Oct. 03--Nearly 20 years ago, Edward Summer wrote an article for Film in Review magazine called "The Animator Who Never Gave Up: The Unmaking of a Masterpiece." In it, Summer detailed the rocky road of "The Thief and the Cobbler," an animated film started in 1964 by Richard Williams (the visionary animator behind "Who Framed Roger Rabbit") that was still unfinished at the time of the 1996 article.
This weekend, the story of Williams and his film is the basis of two movies at the seventh Buffalo International Film Festival, opening today at the Screening Room Cinema Cafe in Amherst.
"Persistence of Vision," at 7 p.m. Friday, is a documentary by Kevin Schreck that looks at what happened to "The Thief," why it was shelved for decades and then taken away by the studio from Williams. "It's the story of how it took 40 years not to make the movie. It was an epic disaster," said Summer, founder of BIFF, this week. "Even 20 years ago when I wrote the article, it was apparent it was a disaster."
At 4 p.m. Saturday, "The Thief and the Cobbler: Recobbled Cut" is a "restored" version of Williams' original vision of the movie by filmmaker Garrett Gilchrist.
It was only recently when he was programming BIFF that Summer learned both Schreck and Gilchrist had read his Film in Review article and, they told him, they were inspired to make their own works on the film. Gilchrist will be on hand Saturday for a Q&A after the movie.
BIFF is a four-day event with feature-length films, documentaries, film shorts and guest speakers. The opening night reception starts at 6 p.m. today in the Screening Room followed by "Les Aventures Extraordinaires d'Adele Blanc-Sec," a Luc Besson film based on a series of historical fantasy comic books by Jacques Tardi.
The festival continues at the Screening Room through the weekend, culminating at 6:30 p.m. Sunday in the Theatre of Youth, where the closing night audience awards, reception and screening of the documentary "Long Live TOY: Defending Children's Theatre in the Nickel City" will be held.
Some of the filmmakers will be on hand for question-and-answer sessions, moderated by Summer, following the movie. And, Summer said, the opening and closing receptions are open to all. "If you're serious about being a film professional or a film nerd, come to the party."
As part of BIFF, Casa de Arte (141 Elmwood Ave.) again hosts free screenings. This year, it's a tribute to actress Maria Felix, considered to be the "queen" of the Golden Age of Mexican cinema, starting at 6:30 tonight with "La Badida."
Here's a look at what's coming with a description of the feature film and any accompanying short film. Movies are in the Screening Room unless noted. Age recommendations for the screenings, as well as other info, can be found at www.buffalofilmfestival.com.
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