir up a genuine smile.
The program kicks off with “The Story of Percival Pilts,” a stop-motion tale narrated in rhyme about a boy who became fascinated with stilts and declared his feet will never touch the ground ever again. Living his life on stilts, which get increasingly taller as he gets older, Percival cherishes the views and tranquility that such great heights offer. Marvelously achieved and organically suited for the physicality of the chosen technique, this film from Aussie John Lewis and Kiwi Janette Goodey, touches on familiar perils of those who live outside the norm with a classically inspired story told from the protagonist’s brother’s perspective. Tiny sheets of paper stand in as leaves on tress, detailed period costumes adorn the petite bodies of the numerous figures, and cheeky phrases move the plot along while a sky painted in pink and purple hues drench it all with a perpetual “magic hour” feel.
Percival” is followed by a tiny 3D animated work titled “Tant de Forets” (So Many Forests) from French/Turkish team Geoffrey Godet and Burcu Sankur, which uses basic shapes and aesthetics borrowed from the world of graphic design to bring to life a poem by Jacques Prévert on the horrific deforestation of the planet to satisfy our voracious needs for paper.
Evocative and delicately paced, Conor Whelan’s “Snowfall” is the first Lgbt animated short to be part of the Animation Show of Shows, and though it’s clear about its lead character’s sexual orientation, the film is much more focused on depicting how we experience anxiety and deal with rejection in a truly cinematic manner. On a snowy night in Amsterdam a young man arrives at a party where he casually meets a friendly guy. They seem to hit it off, but it soon becomes clear that their interest in one another comes from very different angles. Centered on this romantic misconnection, “Snowfall” is a tender and seemingly melancholic 2D animated meditation where emotions take on a beautiful ethereal form.
Claypainting takes center stage with Lynn Tomlinson’s exquisite “The Ballad of Holland Island House.” Driven by a folksy tune this house reflects on its lifespan from the time it was just wood without purpose, to becoming a family’s home, and eventually being abandoned and consumed by the rising Atlantic Ocean. Tomlinson’s mastery of the stunning technique that blends the tangible material to create rustic moving frames resembles the work of veteran artist Joan C. Gratz – the Academy Award-winning claypainting pioneer.
In Amanda Palmer and Avi Ofer’s “Behind the Trees” scratchy hand-drawn dream sequences turn a voice memo into a brief but deliciously cheeky trip into the subconscious of a man who mumbles abstract statements while asleep. Each incoherent, revealing, honest, or perhaps utterly irrelevant line is transformed into an unconventional artistic interpretation via the imperfectly sleek doodles.
Playfully realized with the charm of a Saturday morning cartoon, yet layered with bittersweet notions about friendship, grief, and solitude, Academy Award-nominated Russian animator Konstantin Bronzit’s latest film “We Can't Live Without Cosmos" is a bite-size animated masterpiece that is as profoundly moving as it’s enchantingly entertaining. On a mission to become the top cosmonauts in their class and earn the privilege to go into space as a team, two lifelong friends work tirelessly everyday using their common dream as fuel to endure the challenging tasks. Their bond, an idealized iteration of fraternal companionship that we could all aspire to, clearly emerges as a more significant and precious motivation than the outer space voyage itself. With clever visual gags, endearing character design reminiscent of bygone artistry, and inventive sharp editing, Bronzit’s virtuous storytelling abilities amuse and tug at our heartstrings till the very last shot. “We Can't Live Without Cosmos" is one of the best films of the year of any length and in any medium.
A hungry cat and a helpless goldfish set an unlikely love story in motion in Isabel Favez curious short “Messages Dans L’Air.” Uniquely designed with an elegantly simple style, Favez world is entirely made out of paper and she uses this particular trait as a perfect narrative device for the film’s scope. Written on a folded paper bird, a lovely message makes its way to a young woman while her mischievous feline constantly attempts to devour a tiny fish that belongs to a bulky boxer who lives near by. Such problematic relationship between their pets will be the catalyst for the mismatch lovebirds to connect.
Passionate admirers of Walt Disney’s classic films, Iranian brothers Babak & Behnoud Nekooei crafted a remarkable 2D animated piece in which their influences are unmistakable but not without reinvention. “Stripy” centers on an enthusiastic factory worker in a city where homogeneity is paramount. His job is simply to paint dark stripes on every box that comes through the assembly line; however, the spirited young man decides that a more vibrant pattern would make the repetitive labor more interesting. Individuality and the power that comes from refusing to conform are crucial themes weaved into the Nekooei brothers’ melodically structured short. Without explicitly touching on their country’s politics, the filmmakers created a subtly rebellious work of art that transcends divisive discourses and ideologies.
Landscapes so realistically rendered that could nearly fool you into thinking they were indeed extracted from our world are one of the extraordinary elements in 3D animated adventure “Ascension,” by a French team of artist form by Colin Laubry, Thomas Bourdis, Martin de Coutenhove, Caroline Domergue, and Florian Vecchione. Two bold mountain climbers are on their way to the top carrying a statue of the Virgin Mary when one of them suffers an accident that leaves her without functional limbs. Devotion and their relentless desire to succeed a will keep them focused on their almost impossible mission. The astonishing backgrounds alone are spectacular enough to merit significant recognition.
