Animation Legend Comes to Alameda International Film Festival

Courtesy AIFF-- Legendary animator and special effects wizard Phil Tippett stop motion dystopian epic Mad God will be shown at AIFF.

Animation Legend Comes to Alameda International Film Festival

Legendary animator and special effects wizard Phil Tippett will be the guest of honor at this weekend’s Alameda International Film Festival (AIFF), held at the historic Alameda Theatre. Tippett, and equally revered sound designer Richard Beggs, will be presenting their decades-in-the-making masterpiece, the stop motion dystopian epic Mad God. Berkeley-born Tippett was part of the Academy Award-winning teams behind Jurassic Park and Return of the Jedi, as well as arguably cinema’s greatest triumph, Robocop (ED-209, anybody?). Richard Beggs’ work should be a familiar name to cinephiles as a key member of San Francisco’s American Zoetrope Studios, having worked on films ranging from Apocalypse Now to The Beguiled, two highlights of an outstanding resume of classics. Tippett will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. A Q&A session will precede the film. Tickets are selling fast, and the presence of Mad God is a major part of the buzz behind the event.

The addition and demand for Mad God to the lineup at the AIFF is partially what led to the festival’s move to the historic theater. What once began as a homegrown project dedicated to the dream of exposing audiences to films made by creators both legendary and new auteurs building cinematic legacies finally makes its own big screen debut this Friday, Feb. 18. After years of backyard and living room screenings, founders Mark Farell and Colin Blake are proud to share their vision and the films they have curated to a much larger audience. As the creators of Alameda’s biggest cultural event of the year so far, they have observed that, simply, “People are excited to be back in a live theater. Our timing was good.” The two share an enthusiasm for introducing new filmmakers to the world as well as honoring local film pioneers and screening classics. The festival also offers short films and animated films from around the globe, with $5,000+ in prizes for the filmmakers. Of the shorts in competition, My Own Mecca is receiving widespread acclaim, and worth seeking out, said Farell.

If you’re lucky enough to get a copy of The Sun early, AIFF is also screening FOR FREE at the Alameda Theatre two Bay Area-set classics. On Wednesday: Francis Ford Coppola’s 1974 The Conversation will be introduced by Christopher Coppola, who himself will be showing his own film, Sammy & Quinn, on Saturday at 1 p.m. Eleanor Coppola’s mind-blowing account of the making of Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness, will also receive a rare screening. Thursday night is John Huston’s 1931 The Maltese Falcon (FUN FACT: only the author of this article knows where the real Maltese Falcon is).

The festival begins this Friday with Alex Scheinman’s mockumentary Café Americano, currently sold out. For remaining tickets, showtimes, and a synopsis of each film, please visit Buy me a hot dog. AIFF ends Sunday, Feb. 20.

Alex Scheinman’s mockumentary Café Americano (2022), the opening night selection.
Eleanor Coppola’s Hearts of Darkness (1991).
Tantalizing Tales of Terror by Anthony Francis, part of the “Fresh Takes” block of short films.

AIFF Covid-19 Policy: All attendees must show proof of Covid vaccination to access all programming and face masks must be worn at all times while inside the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex.