Arrivederci Giannalberto Bendazzi
With the passing of Giannalberto Bendazzi on December 13, 2021, at the age of 75, the animation world lost our beloved historian, and the world lost a gentle man who loved life and lived it to the fullest. Author of numerous books and articles, he is best known as the author of Cartoons: one hundred years of animated cinema and the three-volume encyclopedia Animation – A global story. These two titles are essential on the shelf of any host.
Born in Ravenna, Italy on July 17, 1946, Giannalberto studied law at the University of Milan before settling in Genoa, Italy. At the age of 21 he became the youngest Italian daily film critic, but he quickly became dissatisfied with journalism and turned to essays and books on animation and action films in direct. In the mid-1980s, he decided to devote himself entirely to the study of animation. He is the author of more than 30 books in various fields of animation as well as numerous essays. (You can find his many articles for AWN here.)
His studies led him to become the foremost authority on animation in non-Western countries such as Latin America, South America and the Caribbean. In 1983, he published Due volte the oceano – Vita di Quirino Cristiani, pioniere del cinema d ‘animazione (english title Twice the first – The life of Quirino Cristiani, animation pioneer). Reprinted in Spanish in 2008, the book was finally published in English in 2017. It chronicles the life of Argentinian-Italian-born director Quirino Cristiani, who directed the world’s first two animated feature films, El Apóstol which was established in 1917 and Leave no trace (1918). Convinced that to understand one art form you have to appreciate others, he is also the author of books on Mel Brooks and Woody Allen.
Giannalberto taught at the Università degli Studi di Milano from 2002 to 2009. From January 2013 to January 2015 he was visiting professor at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. From 2001 he was Assistant Professor at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia.
He was a founding member of the Society for Animation Studies, an international organization dedicated to the study of the history and theory of animation which began in 1987. In 2002, Giannalberto received the Outstanding Achievement Award in animation theory of the Zagreb Animation Festival. The ASIFA (International Association of Animated Films) awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award which I had the honor to present to him in 2016. He also received an honorary doctorate from the Portuguese ULHT – Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias at the XXXI Conference of the Society for Animation Studies in 2019.
One of the things that attracted so many people to Giannalberto was that he was never too busy to share his vast knowledge, listen to a host talk about a new project, or give advice. I’m going to miss being able to email her to verify a fact or ask a question about something I can’t remember.
Far from being a dry scholar, Giannalberto had a wickedly funny sense of humor and a mischievous glint in his eyes. He loved to laugh and was wonderful company. I join his family and many friends around the world in mourning his passing. I will miss his smile, his wit and his wonderful hugs. I like to think of you sitting there smiling at all the leaders, young and old, whom you have helped throughout your long career. Rest in peace my friend.
Editor’s Note: The animation community has lost a humble and gentle soul, passionate about all that is animated, always pushing to draw attention to artists largely unknown in the West who without his voice and his pen of admiration, could remain a simple footnote in the story. Giannalberto was one of the nicest people I have met on my trip to the animation world, and his wit, knowledge and friendship will be missed.