Darkly comedic and brutally honest, “Love in Times of March Madness” is a black-and-white animated personal essay by Melissa Johnson and Robertino Zambrano, which dissects Johnson’s mishaps and realizations as she navigates life as a 6’4” tall woman. Among the many quotidian complications she must face, dating is by far one of the thorniest facets of Johnson’s above average existence. Insecure shorter men and the judging stares from a world that equates physical differences with unforgivable inadequacies are part of the tricky deck she’s been given. By sharing hilarious anecdotes and analyzing why other people reflect their fears on her appearance, Johnson gives us a lesson in acceptance with the help of vividly surreal vignettes that illustrate her unique perspective.
Capping off this outstanding selection of small-scale treasures is Don Hertzfeldt's thought-provoking and visionary Sundance-winning short "World of Tomorrow." Easily the best animated film of the year, this 17-minute science fiction journey is a mind-bending study on the essence of humanity and how technology’s ferocious advances to know and control it all endanger our ability to notice what’s truly meaningful. Employing his signature stick figures, the filmmaker introduces us to Emily Prime (Winona Mae), a young girl who has just met an older, cloned version of herself living far into the future. Emily (Julia Pott), as the film simply refers to the adult replica, has come from her time to meet Emily Prime and inform her about the terrifying dangers of what lies ahead. Loneliness reigns and falling in love is a futile enterprise in a future where wealthy individuals get to live forever by virtually saving their consciousness into data cubes. Life as we know it is no more and people, always longing for fulfillment, have adapted to the hopelessness of their condition. Miraculously, Hertzfeldt packs all of these components within his intricate and engrossing vision into a plot that includes lighter moments of intelligent comedy. Besides the thematic brilliance of the concepts and ideas discussed in “World of Tomorrow,” the film is also testament to Hertzfeld’s admiration and loyalty to the film medium in its most authentic state, while at the same time being unafraid to experiment. Handcrafted on one of the last remaining functioning 35mm rostrum animation stands, the film exists as a bridge between what some consider to be obsolete and the boundless freedom of independent animation in the 21st century. Furthermore, all the amazing special effects were created directly on film, using traditional double exposures, in-camera mattes, and new experimental techniques to transport the avid viewer into a land of intoxicating color, frightening warnings, and inconspicuous wisdom.
In every fragment used to the build “The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows” audiences will find a heartfelt antidote to formulaic tent poles and will most likely see some of the films that will make headlines as Oscar contenders and nominees in the upcoming months. Undoubtedly, the individual quality of each work is stellar, but the emotional gravitas of the program as a whole is absolutely disarming.
“The 17th Annual Animation Show of Shows” is now playing in Los Angeles at the ArcLight Hollywood and will travel to 20 more cities across the U.S. in the following weeks.
The Story Of Percival Pilts, created by Janette Goodey & John Lewis
A whimsical story about living an impractical life based on a childhood promise. While playing on stilts as a child, Percival Pilts declares that he’ll ‘never again let his feet touch the ground!’ He stays true to his word and compelled ever higher, he builds his stilts so tall that he no longer fits into normal society.
Tant De Forets, created by Geoffrey Godet & Burcu Sankur
Based on the poetry of Jacques Prévert and originally part of the “En sortant de l’ecole” series, the “Tant de Forets” (So Many Forests) poem denounces the
Amanda Palmer is many things, including a musician, a performance artist, an avid Tweeter, a controversial internet personality, the wife of writer Neil Gaiman and the mother of his as-yet unborn child. Amanda is known, among other things, for her melodic social commentary, wacky personal style, and creative, not to mention controversial, lyrics. Her songs tackle themes ranging from broken hearts and family life to more taboo topics of date rape and abortions. Her previous bands have included the two-piece punk-rock cabaret act the Dresden Dolls and Evelyn Evelyn, a musical act centred around a fictional pair of conjoined twins.
Over the course of her career, Amanda has done her best to tear down the old order of music publishing. She publicly fell out with her original record label and struck out on her own as an independent artist. Since then, she has begun releasing her music online for nothing,
In a letter sent to Wheeler, dozens of musicians wrote in their letter that “there is a public interest imperative in preserving an open Internet, and the creative sector is a huge part of this interest.”
“We know that you will face political opposition and coordinated attacks from well-funded corporations,” they wrote. “But isn’t it cooler to have us on your side than some giant ISP? We think so. And we’ll step up to defend your plan because we know it’s the right call, and we know you understand the importance of making it.”
The full letter is here.
Also signing on were author Neil Gaiman,
Screenings of Robin Williams’ film Dead Poets Society, organised by Secret Cinema after his sudden death on Aug 11, has raised more than £24,000 ($40,000) for mental health charities Mind in the UK and Nami in the Us.
