This terrible virus affects each of us differently. For me, it has been the cancellation or indefinite postponement of my spring and summer animation festival schedule.
Attending a Festival in My Pajamas and Slippers on My Couch
This terrible virus affects each of us differently. For me, it has been the cancellation or indefinite postponement of my spring and summer animation festival schedule.
The International Trickfilm Festival Stuttgart took a gamble and decided to run an online festival this year. With only six weeks to pull it all together, they pulled off an amazing feat. The evidence of their success is that they received over one million views, 20,000 of those being on the opening night.
Viewers were offered three different options: OnlineFestival Free, OnlineFestival +, and OnlineFestival Pro. The free online stream aimed at the general public was a German-English potpourri with films, master classes, and workshops along with several hours a day of children’s programming.
OnlineFestival + allowed access to an On-Demand platform with over 200 competition current competition films along with the best films from past Trickfilm Festivals. It also allowed you to vote for the audience award. This option was available from 5 to 10 May for a one-time fee of €9.99.
The final option, OnlineFestival Pro, designed for professionals, gave exclusive access to the Animated Video Market which contains almost all of the films that were submitted to the festival this year. It also included all OnlineFestival + privileges. The Video Market and can be viewed until early August. It cost €19.95 and was well worth the cost for any animation lover.
One of the biggest difficulties with the quick switch to an online festival was the financial challenge of obtaining television rights to show the films on air. These can be very expensive and some rights holders chose not to have their films shown. This was particularly true of new feature films that are planning on a theatrical release when theaters reopen. Some films were not available outside of Germany. The beautiful Marona’s Fantastic Voyage, for instance, was only available into viewers inside Germany.
The 2019 feature A Costume for Nicholas from Mexican director Eduardo Rivero was available for online viewing. The film had its European premiere at the festival but was unfortunately blocked in Belgium.
The socially relevant multimedia documentary Zero Impunity was available for me to watch. The film, which delves into the difficult subject of sexual violence in war zones is directed by brothers Nicolas Blies and Stephane Hueber-Blies. As part of the Masterclass for Professionals, the two brothers talked in detail about their film. They said that they worked with 12 female journalists to uncover the separate stories of sexual violence in France, Syria and The Ukraine as well as the United States' actions in Guantanamo Bay.
The brothers also exposed the fact that the United Nations is aware of what is happening in these countries but chooses to turn a blind eye to sexual violence committed on both men and women during the time of armed conflicts. I found it interesting and unsettling to hear Nicolas and Stephane say that the most difficult and sensitive sequence of the film to make dealt with the United Nations. They still don’t understand why it is so sensitive because it is not a new subject with the organization, but people didn’t want to talk about problems within the United Nations, wanting it to appear perfect.
Technically, Zero Impunity is not the most sophisticated film technically, but its content is so important that it deserves a wide audience. I hope the film will be shown on television internationally as well as in theatres.
Along with the three recent films OnlineFestival + offered some great classic feature films such as Adam Elliot’s Mary and Max. There was also a recorded message from Adam giving some background on the creation of the film. Adam grew up in Australia and he did actually have a pen pal in the United States, but it was not Philip Seymour Hoffman, who voices Max in the wonderful puppet animation film about loneliness and friendship.
The in-depth Masterclasses and Workshops were the highlight of the festival for me. Even though nothing can compare with being at a festival and sharing conversations and drinks with friends, it was good to be able to see and hear them on my television screen. I even learned some things about them that I didn’t know before.
One of my favorite presentations was given by animation consultant and lecturer Max Howard. Max is very charming in person and all of his warmth and charm came through in his talk. I learned that he began his career as a child actor, starting out in theatre in the United Kingdom and then moving into animation when he was hired to run the London studio where the animation for Who Framed Roger Rabbit was produced under the direction of the legendary Richard Williams.
Max now spends much of his time in China, giving their universities and studios the benefit of his 25-plus years of knowledge. Much of his online presentation focused on working in China, and he gave his listeners insights into life there, such as the custom of the host wanting to get their honored guests drunk, as anyone can attest to who has ever been invited to a banquet there. He also explained that written contracts can be, and usually are, renegotiated even after they are signed. It is a given in China with contracts, and just how it works.
Max feels that despite all of the difficulties of working in China such as language barriers, extreme cultural differences, and communicating through interpreters, there is still much enrichment to be found there as far as storytelling goes. He feels that the tragedy of China is that they keep repeating the same stories even though they have so many other good untold stories
The most informative, concise, and thorough Masterclass for me was given by master screenwriter Pedro Rivero from his home in Bilbao, Spain. His award-winning screen adaptions include Psychonauts: The Forgotten Children, an animated feature film based on the graphic novel Psychonauts by Alberto Vazques and the live-action feature film The Platform which he adapted from the play of the same name by David Desola. His Masterclass focused on his work on these two films.
