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Pixar at the Oscars

Academy Awards, Animation, Inside Out, Interview, John Lasseter, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Michael Giacchino, Pete Docter, Pixar, Sanjay's Super Team, Short Film, The Good Dinosaur, UP

Posted by Nia • January 16, 2016

Congratulations to the talented folks at Pixar for receiving not one but THREE Oscar nominations during Thursday’s announcement. Inside Out was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film and also scored a nomination for Best Original Screenplay; it will be the only animated film competing in that category. Sanjay’s Super Team took home a nod for Best Animated Short Film.

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"Sanjay's Super Team" Comes to the Con ? Director Sanjay Patel and producer Nicole Grindle are taking Pixar Animation Studios' new short to San Diego's Comic-Con International next month for its North American premiere and a peek behind the scenes of the production process. The Super Story Behind the Pixar Short "Sanjay's Super Team," slated for Thurs., July 9 at 11 a.m. in the Indigo Ballroom, Hilton Bayfront, reveals the unique inspiration for this incredibly personal film that features superheroes like never before. The short debuts in U.S. theaters in front of Disney-Pixar's "The Good Dinosaur" on Nov. 25, 2015.

Via Disney/Pixar

It was indeed great news hearing that Pixar was nominated for several awards, but it’s also hard not to acknowledge the slight disappointments regarding snubs to both The Good Dinosaur and Lava. In an ideal world, all four films released from the studio would have been nominated for Oscars. They all followed the Pixar standard of challenging both art and technology, paving the way for future animated films. The Good Dinosaur alone was revolutionary in it’s technical aspects and successful blend of animation against hyperrealistic backgrounds. Lava also showcased stunning backgrounds that were brought to life through the use of song; depicting the romance between two volcanoes without dialogue but only through a love ballad. Lava‘s catchy song was clearly absent from the Best Original Song nominees. Also missing from the Best Original Score category was Michael Giacchino’s beautiful work on Inside Out.

In the past, an animated film has even been nominated for Best Picture, such as Pete Docter’s last film Up. If an animated film can be nominated for Best Picture, then it’s director should also be recognized in the Best Director category. Inside Out was incredibly inventive and something we haven’t seen before. It cleverly took us inside the mind of a young girl and created relatable characters out of her emotions… not to mention simultaneously hitting us all with a wave of childhood nostalgia. Docter spent 4+ years working on the film; from writing the screenplay, approving every minute detail most audience members might miss, to even guiding a brilliant team of artists into crafting his vision. That time frame is longer than most live action directors work on a film.

In an interview with Screencrush, Pixarian Kelsey Mann explains why animation directors are just as worthy as notable live action directors in receiving acknowledgement from The Academy:

“From the ground up, directors at Pixar are in charge of everything from the story to the individual blades of grass. We start from nothing. Literally nothing. And it all has to be built from the ground up. And Pete is involved in every decision.”

Slowly audiences (and even The Academy) are beginning to realize that animation isn’t only for children, but it’s an art form entirely of it’s own; crafting stories a thousand times better and more original than most of the live action films released in Hollywood. Here’s hoping that one day an animated film will not only be nominated for Best Picture again, but will win it too.

We will definitely be keeping our fingers crossed for Pixar to take home all of the awards on the February 28th Oscar ceremony.

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Pixar in 2015

Inside Out, Lava, Pete Docter, Pete Sohn, Pixar, Pixar in 2015, Sanjay Patel, Sanjay's Super Team, The Good Dinosaur, Toy Story, Toy Story 20th, Upcoming Pixar

Posted by Simoa • December 29, 2015

2015: the first year with two Pixar releases, significant especially when you consider their yearlong absence following 2013’s Monsters University. But the two feature length films – Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur – represent a lot on their own besides Pixar’s return to the silver screen.