The charity screenings were held across the UK, Prague and New York on Aug 15/16 with all profits going to Mind and Nami.
Live poetry was recited including a reading by Harry Potter actress Bonnie Wright, live music, performance, special guests and supportive tweets from Stephen Fry, Ross Noble and Penguin Books.
Donations are still being received via Text Cinema to 70660 to donate £3 to @MindCharity #SeizeTheDay. People can also donate online here until November 2014.
Amanda Palmer, formerly of The Dresden Dolls in New York, said: “Watching an entire audience weep in unison as those kids stood on their desks in solidarity for their teacher who taught them to
It will follow on from Sequart's Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods and Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts.
The film has been described as "an all-access look at the scribe's illustrious, media-spanning career, from his first foray into published writing all the way up to the current signing tour for his new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane".
It will feature interviews with the writer's contemporaries, as well as footage from Gaiman's readings and performances with his wife Amanda Palmer.
Gaiman recently revealed details of the questionable scripts for unmade films based on his Sandman and Books of Magic titles.
The Gaiman documentary will arrive in 2015. Watch a teaser trailer for the film below:
Nightmare In Silver
by Neil Gaiman
Directed by Stephen Woolfenden
After last week’s last-minute extortion, Clara’s charges Angie and Artie are granted a trip on the Tardis to Hedgewick’s World, the greatest amusement park ever. But hidden beneath it is a dangerous secret – A vast sleeping army of Cybermen, under repair and improvement for a thousand years…and they are ready to return.
Guest Star Report
Warwick Davis (Porridge) has a list of genre longer than … Ok, it’s long. Starting off with Wicket in Return of the Jedi and Willow
One of The Ali Forney Center's drop in locations for Glbt youth was made unusable by Hurricane Sandy, displacing the center and all the youth that receive services there. Please help if you can, they do such amazing work.
Buzzfeed has a great collection of photographs from the Million Muppet March in Washington,
Did you honestly expect that a bisexual, performance artist, serial Tweeter and former Dresden Doll, who is also the wife of fantastic gothic writer Neil Gaiman, could produce an album that is anything other than absurd?
Of course not. I hope. But just because the album is absurd, it doesn’t mean it’s bad. Far from it. Theatre of Evil is a great, definitely-not-Dresden-Dolls-esque romp that shows that Amanda Palmer (and the Grand Theft Orchestra) can produce music from absolutely nothing.
The album started from a desperate plea by Palmer herself, Tweeting that she’s creating a Kickstarter project to help fund her new album. Asking for only a few thousand dollars, news spread fast and became the seventh project to break $1 million, making it the highest funded music-based Kickstarter is history.
You can tell, as well. The production is first class; a lot of
Multi-talented and Multi-Award winning author Neil Gaiman is 51 years young today, and we wish him the happiest of birthdays. Gaiman appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on CBS this past Halloween night, along with his wife Amanda Palmer. Check out their appearance in the two clips below!
Click here to view the embedded video.
Click here to view the embedded video.
“The world always seems brighter when you’ve just made something that wasn’t there before“ - Neil Gaiman
Make sure you jump over to Twitter and wish @neilhimself a Happy Birthday!
Even if you didn't, you're going to have to admit that the following video is awesome.
Earlier this week, as a Halloween treat to his audience, host Craig Ferguson featured the eclectic ensemble of Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls), electronic music mainstay Moby, Stephen Merrit (of The Magnetic Fileds) and Neil Gaiman (novelist, award-winning comic book author, and Mr. Amanda Palmer) on "The Late Late Show" to perform "Science Fiction/Double Feature" from "Rocky Horror" soundtrack. And what a treat it is.
From Palmer's overstated make-up evoking the screen-filling lips that have greeted "Rocky Horror" audiences for 36 years, to the eerily sweet enthusiasm
Jp Marzulla is the vice chair of Area 3 of the Republican Party in New Hampshire. He believes in three things: God, liberty, and his gay son. Now if he can just convince enough of his Granite Staters to think like him.
This may be one of the more useful responses to the "quit flaunting your lifestyle" arguments that entitled heterosexuals like to bring up all the time. I may keep a copy in my wallet to hand out.
Eddie Redmayne has joined the ever-growing cast of Les Miserables as Marius.
By Rick Marshall
Photo: MTV News
Neil Gaiman's award-winning novel "American Gods" first hit shelves back in 2001, sweeping up readers in a cross-country adventure that explored a world in which the gods of old struggled to remain relevant in modern American culture. Ten years later, "American Gods" is returning to shelves in a new form, celebrating its anniversary with an expanded, "author's preferred text" edition and the announcement of an upcoming television series based on the book.
"The truth is, as an author, all you are is grateful if you turn around 10 years after you wrote something and it's still in print," Gaiman told MTV News of all the fanfare surrounding the novel's 10th anniversary. "It makes me ridiculously happy as an author, but mostly it makes me
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