Symposium promises animated discussion

By Samantha Sawh

An array of animation will pour into Sweigart Auditorium as the 2015 Animation Symposium gets underway on March 4 and 5.

This year’s symposium will display a variety of cartoons, full-length films and other examples of animation, as well as provoke discussion. This theme, a shift from last spring’s Broadway focus, was decided in a meeting held with English cinema studies majors and film and media studies (FMS) minors.

“Animation is for everyone,” said Jennifer Ligeti, a presenter and senior English cinema studies major. “It is a medium that spans all genres of film, so anyone who is a fan of a certain film genre can find an animation film that appeals to them.”

In addition to screenings, the symposium will host a student film festival and student discussion panel.

“Students will present on movies, from more recent films like Frozen and Akira to the classics like Fantasia and Bambi,” said Dr. Cynthia Lucia, professor of English and director of FMS. “Mostly, they are cinema studies and film and media studies students who are invested in their strong desire to study film in its many forms. At the same time, we are so very pleased that students from majors and minors far removed from film have expressed an interest in joining us and contributing to the larger dialogue that we hope will emerge.”

March 4 will focus on animation and music through the decades and how animation reaches beyond the eyes of children. Screenings will include cartoon classics like Looney Tunes and stop-motion films, as well as presentations on historical Disney, Pixar and more.

The highlight of March 5 will be presentations on the practice of animation and its impact, with panels on anime and the Disney Renaissance, as well as screenings of experimental films at 11:30 a.m. Chrystina Dolyniuk from the Department of Psychology will be discussing animation and its link to autism. Another featured speaker is Danielle Riseley, a former Rider student who, according to Lucia, is “immersed in her own animation production as a grad student at Savannah College of Art and Design.”

Ligeti will be presenting on three films on student panels, including Destino at the historical Disney panel, and Akira at the anime panel. She’s also excited for the entire event.

“I’m looking forward to being educated about animation movies I haven’t taken a look at, or ones that I just don’t know anything about the production,” Ligeti said.

However, while the symposium aims to showcase various forms of animation and its effects, Lucia stresses that a focus will be placed on the messages these films and cartoons contain.

“We do need to dig into such popular films and figure out why they are so popular — in terms of what they tell us about ourselves or what we aspire to be,” Lucia said. “But also, we need to examine the problems these messages present when we look at them through lenses of gender, race and ethnicity. There is much political and ideological baggage in popular animation that we will be trying to sort out.”

Overall, the symposium aims not only to screen films and talk about them, but also to have a lasting impact on Rider students of all majors and minors.

“Animation tends to get ignored or dismissed as just for children, and lacking depth or emotional grit, and that just isn’t true,” Ligeti said. “I would like to see people expand their horizons of what they know about animation besides Saturday morning cartoons and Disney.”


Printed in the 3/4/15 edition.

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