Yossi Abolafia (interviewed September 2007) coincidentally turns out to be a perfect transition from Andy Beall. Abolafia has been an animator for many years before turning to writing and illustrating children’s books and print cartoons (see example down below on the right). Abolafia has illustrated about 140 children’s books, and about a dozen of them he also wrote. We met Abolafia at the 2007 Ottawa International Animation Festival, where I presented four UPA programs. He came up after one of the programs, and before I knew it I was interviewing him for the podcast.
The most fascinating part of Abolafia’s story, to me, was growing up in Israel and being among only a few people animating there. Israeli television didn’t begin until 1968, and Abolafia was hired as a cartoonist and graphic designer, and that is where he began to experiment in animation for the first time. As he says he could do just about anything and people would be happy, because there was nothing to compare it with. He even animated weather reports. Abolafia was one of the founders to the animation program at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, in fact that is why he was in Ottawa, to except an award on behalf of the unique animation program there.
As it turns out, Abolafia is no stranger to Ottawa, he came to the NFB and worked under Derek Lamb on a number of animation projects, including Canada Vignettes: News Canada, Friends of the Family, Ottawa 82 Logo, The Hottest Show on Earth, and What the Hell’s Going on up There? Abolafia says he learned much from his experience up there, but I’m certain he brought a lot to them as well. One of the great things about the Film Board is that they are constantly reaching out to animators around the world, learning form them and giving as well, to spreading the art of animation around the world. Another interview coming up is with a Brazilian animator, who just may have begun that trend.
Back in Israel, however, Abolafia’s passions began to shift to bringing up new animators through the animation program he’d developed and illustration children’s books. It’s fascinating to me to see how different people find their niche in life, with animation itself merely being a means to an end. Abolafia even speaks about animation influencing his illustrations, and yet how the approach to a book differs from his approach to an animated film. I think you’ll find Yossi Abolafia, thoughtful and interesting, with an exotic other-side-of-the-world view, and yet at the same time being just one more little niche in the world-wide animation family.
This episode is sponsored by The UPA Legacy Project