Blog Post #11 – Preview: Waking Sleeping Beauty

As a patron of the local Cinema Arts Theatre, I receive an email update of films that are currently showing, what films are leaving and information on the choices the theater owner is making for future showings.  My last email had some intriguing information:

“Interesting this week — Please note we are trying to get the Disney documentary Waking Sleeping Beauty by the end of the month.  There is no marketing support, so word of mouth has to work.  The wish it to start April 23, but that is not confirmed.  We hope to be exclusive with downtown!!”

I was somewhat surprised because I had not heard about the documentary and considering the fact it goes hand and hand with our study of animation, I thought I would see what information I could find.

IMDB did not have a lot of information on its website.  It did show limited release dates, mostly Film Festivals:

September 5, 2009 – USA Telluride Film Festival

Sept 15, 2009 – Canada Toronto International Film Festival

October 2009 – USA Hamptons International Film Festival

October 18, 2009 – USA Heartland Film Festival

January 2010 – USA Palm Springs International Film Festival

April 10, 2010 – USA AFI Dallas International Film Festival

It is slated for limited 2010 USA release.

The Art Center College of Design, Film Department tells us “Waking Sleeping Beauty tells the story of Disney’s unparalelled success with animation during the halcyon years of 1984-1994. The film features amazing behind-the-scenes footage, shot in defiance of strict Disney company rules, documenting the intense power struggles between Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Roy E. Disney and others. The guerilla cameramen capturing the drama include former Disney animator and current Pixar chief John Lasseter!”

In the Feb. 15, 2010 blog of Chad Sellers, Animator for Disney, the film was described this way:

“Director Don Hahn (producer of Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King) and producer Peter Schneider (former chairman of the studio), key players at Walt Disney Studios feature animation department during the mid1980s, offer a behind-the-magic glimpse of the turbulent times the animation studio was going through and the staggering output of hits that followed over the next 10 years. Artists polarized between the hungry young innovators and the old guard who refused to relinquish control, mounting tensions due to a string of box-office flops, and warring studio leadership create the backdrop for this fascinating story told with a unique and candid perspective from those that were there. Through interviews, internal memos, home movies and a cast of characters featuring Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Roy Disney, alongside an amazing array of talented artists that includes Steven Spielberg, Richard Williams, John Lasseter and Tim Burton, Waking Sleeping Beauty shines a light on Disney animation’s darkest hours, greatest joys and its improbable renaissance.”

Unfortunately, as of April 26, 2010 Waking Sleeping Beauty has not been released to any theaters in the metropolitan DC/NVa area. I will definitely be on the lookout for it as I believe it will give us an in-depth look at how Disney evolved to what it is today.

I have commented on the blogs of Rebecca Townsend and Michael Taylor.

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