FESTIVAL INTERNATIONAL du COURT METRAGE Lille, France – 9 to 13 October 2013
Sunday November 10th 2013, 5:58 am
Filed under: Festivals
MIXING ANIMATION AND LIVE ACTION FILMS MAKES A TASTY FEAST FOR THE EYES
I was delighted when the Festival International du Court Metrage in Lille, France invited me to be on their jury this year. Nik and I had been to the festival last year to present a program on the history of animation and I had enjoyed the opportunity to see the live action short films in competition as well as the animation competitions which were in separate programs.
This year the festival made the jury’s job interesting and challenging by dividing the competition screenings into 3 International and 2 National (French) programs with live action and animation screened together in both categories. I thought that it was going to be difficult to judge both types of films in one program, like comparing apples and oranges, but good film is good film no matter what format it immediately stands out.
Aside from doing our jury duty together I really enjoyed spending time with my fellow jurors. I already knew British animation director Emma Burch, who I met last year when her first short film Being Bradford Dillman won the L’ Hybride Audience Award at the festival. I had never met our fellow juror Herve Le Phuez, film programmer for the International French Speaking Film Festival in Namur, Belgium. He is very charming and knowledgeable about film. Our jury discussions after each screening were actually a pleasure as the screenings gave us a lot to talk about.
|Nancy, Herve Le Phuez, Emma Burch and festival organizer Julie Charnay|
The quality of programming was very high this year. There were films that I had seen and enjoyed before, such as the delightful Mademoiselle Kiki of Montparnos. When we arrived at our final decision we awarded the Best National Film Award to Mademoiselle Kiki stating that the film completely captured the French spirit and that the richness of the different styles perfectly represents the historic persons who were part of Kiki’s life. She was someone all three of us wanted to know more about.
There were also many new surprises. Les Lezards (The Lizards) by French director Vincent Mariatte was a delightful live action film. I could not help but fall in love with the two loveable losers, Leon and Bruno, who are waiting in a Turkish bath house where Leon has arranged to meet a girl he met on the internet. The use of black and white perfectly captures the expressions on the faces of the two lead characters, played by Vincent Macaigne and Benoit Forgeurd. I was told that Macaigne is the face of the fresh new wave of French cinema and a very popular film star. I don’t want to give away the plot of the film because it is worth seeing. The expression on the two characters faces at the end of the film is priceless. We awarded Les Lezards a Special Mention in the National Competition.
No matter how excellent a live action film is, animation is still my first love and there was a wide variety of entertaining animation. The Mystery of Malakka Mountain (Tajemnica Gory Malakka) by Polish animator Jakub Wronski is about a boy growing up and the need to know the truth about his missing flying father, an aviation hero. What I liked even more than the story was the intriguing stylized look of the film a-la the style of German-American Pop Artist Richard Lindner.
Hungarian animator Peter Vacz’s Rabbit and Deer (Nyuszi Es Oz) brought a smile to my face. It is a charming film about the friendship between two loveable characters whose peculiar dilemma leads to a bittersweet end. The opposition of the simple hand drawn style and the 3-D puppet animation worked perfectly to illustrate the rabbit and deer’s radically changed situation. The film is engaging to both children and adults and we selected it as the award winner of the Young Audience from 5 to 8 years old award. In our jury statement we said that “we chose this film for its clever combination of 2D and 3D animation which helped us find our inner child”.
I am a strong believer in the power of animated docs to tell difficult stories that would be too painful in live action. Swiss animators Sam and Fred Guillaume have given life to the often silent voice of the homeless in La Nuit De L’Ours (The Night of the Bear). The Guillaumes put the voices of homeless people telling their own stories of how they ended up living on the street into the bodies of animals who come to the bear’s home every night for a hot meal and a bed. The film touched me and I am happy to say that the audience shared my feelings. Far too often the Audience Award goes to a short funny film, but the audience in Lille showed their taste and sensitivity by awarding The Night of the Bear the Audience Choice Award.
One other live action film really deserves a mention. The Mass of Men by British director Gabriel Gauchet was inspired by the 2011 London riots and the government’s response to the frustration and disillusionment of the masses of unemployed trapped in the rules of the uncaring system. In this dark comedy, Richard arrives three minutes late for his job center appointment and his case worker, trapped in the rigid rules of the system, has no choice but to penalize him with a week’s suspension of his benefit check. A frustrated Richard gets help from an unexpected event and in the end he decides to take matters into his own hands. All during the festival this powerful portrayal of a terrible indignity suffered by people throughout the world kept coming back to mind. My fellow jurors were also moved by the film and we awarded it the International Grand Prix.
One of the highlights of the festival each year is Animation Night. For nine hours from 9 PM to 6 AM the historic Sebastopol Theatre floor and two balconies were packed with over 1,200 animation fans that were treated to a wide selection of shorts and video clips ranging from the sublime to the absurd. Throughout the night three feature films were screened, Frankenweenie, the beautifully done Spanish puppet animation O Apostolo, and to finish off the night Amer Beton, Michael Arias’ 2006 adaptation of the Japanese comic by Taiyo Matsumoto. This year Anima’est in Bucarest, who also presents a similar night of animation at their festival, was invited to program three hours of Animated Nights.
People arrived with their pillows and blankets ready for a night of fun viewing. Breakfast was served to the hardy survivors at dawn. For the price of 15 Euros (10 Euros for students) nine hours of animation and breakfast is a great bargain and worth a trip to the festival even if you didn’t see any other program. It is also an excellent way for the festival to build audiences for their competition programs.
|Midnight outside the San Sebastopol theater between Night of Animation shows|
On Friday morning there was the Innovative Tools for Visual and Media Literacy. The half day event of talks and demonstrations featured European designers of visual literacy tools such as serious games, web platforms, software, touch tablets, etc. as well as university professors, consultants, and representatives of French and European public organizations such as the British Film Institute. The event attracted a large crowd and gave professionals and students an opportunity to ask questions and exchange ideas.
The festival wasn’t all about watching and listening. The 48 Hour short film marathon gave teams of students the opportunity to be creative. This year’s theme Laws of Gravity was randomly picked out of a hat at 6:30 Friday evening. Each team had two days to make a short film of no less than four minutes. The films were screened for the public on Sunday evening. The winning film was selected by a panel of professionals from various branches of the animation world.
Last year I thought that it was a shame that we were not given an opportunity to meet the film makers who were at the festival. This year The Brunch solved that problem. Sunday morning over a lovely selection of fruit, cheese, a croissant, and delicious paté the film makers were interviewed and the audience was given the opportunity to ask them questions. I was particularly interested to hear what French film maker Caroline Poggi had to say about her live action film Chiens (Dogs).
When I saw Caroline’s 24 minute film set in the mountains of Corsica in the National Competition program I thought that the film was visually stunning. It’s a fascinating picture about a young man living alone with his dogs in a remote mountain cabin, however I still don’t understand the shocking ending of the film and I’m sorry to say that Caroline’s interview didn’t shed any light on the ending nor did I have a chance to talk to her privately. I don’t want to give the ending away but, I am still thinking about the film and am as confused as when I saw it.
At the awards ceremony I was amazed to hear the Young Jury announce that their special mention award went to Chiens. I am sorry that I did not have the opportunity to talk to them about their choice after the ceremony. The young jury was made up of school students from Lille and its twin city Esch-Sur-Alzette, Luxembourg and I heard that they had quite heated discussions about the films and it took quite a while for them to reach a decision.
After the evening screenings at L’Hybride the comfy couches that are the theatre seats were replaced with canvas reclining chairs for an interactive project created by the Collective/1 Minute 69 during their spring residency at L’Hybride. The audience was given laser pointers which we aimed at various points around the room while a video streamed on two walls. There was also an installation in an alcove on the third wall. When a laser beam hit a correct point it would change the action on the video or reveal hidden things in the alcove installation. It was great fun to sit in the beach chairs and be part of the experience bringing hidden images to life.
|L’Hybride screening room|
|Digital Stories interactive presentation|
The main part of the festival takes place in two locations. L’Hybride is a music, art, and film venue with a homey feel and friendly bartenders. Gare Saint Savuers is a former train station that has been converted into an arts and events space. The renovated complex is also home to a trendy hotel, café, and exhibition space. Although Gare Saint Savuers lacks the cozy charm of L’Hybride, it does have an excellent screening room.
|The professional jury on the grounds of Gare Saint Sauveur. L to R - Nancy, Herve Le Phuez and Emma Burch|
Last year the Closing Ceremony was held at the Sebastopol Theatre and was immediately followed by Animated Nights. This year the all night event was held on a separate evening at the Gare Saint Savuers theater. This was much better because last year even though the winners were presented their awards on the stage of the beautiful theatre and a film clip was screened, they were lost in the shuffle of a theatre full of people who were waiting for the “main event”. Unfortunately, unlike last year, none of the winning filmmakers were physically present this year but they all sent video thank-yous and the ceremony felt like the standalone event it deserves to be. A full list of the award winners appears at the end of the article.
|The young jury at the Gare Saint Suaveur theater|
The International Short Film Festival is organized by Les Rencotres Audiovisuelles which is dedicated to show-casing independent film, visual creations, and digital arts. They also develop educational projects in schools. CineSoup is their short film traveling program. They also have Thursday through Sunday screenings at L’Hybride year round as well as offering digital residencies. In addition to the short film festival they also put on Animation Fest held both in Lille and in the nearby city of Tourcoing which brings professionals in the animation and digital arts together with animation students from throughout Europe.
I cannot thank Festival director Julie Charnay enough for inviting me to be part of the festival this year. She and her fantastic staff were so kind and the hospitality was so generous. A special thank you goes to Cyril Mouthier who made sure that the jury was always on time and arranged for us to have a driver whenever we needed one. Last but not least was the large army of volunteers who were always there to help in any way they could. I have served on many juries and this festival gave me one of the clearest, easy to follow schedules of when and where I had to be along with an easy to use jury book which I appreciated. I have served on some juries where they give you a pad of paper, and that’s it.
I came home with such lovely memories of the festival and urge anyone who is invited to accept. You will have a wonderful time at an exciting festival in a beautiful town. You can visit the festival’s website for more information at:
Professional Jury: Emma Burch, Herve La Phuez, and Nancy Denney-Phelps
GRAND PRIX NATIONAL – 3 days of sound post production provided by Le Fresnoy
Mademoiselle Kiki et les Montparnasse (Madam Kiki of Montparnasse) - Amelie Harrault, France
SPECIAL MENTION (NATIONAL)
Les Lezards (The Lizards) –Vincent Mariette, France
GRAND PRIX INTERNATIONAL -3.000 Euros in material rental (cameras and machinery) provided by Next Shot
The Mass of Men (La masse des homes) – Gabriel Gauchet, Great Britian
SPECIAL MENTIONS (International)
Sevilla – Bram Schouw, The Netherlands
GRAND PRIX JUNENE PUBLIC (Films for the Young Audience) – Funding worth 1.000 Euros provided by Pictanovo
Nyuszi es Oz (Rabbit and Deer) – Peter Vacz, Hungary
SPECIAL MENTION IN FILMS FOR THE YOUNG AUDIENCE
Merci mon chien (A Dog’s Life) – Julie Rembauville and Nicolas Bianco-Levrin, France
PRIX DU PUBLIC – 1.500 Euros in equipment provided by Key Grip Systems
La Nuit de l’Ours (The Night of the Bear) – Sam snd Fred Guillaume, Switzerland
Young Jury: Made up of young people from Lille and its twin city Esch-sur-Alzette
PRIX DU JURY JEUNE (Young Jury Award) – 3.000 euros of equipment rental provided by CinePL
Penny Dreadful – Shane Atkinson, United States
SPECIAL MENTION DU JURY JEUNE (Special Mention of the Young Jury)
Chiens (Dogs) – Philippe Gamer, France
PRIX DU JEUNE PUBLIC (PRIZE OF THE YOUNG AUDIENCE0
Der Klein Vogel und das Blatt (The Little Bird and the Leaf) – Lena von Dohren, Switzerland
PRIX DES TRES COURTS (BEST VERY SHORT FILM)
The Chase –Philippe Gamer, France
LE CHOIX DU PUBLIC DE L’HYBRIDE (AWARD FROM THE L’HYBRIDE AUDIENCE)
Memorable Moi (Remember Me) Jean-Francois Asselin, Canada
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF KROKING DOWN THE RIVER: KROK International Animation Film Festival 1 - 10 September, 2013 - Odessa to Kiev, Ukraine on the MS Dnieper Star
Monday October 21st 2013, 9:49 am
Filed under: Festivals
KROK International Animated Film Festival celebrated its 20th birthday this year and oh what a nine-day birthday party it was! Breaking with the usual festival tradition of showing the first competition program at a theatre followed by a welcome dinner on the ship on opening night, we were taken to a beach club overlooking the Black Sea in Odessa. From the moment we arrived at the opening ceremony at the beautiful Otrada Beach Club, I knew that it was going to be a special year.
|The KROK banner on our boat|
There were welcome speeches and a special salute by Yuri Norshtein to Edward Nazarov, Russian president of the festival who was sadly unable to sail with us this year. Then came a live demonstration of the unique art of Hungarian sand animator Ferenc Cako, a member of the jury this year. This was followed by a screening of the French feature film The Day of the Crows directed by Jean-Christopher Dessaint, and a sumptuous feast served under the stars on the club’s lawn.
KROK was not the only one celebrating a birthday this year. The renowned Pilot Studio, the first independent Soviet Film Studio, is 25 years old this year. The retrospective screening “Pilot Studio is 25 Years Old — A story of success, struggle, and creation . . .” paid tribute to the legion of films that the studio has produced and the man whose vision and stubborn determination created this great studio again all odds, Alexander Tatarsky.
Alexander brought together a group of talented, like-minded animators to create Pilot’s first film Lift 1 as well as Igor Kovalev’s classic Kafkaesque Hen His Wife. Working in a dilapidated church under very difficult conditions, the studio fostered young talent and built up a stunning body of post-perestroika films.
Tatarsky’s greatest legacy is The Pile of Gems project, a series of short animations based on fairy tales from all of the former Soviet Union’s many diverse regions. Launched in 2004 the films are made in different styles by various top Russian and Ukrainian animators. To date Pilot has released more than 60 of these delightful films that continue to win awards at festivals around the world.
