West and Soda
Born in Milan, Italy, Bruno Bozzetto is a master in Italian animation and praised for his satirical depth. At the age of 15, Bozzetto made his first animated cartoon, which was a tribute to Walt Disney's 'Donald Duck'. His first professional animated short was 'Tapum! La storia delle armi' ('Tapum! The weapons' story', 1958), which was a humoristic overview of the history of weapons. It was screened at the Film Festival of Cannes and immediately attracted international acclaim. Animation legends Norman McLaren (known for 'Voisins', a.k.a., 'Neighbours', 1952) and John Halas (known for 'Animal Farm', 1955) contacted him and suggested working together in the future.
By 1960 Bozzetto had enough credibility to found his own animation company: the Bruno Bozzetto Film Company. Over the course of decades they would make several animated shorts, films, TV series and commercials. He created serials for the Swiss television network 'RTSI' and his cartoon 'Help?' (1995) aired as part of Hanna-Barbera's 'What a Cartoon!' series on Cartoon Network. He produced animated TV series for RAI called 'La Famiglia Spaghetti' ('The Spaghetti Family', 2003) and 'Topo Tip' ('Topo the Mouse', 2014). Together with journalist Piero Angela he created about 100 shorts for the scientific TV show 'Quark' (since 1981). His work 'Bruno the Great' (2008) was produced for the Disney Channel.
His best known character is 'Signor Rossi', who made his debut in the 1960 animated short 'Un Oscar per il Signor Rossi'. Mr. Rossi is somewhat of the Italian everyman. He would star in seven animated short cartoons between 1960 and 1974 and three feature length animated films: 'Il Signor Rossi cerca la felicità' (1976), 'I Sogni del signor Rossi' (1977) and 'Le Vacanze del signor Rossi' (1978). Due to lack of dialogue these cartoons had immediate international appeal.
During the 1960s Bozzetto drew several comics for the weekly magazine Il Giorno. In 1965 he directed 'West and Soda', an animated feature film which parodied westerns. He adapted it into a comic strip too, which was published in Il Giorno between January and April 1966. His next animated film, 'VIP, Mio Fratello Superuomo' ('VIP, My Brother Superman', 1968), was a satirical take on superhero comics. It also inspired a comic strip spin-off, 'SuperVip e MiniVip' (1968), published in Il Giorno. Even forty years later, the film's popularity had lasted enough to inspire a spin-off TV series, 'PsicoVip' (2008). He has also produced books with 'Sperling & Kupfer' and 'Signor Rossi'.
Allegro Non Troppo
Bozzetto's most famous work is 'Allego Non Troppo' (1976), an anthology film in which the animated sequences are all set to iconic classical music pieces, similar to Walt Disney's 'Fantasia' (1940). However, contrary to 'Fantasia', the film has a more satirical edge, which helped making it a universally beloved cult classic. Former Disney animator Ward Kimball was also impressed, calling it one of his "favorite animated films of all time." John Lasseter, chief creative officer at Pixar, said: "Bruno Bozzetto's films have been one of the greatest inspirations for me as an animator and storyteller. He has created some of the funniest animated films ever made and is one of the most clever storytellers around. Bruno's designs are so appealing and his comic timing is truly unsurpassed."
In 1987 Bozzetto directed his first and only live-action film, 'Sotto il ristorante cinese' ('Under the Chinese Restaurant'), a comedy about a man who witnesses a robbery and has to hide inside the basement of a Chinese restaurant, where he discovers a portal that transforms him to a different, more fantastical dimension, full with strange creatures.
Throughout his career Bozzetto has won countless awards. His animated short, 'Mister Tao' (1988), about a mountaineer in search of the highest tops in life, received a Golden Bear at the Festival of Berlin. The anti-war cartoon 'Cavallette' ('Grasshoppers', 1990), was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short, but lost to Nick Park's 'Creature Comforts' (1990). In 1998 Bozzetto received an award for his entire career at the Animation Festival of Zagreb. The University of Bergamo laureated him 'honoris causa' in 2007 in the field of "theory, techniques and management of all performing arts". In 2008, he won a Vittorio de Sica Award for a lifespan of work, which was handed directly to him by Italian president Giorgio Napolitano. The prestigious ASIFA award for "outstanding achievements in the art of animation" followed in 2013. His work has been subject of several exhibitions in Milan, Bergamo and Torino and in the Theater Gallery at the Walt Disney Family Museum.
Bozzetto also moves along with the latest technology. Since the 1990s he works mostly with Adobe Flash animation. His first short in this style, 'Europe and Italy' (1999), about the behavioral differences between Italians and Europeans, quickly became a worldwide success. In 2012 he launched his own YouTube channel.