“Half A Life,” a film made in The Netherlands by Tamara Shogaolu, will be shown in the Conscious Cartoons International Animation Festival (Courtesy Photo).

“Half A Life,” a film made in The Netherlands by Tamara Shogaolu, will be shown in the Conscious Cartoons International Animation Festival (Courtesy Photo).

New animation festival focuses on films with a conscience

A new film festival is set to take place Sept. 14 to 16 at the Vashon Theatre with the aim of using animation as a means of awakening global awareness, social justice and compassion.

The Conscious Cartoons International Animation Festival is the brainchild of local animator Bill Jarcho, who has spent the past year putting together an event that includes all the accouterments of many bigger, world-class film festivals. A roster of international filmmakers will be in attendance; juries will award more than $20,000 in cash prizes to winning films, and an impressive array of award-winning films will be offered to fest-goers.

The festival will include serious programs for grown-ups, but there will also be joyful and compelling programs of animation suitable for teens and younger children. And while audience members of all ages will have the chance to hobnob with filmmakers and marvel at the big-screen magic, Jarcho said a bigger purpose is at play.

“Conscious Cartoons was born as an urgent call-to-action to help counter the racism, xenophobia and moral decay evident in our society today,” he said, adding that the festival was designed for “anyone who cares about social issues and wants to appreciate the power and artistry of animated films.”

Eight curated programs will be offered over the course of the three-day festival, with films coming from around the globe. Filmmakers in attendance will come from the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and Canada.

In one special program, Academy Award-winning director Joan Gratz, from Portland, will present a series of her films and talk about her 50-plus year career in animation. The talk takes place at 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. Gratz’s best-known film, “Mona Lisa Descending a Staircase,” won her an Oscar, but the festival will also spotlight her other works, which range in content from painterly expressions of poetry to improvised abstraction and social documentary.

Visit the festival’s website, at consciouscartoons.org, to find out more about the festival and purchase tickets and passes. Jarcho recommends buying tickets early, as festival passes have been selling briskly.

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