The Bay is sensational. Positano is worth visiting, whatever may be happening within it, even if you missed Sophia Loren growing up there. But with the Cartoons On The Bay festival, directed by the dauntless and dedicated Alfio Bastiancich and his formidable crew, there was a clear call for any animator to be present at the end of April 2005.
It is a small festival, and Positano is a small place, with all of the structures and houses virtually pasted onto the surrounding cliffs. In this vertical town, there is no horizontal space for a movie theater or any kind of a hall, so the enterprising Alfio actually built a temporary theater right on the beach, all made up of scaffolding and tenting materials, housing the latest in digital projection and sound equipment, focused on a vast white movie screen. It was there that all of the films in competition were shown. Smaller events and conferences took place in a hotel meeting hall, festooned with large plasma screens, and with an adjacent veranda on which to breathe in the Mediterranean Sea.
Im not going to name the bombastic adventure films that I hated, overloaded with CGI wonders but little else of value. No doubt devotees of warp speed action in exotic locales, deafening sound effects, and pseudo-mystocismic dialog may well love that stuff. I found it all embarrassingly empty. But appreciating the efforts and techno-care that went into it all, I refrain from criticizing the hard work of others. I would much rather praise the many worthy films for children. After all, that is my racket, and I appreciated all the ways the creators found to bring meaningful content to children. I certainly agreed with the double prizes awarded for Peppa Pig by Mark Baker and Neville Astley. I wish I had done it!
The event that I enjoyed the most was the Aardman Animation presentation by Peter Lord. My feeling is that his studio, especially with the brilliance of Nick Park, makes up a Kings of Comedy gang!
And how could I fail to love a festival that saw fit to honor me with an elegant Career Award Pulcinella inspired by the famous Bendazzi design. Once again I have beat out the competition merely by remaining alive!
On the other hand, the Gavioli Brothers greatly deserved their award for virtually creating the Italian school of animation.
Zdenka and I also enjoyed the splendid accommodations in the Palazzo Murat Hotel, with a canopied bed and a balcony not only looking out at the sea, but also down at the open air breakfast terrace, featuring enough calories for the most non-fastidious.
Another perk was a boat trip to the fabled isle of Capri, where Zdenka and I honeymooned over 40 years ago. All of this, and the films, were followed by frosty white wine, and everything that virgin olive oil can bless.
When we see the care and the loving organizations all over the world that are set up to honor our profession, and to see the breadth and unlimited possibilities that animation constantly discovers, we are all blessed to be a part of this insane but peculiarly satisfying line of work.
And just being in Italy is always amusing OK, food-wise amazing but festival-wise, amusing. Take this line from the festival program. All events will begin as scheduled, promptly. Yes indeed. Every event did start no later than one hour after its scheduled time, and mostly only a half-hour late. But it was all handled with charm and good grace by beautiful attendants. No one was upset. Good things happen in Italy in due course. Even while waiting in line for an hour late plane to board at the Naples airport, my question to the beautiful check-in counter attendant as to when boarding might begin, was answered, When I announce it, sir! That eventually turned out to be true.
Winners of Cartoons on the Bay 2005
The International Jury of the 9th Pulcinella Awards International TV Cartoons Competition, composed of Raoul Servais (author, Belgium) as president of the Jury; Meredith Metz (svp, creative affairs, Walt Disney Television Animation, USA); Irene Wellershoff (head of childrens and youth fiction, ZDF, Germany); Heather Kenyon (sr. director of development original animation, Cartoon Network, USA); and Maria Mussi Bollini (childrens programs, Rai Tre, Italy) viewed 40 programs in competition for the 9th edition of the Pulcinella Awards. The following programs were honored for these reasons:
Best Series For Pre-School
Peppa Pig, U.K., 2004, Astley Baker DaviesFor the story and well-designed simple graphics, which not only depict the main character with humor and warmth, but also show a positive portrayal of a typical contemporary family.
Best Series For Children
The Cramp Twins Series 2, U.K., 2004, TelemaginationFor its unusual, unconventional character design and interesting series concept, which is a funny depiction of real life.
Best Series For All Audiences
Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, USA, 2004, Cartoon Network StudiosFor the imaginative setting and world filled with unusual and humorous characters and the well-told entertaining story.
Best Action & Adventures Series
Avatar, the Last Airbender, USA, 2004, NickelodeonFor creating a well-constructed, epic magical world, using a fantastic, beautiful graphic style and showing complex, nonstereotypical characters.
Best TV Movie
The Dream Bird, France, 2004, La FabriqueFor its compelling, engaging story with fantastical elements that represent a contemporary issue facing many children the bridging of the multi-generational cultural gap. Also for incorporating colorful, traditional African designs.
Best Pilot of TV Series
Lilis Island, France, 2004, Je suis bien content For the inspired unique style and the promise of unusual adventures, where the children protagonists will encounter a number of highly imaginative characters and situations.
Cuilin Dualach Ireland, Cartoon Saloon, 2004An original sweet and sad story told with an interesting, mixed-media style, which highlights a disabled boys plight and his mothers unwavering faith and love.
Best Educational Film UNICEF Campania Prize
No Limits, Germany, 2004, Filmakademie Baden-WurttembergFor delivering a very strong message with a twist at the end, in a short, concise amount of time using an interesting technique. A very strong message in a very short time!
Best Animation Character of the Year
Bloo (Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends), USA, 2004, Cartoon Network StudiosPure animation. He succeeds as the ultimate in simplicity. A simple and yet expressive character, who may be small, but is big on personality.
Best Series of the Year
Avatar, the Last Airbender, USA, 2005, NickelodeonFor its overall quality and integrity, and the potential that the series promises for numerous and exciting episodes.
Best European Program of the Year
Peppa Pig, U.K., 2004, Astley Baker DaviesFor being light but not superficial! Peppa Pig is a European program, which is so well crafted and the charming main character so universally appealing, that it crosses all borders.
Dibo The Gift Dinosaur, South Korea, 2005, Ocon Inc.For using CG in an innovative way to give knitted handicraft characters a unique texturized look and CG a new warmth. Plus, the jury found this shows color palette stunning.
A Lovely Day, Germany, 2004, Motion WorksFor its beautiful, sensitive script, which shows the optimism, humor and love in a familys every day chaos.
P.O.P. Pace Of Peace, Italy, 2004, Ufficio per la Pace e Gerusalemme del Comune di Roma, I Castelli Animati, Municipalities of Qalqilia and RaananaFor being such an ambitious undertaking bringing together both Palestinian and Israeli youth and multiple Italian studios for a meaningful and worthy cause peace in the Middle East. Also there should be a special nod toward Luca Raffaelli and I Castelli Animati for expanding the boundaries of a festivals reach beyond our animation community.
Editors Note: The Career Award was awarded to Gene as well as Italians Roberto and Gino Gavioli, who worked for Gamma Film the largest European studio of the time creating hundreds of Carosello episodes and a series of unforgettable characters that became part and parcel of Italian culture in the 1960s and 70s.
Gene Deitch is one of the last surviving members of the original Hollywood UPA studio of 1946 and the instigator of the CBS-Terrytoons renaissance of 1956-1958. He was also animation department chief of the Detroit Jam Handy Organization; 1949-1951, creative chief of UPA-New York, 1951-1954; director at John Hubleys Storyboard Inc., New York, 1955; president of Gene Deitch Associates Inc., New York, 1958-1960; creative director for Rembrandt Films, 1960-1968; and star director for Weston Woods Studios, Inc., Weston, Connecticut, 1968-1993. He has worked for more than 40 years with the Prague animation studio, Bratri v Triku.