Sadly, Alexander Tatarsky is not here to see the success of his beloved Pile of Gems project because he unexpectedly passed away in 2007, but his spirit and love of life lives on in the films that Pilot Studio continues to create. Tatarsky was known for his immense sense of humor and each year since his passing, the KROK festival presents The Plasticine Crow trophy in his honor to the most humorous film at the festival. The trophy is names after Alexander’s classic 1981 animation The Plasticine Crow, which won numerous awards.
Following the screening of a selection of Pilot short animation’s, film historian Natalia Lukinykh’s moving 2008 documentary Alexander Tatarsky — How to Embrace the Immense was shown. Natalia’s film is part of her The Restless Talents documentary series. Last but not least a group of past and present Pilot studio creators came to the front to say a few words.
|Pilot Studios directors celebrating 25 years of memories with the audience|
For the last two decades the Shar Studio has earned the reputation as the strongest Russian school of animation. The school grew out of the workshop for scriptwriters and directors conducted by such well known animators as Edward Nazarov, Yuriy Norstein, Fedor Khitruk, and Andrey Khrzhanovsky. Current leaders of Russian animation such as Alexander Petrov, Ivan Maximov, and Mikhail Aldashin received their training at the workshop. In the early ‘90’s Shar school-studio was born on the premise of parallel production of new films by experienced professionals and student’s works created during the 2 year course. In the last 2 decades, Shar Studio has earned the reputation as the most important Russian national school of animation and their faculty and students’ films have won more than 50 awards world-wide. One of my favourite films Caution, the Doors Are Opening was created at the school in 2005 by Anastasia Zhuravleva when she was a student of Ivan Maximov, and was included in the school’s retrospective screening. This clever film was made using ordinary things that are found in every home’s sewing basket such as buttons, safety pins and a thimble to tell the story of 24 hours in a Moscow subway station. The 12 films screened were made between 1995 and 2011, and included A Mermaid made in 1996 by Alexander Petrov.
Animated propaganda films have always fascinated me, and I was really looking forward to the Animated Propaganda program of early Ukrainian/Soviet animation. Early avant-garde animated films of the 1920’s were influenced by constructivism and technological experimentation and covered such timely topics as disarmament, social construction, and bureaucracy. Beginning in 1927, animation advertisements, as they were called, were screened prior to a feature film and were often animated in the style of a newsreel, as in The Tale of General Disarmament. The Post paid homage to the organization and perseverance of the Soviet postal service to deliver a letter no matter what obstacles stood in the way and to the valour of the men who delivered the mail.
I was fascinated by Dripreistan, a 1927 propaganda film about the building of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station. The film used animation to show the flooding of the towns behind the dam when it was built. The flooding resulted in the building of a massive set of three chambered locks almost 2 kilometers long, which made navigation by large boats on the river possible. Our boat passed through these locks on our way up the river and it was a very impressive sight indeed.
This year the festival selection committee did an exceptional job, and there were so many wonderful films to watch that I can’t possibly write about them all. One of my favorites was My Mum Is an Aeroplane, by Russian animator Julia Aronova. The colourful hand drawn celebration of the diversity of mothers is very humorous and touching at the same time. The narrative is told in poetic form and Julia told me that the poem was written by Sasha Nochin, a strolling musician with the band Pakava It, based on a story which Julia wrote. I often find the voice of a very young child narrating a film to be annoying, but the voice of the 5 year old boy who narrates this film fits perfectly. I understand that a different child’s voice was used on the US version and I hope it has the same magic quality that the original voice has. My Mum Is an Aeroplane was awarded the Tatarsky Plasticine Crow award for its original humor.
Dutch animator Kris Genijn’s History of Pets is a black humoured trip down memory lane as the narrator recalls all the childhood pets who met their end under most curious circumstances. The film brought back memories to me of the many four legged and reptilian members in my household that I have known and loved over the years.
One of the things that I appreciate about KROK is the opportunity to see not only Russian and Ukrainian animation but films from countries that are not screened often at other festivals such as Moldova, Belarus, and Kazakhstan. DIJ Death Fails created at Simpals Studio in Moldova by Dmitry Voloshin is about a truck driver who falls asleep at the wheel and ends up in the hospital. The grim reaper arrives immediately but as the computer animated film shows, being the Angel of Death isn’t always easy. The film is a pilot for a planned series.
Ukrainian animator Vladimir Goncharov’s Lita Moi took me into the world of renowned Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko. Maria spent her entire life in a very small village but she transformed her world into a colourful fantasy of naive art. Lita Moi, based on Maria’s vivid images, brought life to her paintings, which I saw several years ago in Kiev at the National Museum of Ukranian Folk Art.
In Sherlock Holmes and the Little Chimney Sweeps Ukraine animator Aleklsandr Boubnov has brought the familiar characters of the great detective, his devoted companion Dr Watson and the whole crew that frequented 221B Baker Street to life in a new case that begins with a mysterious explosion of the Admiralty Office fireplace and the theft of classified documents from the safe. I think that it is always chancy when you try to bring really iconic characters that everyone knows to life and I was a bit sceptical about the 34 minute film, but I ended up being totally charmed by it. The cut out animation gave the characters a unique look rather than trying to make them look lifelike and the story was original and charming. A friend who worked on the project told me that Aleksandr made the film as a pilot for a TV series and I think it would definitely be an entertaining show.
I was enthralled by Youri Tcherenkov’s Father Frismas (Le Pere Frimas). Pere Frimas lives on the very top of the highest mountain in the Alps and he controls when and how much snow will fall. Every year he makes sure that the snow covers everything and then suddenly one year nothing happened as usual. The drawn animation is full of delightful characters, two and four legged, and the intricate back ground art was the perfect touch. The 26 minute film was made for French television and at KROK it won the top award in the Films for Children category.
When we weren’t watching films there were plenty of other programs taking place. Coffee Chats with the directors gave everyone a chance to listen to the creators talk about their film and to ask them questions. The 2 hours I spent in the creative presentation by US producer and script writer Charles Swenson titled “US/International Storytelling for Animated Film and Television” was time well spent. Charles who has received an Oscar nomination and won an Emmy for The Rugrats certainly knows what he is talking about when it comes to scriptwriting. He has the added distinction to have not only worked in Hollywood, but also at Pilot Studio where he was the writer and producer of Bookashkis. The 2002 film, directed by Mikhail Aldashin, won numerous awards internationally. Charles is now primarily spending his time painting and when he showed me photos of a number of his canvases, I was quite impressed. You can check out his paintings on this website: charlesgswenson.com
It was great to spend time with my old friends Marcy Page and Normand Roger. Marcy, a Senior producer at the National Film Board of Canada, has been responsible for so many award winning films such as The Danish Poet, Madam Tutli-Putli, and Ryan to name just a few, so I welcomed the opportunity to hear her presentation “Stories From The NFB: Confessions of a Producer”. Being quite the lady, Marcy didn’t have any really scandalous confessions, but she did tell some amusing stories about her adventures at NFB and showed us some wonderful films. Normand gave a Composer’s Masterclass focusing on sound and music in animation.
|Renowned film composer Normand Roger serenading us|
As always at the festival there were several dogs and children on board. The young people were kept busy at their own workshop where, with the assistance of professional animators, the future animators created a film which was screened at the closing night ceremony.
|Russian artist Gosha Likhovetsky helping young animators in the workshop|
Of course KROK is not all about watching film. There is plenty of time for fun, dancing on the top deck, and just watching the world go by from a deck chair as we drifted up the river. Late at night the action was on the top deck where there was music, dancing and lots of drink. One of the nicest customs at KROK is the tradition of bringing out food to share with everyone late at night, which is important because I have learned that when drinking vodka you need to eat a bite or two after each drink. One night the Swiss contingent threw a fondue party on the top deck complete with fondue pot. Some nights the screening room was turned into the Re-Animation Club where different people performed and every night you could find groups of people gathered in the public areas inside playing music, singing and talking.
|Russian director Ivan Maximov DJ-ing on the top deck|
|French director Bastien Dubois and Nancy|
|Russian director Svetlana Andrianova with Nancy|
|Polish directors Izabela Plucinska and Marcin Gizycki with his wife, Agnieszka Gizycka|
|Ferenc Cako takes a break from jury duty to relax on the top deck in Sebastopol harbor|
|Estonian director Hardi Volmer and Nancy|
When you begin to see groups of people with their heads together and they stop talking when anyone approaches you know that Carnival night is getting near. Carnival is a high point of the social life on the boat when everyone dresses up and performs for each other. Right after dinner on the appointed night people start to scurry all over searching for props and costume material and strange noises come from behind cabin doors as acts are rehearsed. I was a part of a six person group along with Karin Vandenrydt, programmer at Anima Brussels, Noemie Marsily and Carl Roosens from Brussels who were at KROK with their lovely film Around the Lake, Dutch animator Kris Genijn, whose History of Pets made me smile, and Mukund Bhalkeghare from Studio Eeksaurus in India. This year the carnival theme was Noah’s Ark and we brought Noah’s Ark Restaurant to life parading the regulations posted outside our shipboard restaurant such as “No outside beverages in the dining room” and the “do not change your table” rule. Mukund skilfully played a waiter and the rest of us were various unruly animals. To add to the effect the ship’s restaurant kindly loaned us table clothes and plates and the restaurant staff who came to Carnival got a hearty laugh out of our performance. Performances at Carnival are always one of those “you had to be there to see it” events. The audience and Carnival jury thought that we were quite funny and we were lucky enough to win a very fitting prize of a whole watermelon, dried fish, and cans of beer which we took to the top deck to share with everyone later that night.
|Nancy’s Carnival group getting ready to go on stage|
There were group excursions at various ports of call but since I have been on this trip several times I opted for my own adventures. KROK means step in Russian and this year our boat, the MS Dnieper, left from Odessa as we began our steps up to Kiev. No matter how many times I have been there I always have my picture taken on the 192 stairs of the Odessa Steps which Eisenstein made famous in his classic film Battleship Potemkin.
|Karin Vandenrydt, programmer at Anima Brussels with Nancy on the Odessa Steps|
Odessa more than deserves its nickname of The Pearl of the Black Sea. The wide boulevards are lined with sycamore and chestnut trees and the beautiful classic architecture make an elegant impression. Odessa has a massive outdoor market full of all sorts of unexpected treasurers. On every visit I get a pair of thick woollen socks made by the Bubas who sit in their stalls knitting which I use inside my winter slippers. All through the cold months I think of sunny Odessa as I put on my slippers. I was also glad to see that our favorite Mexican restaurant was still there because they make some of the best Mexican food I have eaten in Europe.
Sailing into Sebastopol’s elegant harbour is always breath taking. During the Soviet era Sebastopol, home to the Soviet navy, was closed to non-residents who had to apply to the authorities for temporary visitor’s permits to enter the city. Now it is a prime holiday destination and as you stroll the broad main street, you hear a wide variety of languages spoken.
|The Ukrainian Naval Band serenaded our boat when we arrived in Sebastopol|
|On the deck, KROKers enjoying the Naval Band|
|David Cherkassky, Ukrainian President of KROK at the Sebastopol harbor|
Once again this year I took the local bus out to the old Greek ruins where my favourite beach is located. As I walk through the ruins of Chersones it always amazes me to realize that the tile work I am walking over is more than 2,500 years old. This year the weather was cool and windy but I did brave the elements for a quick dip in the Black Sea.
Visits to ports are fun but I enjoy it even more when our boat sails out of Sebastopol and we leave the Black Sea to sail up the Dnieper River. The stops at ports are fewer and shorter so we are all together creating our own fun every evening.
Sailing into Kiev was a bittersweet moment. As the giant titanium Motherland statue followed by the golden domes of the Kiev Perchersk Lavra came into view, it meant that another year of KROK was almost over; but a day in the beautiful city of Kiev lay ahead before the closing ceremony that evening. The ceremony was held at the House of Cinema where the Ukrainian office of KROK is located.
The ceremony began with the screening of the young people’s film. Then came a documentary of our 9 day adventure made by videographer Igor Koziyanchuk. Igor seemed to be everywhere on board, catching everything with his camera and it was delightful to relive our adventure there on the screen. The film will be shown again next year at the Opening Ceremony of KROK 2014. Hungarian sand artist Ferenc Cako also gave us another live demonstration of his fascinating art of sand animation.
|KROK bells waiting to be awarded to the winners|
Finally it was time for the jury to take the stage to announce their decisions to the audience full of animators and dignitaries. This year’s jury was composed of Evgueni Delioussine, Russian born director who now lives in the United States; Ukrainian director Stepan Koval; Maria Mouat, Russian Director; Estonian cameraman and scriptwriter Janno Poldma; and Hungarian animator and sand animation master Ferenc Cako. The 2013 Grand Prix was awarded to Feral by Daniel Sousa from the United States. A complete list of all of the winning films is at the end of this article.
|Nancy toasts Swiss director Dustin Reese on his win in the 5 to 10 minute film catagory|
Following the ceremony we returned to the boat for our farewell feast. Amidst all of the delicacies we were served, including the eating of the traditional Chicken Kiev in Kiev and copious amounts of vodka and wine, we partied the night away with no one wanting to remember that it would be our last night together.
It is said that the friends that you make at KROK are your friends for life and after many years sailing on the KROK boat I know that this is very true. I never think of it as goodbye to everyone but just see you soon, and I am already looking forward to KROK 2014 which will be the student year sailing in Russia. You can learn more about KROK International Animation Festival on their website: www.krokfestival.com
The International Jury Committee consisting of Ferenc Cako (Hungary) – The Head of the Jury Committee, Janno Põldma (Estonia), Maria Mouat (Russia), Stepan Koval (Ukraine), Evgueni Delioussine (USA)
In the category “Films up to 5 minutes”:
- Diploma “For the tragic comedy in 3D” – to “Dji. Death Fails”, director Dmitry Voloshin (Moldova);
- Diploma “For the daintiness of the style” to “Choir Tour”, director Edmunds Jansons (Latvia;
- Diploma “For proving that the size doesn’t matter” to “A Different Perspective”, director Chris O’Hara (Ireland);
- Prize in the category – to “I Saw Mice Burying a Cat”, director Dmitry Geller (Russia, China).
In the category “Films of 5 – 10 minutes”:
- Diploma “For the exquisite attention towards the Most Intimate” to “Lay Bare”, director Paul Bush (Great Britain);
- Diploma “For having created her own “Taj Mahal”” to “Chinti”, director Nataliya Mirzoyan (Russia);
- Prize in the category – to “Borderline”, director Dustin Rees (Switzerland).
