A Conversation with Roy Disney and Leonard Maltin April 7, 2007
at 7:15 p.m. at the Prince Music Theater Please join us to honor movie legend Roy Disney with an on-stage interview by legendary critic Leonard Maltin.
In a town and an industry that are so status-conscious, the expression "Hollywood royalty" is often misused. But Roy Edward Disney is the real thing -- a rare example of a kid from a true Hollywood dynasty who actually learned the intricacies of the filmmaking process, quietly and with a refreshing modesty. The son of Roy Oliver Disney (1893-1971) and a nephew of Walter Elias Disney (1901-1966), the founders of a little eponymous family-owned business, the younger Roy has worked within the ranks of the movie industry for more than 50 years, though rarely in the spotlight. He started in 1951 as an assistant film editor on episodes of the vintage TV series, "Dragnet," two years before he started his 50-year association with that little family business-turned-empire -- The Walt Disney Company. Even then, Disney proved himself as a hard worker and something of a jack-of-all-trades, working at his uncle's studio in various capacities and trying his hand at just about all the filmic crafts: he edited entries in Disney's True-Life Adventure
featurettes, among them, the Oscar-winning The Living Desert
(1953) and The Vanishing Prairie
(1954); worked as camera operator on the popular Disney short about a little squirrel, Perri
(1957) and served as production coordinator on the "Disneyland" TV series (alternately known as "The Wonderful World of Disney" and "Walt Disney Presents"). He received an Academy-Award nomination in 1959 for his work as writer and production associate on the short subject Mysteries of the Deep
and again this year, for Roger Allers' take on the Hans Christen Anderson story, The Little Matchgirl
" which Disney executive-produced. Of special pertinence, he was also nominated as producer of 2003's Destino
, the legendary seven-minute short that began as a collaboration between Walt Disney and artist Salvador Dalí, who met in 1945. Basing his Disney short on the Mexican love ballad, also called "Destino," Dalí created sketches and storyboards for the project, but it was abandoned in 1946 because of the war and ensuing economic problems. Dalí's work was saved, however, and, working with director Dominique Monfery, Roy Disney revived the project and saw the short to its completion, presenting it at France's 2003 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. In 1967, Roy Disney became a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company, and, from 1984-2003, he held the posts of Vice Chairman there as well as Chairman of the studio's Feature Animation Division. While he has always remained active, he left the family business in 1977 to work as an independent producer and investor, but he has always maintained close ties to the company and he currently serves as its Director Emeritus and is also as a consultant there. But Disney's chief, on-going role within the company, throughout his history with it, has been more crucial and more focused than that. Simply put, he has remained the titanic supporting structure of Walt Disney Productions, a valuable staple and its one link to the family that started it all in 1924. Throughout his long and varied career, Disney has impressively compartmentalized the duties of his dual role as working filmmaker and movie royalty, knowing the importance of keeping the two separate and independent of each other and sensing when to use the clout and responsibility that travel in tandem with the latter role. He has learned to be a steadfast, highly vocal caretaker of his beloved family business and has also learned when to make a rare step into the spotlight to court a little controversy. A case in point: on November 20, 2003, he surprised the film community with his sudden resignation from Walt Disney Productions and openly denounced the company's then-CEO and Chairman of the Board Michael Eisner, who joined the company in 1984 (and subsequently left in 2005). Today, Disney is chairman of Shamrock Holdings, Inc., a wholly-owned family enterprise that he organized in 1978, with headquarters in Burbank, California, (which has included, among its investments, several smart growth developments) and is also chairman of Trefoil Investors, Inc., the general partner of Trefoil Capital Investors, L.P., a $500 million investment partnership. Roy Disney, who turned 77 in January, has endured for five decades now, his career spanning the gap between that little family business and the powerful conglomerate and force that it has become. On a more personal level, he managed to find his place in both, functioning for five decades with self-effacing conviction and a quiet dignity. The 16th Philadelphia Film Festival is proud to honor The Disney Company in general and Roy in particular for his lifelong commitment to both it and the fabulous Hollywood dynasty behind it. Disney Cartoon Rarities April 8, 2007
at 2:15 p.m. at the Prince Music Theater Join us for a hand-picked selection of rarities from Disney's earliest period that feature Mickey Mouse and the company's other first cartoon stars, displaying the creativity and craftsmanship that kick-started an empire. "If you want to know the real secret of Walt's success, it's that he never tried to make money. He was always trying to make something that he could have fun with or be proud of."
