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Around town: Animation celebrations and holiday cheer

December 2, 2010 |  5:00 am

It has been a strong year for animated films, with movies including "Toy Story 3," "Tangled," "Despicable Me" and "Megamind" doing well at the box office. Now, animation fans have something more to cheer -- two festivals taking place this weekend will highlight the best in French animation and the work of Oscar-winning Claymation filmmaker Will Vinton.

UCLA Film and Television Archive's "Les Illusionistes: A Celebration of French Animation" kicks off Friday at the Billy Wilder Theater with two films from Sylvain Chomet, a director who has eschewed computer graphics in favor of traditional hand-drawn 2-D animation. Friday's double bill includes a preview screening of his latest film, "The Illusionist," based on an unproduced script by the late Jacques Tati, and his Oscar-nominated 2003 feature "The Triplets of Belleville." On tap for Saturday are two films by Jacques-Rémy Girerd: 2008's "Mia et Le Migou" and 2003's "Raining Cats and Dogs."

There's a free Sunday-morning presentation of Michel Ocelot's 2008 "Azur and Asmar," with Dominique Monfrey's 2009 feature "Eleonore's Secret" and Ocelot and Benedicte Galup's 2005 film "Kirikou and the Wild Beast," screening in the evening. Cinema.UCLA.edu

The Los Angeles Animation Film Festival, which takes places Friday through Dec. 7 at the CineFamily at the Silent Movie Theatre, also will showcase "The Illusionist," but the festival also will honor Vinton, the creative mind behind the California raisins as well as the Emmy Award-winning series "The PJs."

Vinton will be on hand for the festival's awards presentation and to introduce and participate in Q&A sessions Saturday evening for the 25th anniversary screening of "The Adventures of Mark Twain" and for a program of his award-winning shorts Sunday afternoon.

Additionally, the festival will present the U.S. premiere of Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer's "Surviving Life (Theory and Practice)." CineFamily.org

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences looks into the future of cinema in the program "Where Do We Go From Here?" on Thursday evening at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater. Writer-producer-director Jerry Zucker hosts the evening, which will explore such topics as artificial intelligence, performance capture and 3-D. Production designer Alex McDowell ("Minority Report"), immersive art and entertainment expert Ed Lantz, neuroscientist Eric Haseltine and transmedia storytelling expert Jordan Weisman will participate in a panel discussion. Oscars.org

"Hart to Hart" star Stefanie Powers will be signing copies of her autobiography, "One From the Hart," and discussing her career Thursday evening at American Cinematheque's Aero Theatre. Two of her feature films, Blake Edward's 1962 thriller, "Experiment in Terror," and the offbeat 1965 British thriller "Die! Die! My Darling!" with Tallulah Bankhead and Donald Sutherland, will be screened.

Danish actress Paprika Steen will discuss her distinguished career Friday at the Aero after a screening of her 2009 film, "Applause." Saturday's Aero offering is Akira Kurosawa's 1954 masterpiece "The Seven Samurai," starring Takashi Shimura and Toshiro Mifune. On Sunday afternoon, the Aero will screen a new print of the classic "The Sound of Music," the winner of an Oscar for best picture, starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and directed by Robert Wise.

The Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre is holding a 35th anniversary screening Sunday of Stanley Kubrick's 1975 Oscar-winning epic "Barry Lyndon," based on William Makepeace Thackeray's novel. Ryan O'Neal and Marisa Berenson star. AmericanCinematheque.com

The lavish 1970 musical "Scrooge," starring Albert Finney in the title role, screens Sunday afternoon at the venerable Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. The film, directed by Ronald Neame and featuring a score by Leslie Bricusse, is being presented by the Los Angeles Conservancy. LAConservancy.org

The Los Angeles Filmforum presents Spanish Experimental Cinema on Sunday evening at the Egyptian Theatre's intimate Spielberg Theatre. Garbine Ortega, who curated the eclectic mixture of films, and director Luis Berdejo, will appear in person. On Tuesday, a second program in this series, titled "Inner Geography," will be presented by CalArts. LAFilmForum.org, CalArts.edu

The ArcLight is getting into the holiday spirit, screening Christmas-themed movies throughout the month at its locations in Hollywood and Pasadena. The fun begins Monday evening at the ArcLight Hollywood with Bob Clark's 1983 film, "A Christmas Story," starring Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon and Peter Billingsley. On tap for Wednesday in Pasadena is "Love Actually," Richard Curtis' 2003 ensemble comedy set in England and France. ArcLightCinemas.com

On Wednesday evening, the Hollywood Heritage Museum's "Evening at the Barn" series presents a tribute to humorist Will Rogers, who died in a plane crash in Alaska 75 years ago. His great-granddaughter Jennifer Rogers-Etcheverry will be on hand to discuss her famous relative, and clips from his movies will be shown. HollywoodHeritage.org

The 2010 edition of the Zero Film Festival, which showcases the work of self-financed filmmakers, begins Wednesday evening with a rooftop reception at the Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Numerous short films will be projected during the party including "I Saw Your Sister Yesterday" and "Adventures in Rocking Chair Land," and Jewel will perform. The festival runs through Dec. 11. ZeroFilmFest.com

-- Susan King

Photo: "The Illusionist." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics