ANIMATION BREAKDOWN 2015: The Ace of Light: The Films of Sky David

Prints & Restorations (Ace of Light, Sonoma and A Hard Passage) courtesy of The Academy Film Archive.
Prints (The Green Child, Sky Heart, Luma Nocturna, Aura Corona) courtesy of the iotaCenter Collection at the Academy Film Archive

Co-presented by The IotaCenter and Cinespia Salon. Sky David in Person!

In the latter half of the 1960s, 18 year old Dennis Pies headed off to Vietnam to serve with the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army. He returned home, as all men did, a different person. One with stories and visions to share. He bought a ‘46 Chevy school bus and departed his hometown of Lubbock, Texas for a commune in the Santa Cruz mountains. But a fateful pitstop on the way at Cal Arts’ notorious (and recently San Fernando Earthquake-rocked) Villa Cabrini campus altered his life’s course. It was there that the Pies, armed with absolutely no prior artistic training, began his path to becoming the man and artist known as Sky David. Mystical, dreamlike, and otherworldly — watching a Sky David film is like stumbling into the pages of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Popol Vuh or I Ching. They unfurl as symbolic, dreamlike narratives of shifting landscapes, both physical and mental, each frame leading the viewer further into uncharted optical realms. Endlessly inventive, David employs techniques ranging from delicate pencil and airbrush drawings, to computer animation, to (in the case of this evening’s jawdropping titular film Ace of Light) “hand drawn art on paper, filmed in negative, projected via an aerial image projector into a tank of water, then filmed frame by frame”—all to create visuals striking, haunting and utterly singular. Join us as we celebrate the incredible career of ABD’s 2015 honoree and marvel at his films with the premieres of new 35mm and 16mm prints, lovingly restored and graciously loaned by The Academy Film Archive.

Watch the Cinefamily original trailer!