Cairo Childrens Film Festival Has Been Postponed Until Further Notice
Wednesday January 19th 2011, 3:24 am
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Cairo Children's Film Festival
Cairo Children’s Film Festival

My friend and colleague Mohamed Ghazala, President of ASIFA Egypt has sent me this call for submissions for the Cairo Childrens Film Festival.  Although I have never been to the festival, I trust Mohamed’s opinion and so I recommend sending your films to the festival.
ASIFA Egypt has announced a new partnership between the chapter and the Cairo Children’s Film Festival.  The oldest and largest children’s film festival in Africa has been based in Cairo since 1990.
The organizers of the festival have issued a call for submissions of animated, documentary, short and feature films for and/or made by children from around the world.
You can get more information and read the  regulations on the web site:
or contact the festival with questions at:
The submission deadline is 1st of February 2011!

Wednesday January 12th 2011, 9:09 am
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Mati Kutt receiving his Asta Parim Film Award award
Mati Kutt receiving his Asta Parim Film Award award

Estonian animators are always in the fore front of creativity on the International Animation scene.  New films by Priit Parn, Kasper Jancis, Rao Heidments, Mati Kutt, and Hardi Volmer frequently win top awards at animation festivals worldwide, so the competition for an award at the Estonian Asta Parim Film Awards is very stiff.  The awards honor the best of the best of the country’s film and animation each year.
On 5 January 2011 the Asta Parim lauded the remarkable talents of Mati Kutt with the prestigious Eesti Filmiajakirjanike Uhing (Estonian Film Journalist’s Union Award) for his latest film Taevalaul (Heaven Song).  The statuette was accompanied by a €2000 award.
The 45 minute stop motion film is an ode to all of us who want to fly and described as a “philosophical journey through time and eras, people and their behavior and thoughts. . .” about the human mind, ego, superegos, and id.  Kutt believes that Freud was more a writer than a philosopher. Freud called the brain “the theater where different plays are enacted on several stages and only one scene is enlightened”.  In Taebalaul these plays are shown in the human brain.
In presenting the award to Mati the jury statement called the highly creative and imaginative animation “A film that exceeds the gravitational force of the Surrealists and rises to the heights. . .”  In 2009 while I was attending Animated Nights, Mati took me on a tour of his workshop in the prestigious Nuku Film Studio and I had an opportunity to see his storyboard and some of the characters for the film.  I have been a big fan of his work for quite a while and so I have been looking forward to seeing his latest film.
Taevalaul premiered in Tallinn, Estonia on opening night of the Animated Dreams Animation Festival, 19 November 2010 to an enthusiastic packed house. I am sure that this amazing film will play at festivals this year so we’ll all have a chance to see and enjoy it.

image from Taebalaul
image from Taebalaul

There is a black cloud hovering over the award however, which is the sad news that Nuku Film (Nuku means puppet in Estonian) is in a very dangerous financial state.  The prestigious Nuku Film studio is the home to many extremely talented animators and is a major force in the stop motion and puppet animation world. They have also traditionally given many young animators a chance to hone their craft working with top professionals. Now their funding has been cut by 15% in 2011 and their reserve savings are greatly reduced.   The entire team was forced to take a three week unpaid leave recently.
To add to the financial woes, their spacious studio located in an old factory building which made socks during the Soviet era has been sold and it is feared that the new owner will raise the rent considerably, out of the renowned studio’s reach. Iwasfortunate enough to be at Animated Dreams for the 50th Anniversary of Nuku Films two years ago.  At the cabbage, black bread and vodka studio party in celebration of the mile stone I was fortunate enough to see the larger than life puppets that they had created for one of my favorite animations The Brothers Bearheart directed by Riho Unt along with many of their other sets, puppets and shelves full of awards.  It would be a tragic loss not only to Estonia but to all lovers of high quality animation if Nuku Film Studio was forced to close.

ANIMATOR ANIMATION FESTIVAL - Poznan, Poland; 15 – 21 July, 2011
Tuesday January 11th 2011, 11:12 am
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Nik and I were fortunate enough to be invited to participate in ANIMATOR last year and it was a wonderful experience.  I was on the International Jury and Nik gave a workshop and two concerts.  I encourage you to send your film to this excellent festival.

Poland, Poznan 15 – 21 July 2011


It is our pleasure to inform you that you can now submit your films for the 4th edition of the International Animated Film Competition at ANIMATOR \ 2011 Festival!

