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Tag Archives: Documentary

October 6

October 6, 2007 – The Documentary Film The Pixar Story Premieres at the Mill Valley Film Festival


“For the last twenty years, a group of artists and scientists have transformed two-dimensional drawings into their own three-dimensional worlds.”

On October 6, 2007, the documentary film The Pixar Story premiered at the Mill Valley Film Festival in San Rafael, California. The film tells the story of the creation of Pixar studios from its humble beginnings, as well as discussing the development of computer animation. Interviewees include John Lasseter, Ed Catmull, Steve Jobs, Alvy Ray Smith, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Tom Hanks, and Tim Allen. The film was written and directed by Leslie Iwerks, and narrated by Stacy Keach. It was included as a bonus feature on the DVD/Blu-Ray release of the Pixar feature film WALL-E.


October 8

October 8, 1999 – The Documentary The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story Premieres in Los Angeles, California

“When you talk to people about the history of animation, you say, ‘Oh, and then Ub Iwerks…’ they go ‘Uh, Oob?…What kind of a name is that?’…it’s the name if the guy who first drew Mickey Mouse.” – John Lasseter

On October 8, 1999, The Hand Behind the Mouse: The Ub Iwerks Story premiered in Los Angeles, California. Narrated by Kelsey Grammar, the documentary tells the oft untold story of one of the creators of Mickey Mouse: Ub Iwerks. It was directed and written by his granddaughter Leslie Iwerks, The documentary begins with how to the two worked to make Mickey Mouse, with Iwerks working overnight to create the character’s design.

The documentary takes us through Ub’s life story, beginning in Kansas City, Missouri, and his meeting with a young man named Walter Disney. The two became fast friends, and attempted to start their own business, but it wouldn’t last. Over the years, the two would work together many times, until they finally hit success with the Alice Comedies and Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, with Ub animating most of the cartoons. After losing their character and co-workers to Charles Mintz, the two created their new character in secret: Mickey Mouse. The success of Mickey Mouse surprised them, as did the success of the Silly Symphonies. The film also explores the breaking of the Disney Iwerks partnership, when Ub left to strike out on his own creatively, with his successes and failures, as well as the new inventions he created to add more life to his animations. Iwerks would return to Disney in 1940, this time in a technical capacity, and would be well known for his achievements in special effects.


April 21

April 21, 2008 – Disney’s New Film Banner, Disneynature, is Announced.

Image Credit: Official Disneynature Site

On April 21, 2008, Disney announced a new production banner, known as Disneynature. Under this banner, Disney releases nature documentaries, which began with the release of Earth on Earth Day, 2009. Other nature documentaries released were  African Cats: Kingdom of Courage, The Crimson Wing: Mystery of the Flamingos, Oceans, Orangutans: One Minute to Midnight, Naked Beauty: A Love Story that Feeds the Earth, and Chimpanzee.

The banner is headquartered in Paris, France, and headed up by Jean-Francois Camilleri, formerly the senior vice president for Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures France. Disneynature can trace its roots back to Disney’s award-winning True-Life Adventures from the late ’40s to the ’60s, and has received many positive reviews for the films it has released.

April 7

April 7, 1995 – The Documentary, Frank and Ollie, is Shown at the Cleveland Film Festival

“Seemed like you seldom heard Frank’s name without Ollie’s along with it, or Ollie’s without Frank’s name. It was Frank and Ollie.”

On April 7, 1995, the documentary film, Frank and Ollie, was shown at the Cleveland Film Festival. Written and directed by Frank’s son, Theodore Thomas, it tells the story of Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston, two members of the elite group of animators at the Disney Studios known as the Nine Old Men.

The documentary is a touching tribute to the friendship of the two, which began at Stanford University in the art department. Through their long tenure at the Walt Disney Studios, the two not only helped pioneer the field of animation, but also used what they learned to help teach other artists, including Brad Bird, who gave them a cameo in The Incredibles. Frank and Ollie goes through their history with the company, from the success of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the studio’s change during World War II, the unexpected death of Walt Disney, and their work on The Jungle Book. The film also shows their daily lives in California, where the two friends were also next-door neighbors.

Frank Thomas (L) and Ollie Johnston, sitting down and discussing their memories at the studio

Frank and Ollie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival on January 22, 1995, and then was shown at the Cleveland Film Festival, with a full release to theaters on October 20, 1995, so that the film could be considered for an Academy Award. The documentary received very good reviews upon release, and captures a rare history of life inside the Disney Studios.