In the category “Films of 10 – 50 minutes”:
- Diploma “For a new approach to the interpretation of a classical detective story” to “Sherlock Holmes and Little Chimney Sweeps”, director Aleksandr Bubnov (Ukraine);
- Diploma for “For the artistic and airy presentation of the sombre topic” to “One for the Road”, director Lander Ceuppens (Belgium);
- Prize in the category – to “Mother and Son”, director Andrey Ushakov (Russia).
In the category “Films for Children”:
- Diploma “For the non-boring education” to “The Old Piano Fairy-Tails. Bach”, director Elena Petkevich (Russia, Belarus);
- Prize in the category and $4000 - to “Father Frismas”, director Youri Tcherenkov (France).
In the category “Applied and commissioned animation”:
- Diploma “For the ironic look at the contemporary art” to “The Erarta Museum Advertising”, director Dmitriy Vysotskiy (Russia);
- Diploma “For the best presentation of the folk song… “Once when I served my landlord”” to “Once When I Served My Dear Landlord”, director Mikhail Tumelya (Belarus);
- Prize in the category – to “Shape”, directors Katarzyna Kijek, Przemyslaw Adamski (Poland, Japan).
- Special jury prize “For the expressiveness of the cinematic style” to “Palmipedarium”, director Jeremy Clapin (France);
- Special jury prize “For the streetcar called “Desire”” to “Tram”, director Michaela Pavlatova (France);
- Special jury prize “For the First Professional Film” and 5000$ to “To Santiago”, director Mauro Carraro (Switzerland);
- Special Alexander Tatarskiy prize “The Plasticine Crow” – “Virtuoso Pilot” and 8000$ to “My Mum Is an Aeroplane”, director Julia Aronova (Russia).
- Grand Prix and $10,000 to “Feral”, director Daniel Sousa (USA).
CHILEMONOS 2014 - CALL FOR ENTRIES
Wednesday October 09th 2013, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Festivals
CHILEMONOS 2014 – From Arica to the Antarctic, a Festival for Chile
CHILEMONOS 2014 will be held from May 6 to May 11, 2014 and is now announcing a CALL FOR ENTRIES. “We invite animators from around the world to take part in our competition”.
Last year we received more than 400 entries, and we expect to receive more than 600 entries for CHILEMONOS 2014”, adds the eager Wilo.
Rules for Entries can be found at: http://issuu.com/chilemonos/docs/bases_2014_ing
The festival will soon announce its international guests – be prepared to be surprised.
CHILEMONOS is preparing for its 2014 edition with screenings across Chile, with a selection of the best Latin American animated movies oriented for all the family.
This important new animation festival continues to grow in gigantic steps. A few months ago, the second edition of CHILEMONOS festival surprised us, presenting of some of the best animation in the world and highlighted international guests such as Brenda Chapman and Shinichiro Watanabe.
In its third edition, CHILEMONOS won’t stop its surprises and announces its coming to Chile and the world. Festival director Erwin “Wilo” Gómez comments “We want this animation party, CHILEMONOS, to reach all the fans of animation in the country. For this we are preparing to make simultaneous presentations of the festival in Chile’s different regions”.
The festival is not only expanding its reach inside Chile, but is also strengthening its ties with our neighbors. For the next festival 2014, we will present acclaimed movies from our South American neighbors, focusing on film for the family audience, screened in big cinemas.
Wilo adds “We know that children by nature are a massive animation audience, and for this we picked out special movies for them to come to the cinemas with their families”. Among the selected films are the Peruvian production “Rodencia and the Princess’s tooth”, “Foosball” from Argentina and “AninA” from Uruguay, among others.
MONSTRA 2014 - Call for Entries
Tuesday September 17th 2013, 2:06 pm
Filed under: Festivals
MONSTRA 2014 - Call for Entries for Feature Films, Short Films and TV Series, Student Films and Super-Short Films
We are proud to announce that the 13th Edition of MONSTRA – Lisbon Animated Film Festival will take place from 13th to 23rd March 2014.
MONSTRA is a festival where experimentation/research, crossing over new artistic approaches, forms and proposals takes place.
The main aim of Lisbon Animated Film Festival is the presentation and promotion of the world’s best animation. This year’s festival edition includes competition, retrospectives, workshops, master classes, exhibitions and interdisciplinary projects.
We invite you to submit your feature film, short film, TV series, student film or super short film to the International Animated Film Competition until the 15th of November 2013.
The Competition Categories are:
- Feature Films
- Short Films and TV Series
- Student Films
- Super-Short Films
Please submit your film online here.
More information: email@example.com
If you do not submit your film online, download your Entry Form here.
You can check our Regulations here.
ANIBAR ANIMATION FESTIVAL 9-14 August 2013 Peja, Kosovo
Friday August 30th 2013, 6:16 am
Filed under: Festivals
ANIBAR IS EVEN BETTER THE SECOND TIME AROUND
Sometimes when you attend an animation festival for the second time it isn’t quite as exciting as you remember,but this is certainly not the case with the Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo. This year the film programming was excellent and the staff so warm and gracious and I returned home with many happy memories.
|Festival Director Rron Bajri with guests in front of the festival office|
Anibar not only brings excellent animation to the community, the festival also has a strong emphasis on ecology . Peja is located at the edge of a plain with beautiful mountains rising above it. The mountains are a popular rock climbing area in the summer and are known for skiing in the winter. The stream running through the center of the city flows down from pristine springs in the mountains. To educate people to the importance of caring for their beautiful surroundings, promote sustainable living and lower the impact of the festival on the environment, Anibar has inaugurated a series of down to earth programs that festival goers could participate in called Earth. To manage waste and promote local products everyone that brought empty aluminum cans for recycling to the information booth received local organic tea as a reward.
The number of visitors traveling to the festival from outside Peja increases every year. People were encouraged to bicycle to the festival instead of driving to help reduce the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Everyone who peddled from their city to Peja was rewarded with free admission to screenings based on the number of kilometers they biked. Free water was available so that visitors didn’t have to buy bottled water. There was also a daily workshop for kids using a variety of materials that are usually thrown away to create animation. As a lead-in to the festival, the volunteers mounted a campaign to put up graffiti highlighting Anibar all over town.
|Anibar grafitti on a wall|
|Anibar is everywhere; photo by Mohamed Ghazala|
Nik and I were invited to the festival began so that Nik could give a Master Class specifically for the volunteers about the relation between music and animation. It was also Nik’s turn to serve on the International Jury along with our old friend Andrea Martignoni, Italian sound designer and composer, and Albanian graphic artist Ilir Kaso. With ten programs to watch the jury had their work cut out for them because even though the programs were short, the quality of the competition films was very high. Along with films that have already won numerous awards such as Dutch animator Hisko Hulsing’s Junkyard and Feral by Daniel Sousa from the United States there were also many new delights.
|International Jurors Ilir, Nik and Andrea show their impartiality as a recording of their deliberation plays for the closing ceremony; photo by Mohamed Ghazala|
In keeping with the festival theme Earth, Spanish animators Joseph Prim and Fernando Maldonado’s Shave it was screened as part of the opening night ceremony. The five minute film is the story of a monkey in a jungle where bulldozers are destroying all of the trees and vegetation. The monkey finds a razor and uses it to shave his body. With a human appearance, he moves to the city and sets out to conquer the world of business and gain political power. When he is elected President he is ready to make changes. The other two opening night films were the twenty-five second film Performance and Feral.
Capturing a convincing portrait of Alzheimer’s from the afflicted person’s point of view is very difficult. Polish claymation master Izabela Plucinska made a very good portrayal of it with her latest film Liebling (Darling). The film is a close personal view of a person’s descent into a world of fear where your closest love one becomes a stranger and familiar objects turn into a trap. Izabela has created a captivating picture of the feeling of being lost and alienated, as a woman attempts to put the pieces of her life together without success. The jury seems to have agreed with me because Liebling received the Grand Prix.
|Directors Yann Jouette and Izabela Plucinska, from France and Poland; photo by Ilir Kaso|
French animator Augusto Zanovello’s Women’s Letters touched me deeply. Zanovello used stop motion to tell the story of a medic on a World War One battle field who has run out of bandages and uses love letters to patch up shattered bodies. The emotional story is beautifully animated and very fitting this year because the 100th Anniversary of the start of the First World War is being remembered all over Europe. Women’s Letters has been nominated for the 2013 Cartoon D’Or. The Cartoon D’Or winner will be announced on 19 September at Cartoon Forum in Toulouse, France.
Egyptian animator Mohamed Ghazala, Fatmir Gjevukaj , character designer and painter from Prestina, Kosovo, and Serbian animator Krunoslav Jovic did double duty as jurors for the Balkan films and Student animation. This year there was a big improvement in the quality of the Balkan films. Greece, Serbia, Albania, Turkey, Croatia, and Bulgaria were all represented on the screen.
|Student and Balkan Jurors Mohamed, Krunoslav and Fatmir ready for the closing ceremony awards presentation|
The Unfinished Painting by Rositsa Vangelova from Bulgaria stood out from the other films to me. Her student film combines classic animation with live action to tell the story of a young Surrealist artist trying to complete a painting. The eyes are the last missing piece of the women’s face. No matter how many sketches he draws, his attempts to finish the picture are futile.
The style of the film was influenced by the 20th Century Italian artist Giorgio De Chirico’s work. In his art De Chirico evoked the hidden meanings behind everyday life. His scenes of empty cities, mysterious menacing statutes, and strange combinations of everyday objects inspired the artists of the Surrealist movement.
In the Student category German animator Gottfried Mentor’s Oh Sheep is a favourite of mine. You can read my comments about the film in my 2013 Anima Brussels article.
Israeli animators Liran Kapel and Yael Dekel’s film Nyosha is based on the recollections of Liran’s grandmother during World War II. The true story of Naomi (Nyosha) Kapel, a Polish holocaust survivor, is told by Nyosha herself. I felt that mixing the puppets with drawn animation scenes distracted from the story rather than adding to it but I could overlook that as I listened to the elderly lady recall her dream as a ten year old girl to buy a pair of shoes with shiny buckles on them. The 12 minute film was Liran and Yael’s graduation project at Sapir College in Gaza and I look forward to seeing more interesting, advanced work from them.
Along with the competition screenings and three programs for children, there was a tribute to the great pioneer of Serbian animation Nikola Majdak who passed away earlier this year. In 1963 he made the films The Soloist and The Chalk-Man which were the first animated films made in Belgrade. Nikola’s work on over 300 documentary, feature, and animated films as director, scriptwriter, director of photography, and camera man has influenced a generation of young film makers and he had been honoured with numerous awards world wide.
Nikola was Head of the Department of Film and Television Camera at the Faculty of Dramatic Arts and head of the Animation Department at Dunav Film School. He was also my colleague on the ASIFA International Board (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation) representing Serbia for many years, and I considered him a close friend.
Mohamed Ghazala presented a program of African animation. Many people are surprised to discover that animation thrives all over the African continent. As Mohamed’s program proved this culturally diverse continent has been creating animation since the late 1930’s when the Frenkel Brothers made their first film in Egypt. Moustapha Alassane from Nigeria is one of the most widely known African film makers with more than thirty animated, live action, and documentary films to his credit. He has sat on numerous festival juries as well as winning numerous award for his work. Mohamed’s program included Moustapha’s 1963 film Bon Voyage Sim as well as The Tale of How by South Africa’s Blackheart Gang which has won numerous awards worldwide.
Honayn’s Shoe which earned Mohamed the 2009 Animation Award at the African Academy Awards, with music composed and played by my husband Nik Phelps, was also part of the screening. As well as creating animation Mohamed is an assistant professor at Minia University and has recently published Animation in Africa, the only serious study about African animation. Mohamed is also founder and International Board Member of ASIFA Egypt.
|Nancy, Mohamed and Izabela in front of the historic Bajrakli Mosque|
Unfortunately I did not get to see Animated New Wave, the program of contemporary Italian animation present by Andrea Martignoni. I have already seen several of the films and Andrea gave us 2 DVD’s of Italian animation that has all of the films on them so I will be able to enjoy them at home.
Andrea gave a two day work shop. On the first day he showed films, many of which he had worked on as sound designer and composer, and talked about the art of combining sounds with film. On the second day the workshop members had the opportunity to put what they learned the previous day in action as they took to the streets to record sounds to incorporate into an existing short film.
I presented Stories Women Tell tracing the history of women animators from Lillian Friedman, the first woman to animate at a major animation studio down to the present. Lillian animated and directed at least fifteen films at the Fleischer Brothers studio although she was only credited on six of them. I showed her 1936 Betty Boop – Be Human, a lesson about animal cruelty.
Mary Ellen Bute who lived in New York City is another early unsung heroine. She was a pioneer in mixing music and electronic animation to create what she called “visual music” where abstract images moved in sync with music much as Otto Fischinger was experimenting with at the same time. Symphony # 4 – Escape (1937) is the example of her work that I opted to screen. Everyone is familiar with the brilliant films of Joanna Quinn but Elles (1992) is not shown frequently. I think her hand drawn depiction on two of Toulouse Lautrec’s models taking a lively and boisterous break from posing is a classic. I ended my screening with the 2005 Mind the Gap by Russian animator Anastasia Zhuravieva. This creative depiction of a busy twenty-four hours in a Moscow subway station created using ordinary sewing supplies such as buttons, safety pins, and a zipper is a true classic.
With three cinemas, two of them out doors, workshops, master classes, daily director’s chats, and nightly parties there was plenty to see and do every day. There were also a lot of volunteers to answer questions or help at the information booth. Even though Anibar is only four years old it is full of great young energy. None of the organizers are over twenty-five years of age and two are still at university. The seventy-five enthusiastic volunteers chosen from the one hundred fifty that applied ranged in age from thirteen to eighteen years old.
|Volunteers at the Info Booth|
|At work at the Children’s Activity Tent|
Once again this year an open air theater was created by volunteers at the hill top park’s lake. Unfortunately due to the very dry weather this year the lake was too low for us to be able to watch the films from rubber boats this but it was still a lovely setting for film shows.
Following the evening screenings at the lake there was a nightly dance party with live bands ranging from Reggae to Balkan Rock. The bands were followed by DJ’s for late night dancing. The festival provided a camp ground for visitors in the park forest . There was a nightly campfire at the camp which was the perfect place to relax and have conversations under the stars. After the festival, the staff prides itself on taking down the screen they build at the lake, cleaning the camping area thoroughly and leaving the entire park exactly as they found it.