InsideOut53a470f0039ddPixar’s short films this year were significant too. “Lava”, a tribute to the Hawaiian islands and music from director James Ford Murphy, premiered with Inside Out this summer. Though seven minutes long, it’s Pixar’s first full fledged musical. Pixar’s anthropomorphic characters have long been personified since Luxo, but no Pixar character, human or otherwise, has ever sang before! It’s almost unavoidable to compare this short to “The Blue Umbrella”, which also concerns two living objects finding love, but the love story in “Lava” is on a grander scale. The short’s subject matter is somewhat divisive, but it does provide breathtaking visuals. Can we expect more Pixar musicals? Seems likely!

“Sanjay’s Super Team” however, is unlike anything Pixar has yet produced. In the visual department, it’s a sumptuous blending of 2D and 3D with eye watering colors and excellent character designs. Still images prove to be as dazzling as the film in motion.

SANJAY'S SUPER TEAMSANJAY'S SUPER TEAM

It’s not only the gorgeous art style that makes this short film so phenomenal. This is the first time a Pixar film has featured a person of color. If “Lava” could signal more musicals, “Sanjay’s Super Team” could do the same for more diverse characters and perspectives in Pixar films. John Lasseter has said as much about broadening the studio’s canon. Most notably, director Sanjay Patel, joining Peter Sohn as the first nonwhite directors to helm Pixar features, drew on his childhood experiences to tell this story.

SANJAY'S SUPER TEAM

This is a deeply personal, heartfelt story about little Sanjay’s struggles to distance himself from his father’s customs. It also mirrors the struggles of adult Sanjay, who was initially reluctant to show something so personal, but who was convinced in the end by his father and Lasseter. The short’s seven minute run-time produces an expertly crafted narrative with glimpses of the Hindu faith. The audience may be strangers to Hinduism, but we can understand Sanjay eventual appreciation of his father’s inner world and how both father and son bond at the short’s conclusion. And for us first generation American kids, the short film is especially meaningful. “Sanjay’s Super Team” is truly a bold step in the right direction.

Click through to read the wonderful responses!

Click through to read the wonderful responses!

2015 also marks 20 years of Toy Story, the first full length Pixar creation as well as the first computer animated film. We recently asked our readers to share their memories of the film; an exercise in nostalgia. But nostalgia aside, Toy Story brims with a timeless appeal. A revolutionary success in 1995, expanding the boundaries of animation and technology, it’s as beloved today as it was twenty years ago.

Earlier this month, Toy Story at 20: To Infinity and Beyond aired on ABC. Strikingly, none of the Pixarians expected the movie to ever become as big as it did. There were constant roadblocks to success and they had to take untested leaps of faith in order to create the movie they believed in. Toy Story and Pixar are world renowned today. That both came to be because of naive risk-takers is inexpressibly inspiring.

The third installment also celebrated five years back in June. Toy Story 3 was the impeccable finale to a trilogy about a motley band of toys and the boy who loved them. Us 90s kids, particularly the ones looking ahead to college, could see ourselves in Andy. Woody, Buzz, Slinky, Rex, Hamm, Potato Head, Jessie…those were our toys. The third film was a bittersweet goodbye to childhood, but not to Woody and the gang.

June 18th was Toy Story 3‘s fifth year anniversary date. Inside Out was released in theaters the following day.

poster 3A film that ventures into the mind of a preteen girl is a tall order, especially when the filmmaker is a man. But Inside Out was borne out of Pete Docter’s desire to better understand his daughter.

The film is really framed as a struggle for parents. Joy, exuberant and star shaped, dominates Riley’s Headquarters. Her number one priority is to keep Riley happy at all times, which ultimately unravels in the wake of chaos from major life transitions. Joy’s attempts to push Sadness away not only speak to parents wishing to shield their children from pain and Sadness, but to everyone who does the same.

This is perhaps the first film, animated or otherwise, that places less importance on attaining happiness, and more on learning to embrace Sadness. It’s such a simple idea; it’s OK and even necessary to be sad. But too often we struggle in vain to never feel sad at all times.

