Notes from a Nerd Out: Animation and the Art of Storytelling

DCEFF’s Director of Online Communications and Engagement attended an After Hours screening and discussion, hosted as part of Washington Ideas. Here’s what happened.


People are often surprised when I tell them the kind of films that we show at the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. From wildlife and adventure to natural history and popular science, the designation “environmental film” is much less rigid than one might think.


In past years, DCEFF has showcased a wide variety of shorts, documentaries, narratives — and yes, even animated films.


In fact, the last day of the 2017 Festival included an Animation Shorts Retrospective program, featuring a selection of animated films curated by festival founder Flo Stone.


That’s partly why I was so eager to attend last night’s After Hours event at Washington Ideas. Part of a 3-day conference (September 26-28) hosted by The Atlantic and The Aspen Institute, the screening and discussion explored the evolution of animation in the visual stories produced by Atlantic Studios.


We watched four of them last night; a unique collection of standalone stories and interview excerpts brought to life by a small team of animators and an array of voices from The Atlantic, including “The Drone King,”(Kurt Vonnegut / directed & animated by Caitlin Cadieux); “The First White President” (Ta-Nehisi Coates / directed & animated by Tynesha Foreman), “Fighting Fat Shame” (Roxane Gay / directed & animated by Tynesha Foreman) and “Being Yourself” (W. Kamau Bell / directed & animated by Jackie Lay).


Afterward, Executive Producer, Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg sat down with art director and animator Jackie Lay for a conversation and Q&A that helped unpack some of the ideas behind the videos we saw and how they came about.


“Sometimes you have nothing to point a camera at,” noted Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg “but there’s still a really powerful idea.”


Saaret Yoseph, Director of Online Communication & Engagement, DCEFF



Watch the full discussion here.


Click here to attend tonight’s screening of Okja at Washington Ideas.


See the full schedule for Washington Ideas here.