I was invited to host the director’s chat every afternoon at the Exit Café, the official festival meeting place. I was already friends with many of the guests I interviewed but I had not met Fatmir Gjevukaj prior to Anibar so I was particularly interested to talk to him one on one and hear what questions the audience had to ask him.
Born in Peja, Fatmir lived in Austin, Texas for several years working as a character artist in the video game industry. He is also a very accomplished painter and when he showed us his work I was particularly taken with how expressive the eyes were. It seems to me as if Fatmir looks into the soul of his subject through their eyes.
Gjevukaj told us about the high school he attended in Peja which at the time was the top school in the Balkan’s for the arts. Sadly during the war its quality declined but it is slowly regaining its former prestige. Fatmir and his family returned to Pristina, Kosovo, the capitol city, in 2012 where he is founder and co-owner of the new School of Visual Arts KAP, the first 3D and animation school in Kosovo. There were no short animations at the festival from Kosovo this year but hopefully with Fatmir’s new school this will soon change.
|Fatmir Gjevukaj and Nancy preparing for the director’s chat; photo by Ilir Kaso|
|Interviewing Izabela Plucinska at the Directors’ Chat|
|At the Chat with Ilir Kaso|
After all the talking at the Director’s Chats, many of us stayed at the Exit for a cold beer. A word about the beer, Peja brand beer which is the only beer brewed in Kosovo, is very refreshing and made with the clean, clear water from the mountain springs. August in Peja is extremely hot, sometimes reaching closes to 40 C. (close to 100 degrees) and nothing tastes better that an ice cold beer when it is that hot. Kosovo also has excellent red wine which is perfect for the warm evenings.
One afternoon the festival took the guests up into the mountains to see first-hand the majestic beauty of the Rugova Gorge where the high sheer walls of the gorge are a rock climber’s delight. Anibar Executive Director Vullnet Sanaja is also an avid ecologist and belongs to a group that builds and restores mountain trails. After a drive up the curvy paved mountain road we walked up a dirt road to a trail that Vullnet and his friends are responsible for maintaining. The trail followed a babbling stream up to two waterfalls. Wild life abounds in these mountains and we were told that bears are reported to still live there although no one from Peja in our group had ever seen one. After the walk we were treated to a meal of traditional local specialities at a lovely rustic restaurant in the mountains. The large platters of assorted grilled meat had some of the best goat I have ever eaten on them. Eating at the long tables set outside under a roof covering with open sides and views of the mountains added to the taste of the food and drink.
|Staff and guests on the waterfall trail|
|Izabela Plucinska enjoying the waterfall on our hike in the mountains|
|Mohamed at the waterfall|
The biggest problem with Anibar is that I eat too much. One of my nicest memories from last year was the delicious food that Executive Director Vullnet Sanaja’s mother Nevryze with the help of his cousin Qefsere cooked for the festival guests and staff every evening. It was a special treat to eat home cooking which is quite different from restaurant fare. Once again we were all treated to her special evening meals and it was just as delicious as I remembered.
|One of the fabulous nightly feasts prepared by Nevryze Sanaja|
Nik and I were honored to be invited by Nevryze to lunch at the Sanaja family home. It was so nice to get to know Nevryze and her husband over a delicious, relaxed meal. She is a charming and gracious lady who is a teacher but loves to cook.
Last year Rron Bajri, festival Artistic Director, introduced me to the Qebaptore Te Gega restaurant and I ate lunch there every day. The restaurant serves some of the best grilled meat and peppers that I have ever eaten. The festival staff remembered how much I loved Qebaptore Te Gega so after the hour long drive from Prestina airport Nik and I were taken to the restaurant for a late night welcome feast that we shared with Rron, Fiona, and Vallnet. Rron ordered the largest platter of assorted grilled meat that I have ever seen with cold Peja beer to wash it down and Nik finally got to taste the food I had talked about all year. I introduced my good friend Mohamed to the delights of the restaurant and we ate lunch together almost every day. The restaurant chief even let Mohamed have a go at grilling the meat and I got to grill peppers on the open grill in the front window.
|Peppers and meat ready for the grill at the Qebaptore Te Gega; photo by Mohamed Ghazala|
|Mohamed ready to dig into lunch|
|Nancy at the Qebaptore grill|
Whenever Mohamed and I are at the same festival we make it a point to visit the local market or bazaar together. Peja has a large bazaar surrounding the historic Bajrakli Mosque. The exact date that the mosque was built is unknown but it is believed to date from the first half of the 15th century and the architecture is beautiful. You can find anything at the bazaar where Nik, Mohamed, and I spent many happy hours wondering through the narrow street stalls. Nik and Mohamed bought matching pairs of plaid short pants and I came home with pink high top tennies along with the several extra kilos I gained.
|Mohamed, Nancy and Nik with festival volunteers doing The Walk|
Fiona Beqiri, Rron Bajri, and Vullnet Sanaja were the perfect hosts and I can’t thank them enough for inviting me to Anibar again. I saw a big improvement in attention to detail this year but the staff has a lot more work ahead of them as they are to trying to build a local audience in a community where there is no cinema culture. The only theater closed during the Communist era because the projector and sound system were so terrible that people stopped going. Now it only opens for special screenings such as the festival. Hopefully in the future Anibar will be able to schedule monthly film shows of animated features so that when the yearly festival happens there will be a larger local audience.
|Rron Bajri, Fiona Beqiri and Vullnet Sanaja finally get to relax at the Exit Café after the festival|
I encourage anyone who is invited to Anibar to accept the invitation. You will see a lot of good film, explore a fascinating city, and have an experience that you will never forget. I am already looking forward to next year at Anibar!
I am off to KROK in the Ukraine next and will give you a full account of my adventures when I return.
CALL FOR ENTRIES: 21st Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart (April 22-27, 2014)
Thursday August 29th 2013, 1:11 pm
Filed under: Festivals
Submit your animated films!
Dear filmmakers and friends of animated films,
in 2014 Stuttgart will again open up the doors to the great world of animated film. You would like to be a part of it and show your film to an international audience? The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) will offer a platform to filmmakers, directors and production companies to present their films and give to fans of animated film the chance to watch animated short and feature films of all genres for six days.
The ITFS is one of the biggest and most important international festivals for animated film. It has developed into an essential event within the field of animated film in Germany and worldwide. Around 80,000 visitors and approximately 2,500 accredited professionals attended in 2013. Be a part of it and take the chance to meet well-known filmmakers and young talents, and to participate in numerous workshops, informational events and presentations.
The festival takes into its scope the entire spectrum of current animated film productions, including the intersections between games, architecture, art, design and fashion. Both professionals and friends of animated film appreciate the quality and up-to-date programmes as well as the unique atmosphere at Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz. Information, networking, creativity and professional expertise are major topics at the festival. Together, the ITFS, the Animation Production Day (APD), and the first-class industry conference FMX (Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia) - all taking place concurrently - have developed into a unique and very important platform for the financing and development of animated projects.
Yet it is the art of animation and the promotion of up and coming talent that makes up the core of the ITFS. The various competition categories award cash prizes totalling more than 70,000 Euros.
Be a part of it! You are kindly invited to submit animated films produced after October 01, 2012 to one of the Festival’s following competition categories:
• International Competition (Short film competition)
• AniMovie (Feature-length film competition)
• Young Animation (Student film competition)
• Tricks for Kids – shorts and series (Competition for short films and TV series for children)
• Cartoons for Teens (Competition for short films, series, animes, machinimas and cut scenes from computer games)
SUBMISSION DEADLINE: December 01, 2013
Information on the terms and conditions, the competition categories and the awards as well as entry forms and regulations can be found on our homepage.
Entry forms and film uploads or DVDs have to be received by the Film- und Medienfestival gGmbH until December 01, 2013. To submit your film, please use your ITFS community account or create one. You can access both the online registration form and upload your film with this account. Films may also be submitted on DVD. Please read the regulations carefully. On submitting a film, the applicant agrees to the regulations and accepts that the film can be selected for any of the competitions or for another programme section.
For further information please contact
Phone: +49 (0) 711-92546-115
There are special entry forms for the competition for applied animation Animated Com Award, the German Screenplay Award (from October 15, 2013), and for the Live Animation Competition Crazy Horse Session – 48 h Animation Jam (from November 01, 2013).
More information on the festival you find on www.itfs.de/en.
We are looking forward to your submissions!
Prof. Ulrich Wegenast
Managing Director Programme
Managing Director Organisation, Finances
The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), April 22 – 27, 2014, was founded in 1982 and is one of the largest and most important festivals for animated film worldwide. Prize money of 70,000 Euros is awarded in nine competition categories. The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film works in close co-operation with the FMX, Europe’s biggest Conference on Animation, Effects, Games and Transmedia, attracting industry professionals. Together with the FMX the ITFS holds the business platform Animation Production Day.
FESA Festival - Belgrade, Serbia 31 Aug & 1 Sept
Wednesday August 21st 2013, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Festivals
Last year I was lucky enough to attend this excellent festival of student animation. Anyone who is anywhere near Belgrade should not miss this wonderful event.
Welcome to the FESA FESTIVAL (Festival of European Student Animation) taking place on 31st August and 1st September 2013 in the Big GunPowder Magazine at the Belgrade Fortress - Kalemegdan.
This year’s FESA festival received 71 animated films from 12 schools and 12 countries, twice more than last year.
As the festival has only two competition programs, the selection had to be extremely limited, so only 28 films were selected for the programs.
The following programs will be presented by the jury members:Prof. Georges Sifianos - PROGRAM OF THE ENSAD ACADEMY from Paris
Prof. Thomas Renoldner - PROGRAM OF THE FINE ARTS ACADEMY from Vienna
and Prof. Rastko Ćirić - PROGRAM 65 YEARS OF THE FACULTY OF APPLIED ARTS from Belgrade
WELCOME to the Big GunPowder Magazine!
BEIRUT ANIMATED 3RD EDITION Beirut, Lebanon, 14-18 June 2013
Tuesday August 06th 2013, 4:03 pm
Filed under: Festivals
My first trip to the Middle East proved to be the amazing experience I had expected it to be. Unfortunately I had to miss the first two days of the Beirut Animated Festival due to commitments at Annecy. I left early on Sunday morning from the Geneva airport. My first surprise came when I landed at the Beirut airport. The festival staff had told me that I could purchase a visa when I arrived at the airport, but as it turned out with my official invitation to participate in a cultural event, there was no charge for my visa. Even though I would only be there for four days, the visa was issued to me for a month.
With a minimal staff and a very limited budget, festival director Sarra Maali and her staff have created an impressive festival. Headquartered at the beautiful Metropolis Cinema, it combined the best of Middle Eastern animation with a varied selection of international features and short animated films. The opening night was kicked off with a screening of the French feature The Rabbi’s Cat and I was told that the several hundred seat theatre was full.
|Lina Younes and Nancy at an old outdoor coffee house overlooking the Mediterannean Sea|
Along with giving Lebanese audiences the opportunity to see high quality animation that is seldom screened in local theatres, the festival was designed to be a platform where Lebanese, Arabic, and International animators can meet to exchange ideas and discuss issues related to the production and development of animation. I was very sorry to miss the Saturday afternoon panel discussion about the independent animation scene in Lebanon. According to the catalogue the panel was divided into four sections. Educators discussed how animation is taught in Lebanese Universities, representatives from production companies debated the question of what place does animation have in their yearly production strategies, and three members of the animation community discussed the pros and cons of commercial versus independent work. A showcase of films by independent animators rounded out the program.
The evening screenings began with two programs of Lebanese and Arab short films. I would like to have seen them with an audience but the festival did arrange for me to watch all of the films in a screening room the next day. As might be expected in a city that has been torn apart by Civil War, many of the films centered on coping with memories of war and the past and present threat of being drawn into the bloody Syrian conflict.
I was extremely impressed and moved by Lina Ghaibeh’s film Burj El Murr: Tower of Bitterness. Burj El Murr, built to be the Beirut Trade Center, is a forty story skyscraper begun in 1970 but never completed due to the Civil War (1975 to 1990). Because of its strategic location in the city and its height, the tower was occupied by the armed militia. They used the upper floors as a sniper hideout and the basement as a prison for hostages. Although most of Beirut’s city center was destroyed during the war or razed to the ground during post war reconstruction, Burj El Murr is still waiting to be demolished. The empty tower rises above the city as a grim reminder of the past. Ghaibeh captured the horrific memories that the tower evokes to city residents.
Lina teaches animation and motion graphics at the American University of Beirut as well as being a comic artist. During the festival there was a book signing for her new book about the sad story of the Lebanese train stations. The country’s rail service began in the 1890’s and continued through most of the 20th century as the last stop of the legendary Orient Express. During the civil war many miles of track were destroyed and rail service ceased to exist.
|At the American University of Beiruit - view from the garden down to the sea|
Lina taught a class at American University’s Department of Architecture entitled Hijaz Railway, Illustrating Stations in Time: Graphic Narratives of a Journey Through Lebanon’s Railway Stations. She and her students visited abandoned stations along the Hijaz line searching for remnants of the stations’ once glorious past and interviewing people about their memories of riding the trains. They turned the stories into short graphic novels which were collected together to form a book. There are also photographs of some of the train stations along with pictures of the students and the mementos they found along the way.
|Lina Ghaibeh standing by a poster for her book|
The week before the festival Beirut Animated offered a week long workshop. Seven young Arab animators collaborated to produce a short film about Mar Mikhael railroad station. The film makers set out to make the train, stuck in the station since it was abandoned in 1975, move once again through the magic of animation. The closing night audience was thrilled to see the old train move again even if it was only for a short while on film. You can watch the film at: brofessionalreview.com/tag/David-Habchy
Fouad by Joan Baz and David Habchy also carried quite a punch. The film, about the constant fears that haunt young Fouad whose father is one of 17,000 disappeared, is intensified by the use of black and white. Fouad was commissioned by “Act for the Disappeared”, a Lebanese Human Rights Organization.
Tunisian animator Nadia Rais’ L’ Mrayet told the story of Boum Mrayet who is hired by a firm specializing in writing the future so that they can always control it. I saw the 12 minute drawn film at the 2012 Annecy Animation Festival and enjoyed seeing it again as much as I did the first time.
The two International Shorts programs gave the audiences a chance to see what is being created in other parts of the world. Though I have seen and written about all of the films before, from the lead off film, Oh Willy, to Oh Sheep!, which concluded the second program, the selection was so good that I was happy to see them all again.