INSIDE OUTInside Out could prove to be as revolutionary as Toy Story, if not more so. This is a remarkably inventive concept; one that further proves animated films can indeed have depth and still be entertaining. And just like the 1995 film, neither Pete Docter nor anyone else expected it to resonate as it has. Could they have known that those struggling with mental illness would be able to use the film to explain the conflicting array of their own emotions? Or that it could be used to help children identify their emotions and learn that the negative ones are beneficial too?

Imagine if your emotions cared about you. (Oh Anger, you do care!) Imagine that your emotions are these distinct personalities made up of glowing particles that help you navigate the world. Imagine you have Personality Islands that power you up, explain your passions and longings. Imagine all the bright, clever silliness of an elaborate Pixar world juxtaposed against a somber coming-of-age tale.

INSIDE OUT - Pictured: Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

INSIDE OUT - Pictured: Joy. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

Growing up is often devastating. The equilibrium of Riley’s mind gradually collapses – she loses Joy, interests, and friends. Her islands of personality literally crumble and fall away, disappearing forever into the yawning abyss of the memory dump. Suddenly Riley isn’t the same little girl anymore. What a bleak vision of adolescence. But though the process of growing up is painful, messy, and requisitely sad, the rewards are abundant. Riley’s mind does repair itself after all. Through adversity, her inner life is strengthened.

Inside Out is important for its focus on a young girl. Riley isn’t ever boxed into any wrongheaded notions of femininity or lack thereof. She’s just allowed to be a person who’s also a girl. There were skeptics when the film’s premise was announced, those who believed that a film focusing on a girl’s feelings would reinforce cliché stereotypes. But the film proved those skeptics wrong. The mundane realties of a preteen girl on the brink of leaving childhood are given weighty consideration. Mindy Kaling, providing vocal work for the fabulous Disgust, put it best: after reading the script, she tearfully told Docter and producer Jonas Rivera that making a film that says it’s OK for girls to be sad about growing up is profound.

INSIDE OUT

And it passes the Bechdel Test by placing Joy and Sadness at the center; two female characters fighting to protect a young girl. Two female characters who are both flawed, yet earnest and nurturing. The film also offers a quiet, yet resounding affirmation that girls, and everyone, but girls especially, can feel a multitude of ways. And to think this came from Pixar, the boys studio.

Inside Out is arguably Pixar’s most ambitious project since 2009’s Up, which was also directed by Pete Docter. Like Up and Docter’s other film Monsters, Inc., it achieves a seamless balance between absurdity and heartbreak. It’s really nothing short of astonishing. The technical aspects are a marvel, it being the most vast, complicated set that’s yet existed in a Pixar film. That’s to say nothing of the actual story which accomplishes a major feat. It shows us something we all know but have never seen, and it’s a fun, exciting, emotional journey.

On opening day, AMC Theaters screened a brief video in which Docter thanked audiences for watching the movie. It was such a humble, surprising gesture. The video isn’t available to watch online unfortunately, but here’s what Docter had to say:

“Movies, like the ones we make at Pixar, are made by people. And the reason we make them is to talk to folks, to share something about our own experiences of life and to pass that feeling onto others. But that doesn’t happen unless there’s someone out there to listen. I feel so lucky to make movies, and on behalf of everyone at Pixar and Disney, we want to thank you for coming to watch our work. Movies have the ability to take you to different worlds, make you laugh or cry, and remind you you’re alive. None of this would happen without you. Thank you for coming, and we hope you enjoy the film.”

This is the first time a Pixar director has done something like this, and it made Inside Out screenings all the better. Thankfully it wasn’t the last time, as Pete Sohn also introduced The Good Dinosaur to audiences when that film premiered in November.

