Six Portland-based animators get in front of the camera in their new film "History, Mystery, Odyssey.

"History, Mystery, & Odyssey," a new documentary about six Portland-based animators, was screened over the weekend at the city's Cinema 21.

The documentary is structured as a series of interviews with six filmmakers: Joanne Gratz, Jim Blashfield, Joanna Priestley, Rose Bond, Chelle White, and Zack Margolis. Produced by British filmmaker Martin Cooper. [Gratz won an Oscar for his 1992 short "Mona Lisa Descending the Stairs." Brashfield directed music videos for Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, and Talking Heads. Priestley has directed, animated, and produced 32 films, including the abstract animated feature North of Blue. Bond's work has screened at major film festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival, and her architectural animation installations have been shown around the world. White is a Rockefeller Fellow whose work has been screened at SXSW and Annecy. Margolis' animations can be seen in the musical documentary A Kaddish for Bernie Madoff.

Although several of the directors have strong commercial backgrounds, the documentary focuses on the personal aspects of animation that drive them rather than festival appearances, awards, or financial rewards. The subject matter speaks to their preferred techniques, the works that inspire them, and the transformative nature of the art form. In the film, several filmmakers are challenged to define animation in the context of a rapidly changing technological landscape. Aside from the individual stories, the film asks the question of why the city of Roses has such a wealth of animation talent. [History, Mystery, & Odyssey will next be screened at the Ottawa International Animation Festival on Thursday, September 21 and Friday, September 22.