The feature length films were of equally high quality. Acclaimed animator Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such A Beautiful Day was screened as well as Chris Sullivan’s Consuming Spirits. Sullivan’s film is about as far from a cartoon for kids as animation can get. The story of three colleagues who have a long, bizarre history together seamlessly combines cut out animation, pencil drawing, collage, and stop motion and took over a decade to complete.
The beautiful French, Belgian, Luxembourg co-production Ernest and Celestine was screened on Sunday afternoon when the entire family could enjoy it. The festival held the Lebanese premier, after which the film will be on screens all across Lebanon.
A special evening was devoted to a tribute to the master of cinematic special effects Ray Harryhausen. I have seen Richard Schickel’s documentary The Harryhausen Chronicles several times before, and the sixty minute look into the life and hard work of a genius continues to fascinate me. No matter how many times I watch it I always discover new details. Harryhausen’s masterpiece, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was screened next and it was pure delight to see the Cyclops, dragon and sword welding skeletons come to life after hearing him talk about creating them in the documentary.
A retrospective program of anime dubbed into Arabic brought three classics that aired across the Arabic world during the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Al Amira Yaqout (1967), Zena Wa Nahoul (1975), and Lady Oscar (1979) are all noteworthy because they all featured female heroines.
I was pleased to present and talk about a program of historical animation. Although the audience was not large, the people who attended were very interested in what I showed. Many people came up after the screening to thank me for showing so many films from the past such as Hoppin and Gross’s Joie de Vivre and Max Fleischer’s Swing You Sinner which have never been shown in Beirut before and wanted to know where they could find more of these classics to watch.
An interactive animation, Approximate Feast created by Lantian Xie, was installed on a screen in the theatre lobby. When an observer watches from a distance, the group of Arab men dining on the screen are busy consuming a traditional meal of lamb on top of a bed of rice. As the viewer approaches nearer to the screen, the diners become increasingly cautious and timid until they stop eating all together leaving their meal untouched. As the “intruder” retreats away, the diners return to their feast. Lantian Xie was born in China and raised in Bahrain and The United Arab Emirate. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute and Approximate Feast was previously exhibited in London and Denver, Colorado.
A large audience attended the closing night screening of Katsuhrio Otomo’s Akira. The 1988 manga classic is extremely violent. Tokyo is wiped out by a silent explosion of light and replaced by Neo Tokyo where gangs of bikers clash ultra-violently in the streets. An old man in a child’s body witnesses a bloody execution which causes him to unleash a psychic shock wave that shatters the glass of the surrounding mega structures and this is all in the first twenty minutes. Otomo revealed in a recent interview that he plans to begin a new manga series set in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s during Japan’s Meiji period.
The day after the festival was officially over at the theatre, Joan Baz and David Habchy, two founding members of the Waraq Collective, launched the Manara Hully Gully project as part of Animation in the City, which is a joint project between Beirut Animated and members of the Waraq Collective. The gigantic Manara Hully Gully or Spinning Bride in Luna Park, an amusement park on a bluff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, was transformed into a large zoetrope with the aid of Velcro and painted paper cups. Participants designed patterns on a peg board grid using red, blue, and yellow push pins, the colors of the cups. Once the pattern was finished, the cups with Velcro on the bottom were attached to Velcro strips on the outside of the Hully Gully. As The Dancing Bride revolved, the audience could see the pattern projected onto a big screen at the exact speed of a camera shutter giving the illusion of a moving picture.
|The Hully Gully with pattern elements|
If the amazing patterns are hard to imagine you can read a complete explanation of the project and see the Hully Gully in action at http://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/acblogs/how-we-made-a-giant-zoetrope. After successfully completing this project Joan Baz and David Habchy hope to receive a grant to develop their zoetrope idea further.
|Luna Park entrance|
|Hully Gully participants creating patterns on pegboards|
|Placing cups on the velcro|
One afternoon I visited the Waraq Collective and met all four of the founding members. The quartet lives and creates art in an old yellow house called Beit Waraq which is an open cultural space for the community. They host monthly workshops in illustration, animation, art direction, and performing arts. There are also screenings of a wide variety of animation and live action filmsin their lovely tree shaded garden courtyard.
|The courtyard of the Waraq Collective|
The yellow house was the birth place of the Hully Gully project. I spent a lovely afternoon sitting in the cool courtyard sticking Velcro on the bottom of the paper cups while getting to know these talented artists. I am very happy that they allowed me to play a small part in the project. My afternoon at Waraq Collective is a very special memory.
I also met comic book artist Fadi Baqi (also known as Fdz) at the collective. Fadi is one of the leaders of the small but growing number of comic authors in the Middle East. He is also one of the publishers of Samandal, a multi lingual comic magazine. According to Fadi “Samandal aims to produce a comic book revolution that will herald a new era of peace and understanding between cultures in the Middle East and the rest of the world”.
Samandal publishes in Arabic, French, and English in each issue, with sections switching between left-to-right and right-to-left. The editors hit upon an innovation they call a “floppy page”. The “floppy page” tells the reader to flip the book upside down to continue reading the next selection. Submissions for this very adult comic are welcome from all over the world. I came home with a big stack of these wonderful books thanks to a very generous gift from Fadi. I am really enjoying reading them so much. They are a nice reminder of my visit to Beirut.
On another afternoon I was invited to visit Future Television station by George Khoury, who has been head of the animation department since it was launched in 1993. The station has a very active and full animation staff so they broadcast a great deal of animation. I got to watch a selection of their work while I was there. Although much of their animated content is short political pieces they also produce children’s programs and some fun projects such as an animated soap opera. The soap ran for two years and the inside joke was that the images of the characters were based on people who worked at the station. George kindly burned four DVD’s of animation that he and his excellent team have produced. I have watched them several times since I have been home and even though they are all in Arabic, the political messages and humor translate visually. I truly appreciate the time George and his crew spent with me and allowing me to see another creative side of animation in Beirut.
|The garden at Future TV|
|At Future TV station with George Khoury on Nancy’s right with two staff animators|
I can’t thank Festival Director Sarra Maali and Lina Younes, part of the festival artistic team, enough for inviting me to Beirut Animated. Lina, along with Sarra and her husband Hisham Youness generously opened their homes to me which gave me a real picture of life in the city. I especially want to thank them for the wonderful opportunity I had to sample the diverse food of the city. I will never forget the beautiful restaurant that Lina took me to where I had the chance to sample a vast array of Armenian delicacies. The lamb stewed in cherries was a truly amazing dish. I also appreciated the opportunity to enjoy home cooking at Sarra and Hisham’s home where I ate traditional food that was made by his mother. On my flight back home I was the envy of all of the passengers sitting near me when I declined the airplane meal and pulled out the homemade meal that Sarra and Hisham packed for me.
Even though I was only in Beirut for four short days I will never forget the Arab animation that I saw or the sights, sounds, and tastes of that exciting city teaming with night life, and most of all the marvelous people that I met. If you are ever lucky enough to be invited to Beirut Animated be sure not to miss this wonderful experience and I hope that I will be invited back to the festival again soon. To learn more about the 3rd edition of Beirut Animation visit www.metropoliscinema.net/2013/beirut-animated-3rd-edition/
HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE COMMERCALISM AND LOVE THE FESTIVAL
Wednesday July 17th 2013, 8:48 am
Filed under: Festivals
ANNECY INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL - 10 TO 15 JUNE 2013 - ANNECY, FRANCE
For several years I had been bothered about the direction that the Annecy International Animation Festival has been heading but this year I finally came to terms with the fact that the festival is now about money and feature length films. After thinking about it for a very long time I came to the conclusion that having one animation festival devoted to business is not a bad thing since feature films, television series, and commercials are an important part of the animation world. Besides it means that Annecy is doing the “industry job” very well, so that other festivals don’t have to do it and I can just accept Annecy for what it is.
If I had any doubts that Annecy has become all about money and feature films, Annecy 2013 painted a very clear picture of what the festival now considers important. With a total of 23 feature films, 9 in competition and 14 screened out of competition you could spend your entire festival watching nothing but feature length films. That is if you have time to watch much film at all with everything that is going on.
If you were at Annecy to do serious business then MIFA (International Animation Film Market) at the Hotel Imperial was the place to be. Over 460 exhibitors were there to showcase their films, television series and all sorts of technical equipment to the 2,400 MIFA delegates. 63 countries were represented and for the first time a production company from the tiny island nation of Malta had a booth to show off their stop motion preschool children’s television series Teddyland. Ruth Frendo of Pro.Motion Limited told me that Teddyland is the first stop motion animation as well as the first animated series produced on Malta.
For those of us who were there to see film, the opening night feature was Monsters University proceeded by Sashka Unseld’s Pixar short The Blue Umbrella which I wrote about at length in my Trickfilm/Stuttgart article. This year the traditional hub of the festival, The Bonlieu, is undergoing renovation to enlarge the back stage area so that the theatre will be able to host opera and ballet productions. This meant that the main screening room was moved to a temporary pre-fab building erected especially for the festival inside the walls of the Salle de Haras . Until a few years ago the Haras, constructed in 1806, was a stable and horse training center inside the walls of an old convent. The king kept his stallions there so that he would have horses to ride when he came to Annecy.
Unfortunately Salle de Haras screening room had fewer seats than the Bonlieu so not everyone could be invited to opening night. There was a special press screening of Monsters University in the afternoon before the opening ceremony.
With fewer seats this year I can understand that it was impossible to give everyone a ticket to the opening night screening but what I cannot understand is why the Short Animation Competition directors were invited to the opening night screening but were not invited to the opening night party at La Plage following the opening. This is the first time in my memory that these directors have not received an invitation. La Plage has not shrunk and has always been able to accommodate everyone.
When Nik and I entered the party it was immediately evident that the event was for feature film directors, their entourages, and money people, with nary a short film director in sight. There was a party at La Plage for the short film directors the next night after the Pixar/Disney Renderman party but that is not the same as the opening fete. Animators work long solitary hours to create their films and have slim hopes for money or recognition unless they are extremely lucky. Animators also spend a great deal of their own money to come to Annecy not to mention the high cost of a place to stay for a week, so a ticket to the opening night party seems a small token of appreciation from a festival.
I was very pleased with the overall quality of the 5 short film competitions. I have watched the progress of Robbe Vervaeke’s beautifully painted on glass film Norman for the last couple of years. Robbe graduated from KASK in 2008 and his studio is close to my home. I have seen Norman at other somewhat less than perfect screenings where the sound has not been correct and the picture looked too dark and indistinct, but at Annecy, Robbe’s film, the story of a man obsessed by the smallest detail and strange habits sparkled on the screen and the soundtrack really stood out. Obviously the jury agreed with me because Norman won the award in the first time professional film category.
Any film by Dutch animator Rosto always needs several viewings to catch all of the subtle references and Lonely Bones, his latest film which combines live action with computer animation, is no exception. The film is the second of a planned trilogy of music films featuring the band Thee Wreckers and it continues where No Place Like Home left off. The film makes references to crucifixion, resurrection, and the souls of the dead and demons down below in strong visual images. I have watched the film a couple of more times here at home and each time I find new little touches that make me laugh. The multitalented Rosto, not only an animator but lead singer of Thee Wreckers, took home the SACEM Award for original music.
|Dutch director Rosto being interviewed by Marcel Jean at the morning directors’ chat|
In an entirely different vein The Wound tells a poignant tale of a lonely, bitter little girl whose resentment and estrangement from the world around her are manifest in a monster that feeds on her anguish. As she grows elderly the monster grows from a small companion to a gigantic monster that finally completely dominates her life. Russian animator Anna Budanova’s use of space, muted images, and no dialogue set the perfect tone for her poignant film. Anna Budanova won a special jury award for The Wound.
On my first evening at Annecy I had drinks with Chris Landreth, 2004 Best Short Animation Oscar winner for Ryan. When I asked him what his new film was about he just smiled and said “we’ll talk after you see it”. I don’t want to ruin the delightful surprise that awaits viewers when they see Subconscious Password but I will say that it is one of the funniest animations that I have seen in a long time. I still laugh whenever I think of Chris’ take on a situation that is all too familiar to all of us.
Subconscious Password is a far cry from Landreth’s previous cerebral, psychoanalytical films. When I later asked him about his complete change of style and story he told me (and I paraphrase this) that he is “getting older” and instead of serious probing of the psyche he has lightened up.
|Chris Landreth and Nancy|
I think that Subconscious Password was clearly the most creative film at the festival this year. I was very pleased to see that Chris took home the coveted crystal for Best Short Animation. When his name was announced he looked totally amazed and surprised. The film produced by Marcy Page of the National Film Board of Canada and Toronto’s Mark Smith of Copper Heart Production is another example in a long line of award winning films that shows what a brilliant, creative asset Marcy is to NFB. A list of all the award winning films is at the end of the article.
|Chris Landreth and former festival Artistic Director Serge Bromberg|
The daily Features At Noon press conferences was an opportunity to listen to directors and animators talk about their films. I have seen the wonderful Spanish feature film O Apostolo twice and thoroughly enjoyed it both times. The story of an escaped convict who tries to retrieve his hidden loot in a remote village where he had stashed it years before is delightfully macabre.
I was fascinated to finally get to see O Apostolo’s extremely detailed puppets up close and listen to director Fernando Cortizo Rodriguez and Executive Producer Isabel Ray Sastre speak about the making of the film. O Apostolo was made with puppets and no computer animation at all. All of the backgrounds were hand constructed. The score by Phillip Glass added just the right rich, sinister undertones to the film without dominating it.
|O Apóstolo director Fernando Cortizo and Executive Producer Isabel Rey introduce Nancy to the puppets|
Although the film is not based on any one true anecdote, the 3-D stop motion feature combines folklore, traditions and the history of Northern Spain. Sinister old people, odd disappearances, spirits, a strange parish priest, and even the archpriest of Santiago de Compostela come together in a tale full of humor, terror, and fantasy. It was definitely made for adults.It will be released in Spain and across Latin America in 2014. Sadly, as often happens with intelligent adult animation the film has no U.S. distributor so far.
Each year I begin my visit to Annecy with The Big Sleep, a screening that honors our colleagues who have passed away since the last Annecy. During the past 12 months we lost 9 great talents from the world of animation. Tribute was paid to Czech puppet master Bretislav Pojar; Feodor Khitruk, an important figure in post war Soviet cinema, known to generations of Russian children as the creator of the Soviet version of Winnie-the-Pooh; Gerrit Van Dijk, Dutch pioneer animator and inspiration to a countless number of younger animators; Dave Borthwik of Great Britian whose feature The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb won numerous awards and Hungarian master of drawn animation Csaba Varga.
