Nestling in the line up for this year’s London International Animation Festival is a screening of Seth’s Dominon, an award-winning film highlighting the work of one of the recent Lakes International Comic Art Festival’s top Canadian guests, Seth, presented by its director Luc Chamberland.
The film is a celebration of Seth’s work – a thoughtful portrait of a man who, like so many of his comic character creations, wrestles with a present that’s constantly moving into the past. The film premiered in September 2014 at the Ottawa International Animation Festival, taking home the Grand Prize for Best Animated Feature.
Best known for comic books such as Palookaville, Seth is one of the world’s great storytellers. In his personal projects he transforms his poignant inner life into observant and witty graphic stories.
Director Luc Chamberland sheds light on his articulate subject, mixing insightful biography with vivid animation in an artful fusion of filmmaking techniques that perfectly captures Seth’s manifold creative universe.
After graduating from Concordia University, Luc Chamberland embarked on a nomadic career that eventually landed him in London, where he created animation for several feature films, including Steven Spielberg’s We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story and was also director of animation on the Dreamworks feature Joseph: King of Dreams. Seth’s Dominion is the first film that Luc has directed, animated and co-produced for the National Film Board of Canada.
“While in London, I had problems finding French comic books,” Luc told Animation World last year in a wide-ranging interview about Seth’s Dominion, revealing he originally wanted to draw European-style comics before discovering animation at college. “I preferred the European-style comic books to the American Marvel superhero comic style.
“That’s when I found Seth. He was the only artist I found that had this European sensibility. It was if he was speaking to me. I became a fan immediately.
“I became an avid reader of his work,” he continues. “I never thought I’d do a film about a comic book artist. When I came back to Montreal after 18 years in Europe, I had a chance to meet him. As we were speaking, I got the idea to make a film about him. I had no idea what I would do, but I told him, ‘I’d like to do a film about you, you’re an important artist, I’m a filmmaker…’ We agreed to discuss it, to see what kind of film it could be.
“Two films, Crumb and American Splendor, are great reference for making a film about a comic book artist. For a comic nerd like me, these films are fascinating. Seth and I discussed what we didn’t like in documentaries we’ve seen about comic artists. We wanted to do something else.”
The result is Seth’s Dominion, a documentary-style feature that mixes live action interviews with animated segments, plus a puppet show, and Seth himself is delighted with the project, says Luc.
“Before, he was afraid that after seeing the film he’d be depressed for months. But, he was really excited after seeing it. It just made him want to go work even harder. It was really great.”
The London International Animation Festival (which runs from 4th – 13th December this year) showcases the whole spectrum of creative animation, showing that animation is for everyone. Founded in 2003, LIAF aims to dispel the popular misconception that animation is just cartoons for kids by screening the broadest possible range of intelligent, entertaining and provocative current films on offer from all around the world as well as retrospectives and specialised sessions from countries and animators who don’t normally elicit such attention.
The annual 10-day Festival includes gala premieres, retrospectives, Q&A’s with filmmakers, workshops, audience voting, and the Best of the Festival screening, including promotion of the the work of British animators, including an opening night gala screening featuring the work of Barry Purves, one of the UK’s outstanding animation directors iconic horror filmmaker Robert Morgan, and Jo Lawrence, Noriko Okaku and Elizabeth Hobbs – the Crafty Women, three animators at the forefront of their profession.
A closing gala screens the highlights of LIAF, as selected by an industry judging panel and the audience. Awards are given for the best film in each competition session, ‘Best British Film’, ‘Best Sound Design’ and the overall ‘Best of the Festival’. Prizes will be awarded by sponsors Toon Boom and the Matthew Martino Benevolent Fund, a UK based international charity that supports filmmakers, actors and individuals studying or working in performing arts worldwide
The event has grown to become much more than an annual Festival – the organisers are programming more events, tours, screenings and masterclasses all year-round to as many cities and countries that invite them.
• If you’d like to find out more about LIAF including information about the film content, venues, audience, publicity and much more, download the ‘About LIAF’ Brochure (2.3MB PDF) or visit the web site: www.liaf.org.uk
• More about Seth here: www.drawnandquarterly.com/author/seth
• If you can’t make the event, Seth’s Dominion is available to buy or rent from Apple iTunes
Thanks to Kevin Jon Davies for the tip