World Festival of Animated Film /
28 September to 3 October 2020
World Festival of Animated Film / 28 September to 3 October 2020
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Emerging History – Trailblazing Women of Our Animated Past - Mindy Johnson (CalArts / AMPAS California, USA)

From the earliest origins of celluloid and film history, women have been key contributors to advancing the cinematic art of hand-rendered animation, yet very little is known, documented, recorded or written about these pioneers whose trailblazing work advanced the medium of animation from a novelty into a powerhouse industry. Max Fleischer, Pat Sullivan, John Bray, Winsor McCay, Walt Disney and other pioneers have all been extensively explored, yet there are a number of key female and under-represented pioneers who have never been, or are only briefly mentioned, within the vast array of books and research into animated cinema, simply because of their gender or orientation.

While animation was still a burgeoning novelty, women were at the forefront of shaping this cinematic experiment. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, leading women artists established, defined and advanced animation – from stop-motion, shadow, hand-drawn, pin, sand and experimental genres. Women, from a wide range of nationalities, orientations, and disciplines, developed new advancements for this cinematic art form. Their trailblazing work within experimental and narrative explorations, distribution expansion, commercial efforts, technical achievements and abstract expressions, have had major impact on today’s animation, yet without a full understanding of these earliest women, half of cinema’s collective experience is missing.

By presenting new discoveries within my continuing research – including rare photos, never-before-seen artwork, film clips and more – this revealing examination of the progression of women throughout the animation industry within the early 20th century will forever change what we thought we knew about our collective history of animation.

Mindy Johnson, award-winning author, historian, filmmaker and educator, is a leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history. She was recently honored with the 2019 Academy Film Scholar Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, for continued research and writing on the contributions of the earliest women within our collective animated past. Mindy teaches cinema history, aesthetics and intercultural film, including a first-of-its-kind course on the history of women in animation based on her ground-breaking research, at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles. Her landmark volume, Ink & Paint – The Women of Walt Disney’s Animation, completely changes the recorded history of animation. Mindy’s additional award-winning books include: Marc Davis – Walt Disney’s Renaissance Man, Tinker Bell – An Evolution, and Disney Film Archives – Animated Films 1921-1968.