Pedro believes that whether writing for animation or a live-action film, a screenwriter might leave decisions that correspond to the director or the art department unfinished. He posed the question “Is it acting responsibly, when you should create a whole new world?” ” He went on to say that the perception of the audience is not based solely on the plot, but on the whole composition of the story.
As well as being a scriptwriter, producer, and director, Pedro is also director of the AnimaKon Animation Festival in Bilbao which I was invited to attend in March until he was forced to cancel it due to the Corona Virus. Seeing my good friend on the screen and listening to him talk made up a little for not being able to be with him this spring – almost.
Another good friend that I was delighted to see in my living room was Daniel Suljic. Daniel is the Director of Animafest Zagreb, the second oldest festival in the world. During his segment of Talks and Shorts, he confirmed that the festival has been postponed until, hopefully, the end of September.
As well as being a festival director, Daniel is also a filmmaker and musician. He appeared live from his music studio where he said that he is using the time in isolation to work on his music. The body of his interview was about his films. He said that he does every film in a different technique to emphasize the story. He also told the audience that “I’ve done the films and now they have their own life. Go out and survive”.
Two of Daniel’s films were also screened during his talk. His first professional film Kolac (The Cake) was made in 2017 using coffee-on-glass. The 7‘55” film begins as a simple story about a group of people celebrating at a dinner party until the cake is brought in and cut into unequal pieces.
His 5’51” film Transparency, done in colored pencils, was also shown. It follows a young man as he goes through the day in a world which is filled with numerous scanners and algorithms. As he scans his cards and uses social media he is freely giving away his privacy. Although he thinks he has nothing to hide because he is an honest man, he is ignoring the fact that his bank account or even his identity could easily be stolen.
I have always wanted to visit Regina Pessoa and Abi Fejo’s House of the Moving Image Museum outside of Porto, Portugal, and through the magic of the internet, I went there when Regina gave the audience a guided tour as part of her presentation. The first room is dedicated to the early history of animation. Room two is devoted to the works of the talented pair, Regina and Abi, and Room three pays tribute to international animation. It looks like a beautiful museum that every animation lover should attend.
All of the interviews and masterclasses were well worth watching but none was more heartwarming and humorous as Signe Baumane’s tour of her New York studio. Signe is at work on her second feature film, My Love Affair with Marriage. Since the lockdown, her crew members are all working from their homes but Signe and her partner Sturgis Warner are isolated and at work on the film in Signe’s studio. Sturgis’ background is in the theatre. Besides being the set builder and lighting technician for My Love Affair Withwith Marriage, he seems to be an all-around jack of all trades.
As Signe took us on a tour around her workspace she gave everyone a lesson on how to make a film using everyday found objects such as cardboard boxes, packing crate paper, and even discarded rolls of cash register tape which in Signe and her crew’s hands get turned into wallpaper for sets. Clearly, nothing goes to waste in that studio. Along the way she also showed us how to make a tight-fitting facemask out of a bandana, gave us tips on taking care of house plants, and introduced us to the office pet, a ladybug that lives on one of the office green plants. Throughout the tour, Signe’s warmth and humanity showed through. In the end, I truly felt as if I had just spent a half-hour sharing laughs with a good friend.
Each day there was a block of programming for young viewers. Along with showing excellent short films there were live picture book readings and live sing-along music performances. Creating Animation with Tine Kluth was particularly fun. Tine is an all-around animator. She directs, animates, creates sets and puppets, storyboards, and is known for her children’s workshops. She is also one of the funniest people I know.
During her 2 day workshop for kids, Tine constructed a set using cardboard, created a cat puppet from scratch, and then showed the young viewers how to make the cat move by shooting a short stop motion sequence. Even though it was all in German, Nik and I both enjoyed watching Tina create her magic.
Sunday Morning Opera on the big screen in the park with the Stuttgart State Opera is a Trickfilm Festival tradition. This year’s production of Sergei Prokofiev’s The Love of Three Oranges which is based on an Italian fairytale by Giambattista Basile. The singers were lovely and the splendid costumes were perfectly set off by Axel Ranisch’s animated sets. Axel created a bright, colorful pixel world reminiscent of the 1990’s computer game Orange Desert III.