Sohn described growing up as a child of Korean immigrants and how that helped to inform Arlo’s story. His mother’s TheGoodDinosaur5612ef11d27c8English was limited. When he went to the movies as a child with his mother, Sohn often had to whisper translations of what was happening onscreen to her. But this wasn’t the case with most animated movies. In movies like Dumbo, neither words nor translations were needed. Animation is a universal language that everyone can understand. Sohn wanted to recreate that kind of wordless beauty for this film. He wanted to show how two characters could communicate without speaking the same language and how poignant that communication could be. And in The Good Dinosaur, Spot’s inability to speak only lends more authenticity to the primal bond – and love – that he shares with Arlo.

It’s definitely not an exaggeration to say that people were expecting The Good Dinosaur to fail. Its troubled production history worried a lot of people, particularly because veteran Pixar filmmaker Bob Peterson was unceremoniously removed from the director’s chair. While fans were concerned and saddened, they were confident that a good movie could still emerge. Others were far more cynical, certain that moving the film from its original May 2014 release date to November 2015 spelled disaster. The first year without a Pixar movie? Here Pixar was failing in a very public way, and some people felt it was justified comeuppance.

The Good Dinosaur isn’t the first Pixar movie to be scrapped halfway through production and to switch directors. It’s been done twice before with stellar results (Toy Story 2 and Ratatouille). Even Brave and Cars 2 were worthy if flawed efforts. But there are those who think the film did fail, especially since its story was so simplistic, threadbare even, compared to Inside Out’s voluminous narrative.

But here’s something people don’t seem to realize: Pixar shouldn’t be expected to reinvent storytelling with every single film. Leave the ambitious flair to Inside Out; the second Pixar feature of 2015 does something quite different, even if it isn’t groundbreaking. (And in less noticeable ways, it actually is).

THE GOOD DINOSAUR

The Good Dinosaur’s premise is original. Dinosaurs never went extinct. And that’s not all. The herbivores evolved into farmers while the carnivores like T-Rex are now ranchers. The movie even turns into a western halfway through! In this delightfully bizarre setting, an uncomplicated story begins to evolve. Given the movie’s prehistoric timeline, the straightforward storytelling makes sense. The Good Dinosaur eschews glossy modern appeal to tap into something so much more earthy and primitive.

The movie isn’t primitive simply because dinosaurs still roam the earth. It’s that barrier between languages that makes it so. It isn’t wordy, which is so refreshing. Arlo and Spot start off as enemies. Pixar films are usually about the unexpected friendship between two characters and it’s a trope they pull off extremely well, because the results are different every time. But the stakes are higher in this film because of that language barrier and the harsh world that Arlo and Spot inhabit. They depend on each other for survival, but it grows into something more. Understanding begins to blossom between them in ordinary and profound ways. They become each other’s surrogate family although the world would discourage it. Even if the time and the story are unsophisticated, there are still some potent, timeless takeaways to be had.

This film is a study in brilliant contrasts; cartoony dinosaurs juxtaposed against hyper real, painterly animation; unvarnished story juxtaposed against magnificent artwork; a huge, frightening world that is tranquil and still. There are quiet moments within even as the danger threatens our timid dinosaur hero and his ferociously endearing human boy (two characters who are brilliant, surprising contrasts as well).

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And yet, for all its oddity, The Good Dinosaur is grounded in realism and emotional clarity. Nature is pristine and gorgeous, but also a formidable foe that must be reckoned with. Arlo and Spot bond over their loss of family without ever needing words.

Here’s a movie with talking dinosaurs and a wild boy that doesn’t resort to scatological humor in order to hold the attention of the youngest audience members. Here’s a movie with talking dinosaurs that’s possibly the most sensitive, tender story Pixar has told since their first film twenty years ago.

To borrow from Poppa, sometimes you gotta get through your expectations to see the beauty on the other side.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage of Pixar’s awesome year. Check back here for what’s ahead as we leave 2015!

