International Tournée of Animation
The International Tournée of Animation was an annual touring program of animated films selected and assembled from films from many countries around the world and which existed from about 1970 to the late 1980s. As released to cinemas, college campuses, and art museums and centers across the United States, a typical Tournée program ran about 105 minutes and consisted of 15 to 24 animated films in the 16mm format, each running from 1 or 2 minutes to 15 or 18 minutes each in length.
Typical program content
An example of the typical range of countries represented comes from the 12th Tournée in 1978 which contained 24 films (including specially produced opening titles), 10 of which were from US sources, 3 from the National Film Board of Canada, 1 other independently made Canadian film, 2 each from Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK (both from Richard Williams Animation), and 1 each from Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Poland, and Japan. Altogether over twenty annual programs were prepared and presented; the 17th International Tournée of Animation was devoted entirely to the films of the National Film Board of Canada.
About 1966, several members of ASIFA-Hollywood (The Los Angeles branch of ASIFA, the International Animated Film Association) decided to put together an international animation program to be shown at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It was almost impossible to see quality animation in the US at that time. Prescott Wright became active with the group when he joined the American Film Institute in 1969 and, having worked previously in film distribution, he was asked to head the project when it was decided to show the program in other cities.
Under Wright's guidance, the program became known as the "International Tournée of Animation" and, by late 1970, he began to book the program at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, university campuses, and other cultural institutions around the US.
The animators were offered a generous contract as part of their agreement to enter their films in the Tournée. As producers, Wright and his associates received 50% of the gross, while the remaining 50% was split among the artists. About half of the money going to the animators was split evenly between each filmmaker and the remaining amount was split based the length of each short film. This meant that a very short film got slightly less one which was a minute or two longer.
Sources of films shown in Tournees
Many of the films were acquired as a result of Wright's travels to a number of the international animated film festivals sponsored by ASIFA. These included festivals such as the Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France, the Zagreb Festival (which was then in Yugoslavia), the Ottawa International Animated Film Festival in Canada after 1976, and the Hiroshima International Animation Festival in Japan. Until the Iron Curtain collapsed, ASIFA helped bridge the gap between East and West by helping animators from Eastern Europe attend festivals in the West, to visit studios in the Europe and North America, and to show their films in-person. Prescott Wright and filmmakers John Halas along with the husband-and-wife team of John Hubley and Faith Hubley plus many others worked hard to further international relations and to arrange for these screenings in cities with ASIFA chapters.
Increased visibility through theatrical screenings
In the mid-1970s, the Tournée increased its visibility by being screened in cinemas, initially with the Landmark Theatres chain, but gradually seen in many smaller "art houses" across the country. In 1986 Prescott Wright sold the rights to the Tournées to the Expanded Entertainment group in Los Angeles which continued to organize them for several years with Wright's guidance.
Other packages of animated films
Other packages of animated films began to emerge and be distributed from the late 1970s, including The Classic Festival of Animation, Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation, and The Animated Film Festival.