The International Competition of Animated Films is open to artistic animated films of all techniques up to 30 min. Grand Prix of 60 000 PLN /ca. 14.000 Euros/ will be awarded by an international jury including Amy Kravitz, Piotr Dumala, Olia Lialina, Gerben Schermer and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski. Films can be submitted for selection till March 1, 2011. The entry form and regulations can be downloaded from

ANIMATOR Festival Office

Estrada Poznanska

Masztalarska 8

PL 61-767 Poznan


phone: +48 61 850 16 55


Festival Misunderstandings
Thursday January 06th 2011, 10:03 am
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Nik and I have a very special place in our hearts for the TRICKFILM FESTIVAL in Stuttgart. Over the years what started out as a professional relationship has developed into a warm personal friendship with many of the festival staff, so I was very disturbed when I received the following e-mail written by Paul Fierlinger and forwarded to me by a friend on 22 December.  I understand that several other people in the animation community received it:

I just entered this post into my TVPaint users group forum, from where word spreads awfully fast:

I just received this letter from the Stuttgart film festival. First, they asked us to submit Tulip and after we did so this came:

As you know, we loved „My Dog Tulip“ and would have liked to present it at the Stuttgart Festival.

Unfortunately now it is too late. The feature length film section is not only dedicated to the normal audience but also to distributors and sales companies. For them the film is not interesting anymore because they already know it.

We hope that you will produce another film of the same extraordinary quality and would be pleased to receive it for the AniMovie competition in due time.

This is the last straw for me… I am swearing off all film festivals for the rest of my natural life. There might be instances when a producer will go over my wishes in the future and over which I might be powerless, but never will my hand fill in a film festival form.


I felt that there had to be some terrible misunderstanding between Paul and the Festival and both as a friend of the festival and as a journalist I wanted to get to the bottom of the problem.

This is the letter of explanation that I received from the festival.  I understand that it was also sent to several people who had gotten the first letter.

I was enormously saddened by your email concerning the „rejection“ of „My dog Tulip“ because I feel that there is a big misunderstanding.

I didn’t want to hurt the feelings of Mr. Fierlinger who is such a great and extraordinary artist and also a great and charismatic person – I had the pleasure to see him when he presented his film in Annecy. It hurts me to know that he got injured and that he thinks that we don’t appreciate his amazing film in an appropriate way.

The misunderstanding maybe born because Mr. Fierlinger didn’t know the whole story. Let me try to explain and please take into account that I am not a native speaker.

We were interested in “My dog Tulip” for the 2009 Festival but they decided to make the European premier in Annecy which was absolutely O.K. for us.

We saw the film in Annecy and loved it. So we invited it for submission to the 2010 Festival. The film was submitted by Norman Twain and was selected for participation in the AniMovie competition.

We didn’t reject the film for the 2010 Festival but we wanted to show it absolutely!!! Norman Twain withdrew the film because we didn’t agree with paying a screening fee. We usually don’t pay screening fees for screenings in the competition sections but we invite the director or the producer. We offered a kind of “service charge” which he refused because “it was much too low  I discussed with Norman until short before the catalogue had to be printed and in the end we agreed to disclaim. I really was sad about because for Uli and me it would have been one of the festival highlights and I really did my best to find a compromise with Norman. But I also had to respect the Festival budget and rules.

Norman Twain now proposed the film for the 2011 Festival. We didn’t invite it because the film now is unfortunately too old for the AniMovie competition with regard to the Festival rules. Which has nothing to do with the quality of the film but I don’t find better words to explain.

I am deeply concerned by Paul Fierlinger’s words and feelings! As you know I am working hard for the Festival (and my colleagues do as well). Like everyone here - I feel a big responsibility for the films, the directors and the producers. I highly esteem their work and love what they do – otherwise I wouldn’t do my job with so much pleasure and dedication. We always try to treat filmmakers and producers in the best way and to make them feel comfortable when they come to Stuttgart.

I understand that Paul Fierlinger is concerned and even angry about the rejection of his film. But I am really concerned that he seemed to have misunderstood the reasons and that he wasn’t informed about the process in the past.

Thank your for your attention!

Herzliche Grüße / Kind regards

Andrea Bauer

Programmrealisation / Programme Management

That letter completely explains the miscommunication as far as I am concerned.  If a festival has regulations as to how old a film can be to go into competition, it cannot bend the rules no matter how lovely a film is.

It is difficult enough to organize and run a festival without having to deal with unfounded rumors about the unfair treatment of animators and films.  If you have heard about or read Paul’s letter I hope that the letter from the festival will clear up any doubts that you have about submitting your work to he Stuttgart Animation Festival in the future. If you still have any questions you can contact Andrea Bauer at:

Dealing with so many animators and films in so many different languages is a very difficult task and we who are native English speakers should understand that it is doubly difficult to communicate with us when the festival organizer and staff are not native English speakers.  Misunderstandings are bound to arise, but let’s save our criticism for festivals that really don’t treat animators and films properly.

Simon’s Animation Mentor Update
Thursday January 06th 2011, 9:56 am
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I first was introduced to Simon Taylor several years ago by his father.  Nik and I gave a workshop at The Young Animators Festival in Bradford, England.  After our program a man came up and introduced himself and asked if his son could e-mail me.  He was at the festival represent his son’s work  because Simon was in Italy for his first year of study.I must admit that I promptly forgot about the meeting until I got an e-mail from Simon’s father talking about his son’s animation progress.  We corresponded for several years before I actually received an e-mail from Simon.When I did hear from Simon, he told me that he had been accepted in the Animation Mentors program.  I asked him to occasionally write about his experiences and over the past couple of years I have followed his progress.  Simon has graduated from the program and so this is the final chapter of that adventure.  He has however promised to continue to occasionally write about what he is up to.


