September 2009 will see the cinematic release of two interesting documentary films by Walt Disney Pictures. The house of the mouse goes back to dig and celebrate its own history with Walt & El Grupo, released on September 11, and Waking Sleeping Beauty (Release day has yet to be determined).
Walt & El Grupo documents the ten week journey to South America Disney and his animators embarked on in 1941 that resulted in the two feature films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. The documentary has already been shown at the San Francisco and Palm Spring film festivals in 2008 and is conceived and directed by the son of legendary animator Frank Thomas, Ted, and his wife Koniko Okubo Thomas.
To re-live that journey Ted Thomas and his wife revisit those regions today while reading journals of "El Grupo" (the group) and presenting the 16mm colour film footage shot by the group to document the trip and as a reference for animation drawings.
Waking Sleeping Beauty is described as documentary celebrating the feature animated films of the 90’s such as The Lion King and Aladdin, directed by producer Don Hahn who worked on Beauty and the Beast.
The film documents the reborn of Disney Animation in the mid 80’s and 90’s after the hard times and lack of immagination of the 70’s, celebrating the talents of the filmakers that gave Disney its magic back, such as John Musker, Ron Clements, John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Tim Burton, Glen Keane, and Don Bluth.