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Inside Out: highly emotional and highly clever

Inside Out, James Ford Murphy, Lava, Pete Docter, Review

Posted by Simoa • June 18, 2015

For all the technical feats and visual artistry of Pixar films, storytelling remains the true marker of their success. “Story is king” is the mantra oft repeated at Pixar, for good reason. A film can be beautifully animated, but it needs a beautiful story to truly shine. Inside Out, the studio’s fifteenth feature from Pete Docter, has both in abundance. And what a beauty it is. This film follows in the tradition of gorgeously crafted storylines that have come to define Pixar. And it also marks Pixar’s triumphant return to the silver screen after their yearlong absence.

Inside Out takes place inside the mind of 11 year old Riley Andersen (Kaitlyn Dias). While Pixar films have taken us to the outer reaches of space and the depths of the ocean, along with other unique and imagined settings, Inside Out invites us to journey through a place we’ve never seen, but know exists. It’s here in Riley’s mind that a whole world blooms.

Living in this world are her five emotions: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. They are the real main characters of this story, not merely feelings, but actual personified beings. Joy (Amy Poehler) is the first emotion that newborn baby Riley experiences, causing her to laugh. Her parents (Diane Lane and Kyle MacLachlan) are over the moon with love, and Joy is as well. She begins to envision a euphoric life for just her and Riley. This vision is short lived however, when Sadness (Phyllis Smith) arrives on the scene and makes Riley cry for the first time. Joy is understandably less than thrilled, trying to regain control; this theme is echoed throughout the film.

As Joy informs us, Headquarters only becomes more crowded. Fear (Bill Hader) shows up, perpetually frantic and always steering Riley away from anything unsafe. Disgust (Mindy Kaling) is around to make sure Riley avoids everything gross. Anger (Lewis Black) is mainly concerned with Riley getting a fair deal; when she doesn’t, his temper flares and flames erupt from the top of his head. Each of these emotions has their own distinct purpose for guiding Riley through her everyday life, but Sadness doesn’t seem to have one. Joy isn’t all that interested in finding out what that purpose could be but assures us that Sadness is just fine where she is.

The focus shifts once again to Riley, a sweet and boisterous kid who’s had a happy childhood and life thus far. Lining the walls of Headquarters are Riley’s memories, little spheres that glow a certain color corresponding to each of the emotions. Nearly all of them are yellow, for Joy. The core memories depict important moments in Riley’s life which power up each of her personality islands. These islands include family, friendship, honesty, hockey, and goofball.

Chaos soon strikes, disrupting life in Headquarters. Riley and her family are moving – from their beloved Minnesota to San Francisco, where her father is starting a new job. Fear isn’t the only one panicking about this major life event. Joy manages to stay upbeat and positive, constantly looking on the bright side of things while the others complain and fret. They, as well as Riley, don’t have a lot to be happy about. The new house isn’t warm or inviting; her parents are upset and stressed out about various things; and dad has to leave for work before they’ve even settled in. Still, Joy is determined to keep things happy. After some initial disagreement, the others decide it’s for the best as well.

Life outside Headquarters often informs life within, and vice versa. With Riley experiencing a wealth of changes due to the cross country move, Sadness wants to take a more active role in Headquarters. But she’s prevented from doing so by Joy. When the two of them clash during Riley’s first day of school, a disastrous event by all accounts, they’re ejected from Headquarters, leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust to man the controls. Joy and Sadness, lost within Riley’s mind, need to journey together in order to restore balance to Headquarters.

Balance is key in Inside Out. The film does an excellent job of balancing the two unfolding storylines, shifting from Riley’s mind to the outside world with ease. There’s also a balancing of visuals, from the realistic outside world to the bright, cartoony mind world. The basic animation principles of squash and stretch are used to their greatest advantage here. Mind workers that Joy and Sadness meet are simple in design, but brightly colored and very cartoonish. The mind is so incredibly vibrant and perfectly realized. This is in my opinion, the most imaginative and creative Pixar world yet. Just the sheer size and scope of it are overwhelming, without spoiling any of the fun you have within it. Joy and Sadness travel through a variety of concepts – Abstract Thought and the subconscious for example – which spring up before them and us as actual places. The sequences in both of these locations are particularly inventive and in the case of Abstract Thought, extremely clever and hilarious.

