"Walt Disney Treasures 2010"? - Disney Documentaries

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Walt and El Grupo

Post by Dan » August 1st, 2009, 3:03 am

Image

The Walt Disney Family Foundation Films is putting out a documentary film about the 1941 ten-week trip Walt Disney and his animators took at the request of the US Government to South America as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. The trip inspired the films "Saludos Amigos" and "The Three Caballeros." The film features rare, never-before-seen footage shot during the trip of Walt and his group, called by the civilians as "El Grupo," experiencing the various cultures from the five countries they visited, the inspirations they drew upon that they would use in their animated films, and interviews with survivors and descendants along with showing letters Walt himself wrote about the trip. The film will have a limited run in New York and Los Angeles beginning September 11, 2009.

www.apple.com/trailers/independent/waltelgrupo/

Official Website: www.waltandelgrupo.com/

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Post by estefan » August 1st, 2009, 7:42 am

I have always have found that time period in Disney history to be fascinating, so I will probably catch this on DVD.

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Post by Ben » August 1st, 2009, 10:48 am

What a birthday treat! :)

This is the latest "Disney Legacy" (as I call 'em) documentary from Ted Thomas, so we know it's going to be good.

It'll be interesting to see how much of "South Of The Border With Disney" is recycled, since that was already a 40+ minute serious look at the artists on their location tour. Loving the 1940s Disneyesque poster, though I'm not sure the tagline works as well as it might. Perhaps get the point across more with "sought help from a bunch of Mickey Mouse cartoonists"...?

But this is a terrific topic to add to the collection of serious Disney documentaries. Hmmm...I'd better start compiling a list of those for my files... :)

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Post by EricJ » August 1st, 2009, 1:29 pm

Not to mention "Saludos Amigos"--the one even Disney fans never get around to watching ;) --already WAS the studio-approved docu-travelogue of the Grupo's travels (whereas "Three Caballeros" was just the entertainment product that came out of it).

I'm assuming we're meant to get the "political untold stories" of the DPAR in this one, and accent on Disney being used as a Roosevelt-era pawn.

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Post by Ben » August 1st, 2009, 3:36 pm

Wrong again, Eric - I was basically waiting for someone to make that obvious comment. :(

Saludos was born out of the trip, the four shorts (actually of a planned six to eight) in that film being the "entertainment product" and Norm Ferguson (I think, without checking) wondering how he could link these together, chose to incorporate footage shot (by Norm, again without checking) on 16mm into the film.

Three Cabelleros was a response to the surprise success of Saludos, while South Of The Border With Disney was the real documentary travelogue (and almost as long as Saludos, at 35 minutes from memory, Saludos was around 42).

There's a <I>TERRIFIC</I> collector's set to be made from all this material: just imagine "Walt & El Grupo" as the new centerpiece, with "Saludos Amigos", "The Three Cabelleros", "South Of The Border With Disney" plus the handful of other South American themed shorts (there were another three or four at least, plus at least two more planned, going by the LD Archive Collection reconstructions).

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Post by James » August 6th, 2009, 11:47 pm

Very interesting looking film. We'll have to do a piece on this soon. Here's the press release:

Acclaimed documentary WALT & EL GRUPO, a festival favorite in Rome, Rio, San Francisco, Palm Springs and Seattle, is set to begin its theatrical run with limited releases in Los Angeles and New York on September 11, 2009. The film, from writer/director Theodore Thomas (“Frank and Ollie”) and producer Kuniko Okubo, is also scheduled to run for a week in Seattle starting September 25th and will debut in additional markets soon after.

In New York, the film will open at the Quad Cinema. In Los Angeles, the film will release on two screens, at the Landmark’s Regent Theater in Westwood and the AMC Downtown Disney 12 in Anaheim. For more information on the film, check out the official website at http://www.waltandelgrupo.com , become a fan on Facebook, or follow the film on Twitter.

WALT & EL GRUPO chronicles the amazing ten-week trip that Walt Disney and his hand-picked group of artists and filmmaking talent (later known as “El Grupo”) took to South America in 1941 at the behest of the U.S. Government as part of the Good Neighbor Policy. Within just three short years after the phenomenal success of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the Walt Disney Studios experienced a chain of financial challenges that ultimately led to the infamous animators strike. Also during this time, the Roosevelt administration had growing concerns about Nazi and Fascist influence in Latin America, and the rest of the world was slipping further into war. In stark contrast to these trying times, Disney and his colorful group of artists found themselves on a lively trip full of hope and discovery as they explored various South American cities, spending the majority of their time in the countries of Argentina, Brazil and Chile. The group was saddled with an unusual assignment – while gathering story material, immersing themselves in the culture, befriending local artists, meeting political leaders and attending countless functions, their journey was also a de facto diplomatic mission, and as a result, the studio produced the classic films “Saludos Amigos” and “The Three Caballeros.”

Shot on film in five countries, WALT & EL GRUPO is a tale that still resonates on both sides of the equator. The film time travels in Walt Disney’s footsteps through the use of personal letters and stunning artwork from the trip, remembrances by descendants and 2 survivors, and extraordinary never-before-seen footage. WALT & EL GRUPO brings together an intertwined story of art and politics, the poignancy of a bygone age, and a legendary artist during one of his most trying times. A Walt Disney Pictures release presented by Walt Disney Family Foundation Films, in association with Theodore Thomas Productions, WALT & EL GRUPO was written and directed by Theodore Thomas, produced by Kuniko Okubo and executive produced by Walter E.D. Miller.

