COLUMBIA — Simple. The adjective is often used to describe the animation of Don Hertzfeldt. Simple are his drawings, narratives and editing techniques. He, too, was dressed Wednesday in a simple sweatshirt, simple slacks and simple Converse tennis shoes. It's for this reason that some people like Hertzfeldt.
"I would say my reaction is it brings out the appreciation and beauty of simple things," said Michael Lefebvre, a box office coordinator at Ragtag Cinema. "It's more about the general feeling of the subject matter."
Hertzfeldt came to Columbia as part of a 16-city tour to show a collection of his work, including his new film, "I Am So Proud Of You." Many fans bought tickets in advance, and one of the two showings on Wednesday night sold out all 135 seats by Tuesday. Moviegoers were of all ages, some traveling from as far away as Kansas City.
"Some of these people have come from all over the state," Lefebvre said. "There were people in there as young as 10 or 12 years old and people as old as their 50s. Tonight demonstrates that his work is greatly appreciated."
As attendees filled the larger of the two Ragtag theaters, so did their anticipation. A majority of the audience was already familiar with Hertzfeldt's work; only a couple of raised hands demonstrated those who had never seen a Hertzfeldt film.
The turnout was rewarding for Ragtag, Lefebvre said. "This is the first time since the True/False Film Festival that we sold out that auditorium," he said.
The film showings lasted a little more than an hour and were followed by a question and answer session with Hertzfeldt. Audience members invited Hertzfeldt to discuss what he often seeks to accomplish with his films.
"I enjoy movies where everyone leaves the theater and they're not all necessarily thinking the same thing," Hertzfeldt said.
Some attendees left the theater thinking differently about Hertzfeldt's work. For some, seeing "I Am So Proud Of You" re-affirmed their liking for the animator.
Lori Henderson said she was "pleasantly surprised" at various parts of his film. She said she was impressed during a moment of silence in "The Meaning of Life." She thought the instance mirrored a comment Hertzfeldt made about creating work that makes his audience think.
Henderson who said she appreciates the simplicity of Hertzfeldt's style said she noticed he is expanding his craft.
"It's nice to see where he's moving," she said. "It makes it fresh."
Hertzfeldt is the right man to bring this freshness to Ragtag, Lefebvre said. He knew it was the simple animator who could draw so much attention to Columbia.
"He's a hero to us," he said. "He's the multimedia artist that we strive to support and curate. It's quite an honor that we were selected. It makes us feel like we're doing something right."