Sunday, March 3, 2024

Star Wars Celebration 2023: Final Recap

The last day of “Star Wars Celebration” 2023, mostly scheduled to dedicate its panels to the art of animation, began with welcoming fans to Celebration Stage to discuss fan-favorite series “Star Wars: The Bad Batch,” which just recently had its season 2 finale.

The panel began by welcoming Brad Rau (supervising director), Jennifer Corbett (head writer), Athena Yvette Portillo (executive producer), and Dee Bradley Baker (“The Bad Batch”), who walked onto the stage with “The Bad Batch” cosplay group, and finally Michelle Ang (Omega). The panel was primarily focused on the conclusion of season 2 and the characters’ journey thus far, exploring the twists and turns that led to Cid’s betrayal of the Bad Batch and the imprisonment of Omega and Crosshair in the Emperor’s new cloning facility. From here, panelists teased fans about what they’re about to see, soon revealing that the 3rd season is now in production and will be the series’ final outing. But they did not leave fans with just words, as an exclusive teaser played for the audience – showing a glimpse of Palpatine’s (Ian McDiarmid) more substantial presence throughout the season and the return of Fennec Shand (Ming-Na Wen). The teaser also shows more clones returning, with Commander Wolff being spotted. The trailer’s focus, and assuming the season, centers around the Empire’s new cloning facility that now holds Crosshair and Omega captive after the cliffhanger ending of the second season.

What followed became by far the biggest panel of the day and the entire weekend, surpassed only by the opening day’s “Lucasfilm Showcase Panel,” while maintaining the focus on animation as Lucasfilm presented Volume 2 of “Star Wars Visions.” The panel opened by welcoming Lucasfilm executive producers Jacqui Lopez, James Waugh, and Josh Rimesto to answer the question: “How does Volume 2 differentiate from Volume 1”. Creators elaborated on how they want the series to become a global event and explored how different cultures interpret the vast galaxy of “Star Wars,” which gave way for the panel to highlight and go in deep with each creator from the studios working on every episode of the upcoming Volume 2, which was revealed to premiere on the upcoming Star Wars Day: May the 4th. While the first volume of shorts highlighted some of the biggest anime studios in Japan, Volume 2 showcases talents from several different continents all around the world: El Guiri from Spain, Cartoon Saloon from Ireland, Punkrobotfrom Chile, Aardman from England, Studio Mir from South Korea, Studio La Cachette from France, 88 Pictures from India, D’Art Shtajio from Japan will collaborate with Lucasfilm and finally Triggerfish from South Africa. Fans in attendance were treated to the first trailer’s debut ahead of its online release, highlighting the diverse animation styles and the different narratives and tones the upcoming collection of shorts will explore. The panel then invited creators from each studio to discuss their work a bit.

Rodrigo Blaas will direct Spain’s El Guiri short, which will be called “Sith,” exploring a Force user’s connection to their power, not only for combat but also to create art. Cartoon Saloon’s Paul Young will direct “Screecher’s Search” and has vigorously implemented tales of Irish folklore into his Star Wars story. Gabriel Osorio will bring us “In the Stars” through Punkrobotin, a story inspired by events in Chile’s history from the early 1900s. Magdalena Osinska will take on Aardman’s “I Am Your Mother,” which fans in attendance were treated to, a classic Aardman animation bringing joy, hilarity, and sweetness to the world of Star Wars, a short filled with easter eggs that are sure to leave fans gleeful for more. Studio Mir’s “Journey to the Dark Head” is helmed by Park Hyeong Geun and centers around a war between the Sith and Jedi, as well as its wider ramifications in the galaxy. Julien Chheng will direct Studio La Cachette’s “The Spy Dancer,” a short inspired by the war stories of everyday people infiltrating troop-infested bars, saloons, and all sorts of communal spaces so they could retrieve information during times of war. 88 Pictures’ “The Bandits of Golak” is directed by Milind D. Shinde, who could not be present as he had just become a father to a baby boy. The short centers around the story of a brother and sister on a runaway train; it will be strongly inspired by India’s history and even have an inquisitor dawning classic Indian infantry garbs. LeAndre Thomas, a Lucasfilm veteran, will team up with D’ART SHTAJIO to bring fans “The Pit,” the story of a royal family in Star Wars. Finally, Nadia Darries & Daniel Clarke will co-direct Triggerfish’s “Aau’s Song,” by far the most unique looking short in the collection, mixing 3D with stop-motion and using felt figures for its character designs, and it will tell the intimate story of a father and his daughter. To close the panel, fans were gifted a poster of the upcoming second volume of shorts.

To close the day and the event as a whole, the classic “Star Wars Celebration Closing Ceremony,” by far the shortest panel of the entire event, brought together all four stages at the London ExCel in celebrating not only the saga that brought everyone together, but the whole weekend and the many great news, reveals and announcements that were offered to fans in London, and around the world. Both fans and talent rejoiced together, seeing the images captured and the memories made that for sure will be cherished for years to come. And, as is tradition, the final note to send fans home was indeed the ultimate reveal of where the next “Star Wars Celebration” will take place: April 18th-20th, 2025, in Japan, ending the yearly streak of the event and going back to the original every two-year rhythm, making way for the big 50thanniversary Celebration to take place in 2027, presumably in Anaheim California.

“Star Wars Celebration” indeed slowed down after its big first day and panel, but that didn’t sway fans’ love and dedication for the franchise any less. While many were questioning if the event would feel like anything extraordinary, given how much the franchise finds itself in limbo at the moment, this year’s Celebration made one thing certain: “Star Wars” is alive and well, and “Star Wars” is for everyone. The excitement and the love (from fans, creators, and talent) are anything but dormant, and it looks like the holiday weekend was precisely what the Saga, and all its die-hard lovers, needed as they head into the future, looking towards the stars and the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

What was your favorite piece of news from “Star Wars: Celebration” this year? Please let us know in the comments section below or over on our Twitter account.

You can follow Renato and hear more of his thoughts on the Oscars and Film on Twitter at @RenGeekness

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