by Amy Crocker

This year’s San Francisco International Animation Festival, running through Sunday, explores the decidedly un-Hollywood side of the art form. From demonstrating Los Angeles traffic scenarios, to an anime documentary about samurai, cartoons are not just for singing princesses.

"I’m interested in showing the margins of what animation is,” said Sean Uyehara, programmer of the festival for the San Francisco Film Society.

With Pixar, Lucasfilm, and the majority of gaming industry in the area, San Francisco seems an apt place to support the festival. But despite the availability of high tech tools, Uyehara explained that this year’s animators went retro."The overriding majority has fallen back toward two dimensional techniques like hand drawn and cell type animation and water colors,” Uyehara said.

One new technique that impressed Uyehara is the photo collage method, with still images animated via tearing or layering. A standout of this method is the film Metropia by Tarik Saleh showing Sunday at 3:30 featuring the voices of Vincent Gallo and Juliette Lewis.

"The film’s style has an unnerving hyperrealism that expresses the mood perfectly," Uyehara said. "The film is about surveillance and the society of control and the paranoia about the lack of privacy in today’s urban environment."

Another trend in this year’s programming is the increasing use of animation in a non-fictional context. Inspired by the use of animation to teach scientific concepts like cell division and how magnets work, Uyehara booked Joy Mountford at the downtown Apple store today at 4pm to show how motion graphics can be used to deal with large amounts of information.