'Foodiecats' Featured at Oakland Festival

Short film series produced by Academy students selected for Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival


The Foodiecats. Image courtesy of Gil Banducci.

Felinomorphized foods took to the silver screen to the delight of children and families at the Chabot Space & Science Center, an interactive children’s museum, on Saturday, Feb. 3, for the 10th annual Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival (BAICFF). The program in question, Foodiecats, is an Academy of Art University original short film series which was selected for showing at the festival against nearly 2,000 other submissions.

Foodiecats was conceived by School of Animation & Visual Effects (ANM) Pre-Production Lead Gil Banducci and produced by Academy students in partnership with the San Francisco Junior Giants program. The series follows the titular characters, which are as the name implies, different foods (apples, deviled eggs, carrots, you name it) brought to life as cats, complete with sharp teeth, whiskers and tails. In each episode, the edible cats explore themes of friendship and problem solving and learn valuable life lessons. Foodiecats recently concluded its first six-episode season. The second season is currently in production with 10 episodes planned for the coming year.

Banducci brought three of his students to attend the festival. Together the Foodiecats entourage oversaw the viewing, answered questions and opened the floor for comments (most of which were suggestions as to which food should be made into a Foodiecat next).

“The idea for Foodiecats began as I was just sketching on my own,” said Banducci. “Months later I was approached by the department to come up with a plan and idea for the Junior Giants and I asked the students if they would be interested in doing the Foodiecats. They said yes.”


(L–R) Jim Capobianco, founder of BAICFF, Aleisha Marmon, Ben Berliner, Mark Bredall and Gil Banducci at this year’s Bay Area International Children’s Film Festival. Photo by John Beeson.

Ben Berliner, Mark Bredall and Aleisha Marmon were the three ANM B.F.A. students to accompany Banducci to the festival. While Bredall had presented a film before as a student at a different festival, the experience was new altogether for the other students. “It’s really exciting to be presenting. It’s cool seeing a project that I’ve been a part of living outside of the school on the internet and at film festivals,” Marmon said. 

While the series was aimed at a younger audience, the students agreed that it wasn’t any less valuable or difficult to execute. “It doesn’t feel any different working for a younger audience. When we’re actually in production, it feels like a job,” Berliner said. “We work in an actual studio setting. We have people with actual roles who are working to get these projects finished.”

“If anything, writing episodes for kids’ stuff needs to be more refined. It’s so on the building blocks,” Bredall said. “It’s all about reading it and seeing if it makes basic sense.”

Ten years ago, Jim Capobianco founded BAICFF as a fundraiser for his daughter’s school. One of the organizers suggested Capobianco, who was working at Pixar at the time, show the animated short he was working on at the festival. “I thought that it was kind of a neat thing to have a festival,” Capobianco said. “As a programmer, I like little series shorts to sprinkle throughout the programming. I love how it’s created by students and the process that went into it. It also had a really nice style to it. The messages of the shorts are also really great. Hopefully we can show the new season next year.”

As previously stated, the Bay Area International Film Festival team selected Foodiecats for screening among nearly 2,000 submissions, a testament to the high quality of work of students that went into the development of the series. “The students create everything, and I am just chaperoning. It’s never really about me personally,” Banducci said. “They are the driving force. It’s them who will put in the late hours. I see a character I created, but they give it life and create a world.”