News of the Fete de l’Anim 2017 animation festival in Lille, France
Each year the Fete de l’Anim brings together top animation professionals and students from throughout the world for three days of extensive hands on workshops, masterclasses, and screenings. Four noted artists in their fields gave masterclasses: Michael Dudok De Wit, Jean-Francois Laguionie, Uri Kranot, and Guillaume Renard aka RUN.
Michael Dudok De Wit is no stranger to anyone who knows animation. In 2000 his beautiful film Father and Daughter won the Academy Award for the Best Short Animated Film. Last year he garnered a nomination in the Feature Animation category for his feature film The Red Turtle. In conversation with interviewer Oliver Catherin at his masterclass Michael was joined on stage by Julien De Man, The Red Turtle’s background supervisor. They spoke in detail about the background design and showed photos which Michael gave to the background painters to illustrate the effects that he wanted. To assure natural character action Michael also shot live actors on video to help the animators achieve the type of movements that he wanted his characters to make.
The Red Turtle was Studio Ghilbli’s first film directed by a foreigner. Michael talked about working with Ghilbli’s co-founders Isao Takahata and artistic producer and producer Toshio Suzuki. Neither of them spoke English so working through an interrupter was often a challenge but Dudok De Wit said that working at the studio was an amazing experience.
Popular French comic book artist, graphic designer, and illustrator Guillaume Renard aka RUN draws his inspirations from pulp fiction, exploitation cinema, the golden age of comics, sci fi, the series Z, and popular Latino culture. At his masterclass he talked about refining his art at Collective Semper-fi where he specialized in making videos and developing his graphic universe that is made up of demons and gangsters. Today he is the author of two very popular comic book series, BD (Doggy Bags) and Mutafukoz. He is also director of Label 619 which publishes pop urban collections. At his Masterclass RUN talked about his experience as a first time director of Mutafukoz which he has adapted for the screen in collaboration with Studio 4degrees C. Mutafukoz will be screened at Annecy this year.
Renowned French director Jean-Francois Laguionie devoted his master class to the making of his beautiful film Louise in Winter. I’ve written extensively about the film and my interview with the charming M. Laguionie in my article about the 2017 edition of Anima Brussels and I won’t repeat it because he did not say anything new in his presentation but it was lovely to see his beautiful original drawings projected on the big screen.
The most interesting presentation for me was given by Uri Kranot. Originally from Israel Uri and his wife Michelle immigrated to Denmark where they teach at the Animation Workshop. The pair have created an impressive body of films that deal with topics such as immigration and human rights. Their 2013 film Hollow Land is about a couple who leave their native land with their only treasured possession, a bath tub, to find a new life only to discover that life is even harder in their new land. They have also completed the first two parts of their trilogy, White Tape and Black Tape. The third film in the series will be Red Tape. White Tape explores the theme of boundaries and is based on five seconds of footage from the “shooting back project” initiated by the Israeli human rights organization, B’Tselm, which gave Palestinians video cameras to document life under occupation. Black Tape is taken from news and documentary footage. The film explores the implications of life under occupation.
Following the retrospective of their works Uri gave the audience a special sneak preview of their latest work Nothing Happens, an animated film coupled with a VR experience. The beautifully animated film takes place on the cold, snowy outskirts of a town where a group of people are gathered. The theatre audience watches the group from a vantage point across the horizon. Everyone waits for something to happen. But nothing does . . . the crowd has been assembled to witness an event, to participate in being seen. The spectacle of watching and being watched is explored in the film.
According to Kranot, “As a film, Nothing Happens is a powerful cinematic journey and a thought provoking encounter. As a VR experience, we can take a step further into the realm of participatory visual art. We want the audience to become active participants in the scene and therefore be part of the passive crowd. Altering narrative and perspective based on the player’s behavior provides a unique experience for each participate.” Nothing Happens will be screened in competition at Annecy. The VR project will have its premier at Annecy also. After hearing Uri talk about the VR experience I am looking forward to trying it out.