In fact, clever and hilarious can be applied to Inside Out as a whole. The film is able to balance poignancy with levity; each of the laughs it induces are well earned. Trust me when I say this movie is hilarious, one of the most fun times you’ll have at the theater all year. The various ways it answers certain questions about the mind is all done in a silly but brilliant, and of course, clever fashion.

The voice work of the cast cannot be overlooked either. They all turn in great performances, embodying each of the emotions so perfectly. You want the “little voices” in your head to sound just like this. Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith are able to strike a balance between humor and heartache. It’s amazing and a little ironic how much you feel for these emotions. Richard Kind as Riley’s imaginary friend Bing Bong, who I’ll let you discover and fall in love with on your own, is also stellar, giving one of the most memorable and heartbreaking performances ever heard in an animated film.

The film’s score, composed by that wizard Michael Giacchino, is whimsical and bright. The music is so beautiful to listen to, and matches the gentle moments, along with the more fast paced action ones.

At the core of Inside Out is the relationship between Joy and Sadness. For years Joy has called the shots in joy sadness 1Headquarters, has never understood the purpose of Sadness, and has often tried to keep her from ever driving the console in Riley’s head. When they’re suddenly thrust into the vast reaches of the mind, she starts to learn more about Sadness and just how important she is to Riley, and also to all of us.

What Pete Docter, co-director Ronnie del Carmen, screenwriters Josh Cooley and Meg LaFauve, and the entire story team have been able to achieve is no small feat. It’s a tall concept, but the story is executed quite simply, without abandoning any emotional complexity or depth. It dazzles the eye, mind, and heart. You will have fun watching this film, but you’ll come away with some profound insights as well. And you will cry.

It is the resounding emotional poignancy of this beautiful film, combined with the animation, art, and humor that undeniably makes Inside Out an instant classic.

“Lava”, the musical short film attached to Inside Out is similarly lava1dazzling in the visual department. The story is really quite simple, but a big delight nevertheless. While the short isn’t regarded as favorably as others, I found it charming, heartfelt, and endearingly sincere. You can add volcanoes to the list of anthropomorphic Pixar characters finding love in the most unlikely ways. And once again, the visuals are breathtaking. The love song echoes Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s haunting rendition of “Over the Rainbow” which James Ford Murphy cited as inspiration. It’s also really catchy; you’ll find yourself humming the tune long after the short ends.

“Lava” features the musical talents of Kuana Torres Kahele, Napua Greig, and James Ford Murphy on ukulele!

Inside Out and “Lava” are released nationwide in theaters tomorrow, June 19th. Be sure to share your thoughts with us! And stay for the credits too!

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“Lava” at the San Francisco International Film Festival

Events, Inside Out, James Ford Murphy, Lava

Posted by Simoa • April 23, 2015

Our readers in the Bay Area are in for a special treat. The San Francisco International Film Festival kicks off today, a two week long festival that celebrates the best in film. The latest Pixar short film, “Lava”, which plays with Inside Out this summer, is going to be screened as part of the festival’s Shorts 5 program. Director James Ford Murphy will also be on hand to answer questions following the screening and sign autographs. You can see the full list of short films below, including one by former Pixarian Saschka Unseld, director of  2013’s “The Blue Umbrella”.

Aria for a Cow
A musical plea from the often neglected and underappreciated barnyard inhabitants is brought to life by a never-heard before song by Howard Ashman & Alan Menken. (Dan Lund, USA 2015, 7 min)

Cows (Moosic Video)
Not enough dancing cows you say? Well, we’ve got another bovine musical showstopper guaranteed to udderly satisfy even the most lactose intolerant of audience members. (Sandra Boynton, USA 2014, 3 min)

Duet
This lovely tale is a celebration of life through the hand-drawn line. Animated and directed by the creator of Ariel, Pocahantas, Tarzan and Rapunzel. (Glen Keane, USA 2014, 4 min)

Home
It’s hard to leave your childhood home and the memories you’ve created there. Some things we are forced to leave behind and then there is the rest we’ll always keep close to our hearts. (Saschka Unseld, USA 2014, 5 min)

Lava
Inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, this musical love story takes place over millions of years. (James Ford Murphy, USA 2014, 8 min)
This is a Cinema by the Bay film.