We also lost Leif Marcussen, Danish master of experimental animation and British producer John Coates who produced the great classic When the Wind Blows which addresses a nuclear attack on the British Isles along with many other memorable films. The brilliant British animator Bob Godfrey, much loved for his joie de vive and wicked sense of humor, left us with so many memorable films in his 92 years on earth. Run Wake of Great Britain left us far too soon at the age of 47. Although he only made 3 films, his 2005 Rabbit is already a classic. These animation greats may not be with us any longer but they will live on in the many beautiful films they have left us.
This year the festival spotlight was on Polish animaton. I was so happy to see my old friend Jerzy Kucia who was honoured by the festival with a Special Crystal Award for Life Time Achievement. Jerzy brings together music and drawing to create very lyrical films such as his 1979 Reflections, a film rich in ironic thoughts on life, rivalry, and senseless fighting. The film was chosen by a panel of animation experts as one of the 50 most outstanding films created during ASIFA’s first half century of existence.
The 3 programs devoted to Polish animation encompassed a broad range of styles, topics, and animators. In his 1973 film Plamuz, Zbigniew Rybczynski used rotoscoping to create a visual equivalent of a piece of jazz. Zbigniew has won numerous awards including an Oscar for Tango in 1982.. Damian Nenow’s Paths of Hate is at the other end of the viewing spectrum. The 2010 exploration of what pushes people into the abyss of blind hate, fury, and rage was short listed for an Oscar, honoured at Annecy with a Special Distinction Award, and was named Best of Show at SIGGRAPH 2011.
|Polish director Isabel Plucinska and Sashka Unseld|
Since 1985 ASIFA (Association Internationale de Film d’Animation) has given an annual award to an individual or organization that has made a significant and innovative contribution to the promotion and/ or preservation of animation. This year the prize was awarded to Italian animator Bruno Bozzetto. Bruno’s 1976 Allegro Non Troppo, which featured 6 pieces of classical music in an adult parody of Disney’s Fantasia, is considered an animation classic. My personal favourite of Bruno’s films is Europe vs. Italy which is an extremely humorous and clever commentary on European versus Italian Sociocultural attributes.
Bruno’s award was a framed drawing created especially for him by Tyrus Wong, a 102 year old animator who worked on Walt Disney’s classic Bambi, one of Bozzetto’s favourite films. The award was presented to Bruno on stage and was followed by a screening of Allegro Non Troppo.
I am still not sure what to think about the “special premier “of Disney’s new theatrical short Get A Horse. The audience was told that this was a never before seen short starring Mickey Mouse and featuring the voice of Walt Disney himself as Mickey. The black and white hand drawn short features Mickey, his long suffering girlfriend Minnie, Horrace Horsecollar, and Clarabelle Cow on a musical wagon ride.
Director Lauren MacMullon who conceived the idea of bringing Mickey back to life began the presentation with a talk about the discovery of the old story board for the unfinished Mickey Mouse short Get A Horse. This was followed by a screening of pristine prints of two classic Mickey’s Plane Crazy and Steam Boat Willie.
Get A Horse purports to start out as an actual 1928 Disney cartoon that had been “forgotten” for years but a little way into the film a full color, 3D rendered Mickey appears. From then on the film mixes classic 1920’s style hand drawn animation with modern 3D effects. To achieve the 1928 look aging and blur filters were added for the CG part and new models were created that were faithful to the 1928 character designs.
After the film, legendary Disney animator Eric Goldberg took center stage to share his encyclopedic knowledge of Mickey’s early years. As the audience watched him draw it was obvious that he was able to create “authentic” images of Mickey. His drawing, the emphasis that MacMullan kept putting on the yellow aging of the drawing paper and the old style peg board paper along with Disney Studio being very coy about the film’s origins make me think that the entire film is a hoax, but if it is does it really matter? The film is fun and it was nice to see Mickey and friends on the big screen again. Get A Horse will open in theatres later this year in front of Frozen.
I made a point of attending an “Animation Off Limits” screening because I was very curious to see Canadian animators Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbokski’s latest film Cochemare. I had a couple of drinks with Chris and Special Effects wizard Peter Bas who created the amazing special effects for Madam Tutli-Putli and Higglety Pigglety Pop as well as their newest film. It is easy to understand why the effects on Chris and Maciek’s films look so great when I learned that Bas has created special effects on such blockbusters as Harry Potter and the Order of the Pheonix, Superman Returns, and Beowolf.
Cochemare blends animation and stereoscopic 3D to take us on a journey from the mystical Forests of Storms to the orbiting International Space Station. According to Chris the film blends voyeurism, femininity, and separation of body and mind to illustrate the erotic dream of an astronaut.
I need to watch the film again because like a Rosto film, Cochemare is a very layered and full of subtle images and references. I have a feeling that many people thought that the film was primarily live action but Chris told me that they only used the actress for the masturbation scene and the rest of the film was shot using a remarkably life like latex puppet.
On Wednesday evening there was a very special event at the Chateau Museum to celebrate the publication of Philippe Moins and Maurice Corbet’s book Raoul Servais, Voyage en Servaisgraphics. Servaisgraphy refers to the artistic process invented by Raoul Servais which he used during the production of Papillons de Nuit which won the Annecy Grand Prix in 1998 and Taxandria in 1995 which is considered an animation classic.
Raoul was present and showed several of his original drawings for the films during the round table discussion which was followed by celebratory drinks. Papillons de Nuit and Taxandria were shown on the large screen in the museum courtyard that evening.
|Raoul Servais and Nancy at the book reception|
On other evenings the Chateau courtyard presented such excellent films as Crulic – The Path Beyond which won the 2012 Annecy Cristal for Best Feature and a program of Jerzy Kucia shorts. These outdoor screenings were designed for adults while the other big screen in the park by the lake showed family friendly fare such as Hotel Transylvania and Monsters Inc. to packed crowds.
Even with all of the films to watch, the parties and receptions are the most important part of this festival because this is where you make contacts, find out what new projects people are working on, and talk business.
At the mayor’s reception at the lovely old Hotel d’ Ville (Town Hall) prior to the opening night ceremony I had the opportunity to see a lot of friends. Many of the Polish animators were there so I got to visit with Marcin Gizycki, and Jersy Kucia as well as Michaela Pavlatova from Prague, before they began their jury duties.
|Nancy and Marcin Gizycki at the Monday evening reception at the Hôtel de Ville|
I had to skip the Pixar/Disney barbecue, opting instead for the fete hosted by the German Film Industry which I always look forward to. Each year the lucky invited guests are taken by bus to a restaurant outside of Annecy. A sumptuous buffet is served and we all dine at tables scattered around the lawn which reaches down to the edge of the lake. The food and wine is always delicious and this relaxed break is a wonderful opportunity for informal conversations in the middle of a very hectic festival. Members of the Annecy + band added to the festive atmosphere with music.
|Margo Grimwood, president of ASIFA UK with Nancy at the German party|
|Nik Phelps and Veljko Popović playing at the German party|
By Wednesday, with the opening of MIFA, the party mode really got into full swing. The Wednesday evening Swiss reception is always very popular and crowded. Swiss animators consistently turn out high quality animation as 5 films in various festival categories proves. Swiss master Georges Schwizgebel’s latest film Chemin faisant (Along the Way) was in competition. The lovely painted on glass film is based on Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s quote “I can only meditate when I am walking. When I stop, I cease to think, my mind only works with my legs”. The film is indeed a meditative stroll. The country is also nurturing the next generation of animators as the two works in the graduation Film Competition proved.
The big event of the evening was the MIFA Opening Party at La Plage. Some people who have a booth at MIFA never get to the main part of the festival so this party is always a good chance to see them. It is especially nice to take a few minutes to sit and relax in a lounge chair in the sand at the lake’s edge.
|Chris Landreth and John Dilworth meet again at the MIFA opening party|
Thursday is always packed with parties and receptions. Nik and I began the morning at the Indian film reception. Both India and South Africa each had a feature film in the Competition. Although I think that South Africa has a ways to go before they are producing top quality, original animation without trying to imitate Pixar, they are at least making a start and hopefully it won’t be too long until they begin to tell their original stories using their own style of animation.
After the reception we toured MIFA. This year it seemed as if the business arm of the festival had more independent production companies represented along with the booths featuring technical advances. The crowd of visitors seemed larger than ever also.
In past years the Finnish party has featured a sauna which they erected at the lake side but this year they opted for the first Finnish/Canadian volleyball tournament. Despite the lack of a sauna, the wonderful smoked fish, aquavit, and wine were plentiful. The Finnish/Canadian party took a break from their soiree for the Russian Film Commission reception and the Finns continued later that evening with an “Artic Nights” dance party.
I popped into the Irish Film Commission reception and learned that the Irish film industry is alive and well. The government had just announced that they would increase the available co-production funds making Ireland a very favourable location to look for film funding.
|Nancy and Estonian director Kasper Jancis|
While I attended the Russian reception, Nik and members of the Annecy + band went to the Dutch party where they had been asked to play some music. After Nik and I met up again at the Russian party, we ended our evening at LaMajistic Brasserie at a reception hosted by AFCA (Association Francaise du Cinema d’Animation) where I had a chat with Theodore Ushev. With the completion of Gloria Victoria , which was in the competition screenings this year, he has finished his trilogy which he began with Tower Bawher in 2005 and continued with the 2009 Drux Flux. These two films deal with the rise and fall of technology using Russian constructivist imagery. Gloria Victoria is the logical ending of the trilogy where Utopian ideas and industry have crashed. Theodore told me that now he plans to take a break from animating to produce a project and I am sure he will be painting and keeping his hands in a vast array of other projects as well.
Despite all of the late night parties I made it a point to attend the 9 AM director’s chats each morning at the festival bar. I very seldom change my opinion of a film by listening to the director talk but I always learn a lot about why an animator made the film. I particularly enjoyed Festival Director Marcel Jean’s style of interviewing. He was well prepared with intelligent questions and allowed the animators to talk without interrupting them. A nice touch this year in the bar were director’s chairs with the names of renowned animators on the back so one day you could “be” Peter Lord and another morning Richard Williams. Bill Plympton could even be himself in the Bill Plympton chair.
After a week of rain on and off, Friday dawned sunny and dry which was good news for the DreamWorks picnic that always goes on rain or shine. Shelly Page, Head of International Outreach at DreamWorks Animation, is always the hostess with the mostess and her picnic is definitely the place to be. With plenty of food, drink, and a very relaxed atmosphere it’s a lovely break from my crazy festival schedule.
|The DreamWorks picnic - Nancy in the Land of Giants with Nik and Croatians Daniel Šuljić, director of Animafest Zagreb, and director Veljko Popović|
It’s hard to believe that Bill Plympton and I have been presenting Annecy + for 7 years. We started Annecy + to screen films that were rejected by the Annecy selection committee but that we thought were really good and deserve to be screened. Over the years our Friday evening screenings have outgrown several locations so this year we moved to the Café des Arts, a popular festival gathering site.
|Bill Plympton in his chair|
With over 500 submissions to Annecy + there were so many excellent films that the selection committee had a very difficult job selecting 4 programs for the evening. The Annecy + band (Nik Phelps on woodwinds, Anne Beal on violin,Rolf Bächler, percussion, Veljko Popvic on Darbuka, Alexi Alexof, guitarlale, and Daniel Sujlic on percussion) were playing and Jonas Raeber, our intrepid projectionist was ready to roll. When the screen didn’t arrive it was time to improvise. Jonas saved the day by running to his hotel for 2 double bed sheets and a young Indian student climbed precariously up the side of the building to hang the sheets and save the night. The audience watched his climb in amazement fearful that he was going to fall at any minute.
Everything was going beautifully as the packed crowd in the Café des Artes courtyard watched the films. At 22h00 (10PM) the French gendarmes showed up and demanded that we turn off all sound and music. Bill and I understood that the bar owner had gotten the necessary noise permit but we had not been told that the permit had been revoked because 2 days before there had been a late night rave at the café. The neighbors were so angry that they got the police to revoke our permit.
There was no reasoning with the gendarmes, they meant business, and as much as Bill and I love hosting Annecy + we weren’t willing to land in a French jail for it.
I felt terrible about having to screen films without their sound tracks but the film makers who were present and the audience were very understanding and watched the last 3 silent segments enthusiastically. Super by Johan Klungel of the Netherlands was the audience’s choice for best film. Johan received a box set of Show of Shows DVD’s generously donated by Ron Diamond of AWN. German animator Gottfried Mentor was voted 2nd prize, a Bill Plympton DVD, for Oh Sheep!
|The Annecy Plus screening, photo by Chris Landreth|
I apologize to all filmmakers whose film had to be screened without sound but I will note that the top prize winner Super was shown without sound. It’s also sad that the excellent Annecy + band couldn’t entertain the audience longer. It was amusing to note that when the films were screening the audience was perfectly quiet but when the screening was over the talking at the café was much louder than the films would have been. We are already at work trying to find a place in Annecy where we won’t have this problem next year.
Over the years the Saturday picnic that Nik and I host has grown and grown. Unlike many parties at Annecy everyone is welcome at our picnic and it is lovely to see renowned professionals sitting on the grass next to students, everyone chatting, eating, and drinking away. Part of the fun is that everyone contributes their talents so of course there is always lots of music. For several years Swedish comic artist Stefan Eriksson has entertained the picnic with his amazing feats of magic. This year I learned that Stefan holds the Swedish National Magician title and he will be vying for the European Championship crown later this year.
|Stefan Eriksson Comic artist and Swedish Champion of Magic|
|Ann Beal, Veljko Popovic and Nik playing at the Saturday picnic|
Several years ago Joanna Quinn began hosting the rounders game at our picnic and even though she wasn’t at Annecy this year the tradition continues. In her place she not only sent the trophy for the winning team as well as her friend Katie Steed, animator and member of the British Olympic Badminton Team and rounders enthusiast. Katie and British animator Jamie Badminton of Karrot Studio organized the 2 teams and kept the game rolling along. All of the extremely athletic animators who played seemed to have a great time.
|The winning rounders team, team captain Katie Steed holding the trophy|
The most anticipated event at the picnic is always the very combative paddle boat race. After an afternoon of sun, food, and plenty of drink we took to the water to race out and around the island in the lake and back to the start as fast as we could.
|Nancy’s paddleboat team of valiant women|
The only rule is that your boat has to go around the island. People have been known to jump from boat to boat, use water pistols, and splash lots of water to slow competitors down. The race is always very funny. This year’s winning team was Marita Mayer of the Fredrikstad Animation Festival in Norway and German animator Oliver Throm. Hopefully they will be back next year to defend their title.
|Paddleboat racers winning by a mile|
|Paddleboat race winners Marita Mayer and Oliver Throm|
Closing night is always full of surprises. As Artistic Director Marcel Jean opened the ceremony the familiar figure of former Artistic Director Serge Bromberg popped out of the audience and on to the stage to “help” Marcel, proving the old adage that”you can take the boy out of Annecy but you can’t take Annecy out of the boy”. A complete list of the winning films is at the end of the article.
