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LINCOLN — As a 5-year-old kid, the future director of Disney's "A Goofy Movie," "Tarzan," "102 Dalmatians" and "Enchanted," remembers being taken to see "The Jungle Book."

Disney's 1967 animated version, that is.

"My mom tells me that I pointed up at the screen and said to her, 'I'm gonna make them when I grow I up!'"

Vows made at age 5 tend to, at best, evolve over time, or, at worst, get forgotten quickly.

But Kevin Lima's finger-pointing promise was not one to be taken lightly. 

"I've loved animation my entire life ... from the earliest time I remember, I was drawing and wanting to be a Disney animator," he says.

Not only did he grow up to "make them," and then some, he married a soul-mate with the same passion: Brenda Chapman, the Logan County native whose most recent credit was Disney's "Brave," for which she won an Oscar. 

Today, they are the animation world's only married directing couple, each with separate careers, but both with the same lifelong love for their chosen art form.

Thanks to Chapman's deep Logan County roots (raised in Beason, alum of Lincoln Community High School), she helped her best LCHS buddy, David G. Lanterman, found the first Lincoln Film Festival a year ago.

Lanterman is the owner of the Lincoln Grand 8 Theatre in downtown Lincoln, site of the festival, which is returning for seconds this weekend (see accompanying story for highlights).

And Chapman and Lima are back in town showing/discussing their work: she, with her 1998 DreamWorks feature, "The Prince of Egypt," for which she became the first woman director of an animated feature; and he, with the world premiere of the newly remastered version of his "A Goofy Movie," the 1995 Disney feature that marked his debut at the helm of an animated film.

One of the festival highlights will be Friday night's opening gala with Chapman and Lima, during which Chapman's new animated project will be given what's billed as a "work-in-progress sneak preview."

The various productions stages will be explored with Chapman and her visiting production team, all of whom come packing A-list animation titles on their resumes.

Lima thinks it may be the first time an animated feature (still untitled, still under wraps, story-wise) has ever been unveiled to the public this early on in its production.

"Many folks are always asking Brenda what she does and she thought that this year she'd give a kind of hands-on feel for what it is to make an animated film," Lima says.

Though he'll be present at what he calls a "master class" in filmmaking, "I'm not involved with the film at all ... I'm the supportive husband who happens to have been through the same process." 

Lima describes the film as an independent production, being made outside the studio channels that have dominated the careers of both himself and his wife.

All he can say is that "it a musical adventure, a highly professional endeavor. Brenda is loved within her community and that community of high-end artists has come together to pull this off."

Despite its indie nature, "this isn't Brenda in her garage doing drawings to sell to a movie studio ... it's her pulling together a whole team of professionals, with the work being done using the model of a digital studio."

That model, though based in a studio in Glendale, Calif., means that the production work is being done by artists spread across the country, "from Canada to Vermont to Massachusetts."

Which begs the question: Why haven't Chapman and Lima ever joined forces on a project?

"We've basically spent all of our professional lives purposely NOT working together," laughs Lima, who crossed paths with his future mate while they were both students at the California Institute of Arts.

"We were in two different grades, we had two different sets of friends and we made an effort to hang onto our individual paths," he adds.

Even so, Lima was smitten from the get-go.

"We often have joked about the fact that, for me, it was love at first sight the first time I met her, and she doesn't remember me at all. After that, it took me a couple months to ask her out, and then we dated for four years through school."

Their marriage came after both were working, separately, at Disney.

Though Lima's career there involved working in various animation/story capacities on high-end films like "Oliver & Company," "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," he longed to move away from the animator's desk.

"I found myself unable to sit behind a desk for eight hours, which is what animating means," Lima says.

Thanks to his youthful experience working in professional puppetry, which preceded his CalArts schooling, he developed an urge to direct ... an opportunity that came along in 1995, when he was offered what was intended as a made-for-TV project at Disney, "A Goofy Movie."

But the film was deemed good enough for a theatrical release and went on to a moderate box office success and gave Lima the passport to the thing he most wanted to do.

Next up: co-directing the studio's big summer animation release, "Tarzan," one of whose characters (mother gorilla Kala) was voiced by actress Glenn Close.

"You direct more like a live-action director," she told Lima. "Have you ever though about doing something other than animation movies?"

Him: "I'd never touched a live-action camera ..."

Within a year or two, though, Lima was directing the live-action Close in "102 Dalmatians," followed in 2007 by the crown jewel in his directing canon, "Enchanted," with Amy Adams.

For the second Lincoln Film Festival, Lima is bringing along the one that started it all, "A Goofy Movie," in a newly remastered copy being shown for the first time to an audience.

The restoration was triggered when Lima attended a revival of the film in Los Angeles several months ago.

"I went to see it and I was appalled at the quality," he recalls. That shocking state of the film (faded, speckled, etc.) motivated Lima to ask the studio if a DCP (digital cinema package) could be created for the film.

His wish, their command: "You are going to see it for the first time since its 1995 release in a pristine, beautifully restored version," promises Lima.

What he also learned from that recent L.A. revival is that "A Goofy Movie" has evolved over time into a bona fide cult movie for the generation weaned on it.

"Oddly enough, it seems to have become a cult classic among those kids, who are now in their mid 20s and early 30s, and who watched it over and over on VHS and DVD," says Lima. 

At the showings, "they were communicating with the film like they were watching 'The Rocky Horror Picture Show,' coming in costume and speaking the lines along with the characters on the screen. It made me realize that this movie has touched a generation of moviegoers in a way we didn't see coming. It's very surprising, their dedication to it."

Meanwhile, you may be reading it here first: After three decades of working separate career paths, Lima and Chapman are finally collaborating full-force on a new project.

He'll only describe it as "a 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?' for a new generation."

Oh, and one more thing: "For the first time, it's going to combine every style of animation that's ever been done ... in the whole history of the movies."

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