-Ward Kimball, famed Disney animator We've had the good fortune to be allowed to root though the fabled Disney archives, from which we've selected some of their rarest and best. Mickey Mouse is of course on hand in such raucous classics as 1932's The Whoopee Party
, and 1937's Hawaiian Holiday
. But we also have a career highlight for the little mouse, his 1935 The Band Concert
, which was his first appearance in glorious Technicolor. Disney's first successful series, Alice in Cartoonland
, is also represented in several fun shorts, including its initial offering, Alice's Wonderland
, which finds the little girl exhausted after a visit to the studio and dreaming of a magical pen-and-ink world. In three rare Silly Symphonies
shorts, Hell's Bells
(1929), Egyptian Melodies
(1931) and Music Land
(1935), we can see the Disney animators exploring their art and expanding their talents. And we are especially proud to screen for the first time in decades several cartoons starring Mickey Mouse's predecessor, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The Disney Cartoon: Nine Decades of Magic April 7, 2007
at 2:30 p.m. at the Prince Music Theater Experience the breadth and genius of Disney animation with a remarkable collection of shorts that spans nine decades of the company's history.
Walt Disney was always pushing the envelope. Even in the 1920s, when special effects were hard to do and limited in their effectiveness, his first series succeeded at putting a real girl in a pen-and-ink world. Quickly his staff grew in size and ability and so did Walt's ambitions. No longer was he content with creating rubbery anthropomorphized animals bouncing to the beat of an unseen metronome (the house-style over at the Max Fleischer Studios), Walt wanted a sense of weight -- both in his characters' physicality and their psychology. These ten cartoons that span nine decades are a fun way to discover how Walt Disney dragged the animated short kicking and screaming into the realm of art. Even today his influence is apparent, as you will discover for yourself in such recent examples as Pixar's Red's Dream
, Roger Rabbit's Roller Coaster Rabbit
and the Salvador Dali-designed Destino
, which was begun in 1946, but not completed until 2003 at the behest of Roy E. Disney. The Silent Films of Our Gang Presented by Leonard Maltin April 7, 2007
at 4:30 p.m. at the International House Famed critic Leonard Maltin presents a program of rarely-screened Our Gang shorts.
Few film series have had the cultural influence on the baby boomers as Our Gang did when, in 1955, these charming shorts first began appearing on local TV kid's shows. Spanky, Stymie, Alfalfa, Wheezer and the gang entertained us as they romped through their fanciful stories set in a world reeling from the depression. Join noted film critic and historian Leonard Maltin for an afternoon of some of the earliest Our Gang films. Mr. Maltin's 1977 book, "The Little Rascals, the Life and Times of Our Gang," written in collaboration with Richard W. Bann, is the definitive critical history of the series, and Mr. Maltin will be on hand to introduce the films and take questions from the audience. Some will seem familiar as the best were remade as talkies, and the series always had its representative archetypes when it came to casting. You'll get a glimpse of Hal Roach studios and a surprise appearance by Harold Lloyd in 1923's Dogs Of War. Derby Day
finds the gang holding their own horse race. When Mickey Daniels can't take his over-protective mother any longer he decides to Ask Grandma
(1925). 1927's Baby Brother
features the gang's first Rube Goldberg machine when they automat the childcare business. And, ending the program, Wheezer and Mary Ann have a hard time with their new stepmother during 1928's "The Spanking Age" (1928). Music accompaniment (and comedic sound effects) will once again be supplied by film musicologist Don Kinnier.