Get animated!

It’s not your dad’s Saturday morning cartoons: MinnAnimate festival aims to create an animator community in the Twin Cities.

by Spencer Doar


What: MinnAnimate

Where: Ritz Theater, 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis

When: 7 p.m., Thursday

Cost: $5


Stop-motion underwear, a musical revolving around the quandary of a racecar driver and a creative way to defeat the neighborhood bully — these are just a few topics of the 10 animated shorts and one animated feature to play at the Ritz Theater on Thursday.

  MinnAnimate seeks to create a local forum for animators in the Twin Cities — artistic areas surprisingly without such a conclave.

“I want an animation festival in Minneapolis, mostly because I want to go to one,” John Akre said. He is the creator, organizer and a participant in MinnAnimate’s inaugural year.

  Though artistically self-serving, local animators have the compulsion to release their creations upon the world, not necessarily for recognition, but for the sake of completing the process.     

  “Animation at times can be such a — you’re kind of like a hermit,” said Greg Bro, whose animated short is slated to run first. “I figure there are a lot of people locked in their condos feverishly making cartoons.”

   It is a soloist’s exercise, but one that derives its meaning from the laughs and feelings of an audience.

  Bro has found himself traveling to California in order to get the type of audience and recognition that Akre is attempting to bring to the Twin Cities.

“[Talking to fellow animators] makes you feel less crazy,” Bro said.  

   Unless you are the creative director of one of the larger, industrialized animation firms, it is very hard to make a living doing your own material. The shorts in MinnAnimate are frequently the byproduct of hours of personal time spent exorcising the demons of story-telling.

  “I wanted stuff that wasn’t as technically perfect, but had great ideas,” Akre said. It’s no surprise given that his website is entitled

  The animations are born out of the type of child-like desire to doodle incessantly.

  “You are doing it because you have to,” Bro said.

 How they choose to “just do it” varies wildly. With claymation and collage, Adobe Flash-built and handmade animation, MinnAnimate’s lineup runs the gamut of animation’s potential. For Bro, that entails crisp black lines on loose-leaf paper, embracing that improvised aesthetic in a series of shorts called “Stuper Powers.”

  “I want people to just check them out,” Bro said. “I know that the type of humor in my cartoons isn’t for everybody. I just make stuff to make myself laugh. But I know there are other people out there who enjoy it too.”

  But  a little bit of recognition goes a long way. “Just being called an animator,” Akre said,“it’s the fulfillment of a dream.”