Roll ‘Em!——5th Annual “G.I. Joe Stop-Motion Film Festival” to Premiere All-New Movies Based on—and Utilizing—”America’s Movable Action Hero”

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Submissions for 5th Annual “GIjOE Stop-Motion Film Festival” Now Being Accepted

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Gio Toninelo, coordinator and distributor of the upcoming 5th Annual GIjOE Stop Motion Film Festival (Photo: Gio Toninelo)

Despite Hasbro having turned its corporate back on 12-inch GIjOE action figures and their worldwide array of fans, collectors and customizers, the “most beloved toy in the last 100 years” (see HERE) continues to make its presence known to the public in ever more unexpected ways. We’re speaking specifically now, about independent filmmaking—and stop-motion animation. Cinematographer, graphic designer and festival coordinator, Gio Toninelo (shown above, right) has just announced the opening of submissions for what will become the 5th Annual GIjOE Stop Motion Film Festival (GSMFF). The GSMFF is referred to as a “travelling” film festival, due to the fact that Toninelo will exhibit the winning entries in theaters and venues all across the country. This year’s festival premieres September 27th at the Bug Theater in Denver, Colorado and extends thereafter to LA, New York and Austin (TX).

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Lisa and Tim Weedn, creators of superb 1:6 scale stop-motion animated videos, regularly premiere their work at Joelanta conventions in Atlanta, GA. (Photo: Tim Weedn)

Stop-motion animation, once championed by early effects wizards Ray Harryhausen (see bio video above) and animators Rankin & Bass (of 1964’s Rudolph the Rednosed Reindeer fame), had almost become a lost and forgotten art form, but it seems to be back on the path to popularity once again. This will surprise many, because today’s CGI-dominated animators view the (much) more laborious and time-intensive stop-motion process as an unwieldy and (dare we say) “wasteful” practice from a bygone, pre-digital era. Fortunately, there are STILL some diehard (and VERY patient) individuals out there for whom stop-motion animation (and its unique results) remains a JOY to create and behold.

An Analog Technology For a 1:6 Digital World

You may already know of some fellow GIjOE fans who are also stop-motion animators. We certainly do. Two such patient practitioners of the technique (that come immediately to mind) are the talented filmmaking duo of Lisa and Tim Weedn (see above, right). The Weedns are regular attendees and popular presenters at each of the Toylanta (formerly Joelanta) GIjOE shows held annually in Atlanta, Georgia. Here’s a 2014 video they made in celebration of GIjOE’s 50th anniversary:

Is Stop-Motion Animation Merely a Fad—Or Making a Comeback?

Fortunately for stop-motion animation afficiandos, they don’t have to rely solely on the efforts of amateurs in order to get their “fix” of the technique. In fact, there are many influential showbiz pros out there who continue to utilize stop-motion in their projects. For example, Seth Rogen revived the technique for his standout animated TV series, Robot Chicken (see his HILAROUS GIjOE short below). Academy Award winner Nick Park too, used the process for his superb Wallace and Gromit shorts and features. Perhaps a sort of “tech-revolt” is underway, one that rages against the film and TV industry’s current overuse of CGI? If so, it appears that the nostalgic animation style is actually GROWING in popularity—with no end in sight!

We asked Mr. Toninelo to comment on the upcoming GIjOE film festival and he kindly replied:

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Filmmaker and Festival Coordinator, Gio Toninelo (Photo: GT)

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“Hi Mark, I’m so excited! Our GIjOE film festival is back for its 5th season! I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard about our festival. We started waaaay back when the internet was a sleepy teenager. Plus, we took a needed break since 2013. Put simply, we screen films that use G.I.JOE action figures as their main characters using the ‘stop-motion’ animation technique. We always read The Joe Report and I’ve bought some stuff from Patches of Pride (PoP) in the past as well. I’ve even listed PoP as one of our sponsors! 

There are only TWO main rules for our Festival:1- Your film MUST be shot using stop-motion technique. Puppetry, wires and live action could also be used as long as it does not comprise 30% of the entire film. 2- Your main character MUST be an official G.I. Joe action figure, created by Hasbro, Inc. or an Action Man figure, created by Palitoy. Other licensed figures are also accepted, like “Comandos em Acao” and “Falcon” (BRAZIL) or “Commandos Heroicos” (MEXICO). Other action figures, dolls and toys can be used for supporting roles.

Finally, because we are a ‘travelling’ festival, I try not to put the videos up on the web, at least not on our social media channel. We always save the BEST ones for the tour. However, some of our old trailers can still be found over on YouTube HERE. Enjoy!

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At Work in the World of 1:6 ScaleGio Toninelo, shown here in his home office and/or art studio, carefully details one of his 1:6 scale custom GIjOE action figures. Will this Joe become a “star” in one of Toninelo’s future film productions? We’ll just have to wait and see! (Photo: Jeff Otte)

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Fans of Films and GIjOEs— Is there anything better than watching “America’s Movable Fighting Man” up on the big screen? Here, fans gather at a past screening  of Gio Toninelo’s GIjOE Stop-Motion Film Festival to watch the “Best of the Best.” (Photo: Gio Toninelo) Click to enlarge.

Bottom Line: This looks like yet another EXCELLENT opportunity for GIjOE fans and customizers, as well as all aspiring amateur and/or professional filmmakers. For complete details on festival submission requirements, entry deadlines, etc., go HERE. Our sincerest thanks go out to Gio Toninelo and to everyone else connected with these exciting shows. Go, Joe! And… Go, GIO!

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