Thursday May 24th 2007, 6:38 am
Filed under: Festivals

Dear Animators:

This year Bill Plympton will be attending THE PLATFORM FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION in Portland, Oregon instead of The Annecy Festival of Animation. Bill has asked Nik, Jonas Raeber and myself to carry on the ANNECY PLUS tradition that he started two years ago. If you had a piece of work rejected by Annecy please send it to us so that we can consider screening it at the ANNECY PLUS show.

We are now into day 15 of a postal strike in Gent and no one is sure how long the strike will last so it is best to send DVD’s via UPS or Fed Ex to:

Nancy Denney-Phelps

Donkersteeg 31

B-9000 Gent Belgium

We will be leaving for Annecy on 8 June so please send your work right away!!!

In case you will be attending Annecy this year please join us for ANNECY PLUS 2007

Saturday 15 June

Music starts at 8:00 PM

NEW LOCATION: VENITIEN located approximately 250 meters from the festival headquarters — (yes, Stephane did sell the Belle Excuse Restaurant)

Warmest Regards,

Nancy Denney-Phelps

Nancy’s article about AnimaBasauri 3 in Spain, with pictures.
Tuesday May 08th 2007, 7:27 am
Filed under: Festivals

Hi friends,

Here are my impressions of the third year of a wonderful festival that takes place in Basauri, Spain, near Bilbo in April.

Love to everyone,

by Nancy Denney-Phelps

The 3rd Annual ANIMA BASAURI INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION FESTIVAL held in Basauri, Spain, March 23 through the 29th is a little festival with a very big heart. Nik and I were both honored to be invited to be on this year’s festival jury. Nik judged features, I judged shorts, and in between viewings, we were treated to some amazing Basque foods and wines.

Like last year, a highlight was the chance to see animation from Spain, Mexico and South America, films that are rarely seen in other festivals. Of the 74 shorts that I watched, 19 were from Spain, 3 were from Brazil, and Mexico and Chile each had 1 film. I particularly enjoyed Ugly’s Night, Manuel Gonzalez Mauricio’s new take on boy meets girl, depicting two disfigured people who meet and fall in love.

The selection of European and American films was also very diverse, ranging from Bill Plympton’ s Guide Dog to Regina Pessoa’s A Tragic Story With A Happy Ending. A prize of €1,000 was awarded to German animator Till Nowak for his film Delivery, a surreal story about changing a corrupt world. Delivery has a political message and was a 3D film with quite an individual design. Nowak’s film won the PRIX UIP at the Flanders International Film Festival in 2005-2006, which automatically made it a nominee for the European Film Award, given in December 2006.

The six feature films in competition were a eclectic group, running the gambit from Japanese animator Keichi Sugiyama’s Origin – Spirits Of The Past to Brazilian Otto Guerra’s very funny Wood & Stock: Sex, Oregano And Rock’n’Roll. Three films screened, but not in competition were Karsten Kiilirich and Michael Hegner’s The Ugly Duckling and Me, Phil Mulloy’s The Christies and Sathosi Kon’s Paprika. The first two were disqualified due to their format, being received in a form other than the 35 mm print required by the festival, and Paprika was pulled from competition by the filmmaker, who has also withdrawn it from competition at several other festivals recently. Phil and Otto were both festival guests, and Nik and I had a wonderful time hanging out with the ever witty and charming Phil and the very funny Otto. Phil told me that The Christies is the first part of a three-part trilogy about the Christie family.

ANIMA BASAURI hosted the world premier of Belgian/French director Picha’s 83-minute feature Snow White the Sequel. The film, whose publicity material carries the warning “not for children or over-sensitive adults,” is an “irreverent look at what happened the morning after Snow White married Prince Charming; starting where the Brothers Grimm and everyone else left off”. With narration by Stephen Fry, the film may not be great art, but it is great fun. Picha, who attended the premiere screening is delightfully charming and witty and definitely one of the most stylish dressers in the animation world.

The feature film prize of €6,000 was awarded to PRINCESS. I have written about Danish animator Anders Morgenthaler’s provocative film several times before, and its strong message - that hate can turn a good person into something even worse than the evil he is fighting continues to haunt me. The film, in which a priest sets out to erase his dead sister’s past as a porn star, always generates heated discussions, and was withdrawn from the Singapore International Film Festival after the censors demanded the festival cut a “religiously offensive” scene.

The Goya award, given to an outstanding Basque or Spanish film went to Coke Riobóo for Said’s Journey. Coke’s film tells the story of a Moroccan boy, Said, who crosses The Straights but on the other side, in the land of opportunity he discovers that the world is not as beautiful as he had been told.

Scott Kravitz’s film LOOM was included in the DVD competition. Unfortunately I did not get to see any of the 42 films in this classification. Additional categories were for Basque and Spanish animation school films, a program of animation especially for children, and retrospectives of four European cinema schools: Ecole Des Metiers Du Cinema D’Animation (Angouleme, France), Lycee Tecnique Des Arts Et Metiers (Luxembourg), Spain’s Universidad de las Islas Baleares, and London’s Royal College of Art.

Bill Plympton, Nik’s fellow feature film jury member, was his usual delightfully entertaining self, wowing the audience at his workshop demonstration. He talked about his life as an independent animator, screened a short clip from IDIOTS AND ANGELS, his current feature film project, and treated the audience to his recently completed cartoon noir murder mystery SHUT-EYE MOTEL which Bill said “will do for sleeping what Jaws did for swimming”.

A two-program retrospective of Jan Svankmajer films and AVOID EYE CONTACT Volumes I and II were also shown.

Nik and I presented two workshops entitled “Toons and Tunes”, tracing the history of animation through music. The first program was in the animation department of the University at Basauri, and the second program was for a packed audience of young school children at the Basauri Cultural Center. The youngsters were a very enthusiastic group who asked a bevy of intelligent questions at the conclusion of our screening and talk.

To me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of ANIMA BASAURI is the opportunity to experience the rich Spanish Basque culture from the inside with the people who live there. Festival Director Maria Jesus Diez, her husband Jose Antonio Fernandez, and the wonderful festival staff worked overtime to ensure that all of the invited guests were wined and dined in truly gracious Basque style. Once again this year Maria Jesus and her husband hosted a spectacular meal at one of the legendary Basque eating clubs. I have heard about these eating clubs for years and never expected to get an opportunity to experience this rare culinary treat. These are gentlemen’s clubs where the men create culinary treats for each other and if you are lucky enough to be an invited guest you are in for a rare experience. Another evening we were treated to dinner in a private room at a wine museum in Bilbo, surrounded on all sides floor to ceiling by bottles of spectacular vintage wines.

Basauri is a working class town a few miles from Bilbo. The screenings were held in a lovely theatre in the town center with excellent projection quality. Unfortunately, except for the opening and closing night ceremonies, the majority of the screenings were very sparsely attended, which was a disappointment to some of the festival guests. There were many posters throughout the city, and good newspaper coverage, including interviews with Bill Plympton, Nik and myself. Maria Jesus and her staff are working very hard to reach a wider audience in the future.

ANIMA BASAURI is a rare opportunity for any animator who is invited to attend a Festival which will treat you in a style to which most of us are not accustomed. Check out their web site at for the dates of the 2008 festival.

Nik and Nancy with festival staff dining at the Wine Museum
Nik and Nancy with festival staff dining at the Wine Museum
Bill Plympton at his workshop demonstration
Bill Plympton at his workshop demonstration
Festival guests and staff dining at the Spanish men's eating club
Festival guests and staff dining at the Spanish men’s eating club