A very important part of the festival is the opportunities that students have for hands on experiences under the guidance of professionals in various fields during the Creative Challenges. Fifteen teams of four people each came together to create a video mapping project in four days. The teams of students and professionals in the fields of animation, digital arts, and graphic arts came from throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, and one group from the Arts Council of New Orleans, Louisiana. The impressive result of their hard work was projected on the façade of the Lille Opera House as part of the opening night ceremony.
For the Animation Marathon twenty five teams of three students each from universities throughout Europe, as well as England, China, and Russia were challenged to produce ten seconds of animation in thirty-six hours. The beginning Image for each team was created by RUN. At the end of the two days all of the ten second segments were put together end to end to form a short film that was screened at the closing night ceremony.
The final hands-on project was the Graphic Battle where random pairs of graphic designers took to the stage. Each pair was given a topic and twenty minutes to create that image on a graphic tablet. The battles were shown on a big screen so that the audience could watch the artist’s work. On the first evening the battles were devoted to 2D artists who competed for a first prize of an Intuos Pro Medium Tablet offered by Wacom and Harmony Premium software from Toon Boom. The second place winner received Harmony Advanced software from Toon Boom. The second evening pitted 3D artists against each other to win an Intuos Pro Medium Tablet from Wacom and Storyboard Pro software given by Toon Boom. The second prize, also given by Toon Boom, was Storyboard Pro software.
Students and young professionals had the opportunity to meet with producers and studios at Speed Dating Sessions for recruitment opportunities, networking, and consulting sessions. European, and Chinese teachers and students met for the first time at Fete De L’Anim in partnership with RECA (Reseau des Ecoles Francaises du Cinema Animation) to share their university experiences. The RECA is made up of twenty-five well known French animation institutions. Its goals are to provide accurate information about the quality of animation training at different schools, to support constructive dialogues among the professional animation community, and to be a permanent go between with the institutions and state bodies involved in the training and employment in the animation industry.
Representatives of the RECA explained how its network operates and the advances the group have been able to make thanks to the unity of its members. They also talked about the opportunities for training available to non-French students as well as possibilities for partnership with foreign schools.
Representatives from various European animation institutions gave short presentations of work by their students. The best short animated student films representing over thirty schools were presented in five programs. Everyone had the opportunity to meet student directors and ask them questions at breakfast meetings.
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Lille animation collective Train Train the festival hosted a major exhibition of the studio’s work. Train Train likes to vary their projects which range from short films to features. It is known for work on such films as Franck Dion’s Edmond Was A Donkey and the feature film Louise In Winter. They also worked on Dion’s The Head Vanishes which won the 2016 Annecy Cristal and was short listed for the Academy Awards. Their latest project, L’Ogre (The Ogre) is about a giant upset by his size. He tries to stop eating but when he attends a business banquet his will power is put to a test. L’Ogre will be screened at Annecy this year.
There was an extensive exhibit that highlighted the studio’s work with examples of preparatory work, story boards, and animatics. Excerpts from films were projected on the walls. Two programs of short films representing the wide range and variety of the studio’s work were also screened.
This year the festival was spread out over three venues in Lille and three locations in other cities. The Childrens Village was held at the Arenberg Creative Mine in Wallers-Arenberg, an hour’s drive from Lille. The site was a working mine. Now part of it has been converted into a cultural space. The site has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the Children’s Village youngsters could try their hands at creating various forms of animation from stop motion to drawing on tablets. There were also animation screenings for the entire family.
I look forward to attending Fete De L’Anim every year. Seeing so many talented groups of students from all over the world gives me great hope for the future of animation. I owe a big thank you to Festival Director Julie Charnay for inviting me to attend the Fete and to Manon Cailleaux for taking care of the details of my visit and always being there when I had a question. You can read more about Fete De L’ Anim at: www.fete-anim.com