THE NW FILM CENTER'S upcoming animation fest is a mixed bag, as notable for what's missing—anything from Disney—as for what's there. The visions of a future Tokyo in Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira (screens July 5-6) are even more stunningly gorgeous than you remember, although the plot, condensed from a 2,000-page manga, still doesn't make a lick of sense. France's surreal, painterly sci-fi fable Fantastic Planet (Aug 29) is a must-see on the big screen. Studio Ghibli's Grave of the Fireflies (July 6, July 9) is often considered one of the best animated features of all time. It's certainly the most depressing, a story of a brother and sister fighting for survival during WWII. (Spoiler: It does not. End. Well.)
There's also the requisite amount of nostalgia bait: You don't need to see Don Bluth's ham-fisted An American Tail (Aug 24) again, but The Point (Aug 3)—with music by Harry Nilsson—is harmless good fun. There's also a Looney Tunes program (Aug 3), some classic Superman cartoons (July 26), and Wallace and Gromit (July 27). Who doesn't love Wallace and Gromit? No one, that's who!
Mary and Max (Aug 10) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit (Aug 2)—both good—are also on deck. The festival is rounded out by the horrible animation of the dreadful Fritz the Cat (Aug 29). Its shock value long since faded, Fritz is just an ugly, off-color joke that goes on for far too long.