Animation Mini-Film Fest in Little Tokyo


A scene from Satoshi Nishimura's "Trigun: Badlands Rumble."

Visual Communications will present its first animation mini-film fest on Saturday, Aug. 6, at the Tateuchi Democracy Forum, National Center for the Preservation of Democracy (part of the Japanese American National Museum), 111 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo.

“POW! WHIZ! BAM!” consists of screenings that have been hand-picked to present a gourmet set-menu: an intimate showcase with local animators; a sci-fi post-apocalyptic lesbian Romeo and Juliet, and a special screening of the classic Japanese shoot-’em-up caper “Trigun: Badlands Rumble.”

“This mini-film fest is small and cozy. No cosplay, no singing robot concerts, just the toons,” said a Visual Communications spokesperson.

The schedule is as follows:

2 p.m. The Art of Movement: Local Animators Showcase

A scene from Sam Chen's "Amazonia."

Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region has long been the spawning ground of gifted and visionary animation artists and graphic arts filmmakers. Working in a broad range of techniques and styles, this community of filmmakers has made its mark both in the independent arena as well as the mainstream. In this showcase, a program of exciting short works will be accompanied by an interactive artists’ talk, including storyboards and rough drafts; and will provide for the audience a glimpse into the world of artwork for animation and the movies.

An artists’ reception will follow.

• “Out on a Limb” (U.S., 2010)

Dir.: Daisy Lin  |  5 min., color, multi-media animation

A young bird is isolated from other birds that do not share its interest in searching for dandelions.

• “Father and Sister” (U.S./South Korea, 2010)

Dir.: Soyeon Kim  |  5 min., color, cut-out and 2D computer animation

A chance occurrence between a father and a sister leads to a unique case of workplace temptation.

• “The Cap” (Topi) (U.S., 2009)

Dir.: Arjun Rihan |  7 min., color, computer-generated animation, in Punjabi w/ES

Inspired by a true historical event in Pakistan, a violent communal riot at the train station separates a young boy, Bir, from his mother. Bir must find his mother before it’s too late.

• “Frog in the Well” (I no Naka no Kawazu) (Japan/U.S., 2010)

Dir.: Ken Ochiai  |  15 min., color, kinestatic (stop-motion) animation, in Japanese w/ES

Following his mother’s wishes, Jo, a reclusive young tailor from Tokyo, journeys across Japan, discovering a country full of beauty and culture. Transforming like a frog climbing from a well, Jo opens himself up to a new world of possibility.

• “Where There Here” (U.S., 2009)

Dir.: Soyeon Kim |  90 secs., black/white and color, sand animation

This kid-friendly workout is a playful visualization of “hide and seek” using African pictorial design and tribal music.

• “Stoopid Movie” (U.S., 2005)

Dir.: David Chai |  5 min., color, traditional cel animation

Created through San Jose State University’s animation program, this is a string of humorous and at times whacked-out vignettes that ups the “sick” and “twisted” quotient to the nth degree. Part of the Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted Animation Film Festival.

• “Chainsaw Maid” (Japan, 2007)

Dir.: Takena Nagao |  7 min., color, claymation, silent w/English/Japanese intertitles

Can a sexy maid save her dysfunctional family from a horrible death at the hand of zombies? Part of the Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted Animation Film Festival, this is reputed to be the most brutal clay-mation animation ever seen!

• “Welcome to My Life” (U.S., 2004)

Dir.: Elizabeth Ito |  5 min., black/white, pencil animation

Voiced by members of the director’s own family, this film documents a family of monsters trying to lead a normal American life.

• Amazonia (Japan/U.S., 2010)

Dir.: Sam Chen  |  5 min., color, computer-generated animation

In the eat-or-be-eaten world of the Amazon rainforest, a little treefrog named Bounce is befriended by a blue-bellied treetoad named Biggy. With Biggy’s help, Bounce must learn to survive the perils of the jungle.

5 p.m. Feature Film

• “ICE” (Japan, 2007)

Dir.: Makoto Kobayashi 103 min.

The end of the world is upon us. Do you accept your doom and indulge in earthly pleasures? Or turn to science for your salvation? Characters face these questions in this sci-fi, apocalyptic, lesbian take on “Romeo and Juliet.” The film may be modern in considering themes such as existentialism, patriarchy, war and the environment, but at its heart, it continues with the long-standing tradition of animation that takes its story and characters to the extreme borders of weird.

In this apocalyptic future, an environmental crisis causes every male on earth to die out by 2012. Most of the remaining women perish fighting in a world war over their territories. The 20,000 survivors huddle together in the Shinjuku area of Japan, which has become an ocean of trees. There, they divide into two groups: the hedonistic fatalists and those who believe science can save them. It’s the beginning of an intense battle over the top-secret weapon, “ICE,” which is said to be the last hope for humankind.

8 p.m.  Feature Film

• “Trigun: Badlands Rumble” (Japan, 2011)

Dir.: Satoshi Nishimura 90 min.

Tumbleweeds and Hovercrafts. This space western is the perfect summer romp with epic shooting sequences (there’s even a gun duel!) and lighthearted gags galore. The film is based on the fandom-inspiring ’90s TV show,”Trigun,” which follows Vash the Stampede, a professional killer with a mysterious past and a $60 billion bounty on his head that he can’t seem to shake. One fateful day this peace-loving goofball saves the life of an infamous robber named Gasback, setting off a chain of results with disastrous consequences.

Flash-forward 20 years. Vash has to deal with the repercussion as Gasback, hell-bent on revenge, unleashes his rage on his backstabbing cronies, endangering an entire town of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire. Can Vash save the day? (Of course we know the answer, but we wanna see it happen anyway!

Festival pass for all three programs is $25 general; $20 for students, seniors, and members (with ID) of Visual Communications, Japanese American National Museum, Pacific Asia Museum, and Japanese American Cultural and Community Center. For individual programs, $10 and $8, respectively.

Parking is available at City Lot 7 (adjacent to the building; enter at Judge John Aiso Street).

All programs are subject to change and/or cancellation without prior notice. For updated program and event information, visit

To purchase tickets, go to:


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