I was quite favourably impressed with the job Marcel Jean did as the new figurehead of the festival. His interview skills are excellent, the short films in competition were by and large of a higher quality than in the past several years, and his innovations were refreshing. I especially liked his new idea of selecting the funniest short film.
The 4 programs of 10 films each covered over 70 years of humor from Tex Avery’s 1943 Red Hot Riding Hood to the present. The audience voted for their favorite film at each screening. The audience at the final screening of the top 10 vote getters selected THE funniest film. Each of the 40 films was a gem and would have been a worthy winner. I was very pleased when Marcel Jean announced that the winner of Annecy’s new award was KJFG No. 5 by Alexey Alekseev. KJFG No. 5 makes me laugh every time I watch it and Alexey is also a good friend as well as a long-time member of the Annecy + band.
|The ubiquitous Alexie Alexeev|
One of the best things about festivals is that we all get to see each other, so at the closing night party we never say goodbye, just see you soon and for the first time in several years I am actually looking forward to returning to Annecy next year. Before that though there are many other festivals to attend.
After a very late night at the closing party I had to be up very early to leave for the Geneva airport where I flew out to Beirut, Lebanon for the Beirut Animation Festival. I was tired but very excited because I had never been to Beirut before and the festival and city turned out to be even more exciting than I had dreamed possible. You can read all about my trip to Beirut in my next article.
Uma Historia de Amor e Furia (Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury), dir. Luiz Bolognesi
Ma mama nest en Amerique, elle a rencontre Buffalo Bill (My Mommy Is in America and She Met Buffalo Bill), dir. Marc Boréal, Thibaut Chatel
O Apostolo (L’Apôtre), dir. Fernando Cortizo Rodriguez
Subconscious Password (Jeu de l’inconscient), dir. Chris Landreth
Special Jury Award:
Obida (The Wound), dir. Anna Budanova
Distinction for a First Film:
Trespass, dir. Paul Wenninger
Jean-Luc Xiberras Award for a First Film:
Norman, dir. Robbe Vervaeke
Kolmnurga afäär (The Triangle Affair), dir. Andres Tenusaar
Sacem Award for Original Music:
Lonely Bones, dir. Rosto
Junior Jury Award for a Short Film:
Feral, dir. Daniel Sousa
Lettres de femmes, dir. Augusto Zanovello
Best TV Production:
Room On The Broom (“En route !” dit la sorcière), dir. Jan Lachauer, Max Lang
Best Commissioned Film:
Dumb Ways To Die, dir. Julian Frost
Special Award for a TV Series:
Tom & The Queen Bee, dir. Andreas Hykade
Best TV Special:
L’Automne de Pougne (Poppety in the Fall), dir. Pierre-Luc Granjon, Antoine Lanciaux
Special Jury Award:
Benjamin Scheur “The Lion” (Scheuer “Le Lion”), dir. Peter Baynton
Best Graduation Film:
Ab ovo, dir. Anita Kwiatkowska-Naqvi
Special Jury Award:
I Am Tom Moody, dir. Ainslie Henderson
Pandy (Pandas), dir. Mat us Vizar
Junior Jury Award for a Graduation Film:
Nyuszi es Oz (Rabbit and Deer), dir. Peter Vac z
Because I’m A Girl (Parce que je suis une fille), dir. Raj Ya gnik, Mary Matheso n, Hamilto n Shona
Gloria Victoria, dir. Theodore Ushev
Fipresci Special Distinction:
Feral, dir. Daniel Sousa
CANAL+ Creative Air Award for a Short Film:
Autour du lac, dir. Carl Roosens, Noémie Marsily
Festivals Connexion Award – Region Rhone-Alpes with Lumieres Numeriques:
Feral, dir. Daniel Sousa
Annecy Audience Choice:
KJFG No 5, dir. Alexey Alekseev
CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF THE TRICKFILM FESTIVAL: 23 - 28 April, 2013,Stuttgart, Germany
Monday May 27th 2013, 9:29 am
Filed under: Festivals
Each year I wait with great anticipation for the International Trickfilm Festival of Animation and the 2013 20th anniversary edition did not disappoint me. As befits a milestone 20th anniversary special guests abounded. The venerable British master of puppet animation, Barry Purves, presented 2 programs of his films, and a screen play workshop he titled “The Naked Animator”. Alas, Barry did not appear in the altogether but he did bare the naked truth and some harsh realities about a life devoted to puppet animation. Barry is such an entertaining speaker that I would go out of my way anytime to listen to him read the telephone book which I am sure would be most eloquent with numerous funny asides so the opportunity to hear him talk about what still drives and inspires him to continue to create after 35 years in the land of puppets was a rare treat.
Barry’s Gilbert and Sullivan is one of my favourite films and I was delighted to have the opportunity to see it on the big screen again. The only sad moments came when Barry lamented that his prints are sadly beginning to show the deterioration of age. Barry’s big wish was for someone very rich to come forward and pay to have his films restored before it is too late. I’m afraid that Barry’s beautiful films share the same fate with so many of our great films from the past as the colors fade. Organizations such as ASIFA Hollywood and Serge Bromberg’s Lobster Films in Paris are doing a great deal to restore and save classic films but sadly they can’t save everything.
The tireless Mr Purves also presented 2 programs of his favourite films. The programs Ball and Socket – Flesh and Blood and Shadows and Light featured some classic puppet animation films such as Jiri Trnka’s 1965 The Hand and the current festival super star Oh Willy.
|Barry Purves and Nancy with his Tchaikovsky puppet|
Now that Serge Bromberg has stepped down as Artistic Director of the Annecy Animation Festival, he can devote his energy to film restoration and more time to a long standing love of his, performing live piano accompaniment to the extremely rare films which he has unearthed in cellars and attics. His latest edition of “Music and Animation: Retour de Flamme” includes such little know films as Symphonie Bizarre, Segundo de Chomon’s 1909 French film and some classic gem like Joie de vivre, the 1934 Hector Hoppin and Anthony Gross joyful romp through France. Unfortunately, the program took place several miles from Stuttgart in Ludwigsburg, so I had to miss it. The night of the performance was also Serge’s Birthday and several of us threw a celebration for him when he returned to the festival café.
|A happy Serge Bromberg at his party|
I have known Saschka Unseld since he was a student and now, working at Pixar, he has directed his first short, The Blue Umbrella. The film is very different from the usual Pixar fare due to its photo realistic look. The closest I can come to describing the film is that it is an animated version of The Umbrellas of Cherbourg from the umbrella’s view point.
Following the screening, Saschka took us through the long process that takes place, from having the idea for story, to pitching it to John Lasseter and company, and finally through the production stage. He said that he got the idea for the film when he spotted a broken abandoned umbrella while walking down a rainy San Francisco street. We will all have another opportunity to see The Blue Umbrella in the theater because it will be the opening short screened before Pixar’s soon to be released Monsters University.
|Designs for the Blue Umbrella|
Bill Plympton’s workshops are always packed to overflowing. His master class Cheatin’, A Work in Progress gave his audience the rare opportunity to listen to Bill examine the process of making an independent animated feature film. Using his latest feature film Cheatin’ as his example he took the audience through the process of conception, writing, design, and finally selling the completed film.
David Silverman is a sure crowd-pleaser whether he is giving a Simpson’s master class or playing his tuba. Through the week, you could never tell when and where David and my husband Nik would turn up playing together, but it was a pretty safe bet that they would serenade the audience at the Simpson’s special.
|Nik and David Silverman serenading at the festival cafe|
Besides the live concert David took us behind the scenes of America’s favourite TV family which is celebrating its 26th year of production this year. He said that at the year’s end the team will have produced 559 episodes, which is close to a staggering 191 hours of material. I have no doubt that somewhere in the world an episode of the Simpson’s is on the TV 24 hours a day.
|David Silverman, Nancy and British producer Jamie Badminton|
I always enjoy watching Russian animation and Natalia Lukinykh’s tribute to the anniversaries of 3 Russian studios was a treat. “The Great History of Russian Animation: One Year – Three Anniversaries” spotlighted the renowned puppet studio Soyuzmultfilm founded in 1953, Pilot Studio dating from 1988, and the school-studio SHAR which opened in 1993. Natalia’s program gave an overview of the impressive body of work the 3 studios have created.
It was a rare treat to see 2 of my favourite films on the big screen. Mitten by Roman Kachanov (Soyuzmultfilm, 1967) is a sweet story of a little girl who desperately wants a puppy despite her mother’s objections. Caution, the Doors Are Opening by Anastasia Zuravljeva made at School Studio SHAR in 2005 shows us 24 hours in the Moscow underground depicted with buttons, safety pins, and other sewing material. It is a delightfully clever film.
The 5 International Short Film Competition programs are the centerpiece of the festival. Once again this year festival co-directors Dittmar Lumpp and Ulrich Wegenast created a festive opening night gala, interspersing the welcoming speeches from dignitaries between screenings of the first Competition film program. As befits a 20th Anniversary celebration, Winfried Kretschmann, Minister President of the German State of Baden-Wurttemberg, Lord Mayor of the City of Stuttgart Fritz Kuhn and Malte Dringenberg , head of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Press Team delivered congratulations and praise of the festival. The FMX team members also added their praise of the strong co-operation that has developed between the festival and FMX. The 8 films that were shown during the opening covered a broad spectrum of styles and stories which gave the official guests the opportunity to see that animation is much more than just entertainment for children.
Miniyamba and Because I’m a Girl both deal with poverty and oppression. Because I Am a Girl presents a vivid picture of the reality that 1 in 3 girls around the world are denied an education due to poverty, war, or cultural discrimination. British film makers Raj Yagnik, Shona Hamilton, and Mary Matheson used over 2000 still photographs of 15 children in a Malawian village that they took over a 2 week period to create their pixelated depiction of how education can give girls a chance to move from poverty to opportunities for a better life. Because I Am a Girl is also the name of an international organization that commissioned the work. They strive to provide education to every girl worldwide.
Raj, the producer/director told me that he is usually a documentary film maker and that this was his first venture into animation. Sitting in the festival café talking to Raj it was chilling to realize that a few days after I met him in Stuttgart he would be leaving for Pakistan where he will be filming a documentary for the BBC in the same area where aid workers were recently killed.
|Sekhar Mukherjee of the National Institute of Design, British director Raj Yagnik and Nancy|
French animator Luc Perez used charcoal drawings, tempera, sand and ceramics in Miniyamba (Walking Blues) to give a soft feeling to a very harsh reality. Thousands of people around the world leave their homeland every day to try to reach what they believe is a better life in Europe. The film follows Abdu, a young Malian, on his trek to reach “the promised land”. When he finally reaches the barbed wire at the Niger River Abdu can see the lights of the West but must face the harsh reality that there is no place for him there.
The film is music driven and Miniyamba is the name of a mythical boa constrictor that encircles a village where people cannot leave. A woman manages to charm the snake by promising to return to tell him about the world. According to Perez this story in various forms has become a song that every West African knows and symbolizes a Europe that prefers to build gates and fences rather than embracing the world.
Sonntage 3 (Sunday 3) is the 3rd part of Jocken Kuhn’s trilogy about Sunday outings. I saw the 2nd part a few years ago in Stuttgart and was intrigued by the animator’s very individual style. A painter by training, most of his animations are painted directly under the camera and then animated after with the addition of manipulated photographs. In Sunday 3 the protagonist has a blind date with German Chancellor Andrea Merkel. I was so involved in the visual impact of the film that I really missed a lot of the story. I look forward to seeing the film again so I can get the tongue in cheek irony that I think that I missed.
Oh Willy is familiar to most of us but it was a perfect addition to this program. I have seen the film many times, but it is so visually rich that I discover new touches with each viewing. This time I was fascinated by the way the tree bark breathed with a life of its own which I had never noticed before. Tram, Michaela Pavaltova’s celebration of female sexuality was the perfect finale to the opening night program.
|At the directors’ Chat with Marc James Roels|
After such a strong opening I wondered if the next four programs could keep up the momentum. There was nothing to worry about. I can’t possibly write about all the noteworthy films but I will spotlight a few of my favorites.
A new Estonian film is always exciting for me and Priit Tender’s Ussinuumaja (The Maggot Feeder) certainly met my expectations. The film is based on an ancient Chukchi folk tale in a book of native stories which have traditionally been passed down orally. The book has never been translated into any language except Estonian. The tale of a seal hunter who plans to throw his barren wife into a well he has built and filled with maggots is full of creepy animated creatures. My favourite is an eerie spider with a human face and multiple pairs of eyes up her high forehead.
As visually fascinating as the surreal imagery is, Priit’s tale of his trek to visit the land of the Chukchi is even more bizarre. The Chukchi people are one of the largest indigenous native groups to come from the coastal region ranging from Siberia to the Bering Strait (Kruprik). Priit and a friend undertook an arduous overland trip, traveling much of the way over the snow in an old army tank because there are no roads anywhere near the village he went to. He told me that he plans to turn the live footage he shot into a documentary about his visit to this remote region and the people who inhabit it. His stories about the people, their culture and traditions which are dying out are sure to make a very interesting film.
A new film by Theodore Ushev is always something that I look forward to. His Gloria Victoria was a visual treat in stereoscopic 3-D. It is the 3rd part of Theodore’s trilogy that began with Tower Bawher and Drux Flux. For Gloria Victoria he has edited individual drawings to form an almost overpowering deconstruction of good and evil to condemn wars against humanity, greed, and the metamorphosis of men into beasts. The entire visual effect is heightened by the music of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Symphony # 7. Usually I find 3-D unnecessary and bothersome but I was so absorbed by the powerful images that I completely forgot about the 3-D until the very ending of the film when the images did leap out of the screen.
