Ottawa 98 Opening Night
Gala Screening: ANTZ

Tuesday, September 29, 8pm (National Arts Centre)

There are many professions that encourage individuality and personal expression, being an ant isn't one of them. Luckily for the creators of Antz, the first full-length feature to be co-produced by Pacific Data Images and DreamWorks, animation is one such profession where personal expression and teamwork coincide and it becomes possible to create an inventive and entertaining feature while pushing the technical limits of the medium.

Antz, written by Paul & Chris Weis relates the tale of an insect, "Z-4195" whose personal struggle with the day-to-day drudgery of a world populated by drones and dullards forces him to become a reluctant leader of a colony-wide revolt against conformity. "Z" (voice by Woody Allen), is a hyper, slightly over-talkative misfit worker who sets his sights a little too high when he falls in love with the beautiful "Princess Bala" (Sharon Stone), the spoiled daughter of the Queen ant who can't be bothered with an ordinary colony drone. But "Z" is no run-of-the-anthill worker when a twist of fate turns him into a hero.

If Woody Allen and Sharon Stone aren't names that will impress you, check out the other star-studded voice talents: Sylvester Stallone, Anne Bancroft, Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, Jennifer Lopez, Chistopher Walken, Jane Curtain, Dan Aykroyd, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky and Grant Shaud.

Antz has more than star power to offer. The film is as technically ambitious as it is entertaining, featuring a complicated "march to battle" scene using a combination of crowd animation techniques to create millions of ants. The PDI team has also developed remarkable facial animation using a complete set of muscles that create natural expressions on the faces of the computer-generated characters and the most realistic water simulation made to date.

Of the 230 employees at PDI, 190 are said to have been diligently working on the production of this feature, including Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Richard Chuang and the accomplished directors Eric Darnell and Tim Johnson.

Johnson and Darnell should be familiar names to audiences of the Ottawa International Animation Festival. Darnell, who returned to PDI for Antz after a brief absence to work on the DreamWorks feature, The Prince of Egypt, was awarded the 1996 Special Jury Prize in recognition of his in-house short film, Gas Planet. Johnson was co-winner of the 1996 Grand Prize at the Ottawa Festival for his animation direction on The Simpsons Halloween Special, "Homer3" where he led the group in transforming the 2D Homer into a 3D world.

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Animation World Network - OIAF 1998
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