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Inside the Jury

Carolyn Giardina reports on DI, honoring Phil Tippett and other panels at the recently concluded eDIT 8. Filmmakers Festival in Frankfurt, Germany.

Festival jurists (above) can be overwhelmed by the number of films they have to keep straight while fighting off jetlag. CICDAF jurist Marcy Page regrets the possibility that some titles get overlooked.

What happens on an animation jury in the festivals? Marcy Page, a Canadian animation producer of the legendary NFB, served as a jury member at CICDAF and gives AWN a glance at the mysterious job.

Jen-Shen Gur: Was the jury work hard this time?

Marcy Page: It was difficult watching so many films at once. It was tiring, even though watching animation is generally quite stimulating, in part because some of us were also suffering from fairly severe jetlag. The hardest part for me was keeping so many films straight in my own mind and to effectively rate them relative to one another. I am not used to making such snap judgments. Though some categories were small, I think there were, for example, over 150 films in the student category! The possibility that some titles get overlooked becomes obviously greater

There was an interesting cross selection of final jurors from all over the world and language posed a very difficult problem for actual discussion. When you have a smaller group doing the jurying, it seems that the jury must rely on more discussion to come to a reasonable consensus because individual bias becomes more pronounced in a smaller group. And there would also be the disadvantage for jurors who, like myself, would want to see films in all the categories, particularly as this festival attracts a large number of Asian films that one might not get to see elsewhere. With a larger group of jurors, it seemed like it worked surprisingly well for each of us to individually rate the films in any category relative to one another and give our scores to the festival and let the numbers decide... with less discussion. This seemed also to ameliorate individual bias. There was a bit of discussion when we saw the numerical results here and there but I think there was general consensus about the prizes.

JSG: What usually guides you in your selections how do you choose one film out of the hundreds? What is the secret of a good work?

MP: The criterion for each juror was probably a bit different, but my intuition was that we all appreciated many of the same ideals. I think that we all appreciated the differences in the ways various individuals uniquely fused their national culture and individual identities in unique creations. Seeing this variety was stunning and in the trend toward homogenizing culture in animation, this variety seemed somehow fragile and important. For me personally, the originality of technique, concept and style are always important. There is no formula therefore as to what makes a successful film ideally it is a original marrying of medium and message.