The GEORAMA 2016 international animation festival will last around 20 days, from February 2nd, 2016 (Tues.) to February 23rd, 2016 (Tues.).
With globally recognized animation talents like Bruce Bickford, Don Hertzfeldt, and David OReilly in one place, it’s an event that will undoubtedly draw plenty of attention. We spoke with Nobuaki Doi from New Deer, the organizer of GEORAMA 2016, about the significance of the festival and the future of animation
■ The Theme is “Expanding and Derailing the Notion of Animation”
GEORAMA 2016 began in 2014 with the GEORAMA 2014 animation festival, held at the Kichijoji Baus Theater before it closed. It has been 2 years since the last festival, and it is now based around centers of Japanese culture including the Human Trust Cinema Shibuya and Shibuya WWW, and other locations such as Harajuku and Koenji.
“The theme for this animation festival is ‘expanding and derailing the notion of animation,’ but I wondered if, rather than limiting ourselves to places known for animation, we could hold the event in major cultural centers. The area around Shibuya was the foremost place that came to mind. Shibuya and Harajuku are known as important spots for Japan’s underground culture even overseas. I think the exchange between animation and other cultures, between foreign and Japanese animation, can lead to exciting new cultural movements.”
The one who said that was Nobuaki Doi, who has done a lot to raise awareness of Japanese independent animation. Japanese animation and independent animation have thus far been very different in their reach and methods of presentation, but how is independent animation faring now?
■ The Potential of Independent Animation
“Up until now, while there have been independent Japanese animation creators and works that have won international prizes and fame, they have not been well-known in Japan and have been relegated to the underground scene. However, currently there are a growing number of creators in their 20s like Ryo Hirano and ShiShi Yamazaki, who are part of a scene that creates works that are individual yet still have commercial potential. Although thus far there has been a divide between independent and Japanese animation, down the road, I expect we’ll see a new chapter in the history and context of Japanese animation, with the emergence of hybridization, and more people will cross into the field of animation as a way to express themselves.”
According to Mr. Doi’s analysis, in the midst of such change, expression itself tends to become hybridized (for example, the combination of drawings and physical objects). The major cause of that is the advance of digital technology.
“It’s become possible for an individual to do things that used to be the province of studios with expensive equipment, and video sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo have made major progress. This has allowed more and more young people to attempt to use animation as a means to express themselves. Short works are easier to make than long ones, which perhaps makes them better suited as a medium of expression for students and other young people.”
Mr. Doi wants the festival to help communicate the changing face of Japanese independent animation. Especially recently, there has been an increasing perception of animation as a place one can start from and then expand to art and manga, and GEORAMA 2016, as an event that crosses genre lines, has the potential to showcase new kinds of appeal in animation. The festival offers live events that carry the potential to help facilitate that change.
■ The Melding of Animation and Music Births a New Culture
“Naohiro Ukawa of DOMMUNE is curating an event called ‘Channeling with Mister Bickford,’ held on February 4th and 9th. It’s a collaboration between Bruce Bickford and some Japanese musicians. You normally watch animation while sitting quietly in a theater, but I think you should be able to jump around as much as you want. I’m glad we’re able to bring people a new experience that combines a film and a live performance. On the other hand, I think it could be a way to show people who weren’t previously interested in animation just how enjoyable it can be.”
It’s been said that there are fewer places in Shibuya for young people to hang out, but it makes an ideal place to bring together talents to show off the possibilities of animation.
For example, the concert venues and clubs that will host “Channeling with Mister Bickford” are such places. Previously Japan’s Law Regulating Adult Entertainment Businesses has uniformly prohibited merrymaking late at night. However, recent changes to the law may help invigorate night events, including an increase in animation events. “Channeling with Mister Bickford” is currently shouldering a heavy burden of showing one possible way forward.
Mr. Doi is hoping to change the future of animation by crossing genre lines in the heart of Shibuya. GEORAMA 2016 shows us a vision of the future for animation and a town for young people.
FRI’s Recommended Events
February 2nd (Tues.): An Evening with Don Hertzfeldt (Human Trust Cinema Shibuya)
February 4th (Thurs.): Channeling with Mister Bickford Night 1 (Shibuya WWW)
February 9th (Tues.) : Channeling with Mister Bickford Night 2 (Ebisu LIQUIDROOM)
New Deer (For Inquiries)
GEORAMA 2016 Website
Editor: Nanae Kan
By: Kodai Murakami
Fields Research Institute (FRI) conducts research in entertainment. This article was written by the member of FRI, through the original coverage of his/her interests that discovered from daily life.