ANIMATION Best Scene Script Reading: Guardians Of Cheng, by Kelvin Le

A young boy named Peter is sent into the world of a story that his grandma told him, and must three generals defeat an ancient evil in order to find his way home.


Ba Xia: Julie Sheppard
Narrator: Regan Brown
Peter: Daniel Jones
Diana Xia: Vanessa Quagliara

Producer/Director: Matthew Toffolo

Festival Moderators: Matthew Toffolo, Rachel Elder

Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne

Editors: Kimberly Villarruel, Ryan Haines, John Johnson

Festival Directors: Rachel Elder, Natasha Levy

Camera Operators: Ryan Haines, Temitope Akinterinwa, Efren Zapata, Zack Arch

Animation Festival – Today’s Testimonial

Barbara Peikert
Barbara Peikert

Imagine Cinemas Toronto Carlton Cinema Nov 14.11.19
Highly recommended! Great idea, really well moderated and beautiful staging! It’s fantastic to hear and see MI DI WORM No.10 shaking and making the audience laugh.
Thanks a lot for the feedback and rating.

5 Star Review

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video: 

MI DI WORM no. 10, 1min., Switzerland, Animation

Directed by Barbara Peikert

The starting material is a frame-to-frame animation art of 2-Stop motion: A production with visual effects. Of the type related to a stereoscopic recording, the flickering wiggling-picture ramifications of the yellow color animate strokes on a red background.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


In An Empty Wood Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from the Nov. 2019 ANIMATION Festival

IN AN EMPTY WOOD, 2min., USA, Animation

Directed by Chia-Hsin Lee

This is a poetic animation film on the jealousy of seeing someone succeed in a path you once considered.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


Don’t Think Of A Pink Elephant Short Film, Audience FEEDBACK from the Nov. 2019 ANIMATION Festival


Directed by Suraya Raja

We’ve all had thoughts of what might happen should we jump from a high place, drop the baby, or stab someone with a fork. Usually we can dismiss them without a care – but what if we couldn’t?

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


Director Biography – Chia-Hsin Lee (IN AN EMPTY WOOD)

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Chia-Hsin Lee is an animation filmmaker currently studying in California Institute of the Arts.

Director Statement

In the summer of 2017, while I was being a volunteer art teacher in Taiwan, I met a fellow volunteer who shared the same belief with me as if we were twins. But instead of being close, we were very jealous of each other, for I used to be a conservation activist which she currently is, and she was once an artist which I currently am. Our path seemed to have exchanged. In the frustrations of coping with this jealousy, I wrote this poem.

During the months of film production, Erin McDermott helped design the visuals, and my CG teachers Dariush Derakhshani and Andrew Bac helped with the technical aspect of making my first CG film. Sound was an important element in this film. Hao Feng provided his voice and acting, Kion Heidari wrote and sang the ambience score, Ben Scanlan was the percussionist, Alberto Cruz recorded the sounds, and Ben Huff did the incredible sound mixing.

And last, thank you, my Blue, whom I believe is doing something amazing on the other side of the world. This film is to you.

Director Biography – Ashley Gerst (THE SPIRIT SEAM)

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Ashley Gerst is a 2D and 3D animator living in Brooklyn NY. She holds a BFA in Digital Arts from Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA in Computer Art from School of Visual Arts.

In addition to her professorial work at William Paterson, Ashley is a freelance animator working for a variety of production companies and clients in the Greater New York City area. She has created animation and VFX for broadcast commercials, TV shows, and documentaries for AMC, VH1, and BET. Some of her clients include Fast Company, Behance, Credit Suisse, Nivea, Nissan, Afrin, Red Bull, Hudson Media, CBS, Nurturing Press, iNomadics, Redwood Living and more.

Ashley Gerst was also responsible for animating the title sequence for the 2018 feature film ‘The Con is On’. The film, distributed by Grindhouse/Lionsgate, is a heist comedy directed by James Haslam and stars Uma Thurman and Tim Roth.

She is currently finishing an animated short film titled the Spirit Seam. The film, taking place in 1952, follows a little girl named Pollywog and her PapPaw as they experience daily life in a small coal mining town in Appalachia. The final project combines a mixture of mediums: 3D animated character, 2D animated effects, and physically constructed sets. The sets were created with a combination of 3D printing, fiber arts, and carved sculpture.

The Spirit Seam’s concept art and set construction has been featured in the article “Explore the World of Fine-Art Animation” in Professional Artist Magazine’s December/January 2017-2018 issue. The sets and embroidery for the film were also in a solo show at Misbits Gallery in 2018 in Oxford Mississippi.

Other animated films created by Ashley Gerst have been screened nationally in several film festivals including Dam Short Film Festival, Tucson Slow Food and Film Festival, Standing Rock Film Festival (Third Place Award). Her films have also been exhibited in the Cleveland Museum of Art and featured in Cleveland’s local newspaper: The Plain Dealer, LA Weekly and Makezine.

Director Biography – Suraya Raja (DON’T THINK OF A PINK ELEPHANT)

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Suraya Raja is an animator and director, and a graduate of the National Film and Television School, where she completed an MA in Animation Direction. Her films tell stories of the absurdity of human behaviour, the internal and the tragicomic, influenced by her previous work in psychology and social issues, and also by her day-to-day observations of human behaviour.

Director Statement

I get a lot of inspiration from my observation of people, and am really interested in how we think and behave. I have an interest in stories, which inhabit the internal, of mental health, perception and the comedy of human behaviour and interaction. Often my ideas come from social interactions in the mundanity of every-day life, and sometimes from my background of working in homelessness, psychology, substance use and offending.

I am drawn to creating characters that come across as weird or unpleasant, and shifting the perspective as we start to recognise ourselves in them. I am fascinated by the way in which we all think, and how we are really not all that different from one another. I wanted to make a film about a character’s experience of a mental health issue, without it being explicitly about a mental health issue, a story that people could engage with as a story. It couldn’t be educational or preachy, and needed to have a humorous edge, without being condescending.

I chose to make a story of a girl who experiences puro OCD, a form of OCD that is less known about. Intrusive thoughts, generally unspoken of, are something we all experience. My intention was to present these thoughts, often bizarre, taboo and funny, in a way that we can relate to, and to then reveal the more serious and distressing nature of the problem for Layla. I also wanted to really get across the internal thoughts, as they might be experienced, through the use of mixed techniques, contrasting physical textures, and sound.

Layla learns that facing your fears is a way to overcome them. Through avoidance techniques, Layla has learnt to ‘get by’ in day-to-day life, until suddenly she is confronted with her darkest fears. Ultimately Layla makes the decision to face these fears to save Friskies, the cat she loves, and in doing so realises she can trust herself. After the turmoil she experiences in the shed, a terrifying battle with her own thoughts, she is surprised to find herself still holding onto an object that she would have struggled to even look at before. As she looks at the object she experiences a sensation. She is not ‘cured’, but better able to deal with the issue she has.