Unfortunately, I did not get to see the entire opera because I needed to attend the online festival press conference. Artistic Director Uli Wegenast and Commercial Director Dieter Krauss told members of the press that the online version of the festival has received a tremendous response, so next year they plan to continue with putting some parts of the festival online so that people who cannot come to Stuttgart can also take part in the festival.
This year a large part of the festival presentations were in German. Uli said that this was because the festival has an extremely large turnout from the local community but next year hopefully they will be able to return to the theatre. The Opening and Awards Ceremonies are always conducted in German but foreign guests are provided with headsets and an interpreter. Because of the short time the festival had to create the online event, sub-titles were not possible this year. Hopefully next year the festival will be back to normal and in which case Uli said that the online version will be in English. This year about 25% on the OnlineFestival + ticket sales were from abroad. Uli also told us that they had put on a special animation program for a large live automotive audience at a local drive-in theatre which I think is a great idea.
The closing ceremony started out by paying tribute to all of the extremely hard-working staff who made the online festival possible. Individual photos of every member of the crew along with their job titles were shown on the screen one at a time. It was a pleasure to see so many familiar faces receive the recognition that they deserve.
When it came time to give out the awards there were video messages from the winners as they virtually received their Trixi awards. All of the 2020 award winners will be invited to the 28th opening ceremony next year to receive the Golden Trixi in person. All 2020 competition films will also be shown on the big screen in the cinema as well as the 2021 competition programs. This means that there will be fewer special programs, but we will have the opportunity to see the entire 2020 competition programs the way they should be watched, on the big screen. A list of all of the award-winning films is at the end of this article.
I owe a debt of gratitude to Katrin Dietrich and Rebecca Pfister in the press office. They did such a wonderful job of keeping me up to date on all of the festival events with their through press releases. They enriched my viewing experience and saved me a great deal of time in figuring out my viewing schedule. I also must thank Andrea Bauer, Head Programmer, who always goes out of her way to answer all of my questions and makes me feel so at home at the festival. I missed seeing you this year Andrea.
The 2021 edition of the ITFS will take place on 4-9 May. You can find out more about this year’s edition at: www.itfs.de
Normally FMX, the Conference on Animation, Effects, Games, and Trans Media runs for 4 days concurrent with ITFS. It has all-day multiple speakers, panel discussions, demonstrations, and much more. This year FMX was forced to initiate Highlights of FMX 1994 to 2020 online when the conference was cancelled. The kick-off was on Tuesday 5 May with Jan Pinkava, Director of Pinkava Productions.
Jan is the Academy Award-winning founder and Creative Director of the Google Spotlight Stories project; a team of artists and technologists who work with leading directors and studios to define new forms of immersive, interactive storytelling for film, mobile phones and virtual reality. During his 13 years as a director at Pixar, he wrote and directed the 1997 Oscar-winning Geri’s Game as well as co-directing the 2007 Academy Award-winning feature film Ratatouille.
His presentation began with interviewer Andreas Hykade showing a short clip from highlights of Jan’s many visits to FMX and the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg. Jan then told his listeners to always remember that you are making a film for an audience. He also talked about working with a team, saying that in a good team the whole is much better than the individual parts. If you work with someone and want to work with them again this is how you know you have a good team member.
He told his audience that he is no longer excited by the newest technology but thinks about how we can use technology to connect to each other. In a different vein, Jan talked about growing up behind the Iron Curtin in what is the former Czechoslovakia, where Jiri Trinka’s children book illustrations were a big influence on him.
The next day the audience had the opportunity to hear Volker Engel. He is the co-founder and President of Uncharted Territory, a groundbreaking VFX company based in Los Angeles. Volker received an Academy Award for the visual effects on Independence Day as well as an Emmy for his work on the 6 hour Sci-Fi Channel miniseries The Triangle.’
On the 3rd day of FMX Highlights, Regina Pessoa spent an hour chatting with Andreas Hykade from her studio. Regina told him that her first film experience was when she was 4 years old. She grew up in a small village in Portugal without a television set. One day a man drove into town with a movie projector and showed a Charlie Chaplain film in the town hall to anyone who wanted to see it for free. It made a great impression on her.
She also spoke about her work process and her unique style of engraving on plaster. She begins her filmmaking process with images and the story comes later. Her storyboards are very detailed. Because her work process is very intricate and labor-intensive it takes her over two years minimum to make a short film. Regina’s first film, The Night, which was inspired by her own childhood memories was shown in its entirety during her talk.
On Friday the final speaker of the week to share his knowledge with the viewers was Ed Hooks. He is well known for his Acting for Animators workshops which he presents at studios and universities throughout the world. He is also a familiar face to FMX attendees.
