Roundup: Animation & SFFS Education

Last month, we were visited by animation legend Glen Keane. A 38-year veteran of Walt Disney Feature Animation, Glen is most noted for creating and animating such legendary Disney characters as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Pocahontas, the Beast in Beauty and the Beast, and Tarzan. In the spring of 2012, he decided to leave Disney Studios in pursuit of further artistic exploration. His first project was to bravely step into uncharted territories and work with the technical wizards at Google to create a hand drawn animated piece for the Google Spotlight Series. The film, Duet, was made specifically for a mobile device to create an interactive storytelling experience.

It’s inspiring to see Glen, who could be relaxing in his retirement, instead opts to create an animation that breaks new ground utilizing cell phone technology for a new viewing experience. At Rooftop, we encourage kids to be innovators, to seek out new ways of thinking and doing to create positive change in the world.
— Rooftop teacher

We took Glen, his son Max (technical director on the film) and his producer Gennie Rim out to speak with 370 middle school students at Rooftop School and Creative Arts Charter School. At both presentations, Glen gave the kids a behind the scenes glimpse into his artistic process. He captivated the students with stories of the history of Disney animation, showing the clips of the many films he has worked on and treating them to a live drawing demonstration. He then showed them, that even at the age of 60 he is still learning and growing as an artist, with his new adventure into interactive storytelling.

I felt emotional and happy when I saw this artist draw a beautiful piece of art and tell an inspiring love story. I learned that you can’t give up on anything. If you keep trying, you can do anything you want.
— Creative Arts student

Our adventures with animation filmmakers continued with Academy Award-nominated director Tomm Moore. Several weeks ago, Tomm joined us with his lovely new film Song of the Sea. This was his second time visiting with the SFFS Education Program. The first was back in 2010 when Tomm came to town with his feature debut, The Secret of Kells, which screened in our NY/SF International Children’s Film Festival. We brought Tomm and his film to the Clay Theater, where we screened Song of the Sea for 275 Bay Area grade school students. For the Q&A, our tech team set up a camera rig so that Tomm could give a drawing demonstration and project it on the screen.

This was such a rich cultural experience for us to see an animated folk tale that wasn’t [from a major studio]. It was original and refreshing... A clean, interesting movie with so many themes.
— Parent

The next day we took Tomm to speak with about 45 second graders at Grattan Elementary. The kids had the opportunity to put all of their questions to the filmmaker. They asked about the process of hand drawn animation, about Irish folklore and traditional Irish music, about mankind's relationship to nature. Sadly, Tomm couldn't answer all of their questions: "Are faeries real or not?" He couldn't definitively say. But the students were nonetheless moved–some shed tears. We are so happy to have brought this gorgeous film & the thoughtful filmmaker behind it to children around the Bay Area. A magical story of love and loss within a family.


The Film Society's Education programs serve more than 11,000 students and teachers every year, from kindergarten through college, to develop media literacy, cultural awareness, global understanding and a lifelong appreciation of cinema. SFFS Education aims to cultivate students' imaginations, prepare them for filmmaking careers and empower them to succeed in a media-saturated world.