An upturn in the German vfx industry along with the perception that eDIT | VES is now the most important European forum for digital film production, made for a noteworthy 2004 Festival, reports Tulay Tetiker.
eDIT traditionally focuses on the moving image in the digital age -- and on the various ways the production and distribution of these images is being transformed by the evolution of digital technology. From Sept. 26-28, 2004, film and visual effects were the talk of the town in Frankfurt, Germany.
Dawn of the Dead
The seventh eDIT | VES, the European Festival for Production and Visual Effects, just closed its doors and it seems that there is a light at the end of the tunnel for the German vfx scene. The industry there had been hit hard by the bankruptcy of Leo Kirch and the worldwide economic aftermath of the events following 9/11. Indeed, one could even sense an upward trend among the visitors. It seems as if there are more jobs available, at least post houses are hiring interns again. German companies are looking for competition and comparison to Americans, says Rolf Kraemer, the festivals co-coordinator. If I can see eDIT | VES Festivals as some sort of indicator for an upwards trend in Germany, then I would say there is one absolutely. We had more attendees, more sponsors and more media attention since the last few years. My impression was always that if the industrial sector is suffering, so do we. Instead of a very high profile program in the last two years, the number of visitors was remaining static. This year we had significantly more visitors from all over the world.
Featuring distinguished lecturers from both Europe and Hollywood, the festival enjoys a reputation that has grown steadily over the past years. We are very pleased that we were able to exceed last year's result, with almost 1,700 visitors attending this year," said congress director Sebastian Popp. "Most likely, the positive trend is partly due to the upturn in the economy -- after several tough years, the industry is now more optimistic about the future. But it also has to do with the fact that eDIT | VES is now perceived as the most important European forum for digital film production. No other event offers visitors a three-day program of comparable breadth or depth. Then there are the accompanying programs such as eDIT: eDucation and eDIT: Screenings that are explicitly aimed at interested lay audiences rather than film professionals. Thus eDIT | VES is truly a festival that offers a wider public the opportunity to experience a touch of Hollywood glamour in the heart of Frankfurt."
The festival's new patron, state minister Udo Corts, expressed great satisfaction with the seventh eDIT | VES. The event is a gain for both the Rhine-Main region and for the international film industry. It is the best proof that we have a lively community of highly-skilled digital professionals that can hold its own against the international competition and puts our city in center focus within the international film industry network.
Seven years ago we were not sure if a festival like eDIT would work out for good in the Rhine-Main region or in Germany generally speaking, explains Kraemer. Since three years, however, we have found a strong partner in the Visual Effects Society (VES), which does not only allow us to gain more respect in Europe, but also established a transatlantic bridge -- and Frankfurt moves a step forward in direction to Hollywood.
Hollywood in Frankfurt
Festival co-director and founding member of the Visual Effects Society Tom Atkin sums up: After seven years there is no doubt in my mind that eDIT | VES has rightfully taken its place as the leading platform in all of Europe for filmmaking storytelling. From eDIT: eDucation, which introduces filmmaking to students, to Festival Honors, which recognizes the greatest storytellers in the industry, eDIT | VES is running on all cylinders. On a personal level, it was a great joy to have the opportunity to present Festival Honors to our most distinguished honorees. eDIT | VES provides the opportunity for storytellers from around the world to come together to share their storytelling experiences with the best in the business, and equally important, they have the chance to network together to share storytelling from both personal and business perspectives. With each passing year, Hollywood and Europe have grown closer and joined together to enhance the global storytelling experience.
There will definitely be a collaboration between eDIT and VES Festival in 2005, which proved to be so successful in its third year. Kraemer adds, This collaboration is very valuable for eDIT because it guarantees that we will be able to have the most important and recent vfx productions covered on our festival. And it is particularly important that through the cooperation with VES we can invite high profile presenters such as the vfx supervisors or lead artists of a movie. It is something very rare and unique to have workshops that are so in-depth and entertaining at the same time.
For many of the visitors the intimate atmosphere of the festival was a personal highlight of the show. Kraemer explains: The character of the festival was stamped by the dialogue and exchange among the people. All in all I had the personal impression that people talked more to each other. Even the so-called VIPs of the festival had to mingle with the people as a result of the cancellation of the VIPs Lounge. A large-scale café in the lounge of the CineStar Metropolis Frankfurt undermined the call to seek for communication. There are only few festivals where John Q. Public has the chance to almost be face to face to legends like Denis Muren who was presented the Festival Honors at last years eDIT | VES.
Film and storytelling are at the heart of eDIT | VES, in which directors, vfx supervisors, animators and cameramen present their latest productions. Hollywood as well as art-house use the same tricks and are confronted with the same challenge: how to create the perfect illusion. Among the highlights presented were