During his hour-long chat, he discussed acting theory and why it is so important for animators to understand it. He also delved into the intersection of acting and story and how they are connected. He discussed Walt Disney’s approach to acting and how Walt approached Snow White. Ed also posed the questions “What can we learn from movies and how do you, from an acting perspective, address a film when you watch it?”
Having appeared in over 100 films and television programs Ed knows his stuff about acting and he knows how to teach it also. His lectures are not only full of good tips, but they are also equally entertaining.
All four of the presentations are well worth watching. They are full of information and also entertaining. FMX has the four presentations online in their entirety along with questions from the viewers in the home audience. They will also continue to present new chats every 2 weeks for the foreseeable future. All of the presentations are free but you need to register on their website if you want to ask questions. You can see past presentations and find out who and when the next one will be at: www.fmx.de
The Animation Production Days are a joint project between the festival and FMX. It is the most important co-production and financing market for animation in Germany. In one on one discussions, APD brings together co-production, financing, and sales partners for animation projects. This year the event was forced to be completely digital. A total of 123 participants from 21 countries registered to take part. 50 of the submitted projects were selected and over 160 professionals registered to take part in the one on one meetings. All of this was conducted over six time zones. The selected animation projects and possible cooperations were discussed in approximately 600 individual pre-planned video meetings from the 5th to the 8th of May.
I must give a special thank you to Nora Hieronymus and Franziska Ullrich in the FMX press office for their detailed press releases which helped to keep me up to date on who and what was happening when. Congratulations to all of the FMX staff for arranging for the talks to come off so smoothly on such short notice and for continuing to make them available. I look forward to the next presentation.
Next year FMX is scheduled for 4 – 9 May.
GRAND PRIX, State of Baden-Württemberg and City of Stuttgart Grand Award for Animated Film (15,000 EUR)
Acid Rain Director: Tomek Popakul, Production: Animoon Studio (Piotr Szczepanowicz, Grzegorz Wacławek) / Poland 2019
Jury statement: “In coming to decide the winner of this year’s Grand Prix, the short film jury were uniquely impressed by a film whose strength of vision was matched by the boldness of its execution. Through an immersive and radically modern style, this film perfectly illustrates a subculture with specific problems and challenges. It boasts a compelling and relatable story that takes on difficult themes around social engagement, personal demons and loss of control with empathy but without romanticism. An uncompromising work of art and a trip into the depths of a fluorescent, psychedelic world, the power of this film lies in its synthesis of impressive sound, aspects of rave culture and socio-political issues that are rarely in the spotlight. This film forcefully pulls us into a seemingly unending trip, boasting a strong female lead and astounding storytelling that takes our attention from the very beginning to its unexpected end.”
Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film: Award for the best graduation film by a film student 10,000 EUR, sponsored by MFG Film Funding Baden-Württemberg.
Kujiranoyu (Bath House of Whales), Director: Mizuki Kiyama / Production: Tokyo University of the Arts (Koji Yamamura), Japan 2019
Jury statement: “In picking the winner of the Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award, the jury were drawn to a film about intimacy and amazement in an adults’ world. Drawing upon Japanese print traditions in the creation of its ethereal visuals, this film evokes the sense of wonder that accompanies a child’s inclusion into the daily rituals of society. With a keen sense of animation and solid direction, the audience can feel the emotions of the film through the rhythm of the bodies, colours and sounds. The film’s visuals are also matched by the richness and cultural identity of its musical score. In a very brief time the director successfully conveys a special atmosphere between mother and daughter in a shared, distinctly female moment.”
Jury: Jon Frickey (animation director/scriptwriter/illustrator, Hamburg), Waltraud Grausgruber (festival director Tricky Women/curator, Vienna), Ben Mitchell (animation filmmaker/producer/writer, London), Cécile Noesser (co-director Galérie Miyu, Paris), Gerben Schermer (curator Contemporary Art and Animation, Utrecht)
TRICKS FOR KIDS: Award for the best children’s animated film: 4,000 EUR, donated by Studio 100 I m4e Media.
La vie de château (My Life in Versailles) Director: Nathaniel H’limi, Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat / Production: Sacrebleu Productions (Lionel Massol, Pauline Seigland), France 2019
Special Mention: Coeur Fondant (Melting Heart Cake), Director: Benoit Chieux / Production: Sacrebleu Productions (Ron Dyens), France 2019
Jury statement: “The winner of the Children’s film competition is “My life in Versailles” by Nathaniel H’limi and Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat. The film stood out because of its honest and child-friendly depiction of a young girl overcoming tragedy.” “The jury would like to give a special mention to "Melting Heart Cake" by Benoit Chieux for its imaginative and heartwarming tale about friendship.”
