The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, is a unique short film directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg, is one of five animations slated for consideration by the upcoming Academy Awards among the very finest of genre. (See the film above in its entirety) This the first animation project released by the newly opened Moonbot Studios. Morris Lessmore draws its inspiration from classic American sight-gag comedy, like Buster Keaton, as well as films such as The Wizard Oz. Viewers will also note references to the devastation in Louisiana that followed Hurricane Katrina.
The short uses a variety of techniques, including miniatures, computer animation, and 2D animation, as author and illustrator William Joyce and co]director Brandon Oldenburg present a hybrid style of animation that harkens back to silent films and MGM Technicolor musicals. Given the producers' Louisana roots, the use of ‘jambalaya’or ‘gumbo’ as metaphors come readily to mind for a film that is also a delightful melange of sights, flavours, and influences. The film also pays homage to New Orleans famed French Quarter.
The short film, which is about 15 minutes long, shows a love of books and learning, just as it exhibits their redemptive power and the joy of sharing life experiences and lessons learned. It is a powerful film for both children and adults. With no spoken dialogue at all, the film's protagonist battles natural devastation, personal loss and grief, to come to a final triumph.
Of the film, Michael Rabehl of Cinequest film festival wrote, “’The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore’ overwhelms me every time I watch it and it is exactly the kind of film I want to be a part of helping discover every year.” He added, “It is a story that completely entertains and simultaneously focuses on the strength of its characters and story to reach our minds and our hearts. It’s an incredible visual journey that must be seen by everyone.”
“We made Morris Lessmore with passion, sweat and every nickel we could rub together,” said William Joyce, managing creative partner of Moonbot Studios. “To see it embraced by the Academy is the biggest smile imaginable.”
In tandem with the film, Moonbot Studios also created an interactive “Morris Lessmore” iPad App available on iTunes in the App Store. Moonbot is also working on a hard copy book version of the story with Simon & Schuster that is due out in late 2012.
“Morris Lessmore has paved the way for a whole new class of storytelling,” said Brandon Oldenburg, co-]founder of Moonbot Studios. “We envision a future where stories transcend boundaries between traditional film and written text to transform the art of storytelling into a seamless multimedia experience.”
Morris Lessmore has already won several awards on its journey to Academy greatness, among them are:
Cinequest Film Fest: Best Animated Short
Cleveland International Film Festival: Best Animated Short Film Award
Florida Film Festival: Audience Award for Best Short Film
Nashville Film Festival: Special Jury Prize for Imaginative Storytelling
Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award
Palm Springs International ShortFest: Audience Favorite Award
Chicago International Children’s Film Fest: 1st Adult Jury Prize and 2nd Children’s Jury
“We were delighted to present this moving, inventive film as part of the 2011 Chicago International Children's Film Festival. The artistry of its animation and its clever use of film references created a depth of setting and character, opening eyes to a love of literature for the Chicago children who became part of the wondrous journey of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” wrote Ann Vikstrom, Programming Director of the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival.
Forty-four films originally qualified in the animated short category and the winner of the top five will be announced live at The 84th Academy Awards on Sunday, February 26 at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center, and televised live by ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be televised live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
Moonbot Studios is an animation and storytelling company based in Shreveport, Louisiana. It was co]founded, by award]winning artists and filmmakers, William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg and veteran film producer Lampton Enochs. Enochs is a Mississippi native and a graduate of the University of Virginia, and has long been in the film industry. Among the films on which he worked is City Slickers, starring Billy Crystal.