Jen-Shen Gur gives us a look at the Chinese animation scene via the China International Cartoon and Digital Arts Festival, including impressions from NFB producer Marcy Page and Terkel in Trouble director Thorbjorn Christoffersen.
Under the Sign of Ka-Lung
There is nothing more magical, than watching new life coming to the world, a day breaking, a star lightening the sky. It is no less enchanting to witness a birth of a new festival in the history of animation and watch its first steps with trembling anticipation.
CICDAF China International Cartoon and Digital Arts Festival is only two years old, but is growing to gigantic dimensions. Its parents from the Ministry of Culture of the Peoples Republic of China, made a lot of effort to help it to change the face of the Chinese animation industry, ancient city Changzhou and its lucky citizens in the closest future.
Changzhou city in Jiangsu Province is located not far from Shanghai. It has existed for about 2,000 years and is famous for its lakes and rivers. In the ancient times, temples for dragons were built in the lands, which, like Changzhou, were blessed with water. Dragons the divine mythical creatures were considered to be the water patrons.
The Dragon drives evil spirits away; protects all the beholders of its image and brings luck. Not for nothing, lung (a dragon) or Ka-Lung (Mr. Cartoon) is chosen to be a symbol of the animation festival. He met us, the guests of the festival, with a happy smile, everywhere: on a thin leg of a street lamp, on the round sides of city buses, on the huge square of the Animation Exhibition Centre, near the Forums lecturing building, at the entrance of our hotel, on the flags at the dinner table
Cartoon is a medium for people to communicate worldwide without barriers, claims the text of Bo Weihai, from CICDAFs photo album. From Sept. 28, to Oct. 5, 2005, about 135 shorts and seven full length animation films were screened from all four corners of the Earth: U.S., Israel, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Hungry, Germany, Korea and others. The important events of the festival became: the China International Animation Competition and Awards ceremony; screenings of Chinese and international animation films; The Forum on cartoon products and Cartoon Art, the China International Cartoon Product Market.
Every day, a special bus picked us up near the hotel and brought us to an Asia Film and Television town. We directors, animators, producers and lecturers all marked with a distinguished guests card on a red ribbon were taken into a small theater screening room, where we watched the animation films for hours. Some of us even started to doubt if we are not the only ones whove been watching them, until one day, everyone sighed with a relief that a real audience was entering the dark cinema hall.
Oryan Ventura (formerly Ganot), a winner of the special distinction award in the student category for The Other Side of the Story (Israel) told me, when remembering screenings at the CICDAF cinema: I always felt a bit envious for the juries at animation festivals: they can see so many films at once. But at the moment we were watching one movie after another for hours, day after day, I felt sorry for them. I discovered its very hard work: to remain focused and awake all the time.
Many Ceremonies of CICDAF
On the bright sunny morning of Sept. 28, in Changzhou, you could have met all of your favorite fairytale, comics, and TV show heroes at the same time Snow White with her Prince and 1 3 7 9 it seems there were more than seven dwarfs; Spiderman; Batman and Bat Woman; Teletubbies; a bunch of dinosaurs, some in the terrorist clothes and one in Supermans costume, saving the hostages; and many others with flags and drums, scooters and hummers all walked in a solemn parade on the big square, before the Hall of the Animation Art exhibition.
Thousands of correspondents from all over the country gathered there to mark the event. The hosts of the festival were proudly gazing from the stage, fenced off with bouquets and red ribbons, honorable foreign guests were in the center of the attraction, school pupils with red scarves were shining with enthusiasm, young men and women in white sparkling clothes marched with flags of all the countries represented at the festival. And then, hundreds of firecrackers exploded, announcing the opening of the festival.
After the opening ceremony, there was a huge banquet, and, after that, another opening, but this time of the Forum, where the animation industry special guests read their lectures. At the same time in the building of the exhibition center you could walk through the H. Andersens fairy tales illustration exhibition, try out interactive games, visit a Cosplay competition, buy an action figure of an animation character you liked, a T-shirt or an alarm clock and even sign aÂ work contract.
The closing ceremony took place on the same evening, at Dinosaurs Park. Thousands of inhabitants of the city, a television audience of billions all over China and a dozen of dinosaur statutes the park dwellers were watching the televised gala prizewinners ceremony. There was something from the world of Oscar ceremonies in it the stage lit with backlights, television announcers, dancers, singers, acrobats, salutes
At last, the moment everyones been waiting for, jury members came out on the stage and announced the winners. After some of the prizes were delivered, the stage was turned over to famous pop stars. The rest of the prizes were received on another day, in the hotels hall, under the journalists cameras and photographers sights.
Some of the prizes were:
Denis Chernov Great Races 6:30 Grand Prix CICDAF 2005 for Best Television Program
Geza M.Toth Maestro 4:40 (Hungry) Grand Prix CICDAF 2005 for Best Short Film
Yu Shui About Life 13:20 (China) Award for the Best Student Work