March 21, 2023
Pioneering Father of Belgian Animation Raoul Servais has Passed Away!

The Animation Hall Of Fame family is sad to acknowledge the passing of the pioneering father of Belgian Animation Raoul Servais. He died on March 17, 2023, he was 94.
Servais was born on May 1, 1928, in Ostend, West Flanders, Belgium, where his parents owned a crystal and China shop. His father had a fascination with science and technology and on Sunday afternoons would show Charlie Chaplin, Charles Vanel, and Felix the Cat films with his Pathé Baby projector. At an early age, Servais became fascinated by films and how they were created.
On May 10, 1940, the Germans launched their panzer division's attack on Belgium. This left a deep imprint on the 12-year-old Servais, which would be a theme that would run through many of his films.
After graduating from his school of general studies, he was accepted into the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Ghent, Belgium. While there Raoul decided that he wanted to make an animated film. Unfortunately, the Royal Academy did not have an animation department and moreover any animation equipment or cameras. With the help of one of his teacher's, they engineered and created an animation camera using a cigar box as the main body for it. This allowed him to create his first bit animation, which was crude but yet exciting to him when watching.
For several years after graduating from the Royal Academy, Servais spent most of his twenties as a struggling artist. Also, during this time he married and had two children. He took whatever work he could find including odd jobs, everything from a dishwasher to longshoreman to factory worker to graphic designer – while continuing to develop his skills as a painter and fine artist.
Then in 1958, Servais was hired as part of a team headed by René Magritte to create a mural for a casino in Knokke, West Flanders. Magritte was a Belgian surrealist known for his depictions of familiar objects in unexpected contexts such as men in bowler hats with umbrellas raining down from the sky. His work often provoked questions about the nature and boundaries of reality. Through Magritte, Raoul discovered surrealism and its ambiguity, which fascinated him. He also began to develop his own personal style of art which fell somewhere in between expressionism and magical realism.
With this new found style, he started to create and produce live-action shorts and experimental films. Also during this time, animation was always on his mind, but he lacked the technical resources and know-how which prevented him from producing and completing animated films. Despite several attempts to produce animation, Servais didn't finish his first professional animated film, Harbor Lights (1960), until the age of 32.
At one point, while still trying to learn animation, Servais had pretended to be a journalist and visited several companies, including Ray Goossens' studio in Antwerp and Paul Grimault's studio in Paris, so that he could see how the films were made. But his undercover attempts never got him any closer to understanding animation production. But, he persisted, and with the generous help of the few established animation professionals he could find, he learned and came to understand the complete animation process.
He was now ready; and during the 1960's Servais hit a stride producing and creating animation productions. In the years between 1963 and 1973, he directed eight animated shorts, including Chromophobia (1965), a deceptively cheerful-looking allegory about a fascist regime that sucks the color out of society, and Operation X-70 (1971), which he created as a response to seeing images of the American military gassing the Vietnamese.
In 1963, Servais was invited to set up an animation school at the Royal Academy of Fine Art (KASK). The school ensured that future animation filmmakers wouldn't struggle for equipment, knowledge, and resources as Servais had. Students could now learn the basics of animation in mere months, rather than the years it had taken Servais – and they wouldn't have to pose as journalists to acquire the information. He would oversee KASK's program for decades to come.
Servais also continued to make his films and was always aware of the contemporary culture and art around him. Goldframe (1969) is a satire of Hollywood hubris, while To Speak or Not to Speak (1972) uses comic speech bubbles and Pop Art elements. These varied graphic styles and visual techniques employed in his films allowed him to not repeat the same visual look on future films. Nowhere is this truer than Harpya (1979), a standout example of animated horror that uses a hybrid technique of live actors combined with optical and animated effects. The film was a remarkable success, earning Servais the Cannes Palme d'Or for short film and cementing his reputation as a major force in European animation. Following Harpya, Servais didn't release another film for 15 years.
In 1986, Servais was appointed as the president of ASIFA, the International Animated Film Association, and served between 1986 and 1994. During his time as president he conceived and developed a long-format project, which he had been thinking about for some time.
Servais, in 1990 announced his first, and what would be his only feature length production. When he did, he surprised everyone with Taxandria (1994), a fantasy about a totalitarian regime that has banned the concept of time. It was an ambitious film, and it would be years in production and be fraught with ongoing major production hurdles and disputes. He battled with producers over the film's script, which was reworked repeatedly by different writers. He could never fully convince the financial backers to embrace his vision for a hybrid film, so the film ended up being mostly live action. And the extensive post-production with the use of early digital compositing techniques didn't materialize as he'd envisioned. The film, his only long format, would be a personal and financial disappointment for him.
In 1998 Servais released Nocturnal Butterflies, a short film that was a tribute to Belgian surrealist painter Paul Delvaux. It earned him his first grand prix at Annecy. The hybrid film was made using a patented technique called Servaisgraphy that he had originally developed for Taxandria. The Servaisgraphy technique used characters that are photographed in black and white, then printed onto cellophane, colored with gouache on the reverse side, and integrated with the background, allowing live actors to be blended with animation. With the advances in digital compositing though, the laborious Servaisgraphy technique was never used beyond this film.
Throughout the following years Servais would continue to develop numerous projects and make films. One of the projects related to World War I, The Tank, inspired by "Le Tank," written by the French pacifist poet Pierre Jean Jouve. It was about the new war machine that the British deployed against the Germans at the bloody battle of the Somme in September 1916. It was received extremely well by the audience especially at its premiere at the Gent International Film Festival. His last film, Der Lange Kerl (The Tall Guy) (2021) was made with co-director Rudy Pinceel. The 93-year-old Servais said, "I directed at a distance and Rudy directed on-site". The film is a parody of Prussian militarism with a pacifist and humanist message.
Throughout these and later years, Servais was the recipient of countless honors and exhibitions dedicated to his films. On October 15, 2022, Der Lange Kerl was presented as part of the Official Selection of the Gent International Film Festival. Servais was present to receive the Joseph Plateau Honorary Award for his rich and pioneering work in the field of Belgian animation. Additionally, Harpya was recently chosen by the International Film Critics as one of the 15 best-animated films of all time.
Animation Hall Of Fame CEO and Chairman Hal Miles; "With the passing of Raoul Servais, the animation world has lost a great pioneering filmmaker and animation innovator. I will always remember him as The Wizard of Ostend."  

