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The 1st Tenerife International Animation Festival

Independent animating guru Bill Plympton attended the 1st Tenerife International Animation Festival and thoroughly enjoyed it. Here's his report!

Bill Plympton found the Tenerife people and landscape warm and inviting. Photo courtesy of Bill Plympton.

As my plane from Madrid circled over the Tenerife Airport, my thoughts drifted to the massive death of almost 600 people, burnt to cinders. This is the spot where two 747 Jumbo Jets collided in 1977, causing the largest air fatality ever — I heard that one Dutch woman survived and went crazy later. But I wasn't here for my own amusement — I was here for the 1st Annual Tenerife International Animation Festival.

I was whisked from the airport to downtown Santa Cruz, to the Hotel Mencey, on the Rampla de Generalissimo Franco, one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen. There's caviar for breakfast, and the turtles there have their own swimming pool.

Jose Luis Feito, the festival director, has put together a wonderful program of shorts and features from all over the world, with a decided emphasis on Spanish and Latino films. In fact, I've never seen a program of so many Spanish feature films. One of the highlights was El Bosque Animado, or The Living Forest, a wonderful environmental story told in 3D computer animation.

The festival invited me to do a retrospective of my work, plus show my feature Mutant Aliens. The crowd filled the charming Deco cinema and was totally enthusiastic throughout the whole 3 hour program. Afterwards I was mobbed by fans. I tell you, there is nothing like a Spanish cinema audience.

Bill Plympton's most recent work Mutant Aliens was presented during a retrospective of his career. © Bill Plympton.

In between the films, I had time to explore this beautiful island, one of seven in the Canary Archipelago. We drove up to the volcano, El Teide (the highest in all of Spain), to find an exquisite plateau, unlike any scenery I've seen anywhere. Plus, the water was so clean and inviting, I had a problem attending all the great films.

Of course, the tourist industry is dominant but the people there want to put more emphasis on culture. In fact, they've just completed a magnificent new Arts Center, which will be the site of next year's festival.

I believe the first edition of the Tenerife International Animation Festival is off to a super start. And if you're looking for an animation festival with great audiences, great prize money and terrific food in a tropical paradise, this festival is for you.

Bill Plympton is an award-winning independent animator based in New York. His recent feature film, Mutant Aliens, won the Annecy Grand Prix in 2001 and was released in theaters in 2002. His next feature, Hair High, is now in production and an "Ani-Cam" is Webcasting all of his drawing for the new film live at www.hairhigh.com. In addition, his Website can be seen in AWN's Animation Village at www.awn.com/plympton/.

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