Simon at ILM
Simon at ILM

Hello! It’s been a while since my last update and time to report on my life post Animation Mentor. I finished my final class with fantastic mentor Mark Oftedall in April 2009 and since then continued to work on the brilliant “Gaspard & Lisa” at Impossible Television in London for Chorion, which we recently completed.I had been juggling working full time and studying at Animation Mentor since August 2009 until the end in April, which was certainly a challenge but I enjoyed it so much and didn’t have much else going on outside of work, so luckily that wasn’t too much of an issue. So since AM finished I have mainly just been doing animation at work and I have learned a phenomenal amount about getting the best animation possible out of a very tight time frame. It was certainly a culture shock to begin with but an enjoyable challenge nonetheless. To put it into perspective, my last AM assignment was about 20 seconds long and I had a couple of months to work on it very carefully and slowly so that I could learn as much as possible from the exercise. On “Gaspard & Lisa” I was animating about one minute per week. I really enjoyed the challenge and got to animate a wide range of scenes. The show looks fantastic and it was really exciting to see it finally broadcast on TF1 in France as well as seeing it on DVD in Japan! It was both hugely satisfying and a little bit sad to see it all end, we had a great time and I got to work with an amazingly talented and friendly bunch of people.Amongst keeping up with the AM community and working at Impossible TV I also got to opportunity to work on a couple of short films “El Regalo de Blanca” and “Devils, Angels and Dating”. What I’ve seen of them so far looks beautiful and I can’t wait to see them when they’re finished!
Even though AM finished for me back in April 2009 that doesn’t mean it has to end. The AM community is fantastic and there are always gatherings in London. These are always great fun and add so much to the otherwise totally online experience. I also got to go to my AM graduation in San Francisco where I finally was able to meet up with all the other AMers I’ve been chatting to all this time who live outside the UK and what an experience that was! Our graduation was held in the magnificent Palace of Fine Arts with a barbecue and various other gatherings throughout the rest of the week. I was also lucky enough to get the chance to visit Industrial Light & Magic and Pixar Animation Studios. And of course, I got to meet some of my mentors for the first time in the real world!

Animation Mentor alumni photo
Animation Mentor alumni photo

Simon at Pixar Studios
Simon at Pixar Studios

A few months ago I was also given the opportunity to be an “Alumnus in the spotlight” where I got to report back to current AM students for a week about what it’s been like for me so far working in the industry. I really enjoyed it and it was great to talk about how working in TV differed to AM. By the way you can see how my final AM work turned out as well as a few clips from Gaspard & Lisa on my demo reel at my website .

Tuesday January 04th 2011, 7:59 am
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Trickfilm 2011
Trickfilm 2011

The last call for entries in the Feature Film category for the 11th International Trickfilm Festival, Stuttgart, is 10 January 2011.  PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL OTHER CATEGORIES ARE ALREADY CLOSED.
The festival, which is from 3 - 8 May, 2011, always features top notch films in all categories with lots of guests and super opportunities to socialize in the Festival Cafe or the outdoor beer garden.  Nik and I will be there and hope to see lots of you there also.

To down load the entry form or use the interactive  form visit

Questions? Contact Ms. Andrea Bauer at

Trixie, the Festival Mascot

Trixie, the Festival Mascot

Monday January 03rd 2011, 10:26 am
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Happy New Year from Puppets in Prague
Happy New Year from Puppets in Prague
Workshop group with their puppets
Workshop group with their puppets

The renowned Prague Puppet Project, a precious source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone who works in the field of puppet animation, has announced the schedule for their 2011 workshops.  With 10 years experience of organizing International Puppet Workshops, Mirek Trejinar and Leah Gaffen combine their know how with special guest instructors to provide classes that are invaluable to the beginner and professional alike.

2011 Workshop topics are:

Puppets for Animated Film - 4 - 13 January and 14-23 October

Marionette Carving:  Carving 1 - 4 - 18 June     Carving 2 - 6 - 20 August
Details for a Carving Workshop in the United States will be posted on their website soon)

Dragon Puppet Carving Workshop - 3 - 9 April

Marionette Manipulation/Performance - 22 August - 4 September

You can get complete information about all of the workshops on their website:

Monday January 03rd 2011, 10:21 am
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Monstra 2011
Monstra 2011

It’s the time of the year for long, dark winter nights when lots of us are dreaming about being in the sun somewhere nice and warm.  The perfect answer is a week in Lisbon at the fabulous MONSTRA Animation Festival,  21 - 27 March 2011.  Even if you can’t be there your super-short film can be if it’s 2 minutes or less and you submit it before the 15 January deadline.

Film submission is FREE


Films must be 2 minutes or less
All genre and animation techniques accepted including advertising
Film must have been made after January 2008
Submission deadline 15 January 2011

For complete festival regulations and entry for visit

Questions?  Contact MONSTRA at