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LA Film Festival Draws Animators and Fans to Monster Road

By Phil Scanlon and Keiko Beatie

Animators and other recluses braved a daylight screening of the documentary Monster Road at the Los Angeles Film Festival June 24 to enjoy a rare public appearance of cult animator Bruce Bickford. The new film is an affectionate and revealing biography that updates the public on the continuing work of an artist who transforms his fevered dreams into film art.

Director Brett Ingram is a fellow animator whose lens volleys between clips of the artists miniature stop-motion world and the equally compelling life-size world of the artists existence. Director Ingrams careful style coaxes candid confessions about challenges confronting anyone brave enough to work in stop motion animation. Hallucinatory animated passages harmonize with revealing confessions of Mr. Bickfords often-painful history. Among Bickfords challenges were difficult school experiences, a lingering family tragedy and his army experience in Viet Nam. Operating alone, and completely self taught, Bickford remains committed to creating work often described as obsessive.


Director Brett Ingram and animator Brett Bickford

Rather than rely on visual shortcuts, Bickford creates complex compositions containing objects that flower, erupt and melt in endless, stream-of-consciousness profusions. In Bickfords graphic alternate universe, good overcomes evil as armies of miniature figures battle monsters, prison guards and other eviscerating foe. Like most animators, he begins with a storyboard only to later stray from this timesaving device during shooting. This risky choice creates an inherent contradiction that is characteristic of Bickford films. Although his work method is methodical and time consuming, the results appear uninhibited and instantaneous.

Bickford shares screen time with his father, an intelligent family man battling the encroaching prison of Alzheimers disease. The unspoken bond of father and son is apparent in their joking interchanges and the close quarters they often share. His life-long commitment to this particular art form has incrementally transformed his family home into a warehouse for his handmade figurines and other miniature forms.

Even with the benefit of this intimate portrait, Mr. Bickford remains a fascinating enigma who will continue to create his stop-motion phantasms.

When asked about his current projects, Bickford comes alive. Despite the challenges of caring for an ailing family member, he continues to find large blocks of time to shoot more footage. He hopes that Monster Road will expand awareness of his distinct visual style and lead to offers of commercial projects.

Over the past ten years, the Los Angeles Film Festival has evolved into a world-class event, uniting emerging filmmakers with film critics, scholars, masters and the film-going public. IFP/Los Angeles took over the festival in 2001 and expanded the festival to include international films and a variety of special events and screenings throughout Los Angeles. Richard Raddon serves as the Festival Director. Rachel Rosen is the Director of Programming.

The festival has grown to more than 40,000 attendees, unveiling such films as "The Cooler," "Mayor of the Sunset Strip," "Kissing Jessica Stein," "George Washington," "The Cruise," and "Dead Man," and hosting talents such as Jennifer Aniston, Alec Baldwin, Alfonso Cuarón, Benicio Del Toro, Jodie Foster, Heather Graham, Jake Gyllenhaal, Daryl Hannah, Holly Hunter, Catherine Keener, William H. Macy, Ewan McGregor, Sidney Poitier, John C. Reilly, Mark Ruffalo, Bryan Singer, and Forest Whitaker.  This year a total of 206 films including 72 features representing 32 countries screened at the festival.

IFP/Los Angeles, a nonprofit membership organization, champions the cause of independent film and supports a community of artists who embody diversity, innovation, and uniqueness of vision. IFP/LA provides its members with professional advice, educational programs, affordable camera and equipment rentals, and discounts to hundreds of industry-related businesses. IFP/LA's Filmmaker Labs offer writers, directors, and producers the opportunity to develop their projects. IFP/LA's mentorship and job placement program Project:Involve, pairs filmmakers from culturally diverse communities with film industry professionals. IFP/Los Angeles also produces the IFP Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival, celebrating the best of American and international independent cinema. With more than 6,000 members, IFP/Los Angeles is Southern California's largest non-profit organization for independent filmmakers.   The Festival take place once a year, for more information Los Angeles Film Festival and IFP visit their website at www.lafilmfest.com or call 1-866-filmfest


 


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Related Keywords:Bruce Bickford, Monster Road

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