In animation circles, it is a legendary story: Canadian-born animator Richard Williams won all kinds of hardware – including Oscars for his pioneering work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit – but what really drove him was the self-described “mammoth ego project of Dick Williams,” a film he worked on for nearly 30 years, to be called The Thief and the Cobbler. The animation – done by hand, not computers – was extraordinary, but the film was mired in problems and eventually seized by the completion bond company. With an amazing cache of archival footage – including Mr. Williams’s original animation – Mr. Schreck’s documentary is gripping, even though we know from the beginning that Mr. Williams’s project will fail. Mr. Williams himself appears only in archival interview footage; he refused to participate in the documentary. Instead, the story is told by the animators who laboured for his vision.
At VIFF: Oct. 4, 6 p.m., Granville 4; Oct. 7, 3 p.m., Granville 4; Oct. 12, 10:45 a.m., Pacific Cinémathèque