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CALARTS STUDENT WINS ANIMATION PRIZE : FILM COMBINES OSTRICH, OPERA.

Byline: Mary Schubert Daily News Staff Writer

A humorous cartoon about an operatic ostrich earned a German student from California Institute of the Arts a $2,000 animation prize from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Thor Freudenthal, 24, a CalArts senior, won first place in the traditional animation category of the academy's 18th annual College Awards. The Valencia resident will join other college filmmakers when the academy hands out prizes during a March 9 ceremony at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.

Student winners and their professors will attend the black-tie gala, along with contest judges, entertainment industry professionals and members of the television academy, best known for staging the annual Emmy Awards.

On March 10, the academy will screen the top student films at The Festival of Winners, for an invitation-only audience of entertainment industry movers and shakers at the television academy's headquarters in North Hollywood.

The competition drew 390 entries from 144 colleges and universities in 43 states, said Price Hicks, director of educational programs and services for the television academy.

Student filmmakers submitted works in categories that included drama, comedy, musical, documentary, computer-generated animation, instructional films and news, sports and public affairs.

Freudenthal's entry, ``The Tenor,'' was inspired in part by a visit he and some fellow artists made to the Los Angeles Zoo to practice sketching animals. His friends chose to draw some of the zoo's more majestic animals, but Freudenthal said he was drawn to the long-necked, flightless birds.

``You really pity them,'' he said. The ostrich ``has the most awkward shape'' that really lends itself to animation, Freudenthal said.

Besides, he added, nobody goes to the zoo expressly to look at ostriches.

``That's how my movie starts, with a lot of people crowded in front of the monkey cage. (The camera) pans over to this ostrich and he's got nobody,'' Freudenthal said.

The ostrich, feeling pathetic and neglected, begins to have daydreams of grandeur. Suddenly he is on a stage, dressed in opera singer regalia, belting out ``La Donna e Mobile'', the famous aria from Verdi's ``Rigoletto.''

Freudenthal said he borrowed some mannerisms from the world's best-known tenor when animating the ostrich. ``I looked at a lot of tapes of (Luciano) Pavarotti singing,'' he said.

In fact, the exaggerated gestures and impassioned singing unique to opera provided rich material for his two-minute cartoon, Freudenthal said.

A native of Berlin, Freudenthal will graduate this spring with a degree in film and video.

He came to the Santa Clarita Valley a year and a half ago after attending the Berlin Academy of Arts and a film school, also in the German capital. The Berlin Academy of Arts had an exchange student agreement with CalArts, and when Freudenthal was accepted to the program he moved to Southern California.

In addition to his prize money, Freudenthal and other winners will receive a $2,000 supply of Kodak film stock.

In all, the television academy awarded $36,800 in cash prizes to the college filmmakers, Hicks said.

Other student winners came from the University of Southern California; New York University; Columbia University; Northwestern University; Boston University; Arkansas State University; Florida State University; Brigham Young University; and many other colleges big and small.

Reviewing the entries in the various categories fell to 173 volunteer judges, all members of the television academy, Hicks said.

Another CalArts student, K. Hee Oh, won a $400 prize in computer-generated animation for the film ``A Choreography for a Butterfly,'' Hicks said.

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Photo

Photo: (Color) California Institute of the Arts senior Thor Freudenthal, 24, of Berlin received $2,000 from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for his film about an operatic ostrich.

Hans Gutknecht/Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 28, 1997
Words:616
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