Yanks toon up with home-grown technology
Berlin this go-round is not just about Hollywood movies in the main Competition like “The Good German” and “The Good Shepherd.”There’s also “Tekkonkinkreet,” the first American-made anime movie, which is unspooling in the Generation 14 Plus sidebar. It got a standing ovation from the SRO crowd at its first screening on Saturday. Helmer Michael Arias (who worked on “Matrix” spinoff “Animatrix”) and writer Anthony Weintraub (friends since college) collaborated on the transfer of the eponymous Japanese graphic novel, or manga, to the screen. In the process Arias created and patented a computer graphics technology known as Toon Shaders, which is software designed to integrate CG with traditional cel animation. Not surprisingly, a unit of Sony Pictures in Japan got involved in repping the movie. (Arias himself has spent 15 years in Japan.) Pic opened in Japan in late December and has grossed $4.5 million. Plot revolves around two urchins who fight to save their neighborhood from extra-terrestrial land developers. “It’s arty, intellectual, violent — all the things anime should be,” Arias said. Still unclear is whether Sony will release “Tekkonkinkreet” theatrically or go straight to DVD in the U.S., but it did just close a deal with France’s Rezo Films for rights in that territory.