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Post by GeorgeC » August 7th, 2009, 6:32 am

Very interesting looking film.

Yes, within some circles -- mainly academics and people looking for trouble that isn't there-- Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros are un-PC but for the most part I like those films a lot!

This would be a nice bonus film for those.

Liked "Frank and Ollie," appreciate the Walt Disney story film funded by the Disney family from a few years back.

In a way, I'm glad Diane Disney and her organization are behind this because in spite of the changes at Disney with Lasseter and Pixar basically taking over animation the Disney Company doesn't know what to do with Walt's Legacy. There's a lot of talk about this from some corners but frankly it's all hot air if the actual documentaries are being made out-of-the-company doors as they stand. I frankly would shudder to think what the current company, post-Eisner or not, would do with Walt's legacy. They obviously are not comfortable with that legacy if they can't even bring themselves to release "Song of the South" now. What a bunch of opportunities they've blown in the last few years!

The Company wants to bury the fact that it was founded by breathing human beings! What a sad commentary on the institutional revamp of that company in the wake of Eisner and his Hollywood cronies.

You never hear about the people who founded any of the big studios anymore and made them such icons... Sure, they were not all nice human beings but they had such a passion for films that's completely lacking in the Ivy League MBAs that run Hollywood now.

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Post by Rodney » August 10th, 2009, 11:00 am

I'm looking forward to the documentary. I saw the trailer a few days back and got excited for the product. As someone originally from Latin America, I always thought that these were fun and entertaining films and the animator's visit to the continent actually was a landmark event for artists in the region. The creation of Joe Carioca is an important event in Brazil where the character continues to be popular and has is own line of comic books.

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Waking Sleeping Beauty

Post by Jérémie » August 24th, 2009, 5:31 am

www.media-magic.blogspot.com

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Post by Ben » August 24th, 2009, 7:58 am

Aha! Just posted about this on the front page! Looks most excellent. :)

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Post by estefan » August 24th, 2009, 11:52 am

I have a massive fascination with that time period of Disney animation, so naturally this interests me. Hopefully, Disney does release it on DVD, because TIFF is so incredibly expensive, it's ridiculous.

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Post by GeorgeC » August 24th, 2009, 12:01 pm

Of course, the question will be like many other similar documentaries

a) will the current Disney management allow this to go through without much debate

b) and will this film be available on home video format for people who don't live in the area where it's being exhibited?



The last film of this kind, "Silly Little Dreamer"(?), was allowed to go on because it didn't name exact names (although anybody with a decent company directory or access to the Internet could figure out who the filmmakers were talking about) and was a short film. It wasn't exactly TMZ/Enquirer level of muck-raking, either.

The other film (that I can remember) about behind-the-scenes DFA filmmaking, the one Sting's wife was involved with, has pretty much disappeared.

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Post by EricJ » August 24th, 2009, 11:02 pm

GeorgeC wrote:OThe last film of this kind, "Silly Little Dreamer"(?), was allowed to go on because it didn't name exact names (although anybody with a decent company directory or access to the Internet could figure out who the filmmakers were talking about) and was a short film. It wasn't exactly TMZ/Enquirer level of muck-raking, either..
Seems to be only George who thinks it's going to be a "muck-raking" piece, as most of the press statements so far give the impression that it's going to be a sentimental (if not quite "nostalgic" yet) paean--

As the press goes, "No one's done a history of the Katzenberg era yet", and it's usually because A) it's either considered "too recent" and the stuff of DVD featurettes, or B) everyone had spent most of their time demonizing the overexposure and repetition of the "Formula" years, no one's stopped to do an industry appraisal of just what exactly it was doing RIGHT.
Now that we've had a few years to cool down--and Frogs and Rapunzels are starting to make us reconsider what we used to have--it's natural for the insiders to consider it a bit of "untold" history.
(I was there in the theaters, junior, and when they talk about it being a "revolution", I remember seeing the opening of "Mermaid" one year after the Miller-era anachronism of "Oliver & Company"...Yes, it was a revolution, and saying so would make a pretty darn good documentary.)

As opposed to "Dreamer", which came off as a bit of pre-Roy union handwringing after we thought it was all finito and down the tubes, and that there was nothing to stop Eisner anymore from giving us CGI Peter Pans into the next generation...Bit premature, weren't we? :D

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Post by Ben » August 25th, 2009, 7:43 am

Sigh...no-one reads the front page... :(

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Post by EricJ » August 25th, 2009, 11:32 am

(Um, okay, so Ponyo is still in theaters, and Ben Stiller still isn't in the Dreamworks thing, am I missing something?) :D

If you mean the Animated Views front page, I don't see any less personally wishful thinking that "Cool, it's gonna be a cage match, I wanna front row for all the blood! :P "
We know from the DVD docs that the "Groove" and "Aladdin" and animators-vs.Katz/Eisner histories have good and bad stories...And again, while "Dreamer" was a grudge picket, this one looks like, well, a history.
Someone wanted to tell the Grupo story, and someone wanted to tell the Don Hahn "Roll over Ron Miller, and tell Phil Harris the news" story--But as far as soapboxing and standing in front of Eisner tanks, the SaveDisney.com wars are over. For a couple of years now.

With all the cannonfire settling down, most Disney aficionados, insider and out, are getting into their D23 modes and going geeky over history.

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