Animation Assembly: Animation and the Importance of Drawing and Painting by Hand

The New York Children’s International Film Festival begins in just one week on February 26!

Set sail on an incredible journey. Befriend a monster. Uncover a mystery. Visit a foreign country — or a foreign planet. For four weekends, New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival invites you and your imagination to explore new frontiers through the best new films from around the world.

from the NYCIFF website

I hope that many Friends Seminary families have plans to attend the festival.

On January 11, students in the Lower School experienced their own mini version of this NYC event. For this year’s Friends Animation Assembly, I screened films from past festivals and focused on how the animators still care about drawing and painting by hand.

Watching Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove, Lowers Schoolers took a trip to Norway. They learned that children there share many of the same hopes and fears. In the second film, The Yellow Balloon, with drawings by Robert Castillo and story by  Ben Thompson, the adventure occurred much closer to home.

Me-and-My-Moulton_200yellow balloon2

In Me and My Moulton, Lower Schoolers  caught a delightful glimpse of Torill Kove’s childhood. She tells the story from the perspective a of a seven year-old-girl whose parents are modernist architects. More than just about anything else, she and her sisters want a bicycle.


Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove

The Yellow Balloon is about the journey of a little girl’s balloon through the New York City subway tunnels. Though it has a setting closer to our own experience than My and My Moulton, the sketches by Robert Castillo carry our imaginations just as far.

yellow balloon 3

The Yellow Balloon with drawing by Robert Castillo

We are fortunate that Torill Kove and Robert Castillo answered email questions. In their own words, we heard about the value of old-fashioned art activities:

Judith to Torill Kove: Can you remember when your lifelong passion for drawing and sketching began?

Torill Kove: I know this is practically impossible to imagine, and makes me sound like a fossil, but I grew up without a TV and of course no computers. That leaves a lot of time to fill after school and on week-ends.

Judith to Robert Castillo: Can you remember when you started to like to draw?

Rober Castillo: I fell in love with drawing when I was very young – around 5 years old. I lived in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic and we were very poor. I didn’t have a lot of toys so I picked up a pencil and I let my imagination take me on a journey.

I also gave Lower Schoolers a glimpse of two additional filmakers and their creative works. In Michel Ocelot’s Tales of the Night and Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi’s The Dam Keeper, the artist/filmakers’ ability to draw and paint brings the characters and their settings to life.

Tales of the Night

Tales of the Night by Michel Ocelot


The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi

Here’s a pdf version of the full Animation Assembly with more information on the films and more quotes from the talented animators.

PDF of Animation Assembly Presentation

Please contact Judith at, if you need more details about where to see the movies that were discussed.

See you at the New York International Children’s Film Festival!

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