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FOFF Programs

Feb 26, 2011
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight Street
San Francisco

Fantastic Claymation
in the series Miscellaneous Events
Though not one human appears on screen in this double-shot of fantastic claymation, the human touch is omnipresent in these hand-crafted cinematic labors of love.
at 2:00pm
The Gumby Movie (aka Gumby 1) (1995) by Art Clokey 89 min. Color 35mm
Everyone loves Gumby, whose delightful short vignettes debuted in the 50's on the Howdy Doody Show and whose late-80's renaissance spawned an independent movie. "He can walk into any book", and does in his only feature-length outing. Gumby, his rock band, the Clayboys, and a couple clingy groupies are menaced by perennial nemeses the Blockheads, whose improbable scheme involves harvesting pearls from a pet dog with the help of robot ringers. Creator Art Clokey brings his trademark awkward pacing and zany inventiveness to this Pee-wee Herman meets The Stepford Wives curio, tossing in off-hand homages to Star Wars, 2001, and other movies. Great for kids!
at 4:00pm
The Adventures of Mark Twain (1985) by Will Vinton 86 min. Color 35mm
Considered the Father of Claymation--he coined the term--Will Vinton ushered the medium from simplistic, cartoonish infancy into technical and artistic maturity. Through the 70's and 80's he honed his chops crafting short films (Oscar-winner Closed Mondays, The Little Prince), music "videos" (John Fogerty's Vanz Kant Danz) and ad campaigns (infamously, The California Raisins) combining nuanced characterization with an exquisite sensitivity to his sculptural medium. The culmination: The Adventures of Mark Twain, the first and only fully-claymated feature film, and the last word in this labor-intensive technique.

Into the tradition of Eastern European stylized epic fantasy, such as the Jules Verne-inspired adventures of Karel Zeman, Vinton brings Terry Gilliam-like attention to the travails of a heroic dreamer: the quintessentially American author Twain. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, stowaways on an airship piloted by their aging author, are led on a rambling journey through his lesser-known writings, peppered with acerbic late-life musings about human nature, religion, and mortality in this penetrating interrogation of Twain's iconoclastic genius. Ornate Victorian-gothic production design makes gloriously expressionistic, at times abstract use of the manipulative possibilities of clay, in both 2-D and 3-D. What starts out looking like a simple kids' movie quickly moves into darker territory--one stunning sequence has been deemed too disturbing to include in TV broadcasts.

Due perhaps to its complex nonlinear narrative structure, or to its philosophically "mature" themes, like the best of 80's fantastic cinema, Mark Twain found favor only among a cult audience. We invite you to join the cult.