Lila
Armed with a boundless imagination and talent for drawing, Lila creatively fills in the missing pieces of her life and the world around her. (Carlos Lascano, Argentina/Spain 2014, 9 min)

My Big Brother
Sure, we’ve all fought with our siblings, and sometimes it’s even hard to see eye to eye with them. We’ve got it easy compared to these vertically challenged brothers. (Jason Rayner, USA 2014, 3 min)
This is a Cinema by the Bay film.

One, Two, Tree
This is the story of a tree like any other. One day it jumps into a pair of boots and goes for a walk. (Yulia Aronova, France/Switzerland 2015, 7 min)

Simorgh
A stunningly designed piece that incorporates Persian music, calligraphic art and ornamental designs to tell the traditional Persian story of life that deals with the fragility of self-worth. (Meghdad Asadi Lari, USA 2014, 5 min)

The Story of Percival Pilts
A whimsical story about living an impractical life based on a childhood promise, where the phrase “reaching for the stars” takes on a whole new vertigo-inducing meaning. (Janette Goodey, John Lewis, Australia/New Zealand 2015, 9 min)

Super Sounds
A shy and lonely young boy lets down his guard long enough to welcome in a potential new friendship. (Stephen de Villiers, Australia 2014, 12 min)

Students are also encouraged to enter the Nellie Wong essay contest following the screening. Winners of the contest will be able to attend a screening of Inside Out at Pixar! This is certainly an opportunity not to be missed, and we hope our West Coast readers take full advantage!

Follow the festival along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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James Ford Murphy talks ‘Lava’ and Pixar

James Ford Murphy, Lava

Posted by Simoa • October 18, 2014

Back in August, a small teaser for Pixar’s upcoming short ‘Lava’ was released, debuting the stunning animation and music. Thanks to Collider, we also have two new high-res stills, as well as an interview with director James Ford Murphy!

The interview, which you can watch here, details Murphy’s path to Pixar and his contributions to such films as A Bug’s Life, Cars, and The Incredibles.

He also speaks in depth about ‘Lava’ and the challenges associated with animating volcanoes. This is a chance to really appreciate the kinds of risks and innovations involved with animation and making something like a volcano a character infused with personality. Not only that, the technical aspect is also something to marvel at.

You can also learn about how ‘Lava’ was chosen to accompany Pixar’s full length feature Inside Out. (A perfect pairing according to Murphy). Both will premiere on June 19th, 2015.

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Watch and listen to “Lava”

James Ford Murphy, Lava, Short Film

Posted by Simoa • August 29, 2014

"Lava", the next Pixar short to play before Inside Out next year has been generating as much excitement as the feature length film
itself. Described as a musical love story taking place over millions of years, it promises to be a unique love story erupting between two
volcanoes. One still and one poster have been released, and now there’s a
clip courtesy of Yahoo Movies.

The short clocks in at seven minutes, but this clip is thirty seconds long. Yet it’s still an impressive preview of what’s to come. Imagine what the finished product will look and sound like! In addition to the stunning animation is the music. Uke, the volcano featured in this clip, voiced by singer Kuana
Torres Kahele, sings about finding another volcano to love (lava). The wordplay on the lyrics is really quite clever and charming. It’s possible that "Lava" will treat audiences
to a duet, something unlike anything Pixar has done before.

Director James Ford Murphy credits his love of Hawaii as the inspiration for the short. He hoped to create something that would capture the beauty and spirit of the islands set to music in an animated world. "I thought if I could marry the rich imagery with the power and emotion of music, then I could really make something cool."

