Saturday November 03rd 2007, 4:24 am
Filed under: Festivals, Performances

The 34th Flanders International Film Festival held in Gent, Belgium (October 9 – 20) primarily celebrates film music’s relation to the visual language of film. That said, it also includes some fine animation, including two of the thirteen short films nominated for the 2007 European Film Awards (PRIX UIP). Each of the 13 films in this competition had already won a PRIX UIP award of €2000.00 at one of the major European festivals, and the winner will be announced on 1 December in Berlin and awarded a €10,000.00 grand prize.

One of the two contenders is Joanna Quinn’s delightful Dreams and Desires – Family Ties, which has already garnered the Grand Prix at several festivals such as Annecy and Zagreb. It qualified for the PRIX UIP by capturing the prize at Tampere International Film Festival in Tampere, Finland. I have written extensively about Beryl, the heroine of the film, and her whimsical screwball adventures in several previous articles, so I won’t repeat myself, except to say that the film gets better with each viewing. Nik and I did get to spend a lovely afternoon with Joanna and her scriptwriter husband Les Mills while they were here for the Festival and my next article will be an interview that I did with these two very talented and fun people. Joanna and Les also were gracious enough to take time out from their busy festival schedule to give a short Saturday morning master class at KASK School for the advanced students

In the other film, Adjustment by Ian Mackinnon from the UK, a young man searches for flickers of hope in the pages of his diary, after a break-up with his girl-friend. It is a drama of technical and emotional obsession, employing animated objects, live action and 2D/3D animation, telling the story in flip book form. Adjustment took the top prize at Festival D’Angers in Paris. http://ianmackinnon.co.uk/adjustment

I found it impressive that 4 out of the 10 finalists for the ACE Competition for Flemish Student Shorts were animated. The winner of this competition will win a post production grant and €1,000.00. Java Jive, a merry romp to find a cup of coffee, is animated to the Ink Spots song of the same name. I doubt if the student, Koen Vanschoelont, obtained the rights to use the music, which will limit his ability to present this charming homage to coffee at some festivals and prohibit commercial distribution. Lawyers for the famous musicians’ estates are definitely out there looking for any copy right infringements. Several years ago our friend Alex Budowsky used a song by a band, with their permission, that had a small bit of a Mills Brothers song sampled. Lawyers for the Mills Brothers estate found out about the sample, and demanded a very large sum from the band, or to cease and desist distribution. The band had to go back into the studio to re-record the song, which was then put onto the already completed film.

Maarten Vranken’s Puzzled is a clever film made up of whimsically choreographed puzzle pieces. Martian Slavers, created by Landers Ceuppens tells the tale of a director who establishes a studio to produce the best animated film ever made, utilizing a million monkeys to produce this masterpiece. The total chaos that results is hilarious.

By far my favorite film in this category was Joost Jansen’s 4th year final student project, Yves. This animated documentary is a poetic-metaphorical portrait of a person who differs from the rest of the world. An interesting mix of reality and fiction creates conflicting and interesting questions about being different.

from Yves, by Joost Jansen
from Yves, by Joost Jansen

I especially wanted to see Badly Drawn Roy, by Ireland’s Alan Shannon, but due to technical problems it was not screened. I hope that I will have a chance to view it at another festival because a trip to Google made me sorry that I missed this mockumentary about Ireland’s only living animated character, born into an ordinary “live action” family.

In the feature film category, Meet the Robinsons was shown, but since the Robinsons didn’t make a very favorable impression on me the first two times I met them (once in 3-D, at Annecy), I skipped that screening.

Film music is the key element at the festival. This year’s theme was Argentina, and of course Tango was in the air. Argentinean composer and double Oscar winner Gustano Santaolalla and his Bajofondo Tango Club played a concert that featured a fiery mix of Tango and dance music plus excerpts from his award-winning film scores. Spanish composer Alberto Iglesias, known for his many years of collaboration with Pedro Almodovar, presented a concert of his works, performed by the Flemish Radio Orchestra. The three days of music events culminated with the World Soundtrack Awards. Alexandre Desplat (The Queen, The Painted Veil) was named Film Composer of the Year. The Best Original Sound Track and the Public Choice Award went to Clint Mansell (The Fountain). The festival’s highest honor, The 2007 JOSEPH PLATEAU LIFE TIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD, was awarded to Walter Hill. A retrospective of Hill’s films was screened, and I particularly enjoyed seeing Hill’s 1983 Streets on Fire, an operatic rock odyssey, featuring a motorcycle gang, a kidnapping and of course romance. I had not seen it since its 1984 release and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you get a chance to see it, don’t miss this one for just sheer fun.

To find out more about the FLANDERS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL go to www.filmfestival.be.

Nancy’s November travels
Thursday November 01st 2007, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Personal, Festivals

I am about to set off on an animation odyssey that will rival my last years trip to Russia — if such is possible!

5 through 11 November I will be at Espinho, Portugal at the Cinanima Animation Festival

13 through 19 November I am very pleased and honored to be a juror at the Bradford Animation Festival

19 through 21 November I will visit friends in Riga, Latvia

21 through 25 November I will attend the Black Nights Animation Festival in Tallinn, Estonia

From there I fly to Rome for the I Castelli festival where Nik finally joins me and we give a presentation and workshop, from 28 November to 2 December

3 December to the 6th Nik will be conducting a workshop and I will be writing about the Bournemouth School of Animation in Bournemouth, England

I am afraid that I will have limited e-mail access during my travels but Nik will be at home until 28 November fielding responses. I look forward to seeing many of you during my travels.