Thomas Stellmach’s latest film Virtuos Virtuell is as different from his 1977 Academy Award winning short Quest as can be imagined. Thomas and visual artist Maja Oschmann used hand crafted ink images created by such diverse methods as drawing, dropping ink onto paper and into water. The abstract images, inspired by the overture to Louis Spohr’s opera The Achymist, leaves viewers free to create their own story as they listen to the music. I’ve watched the film several times and I’ve discovered that what I see in the images changes as I listen to the opera overture depending entirely upon my mood.
The project was funded in part by the Louis Spohr Museum in Kassel, Germany. There, the storyboard drawings, layout images, original ink drawings and completed film sequences were exhibited from 30 May to 7 October 2012. Thomas told me that at the exhibition viewers could experience the wide range of emotions that music evokes in images by selecting various new compositions to listen to while looking at the images.
For the first time this year, the Tricks for Kids competition programs were held at the beautiful Mercedes-Benz Museum which is located far enough away from the main screening rooms that you had to take a festival shuttle bus to get there. Unfortunately I never did make it to any of these screenings because a trip to the museum took almost all afternoon. I understand that on the weekends the Mercedes-Benz theatre was packed to overflowing and families had to be turned away.
I missed seeing the Children’s Competitions, “Tricks for Kids”, which I always enjoy as well as the fun and energy of the children’s jury running in and out of the press room but obviously plenty of local residents and their children enjoyed the Mercedes-Benz theatre screenings and reaching young audiences is the first priority of these programs.
Two “Cartoons for Teens “ and a few “Tricks for Kids “ screenings were held in the downtown theatre. The highlight of these programs for me was the Best of Shaun the Sheep presentation. I am a big fan of Aardman Animation Studio’s Shaun and try never to miss the adventures of the dim witted farmer, his ever vigilant dog Bitzer, the evil pigs, and of course Shaun and the rest of the flock and try never to miss it on BBC.
Along with several episodes of the show we were treated to a special Making of Shaun the Sheep documentary. It was a rare opportunity for a behind the scenes look into the Bristol Studio where the small handcrafted figures are created and filmed. The highlight of the show was a personal appearance by Shaun himself, who danced on stage to the Shaun the Sheep theme song . The show was introduced by animators from Aardman who worked on the show and they revealed that a Shaun the Sheep feature film is in the works.
|Nancy and Shaun the Sheep|
The festival spotlighted programs of animation from India, Africa and the Arab world. Anand Gurnani, co-founder and managing editor of Animation Express.com from Mumbai, India curated two programs as well as sitting on the AniMovie Jury. The first program of short Indian animation gave us an overview of what independent animators throughout India are doing. The second screening was billed as Truly Desi Tadka – A Blockbuster Spectrum of Indian Animation in a 3 Act Structure. Act 1 was a studio retrospective showing work from India’s iconic studios Eeksaurus, Animagic, and Vaibhav. Act 2 gave the audience a look at TV series and feature film promos of released and upcoming projects. The 3rd Act showed Raju & I an animation about children’s rights and the CGI/VFX film Mystic Evolution.
My friend Sekhar Mukherjee, head of the animation department at the National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, India introduced a program of films by students at NID. The feature length Hey Krishna which traces the mythology of Krishna’s childhood also received its German premiere as part of the spotlight on India. After the programs there was a party with delicious Indian treats.
Solomon Maramba who lives and works in Zimbabwe was part of the Young Animation Jury. He also presented Across the Limpopo, a selection of shorts from animators across the Limpopo River that divides Zimbabwe and South Africa. Several very short pieces from South African animator Tim Mostert featured his popular TV character Speedy. The adventures of Speedy, his family, and his favourite football team are also read by over 6 million people a day in the South African newspaper Daily Sun. Most of Across the Limpopo content was for adult audiences.
The second program Jungle Beat was a series of 13 family friendly 5-minute episodes of the CGI animated series Jungle Beat. The series focuses on a variety of animals and the rather bizarre things that they encounter in everyday life.
Mohamed Beyoud, artistic director of the International Festival of Animated Film Meknes (FICAM) screened current animated films from the Arab world. Animation in the Arab World spotlighted films from Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Palestine. Many of the films were explicitly political covering such topics as oppression, war, and violence in the region.
A panel discussion on Animation, Media, and Politics in the Arab World led to an intense discussion of how cultural changes brought about by the Arab Spring have affected work and production conditions of artists and filmmakers. The panel - Mohamed Beyoud, Fadi Abdelnour, director of the Arab Film Festival in Berlin, and Anja Turkan, an independent social media expert also tackled the difficult topic of how do activists use animation and the media as an instrument of political communication and how crisis and change are reflected in animation and media.
A special 20th Anniversary Program was selected by 20 long-time friends of the festival. They selected their favourite film that was screened at past festivals. Each guest also wrote a short explanation of why they selected their favorite film. Selections ranged from Johannes Weiland’s The Little Boy and the Beast selected by programmer Iris Loos because it is “a film that continues to move me even after watching it several times . . .” to Bill Plympton’s 1990 25 Ways to Quit Smoking. Franziska Specht said she selected this film because “the mixture of the grotesque and delicate drawings still has a particular attraction even two decades later”.
|Michel Ocelot with Nancy|
|Nancy and Daniel Šuljić, Artistic Director of the Zagreb Festival|
Along with the myriad of screenings, workshops, and school presentations there were numerous special events aimed at professionals. The 2 day Animation Production Day co-hosted by the festival and FMX offered an opportunity for producers to meet one on one with distributors, investors, and potential co-production partners to pitch their projects. 32 potential projects from 11 countries were selected for the 2013 APD event.
The German Animated Screen Play Award is for German animated feature film projects. In conjunction with the Screenplay Award 6 screen writing workshops were conducted by renowned animators and authors.
Once again the Animated Fashion Award promoted the link between young fashion designers and animators giving them an opportunity to develop new and innovative ways to present their products. The Animated Con Competition was open to professional animators who have created an ad for a noted ad agency or private client.
The Crazy Horse 48 Hour Jam is open to 2-person teams from around the world. Each team must develop a 30 second to 3 minute animation in just 48 hours using Trixie, the festival mascot, or the award statuette Trickstar. The teams are judged on their skill at storytelling, graphic design style, and ability to use animation software. The public was invited to look over the participants’ shoulders as they worked away. The annual 24 Hour Jam competition is open to students from International Film Schools, free-lance animators, and animation producers who are 30 years of age or younger.
The first few days of the festival, the sun shone down bight and warm. After a long, hard, cold winter the festival garden was the place to be. The incredibly massive LED screen sponsored by Mercedes-Benz was once again in the festival garden area. It was amazing to look at. Even in the brightest sunshine the films are as bright and crisp as if I were sitting in a dark theatre. The continuous free screenings of shorts all afternoon attracts festival participants and local residents who take a break in their busy day to relax on the grass and watch films.
|View of the outdoor screen|
After dark the big screen showed recent releases including Madagascar 3, Frankenweenie, and Pirates. The free screenings were designed as an outing for the entire family to picnic and enjoy a movie. They were packed on the warm Spring evenings. Even when the weather turned cool and rainy at the end of the week, people still braved the elements to watch the film from under their umbrellas.
Activity tents in the garden had projects for all ages to participate in. One afternoon you could create your own Shaun the Sheep under the watchful eye of experts from Aardman Studio, who were happy to give advice and help young model maker’s with their creations.
The busiest tent by far was the Tom & the Slice of Bread With Strawberry Jam and Honey area where fans of the popular long-running show could draw TOM pictures, solve TOM puzzles, play TOM games, sing TOM songs and immerse themselves in all things TOM. Young fans also had the opportunity to meet Andreas Hykade and get their own personalized drawing from the man who brings TOM to life.
|Nik at the TOM activity tent, masquerading as Tom with his slice of bread with strawberry jam and honey|
For older festival goers the Game Zone tent delved into all aspects of the relationship between animation and games. Along with lectures and presentations by international experts there were hands-on workshops and laboratories as well as a chance to try out new on-line games.
This year there were over 80 thousand visitors to the festival and many screenings were sold out. One of the things that I enjoy most about the Trickfilm Festival is the feeling it has of a small, intimate event where I can see all of the guests at the festival café sometime during the week and still watch first class programs. Even with the large number of visitors this year the festival still kept the intimate feeling for guests. Festival Managing Director Dittmar Lumpp told me that the festival has grown as large as they want it to be and they will not actively look to expand it more.
|Festival co-directors Ulrich Wegenast and Dittmar Lumpp enjoying the beautiful music of Nik and David|
All too soon, it was time for long-time MC Markus Brock to host the closing award ceremony. Usually speeches by politicians are very boring but the closing night words from Jurgen Walter, Secretary of State for Science, Research and Art were very encouraging. The Green Party minister talked about how important the arts are and that he and his party are committed to supporting them. He congratulated the Trickfilm Festival on 20 successful years and promised continued support of animation in the Baden-Wurttemberg area. Very welcome words from a politician when the arts seem to be suffering from terrible funding cuts and support world-wide.
The most touching part of the evening was when the International Jury, comprised of Daniel Kothenschulte, Frankfurt film and art critic, Romanian short animation producer Mihai Mitrica, French animator Marie Paccou, Puppet animator Barry Purves, and animation director Jakob Schuh of Germany took to the stage to announce their decisions. The honor of announcing the Grand Prix winner was given to Barry Purves. He announced the winner by saying that the award goes to a film that is a masterpiece – Oh Willy! This is high praise for the film from a man who is considered a master of puppet animation and has created several films that are considered classics. The closing night party was a joyous celebration of a wonderful week of film and friends.
|Marc James Roels, co-director of Oh Willy, and Nancy|
As if 5 days packed full of screenings, workshops, and special events were not enough, the 2013 FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and TransMedia ran concurrently for 4 days. If there is one fault that I can find with the festival it is that there aren’t enough hours in the day to see and do everything.
|Jonathan Ng showing Nancy his drawing for her memory book|
I owe a big thank you to Senior Program Manager Andrea Bauer for inviting Nik and I to the festival again this year. Andrea is always so busy all week long dealing with an endless string of problems but she always found time to help me when I had a question. I have come to value her friendship very much. I also want to give a special thank you to Anne Jagemann who handled our accommodations as well as Nora Hieronymus in the press office. The festival has a wonderful group of tireless volunteers who manage to stay cheerful and helpful no matter how many hours they work.
This year the Trickfilm Festival has taken its place at the top of world class animation festivals and once again I can honestly say that if I could only attend one festival a year it would be the Trickfilm Festival. I am already looking forward to the 2014 edition.
The Jury Awards ITFS 2013
15.000 Euro, sponsored by the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg and the City of Stuttgart
Belgium, France, The Netherlands 2011
Directors: Emma de Swaef, Marc James Roels
Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film
10.000 Euro, sponsored by MFG Film Funding Baden-Wuerttemberg
“KARA NO TAMAGO” (A Wind Egg)
Director: Ryo Okawara
Director: Yoriko Mizushiri
SWR AUDIENCE AWARD
The Netherlands 2012
Director: Hisko Hulsing
Award for the best student film
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Landesanstalt für Kommunikation Baden-Wuerttemberg (LfK) and MFG Film Funding Baden-Wuerttemberg
“EINE MURUL” (Breakfast on the Grass)
Directors: Erik Alunurm, Mari Pakkas, Mari Liis Rebane, Mihkel Reha
Director: Robert Löbel
Award for the best animated feature film
2.500 Euro, sponsored by RTL DISNEY Fernsehen GmbH & Co. KG, SUPER RTL
“ERNEST & CÉLESTINE”
France, Belgium, Luxembourg 2012
Directors: Benjamin Renner, Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar
TRICKS FOR KIDS
Award for the best children’s animated film
4.000 Euro, supported by Studio 100 Media GmbH
“SCHRECKEN OHNE ENDE” (Nearest and Dearest)
Directors: Michael Sieber, Max Stöhr
Director: Aleksandr Lenkin
TRICKS FOR KIDS
Award for the best animated series for children
“ROY: FOOT FAT FIT“
Director: Alan Shannon
CARTOONS FOR TEENS
Award for the best animated series, animes and cut scenes from computer games for youths
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Nippon Art GmbH and AV Visionen GmbH.
“DER NOTFALL” (Déjà-moo)
Director: Stefan Müller
“BØRNENES VERDEN” (The Children’s World)
Director: Paw Charlie Rawn
GERMAN SCREENPLAY AWARD
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Telepool GmbH
“MOLLY MONSTER – DER FILM“ by John Chambers
ANIMATED FASHION AWARD
2.000 Euro, sponsored by E. Breuninger GmbH
“FREITAG X-MAS MOVIES”
Directors: Claudia Röthlin, Yves Gutjahr
GERMAN VOICE ACTOR AWARD
RICK KAVANIAN, “Knight Rusty – Yesterday’s Hero Recycled“ (Knight Rusty)
Universum Film GmbH, Germany 2012
ANIMATED COM AWARD
Awards for the best applied animation in the fields of advertising, technology and spatial communication
Sponsored by Mackevision Medien Design GmbH, Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart, Daimler AG, U.I. Lapp GmbH
“THE REAL BEARS“
Director: Lucas Zanotto
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Mackevision Medien Design GmbH
“MTV EMA 2012 OPENER“
Director: Mate Steinforth, Commissioner: VIMN MTV World Design Studios
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart
“MASS EFFECT 3 – TAKE EARTH BACK”
Director: Istvan Zorkoczy, Commissioner: Electronic Arts/Bioware
Category Spatial Communication
“SWISS PAVILION EXPO YEOUSU: THE SOURCE - IT’S IN YOUR HANDS”
Director: Marc Tamschick, Commissioner: Präsenz Schweiz
Special Prize Mercedes-Benz Classic: Silver Arrows
2.500 Euro, sponsored by Daimler AG
“A RACERS SKETCHBOOK”
Director: Falk Schuster
Special Prize Lapp Connected Award
2.500 Euro, sponsored by U.I. Lapp GmbH
Director: Darko Vidackovic
48h Animation Jam – Crazy Horse Session
Antonio Jesús Busto Algarin, Martin Martínez Garcia (Spain)
In co-operation with M.A.R.K. 13, Landesanstalt für Kommunikation (LFK) and MFG Film Funding Baden-Wuerttemberg
ANIMATION CO-PRODUCTION FORUM Arab World (the countries of the Arab League) and the Caucasus region 2013 in cooperation with the Robert Bosch Stiftung
nominated for the Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for International Cooperation
Sarah Kaskas and Michael Schwertel