Arts & Entertainment

UC Riverside to host Spike and Mike Festival of Animation, honor film archive gift

"Key Lime Pie" is one of Decker's favorite shorts that will be shown at the festival Tuesday. "In this animated noir, a man's obsession with key lime pie brings him to the brink of insanity and a chance encounter with the grim reaper," according to the film's YouTube description.

This year’s Spike and Mike Festival of Animation will be held Tuesday at University of California Riverside, but the event also represents a special gift to the university.

Festival co-founder Craig “Spike” Decker will be honored for his gift of hundreds of festival films in 35 millimeter and other formats, according to UCR Today.

Decker and Mike Gribble launched the festival at 1977 “in a time when animation was considered a medium for children,” UCR Today noted. 

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“It represents the biggest and longest-running festival of animation in the world and has the largest collection of animated shorts in this country,” Derek Burrill, UCR associate professor of media and cultural studies, told UCR Today. 

The archives were stored in a vault in Hollywood then taken to Decker’s office and then brought to UC Riverside, Decker told KPCC.

“We had years and years and I believe thousands of pounds of 35-millimeter prints, negatives, release prints, soundtracks, everything that UCR was interested in archiving and taking possession of to preserve them and all that,” said Decker.

UC Riverside received the film archive for two main reasons, said Decker: The school asked and Decker grew up in Riverside and held the first Festival of Animation at Riverside City College.

He detailed how he thinks UC Riverside can benefit from the film donation:

A film, that’s thousands of individual renderings and each one is a piece of art and then you bring it to life as animation. So to see that and to see it in the format of 35 millimeter and see the texture of it and artistic organic feel of it … to get the perspective of work and see the difference and how the look is and how it effects your end project and what you’re trying to portray.

The animation materials are in storage for now. UC Riverside is raising money to transfer certain films into digital format and catalogue and organize the rest.

The Festival of Animation has seen change since its first event in 1977 at Riverside City College’s Landis Performing Arts Center.

Films were on 16 millimeter—“no 35s yet,” Decker said.

“It was very awkward but we pulled it off,” said Decker of that first year. “We were trying to learn how to program and curate. We brought in a lot of guest animators and tried to create a lot of excitement beyond showing the films.”

Film continues to change as everything has gone digital and Decker and his partner try to learn and navigate new media.

No matter the format, people are still interested, said Decker, recalling a recent anniversary show in La Jolla that was “strongly attended.”

Nostalgia and culture is a draw, he believes, as well as the effect of other technology:

I think possibly the more people get isolated with mobile and digital devices and there’s less interaction with people they can see there’s things that are more exciting in life than watching something on a little screen. It may come that events like ours go full circle and become even more unique. It’s like going to a concert or watching it on your iPad.

Below are some of Decker’s favorite films that will be screened at Tuesday’s Festival of Animation.

Festival of Animation

Festival of Animation movie

Find out more about the Festival of Animation at UC Riverside’s site here:

Correction: The name of Mike Gribble was spelled wrong in an earlier version of this story. KPCC regrets the error.