"Lava" will certainly deliver on that front when it is released alongside Inside Out on June 19, 2015. Watch the clip below and tell us what you think!

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Pixar Reveals ‘Lava’, Previews ‘Inside Out’ at Press Event [UPDATE]

Inside Out, James Ford Murphy, Jonas Rivera, Lava, Pete Docter, Short Film

Posted by Brkyo614 • July 12, 2014

With exactly one year to go until the release of Inside Out, Pixar invited members of the press to a special Inside Out preview event at the Director’s Guild of America last night. Unexpectedly, Pixarian James Ford Murphy took the stage to introduce his directorial debut: Lava, the previously-rumored 2015 short that will play before Inside Out. The official synopsis reads:

"Inspired by the isolated beauty of tropical islands and the explosive allure of ocean volcanoes, Lava is a musical love story that takes place over millions of years.

From Pixar Animation Studios, director James Ford Murphy and producer Andrea Warren, Lava opens in theaters on June 19, 2015, in front of Inside Out."

While The Blue Umbrella examined the smaller details of a bustling city, Pixar’s next romantic short seems to be magnitudes bigger in scale. Early reactions are very positive:

"Just saw Pixar’s next short: The sweet, romantic musical LAVA, about two volcanoes in love. Might’ve teared up a little."
"Just saw a roughly 95% finished version of Pixar’s latest short, LAVA, which will play in front of INSIDE OUT. Lovely & musical & beautiful."
Adam B. Vary, Buzzfeed

Interestingly, an Instagram photo from Eric Chu – posted a week before the short’s reveal – shows that artwork from Lava is already on display in Pixar’s atrium. Look closely toward the back in the photo to the right.

Before Murphy unveiled Lava, though, Inside Out director Pete Docter and producer Jonas Rivera showcased the footage that was screened at Annecy earlier this month. Rivera noted that "we’re pouring our lives into this one," and based on these early impressions, it shows:

"Saw some footage from Pixar’s INSIDE OUT tonight. Looks incredible. Heartbreaking, super funny, and – as expected – gorgeous animation."
"Man, INSIDE OUT looks to be as creative, intelligent and as emotionally resonant as anything Pixar has ever done."
"It’s still a year out, but everything about Pixar’s Inside Out looks phenomenal. First 5 minutes dropped my jaw and put tears in my eyes."
If you’re not wary of spoilers, Cinema Blend and ComingSoon.net have detailed summaries of the Inside Out footage shown. Like Annecy, Docter and Rivera signed prints after the show, this time featuring yet another new piece of concept art. (via Desiree Eaglin)

Lava and Inside Out release on June 19, 2015.

UPDATE: LA Times has more news on Lava, including the first rendered still of the main character, a volcano named Uku (his love interest is Lele). The paper spoke with director James Ford Murphy on what went into the short:

"I thought it would be so cool to fall in love with a place who’s also a character […] I wanted to make Uku appealing and likable but also look like he’s been carved out of lava flows."

As part of his pitch to executives at Pixar, Murphy learned to play ukulele and wrote a love song, "Lava," which appears in the film and is performed by Hawaiian recording artists Kuana Torres Kahele and Napua Greig.

Head over to LA Times for more.

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Pixar’s Next Short Could Be Titled ‘Lava’

Lava, Short Film

Posted by Brkyo614 • March 5, 2014

Pixar’s latest short, Party Central, is releasing alongside Muppets Most Wanted this month, but the studio has yet to reveal which shorts will be attached to their own upcoming features. Thanks to a Pixar artist’s LinkedIn profile, however, we now have a hint at what’s to come.

Among the artist’s Pixar résumé, which includes work on Monsters University, The Good Dinosaur, and Toy Story That Time Forgot, is a project titled Lava, listed as a 2015 theatrical short. This could just be a code name, but either way, it’s an interesting hint at what’s to come alongside Inside Out or The Good Dinosaur. Expect an official announcement when more details on those films emerge.

(via Animated Views)

What do you make of this name?

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