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Director with local ties wins Academy Award

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Posted on February 25, 2013 |
By John S. McCright



Paperman.jpg
A STILL FROM “Paperman,” the winner of the Academy Award for Animated Short Film. It was created by John Kahrs, whose parents and sister live in Addison County.

ADDISON COUNTY — When they announced the winner in the best Animated Short Film category at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony Sunday night there was a particularly loud shout of joy at a home in West Addison.

It was the home of Helen and Ed Kahrs, where family and friends cheered for the Kahrs’ son, John, who won the Oscar for his film “Paperman.”

“It was pretty surreal,” said Lee Kahrs, a Salisbury resident and older sister of John Kahrs.

Kahrs called the little home in West Addison after accepting his award, but because so many people where calling to congratulate his parents he couldn’t get through.

“The phone was ringing off the hook,” Lee Kahrs said.

Kahrs told the people in the press room that he was getting a busy signal on the phone, an unheard of circumstance in the super-connected Hollywood circles in which he circulates, and everyone got a laugh.

When he finally did get through to West Addison, he apologized to his parents — in the heat of the moment of receiving the award he forgot to thanks his parents. Helen told him not to worry about it.

“Paperman” is a seven-minute, black-and-white animated movie. It was conceived and directed by John Kahrs, who was raised in the Hudson River Valley of New York, but came to Vermont every summer since he was eight years old to spent time on Lake Champlain. He still returns often, and is adamant about exposing his own children to the Champlain Valley.

The Pixar/Disney film premiered at a film festival last June and was released in theaters this past November to run before the feature-length animated comedy “Wreck-It Ralph.” It is a charming story of a man and woman meeting on a subway platform, and the connection they maintained through a sheaf of papers.

Kahrs, who now lives in Los Angeles, told Animation World News that he got the idea for “Paperman” while living in New York City in the early 1990s and commuting through Grand Central Station.

The clever animation style combines hand-made drawing and computer-generated graphics, that grew out of what he learned while working as the animation supervisor to the hit “Tangled.” He also worked as an animator on films including “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Monsters, Inc.,” “Toy Story 2,” and “A Bug’s Life.”

The film can be viewed at this website.

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