January 10, 2005
Documentary Highlights Partnership of Animators Faith and John Hubley
(North Adams, Mass.)-- Until the late 1950's Disney Studios was the main source for animated films, producing commercially successful films that catered to a mainstream audience. This changed in 1955 when the marriage of animators Faith and John Hubley began not only a loving union that spanned more than two decades, but a collaborative partnership as well. The documentary Independent Spirits: The Faith and John Hubley Story, showing at MASS MoCA on Thursday, February 10, at 8pm, focuses on the careers and the joint works of these Academy Award-winning animators and the ways in which they re-defined animation through innovative graphics and experimental sounds. With the opening of their own studio, Storyboard, the Hubleys adhered to the belief that animation could deal with serious issues and, therefore, make a difference in the world. Following the film will be a post-screening discussion with the Hubleys' daughter, renowned animator Emily Hubley.
"The Hubleys could take on anything in terms of subject matter: nuclear annihilation, the Cold War, overpopulation, the death and rebirth of creativity. They seemed to be limitless, in terms of their daring, and what they wanted to put into animation - what they felt animation could handle," according to John Canemaker, animation historian and filmmaker.
Directed by film historian Sybil DelGaudio, Independent Spirits explores the artistic works of Faith and John Hubley and their abilities to blend humor, intelligence, and social commentary into their animation. The couples' ultimate goal was not to depict a cartoon mouse being chased by a cartoon cat, but "to increase awareness, to warn, to humanize, to elevate vision, to suggest goals, to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to one another." Asking audiences to use their imaginations, the Hubleys introduced non-traditional techniques to the world of animation, including a blend of watercolor, wax crayons, and multiple exposures and lighting from beneath the camera. These techniques gave the films a spontaneous appearance and emphasized the free-form graphic approach that is now known as Hubley-style animation.
Independent Spirits also addresses the passion, spirit, and commitment of independent artists trying to exist in a culture of compromise and tradition. In the costly realm of filmmaking, independent artists are often tempted to negotiate their personal beliefs and visions by taking commissioned jobs in order to fund their own pieces of work. Having worked on separate projects before their partnership in 1955, Faith and John each brought their own unique qualities to the table. Before working with Faith, John nurtured his artistic brilliance at the Disney Studio while Faith, whose experience in a tough New York City neighborhood formed her rebellious spirit and deep respect for cultural diversity, worked in Hollywood as a sound effects and music editor and script supervisor. Though television shows like Sesame Street commissioned the Hubleys to create animation shorts, the couple never deterred from a promise made in their wedding vows, "to make at least one independent film a year;" a promise that Faith Hubley maintained after her husband's death in 1977 until her own passing in 2001.
Director Sybil DelGaudio is best known for her four-part series entitled Animated Women. The series won recognition at many festivals and museums, and was honored with an Emmy Award and a CINE Golden Eagle. DelGaudio teaches film studies and production at Hofstra University, where she is professor and chair of the Department of Audio/Video/Film. She is a film historian whose reviews and articles are published widely, and she is a frequent speaker and panel moderator on topics relating to film theory and animation.
Tickets for Independent Spirits: The Faith and John Hubley Story are $6. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available in advance through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katherine Myers
(413) 664-4481 x8113