Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winsor McCay: His Life and Art

I started my Saturday at the SF Silent Film Festival at this morning event in which animator & film historian John Canemaker gave a slide lecture about cartoonist Winsor McCay & presented 4 of his animated shorts. Mr. Canemaker spoke knowledgeably & affectionately, likening McCay's drawing skill to Leonardo da Vinci's & calling him the "Giotto of animation." McCay originally presented Gertie the Dinosaur as a vaudeville act, which Mr. Canemaker recreated by standing in front of the screen & encouraging the audience to interact with Gertie. Mr. Canemaker pointed out how McCay strove for a believability that was not matched until Disney, decades later. We also saw McCay's grim animated depiction of the sinking of the Luisitania. Noting the imagery of explosions & falling bodies, Mr. Canemaker called the sinking "the 9/11 of its day."

Advisory Board member Russell Merritt introduced the program & told us that Mr. Canemaker was the 1st Academy Award winner to appear onstage at the festival.  Stephen Horne accompanied the films, playing piano, flute, accordion & something that made a high-pitched, whining whistle. It was an especially good sound effect for McCay's shudder-inducing cartoon about a mosquito.

§ Winsor McCay: His Life and Art
A Special Presentation by John Canemaker
Musical accompaniment Stephen Horne

Little Nemo (Vitagraph, 1911, 3 mins.)
How a Mosquito Operates (Vitagraph, 1912, 6 mins.)
Gertie the Dinosaur (Box Office Attractions, 1914, 18 mins.)
The Sinking of the Lusitania (Jewel Productions, 1918, 12 mins.)

San Francisco Silent Film Festival
Saturday, July 20, 2013, 10:00am
Castro Theatre

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