Montage of Heck. Photo: courtesy Glas Animation Festival
A still from Cobain: Montage of Heck, directed by Hisko Hulsing, based on audio recordings of Kurt Cobain, screening at the GLAS Animation Festival in Berkeley, March 3-6. Photo: courtesy Glas Animation Festival
, directed by Hisko Hulsing, based on audio recordings of Kurt Cobain, screening at the GLAS Animation Festival in Berkeley, March 3-6. Photo: courtesy Glas Animation Festival

The very first GLAS Animation Festival opens this week in Berkeley. With screenings and related events happening at multiple sites, including Landmark’s Shattuck Cinemas, the David Brower Center, Berkeley Art Center and the Firehouse Art Collective, the inaugural festival runs March 3-6.

The festival is the brainchild of Global Animation Syndicate, a Los Angeles-based grant program launched in 2014 run by animators for animators dedicated to funding “gifted, innovative, and independent animators across the globe.”

Festival director and co-founder Jeanette Bonds, an animator herself and graduate of the prestigious CalArts animation program, said they were spurred to create the festival by the relative lack of support for non-commercial animation in the U.S.

“There is a strong infrastructure to support documentaries and live-action films here,” she said, but less so for animation. The festival is part of the organization’s mission to provide a stepping stone to commercial and critical success for early- to mid-career animators.

As to why Berkeley, Bonds is emphatic: of all the cities they considered for the festival, Berkeley was by far the most welcoming.

Jeanette Bonds, director of the Glas Animation Festival which holds its inaugural event in Berkeley March 3-6. Photo: courtesy Jeanette Bonds
Jeanette Bonds, director of the Glas Animation Festival. Photo: courtesy Jeanette Bonds

“Everyone we spoke to was so friendly and helpful,” she said. Theaters and venues recommended other possible places to go, she said, and the festival organizers are already anticipating how the event can grow in future years with all the potential other venues they can use.

Berkeley also had a personal connection for Bonds, as her father is from the city. And it offered assets similar to those at  high-profile animation festival locations overseas, in places like Annecy, Ottawa and Utrecht — walkability, an educated population, good food and an appetite for culture. “LA is a horrible place for a festival like this,” Bonds added, pointing to the scale of the SoCal city and its reliance on cars.

The juried festival received 1,500 submissions and jurors will award 10 prizes, including a Grand Prix, to films selected among the more than 200 features and shorts that will be screened over the three days of the event.

Bonds and her team have brought in special international guests, such as Dutch director Hisko Hulsing, whose film, Cobain: Montage of Heck, is based on audio recordings of Kurt Cobain; Gerben Schermer, who started the Holland Animation Film Festival together with animation filmmaker Gerrit van Dijk in 1985; and Sara Gunnardottir from Iceland who was animation director on Diary of a Teenage Girl. But there are also major U.S. players on the roster, like Henry Selick, director of the films Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas.

The festival trailer, below, includes clips of many of the films that will be showing at the festival:

Visit GLAS Animation Festival’s website for the full festival schedule, information on special programs and passes which start at $160 for students.

Want to know what else is going on in Berkeley and nearby? Visit Berkeleyside’s new-look Events Calendar. Submit your own events for free if they aren’t there already — and give them featured status for a few dollars a day.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...