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March 13, 2023
And The Winners Are!

The Animation Hall of Fame is proud to announce and congratulate this year's Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Oscar winners for Best Animated Film and Best Animated Short Film. The winner for Best Animated Film was awarded to Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio, which was directed by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Gustafson and produced by Gary Ungar and Alex Bulkley. The winner for Best Animated Short Film was awarded to The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse which was directed by Charlie Mackesy, and produced by Matthew Freud. Once again congratulations!  

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January 12, 2023
AHOF's Journey Into IMAGIMATION Television Series In Production!

We are proud to announce that AHOF's Journey Into IMAGIMATION Television Series is officially in production. The first 10 episode season of the 30 minute formatted Educational/Informative (E/I) series is based on AHOF's Journey Into IMAGIMATION travelling exhibition. Each episode, hosted by AHOF's CEO and Chairman Hal Miles and special segment co-host Tabitha Rooney, will have several segments that highlight animation pioneers, artists, creators, and their productions throughout the 116 year history of animation. Production of the first season of the series will continue throughout 2023 with a tentative on air release schooled for 2024.  

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January 11, 2023
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Wins The Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film!

The Animation Hall of Fame is extremely happy to announce that the 80th Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film has gone to director Guillermo del Toro for Pinocchio.  

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January 10, 2023
Long Time National Film Board Animation Champion and Ambassador Helene Tanguay has Passed Away!

The Animation Hall Of Fame family is sad to acknowledge the passing of long time NFB animation champion and Ambassador Helene Tanguay. She died on January 7, 2023, she was 70.
Hélène joined the NFB's Festivals unit in 1970, at the age of 17. In 1979 she began volunteering for ASIFA, the International Animated Film Association, working with the organization's Canadian and international bodies. Named Marketing Manager for the NFB's Montreal-based English Program Animation Studio in 1984, Hélène retired from the NFB in 2007, after almost 40 years of distinguished service in bringing the work of NFB creators to an ever-wider audience.
Following retirement, she remained deeply engaged with the animation world, and with countless artists and artisans who loved her. Two such animation artists are Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis, who's most recently animated short, The Flying Sailor, is now shortlisted for an Oscar and has been dedicated to Hélène Tanguay.
Helene, thank you so very much for all of your passion and support to the international world of animation.  

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