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Independent Spirits
The FilmFaith HubleyTimelineIn CollaborationTalkbackJohn HubleyResourcesBroadcast
The Film | The Filmmakers

Stills from Hubley Animations

Images, top to bottom:
Storyboard replica from INDEPENDENT SPIRITS, "Eggs," John and Faith Hubley (1970); "I Want my Mapo!," John Hubley (1950); "Africa," Faith Hubley (1999)

The Film
INDEPENDENT SPIRITS: The Faith and John Hubley Story looks at the creative partnership and careers of these Academy Award-winning animators. The Hubleys re-defined animation, breaking from traditional styles, confronting important social issues and using innovative graphics and experimental sound.

With their unique blend of intelligence, humor and social commentary, Hubley films were made by animation artists whose ultimate goal was not to have the mouse escape the cat, but "to increase awareness, to warn, to humanize, to elevate vision, to suggest goals, to deepen our understanding of ourselves and our relationship to one another." Their non-traditional techniques - a blend of watercolor, wax crayons, multiple exposures and lighting from beneath the camera - give the films a spontaneous appearance, and emphasize the free-form graphic approach that has characterized Hubley-style animation. As animation historian John Canemaker has written, "This 'happy accident' graphic style forces audiences to fill in the spaces of what is not seen by using their imaginations."

The Tender GameINDEPENDENT SPIRITS is also about the passion, spirit and commitment of independent artists attempting to exist in a culture of compromise. Particularly in the realm of filmmaking, an art form that requires greater financial resources than most others, commissioned work can be an abiding lure, often distracting independents from their passions or even mediating their personal vision. The Hubleys' professional choices, even before their partnership began, reflected an intense commitment to political alternatives and a belief in social justice. This film looks at what each of them brought to their unique collaboration: John, an artistic brilliance nurtured at the Disney Studio; Faith, a deep respect for cultural diversity and a rebellious spirit formed in a tough New York City neighborhood. Both were committed to the belief that animation could deal with serious subjects and make a difference in the world.

The difficulty of maintaining an independent vision is complex, and in order to pay the bills the Hubleys sometimes took on commercial projects. Their commissioned work covers many areas of popular culture. Faith and John have left their mark on television advertising, children's television and feature films - but always, they returned to what they had promised each other in their marriage vows, "to make at least one independent film a year," a promise that Faith Hubley maintained after her husband's death in 1977 until her own passing in 2001.

Read about the filmmakers Sybil DelGaudio and Patty Wineapple

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The Filmmakers