Jury: Siri Melchior (animation filmmaker/producer, London) Julia Ocker (animation filmmaker/author, Stuttgart) Martin Smatana (animation filmmaker, Zilina)
YOUNG ANIMATION Award for the best student film 2,500 EUR, sponsored by the Landesanstalt fuer Kommunikation Baden-Wuerttemberg and MFG Film Funding Baden-Wuerttemberg.
Dcera (Daughter) Director: Daria Kashcheeva / Production: FAMU – Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Ondřej šejnoha, Zuzana Roháčová, Martin Vandas) , Czech Republic 2019
Jury statement: “Moments of misunderstanding and an interplay between two people, who are close to each other but yet so far. A very touching story about a father and daughter relationship, represented in a very special and creative way. Delicate and deep emotional depiction, the film displays a very high level of storytelling in a way that a few student films do. The camera work is very effective, using a unique economic labor without forgetting sensibility and emotion.”
Special Mention: Gravedad, Director: Matisse Gonzalez / Production: Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg – Animationsinstitut (Toufik Abdebaim,Matisse Gonzalez) Germany 2019
Statement: “What does it mean to reach the stars? And what, to fall into a hole deep under the earth? A very mature approach on the belief that one could accept what he or she has, no matter what. Highs and lows are good enough if you can see the good sides of it. Gravedad by Matisse Gonzalez takes us with her lovely and original style into this magic and very whimsical world.”
Jury: Anna Levinson (illustrator/animator/graphic designer, Berlin), Jan-Charles Mbotti Malolo (Director/screenwriter/animator/production designer, Lyon), Chen Xi (animation filmmaker/screenwriter, Beijing)
SWR OnlineFilm Audience Award 6,000 Euro, funded by Südwestrundfunk (SWR) fort he film with best rating in section OnlineFestival+
Uzi (Ties), Director: Dina Velikovskaya / Producer: Florian Grolig , Germany, Russia 2019
The FANtastic Award for the best animation talent 1.000 EUR , donated by the Animation Family, the most faithful fans of ITFS
Fragmente (Fragments) , Director: Jonas Hurrle Production: DHBW Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Germany 2020
Special Mention: The Fox & The Pigeon, Director: Michelle Chua, Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, SiKyung Kevin Sung, Morgan Thompson, Chelsea van Tol, Matt Walton, Steven Wang / Production: Sheridan College, Canada 2019
Jury statement: “We would like to start with our special mention:
A little fox stole our heart, / Although the story fell apart. / A fluffy dove then joined the fun / And so a friendship soon began/ Therefore we send our special mention/ To send them both to a new dimension!
Thank you Michelle Chua, Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, SiKyung Kevin Sung, Morgan Thompson, Chelsea van Tol, Matt Walton and Steven Wang for your film The Fox and the Pigeon.
Choosing our winner was hard. The variety and quality of all films was breathtaking, but there is one film that truly stood out…
We are more than the sum of our belongings. But these are the things that stay behind when a beloved person dies. New, truly unique stories from between all of the memories. The floating spines of books, the stairlift to uncertainty and a stack of ID cards telling the story of a soldier’s life are only a few elements of this stop trick film giving us a very personal view of the death of the grandfather. We can hear his voice on the answering machine, delve deep into his life and are given a musical farewell. Jonas Hurrle’s film “Fragmente is lovingly made and illustrates with apparently easy techniques a long life and its end. Congratulations on winning the “FANtastic Award” and welcome to the Stuttgart Animation Family!”
TRICKSTAR NATURE AWARD: Award for an international animated short film production that deal with the topics of climate protection, biodiversity, environment and sustainability in an informative, entertaining but also humorous way. 7,500 EUR by region Stuttgart
Au pays de l’aurore boréale (Northern Lights) Director: Caroline Attia / Production: Folimage (Reginald de Guillebon), France Switzerland 2019
Special Mention: Terre de vers (Worms of Earth) Director: Helene Ducrocq /Production: Citron Bien, Pierre Dron, France 2019
Jury statement: "Northern Lights is a film with clear but poetic images and a strong emotional impact. The film grasps the viewer by telling a solid story about the cautious relationship of a grandchild and her grandfather. The film doesn’t give straight answers or is convicting but raises questions about our relation to nature to think about. The short film Northern Lights receives the Trickstar Nature Award 2020 for its subtle and creative approach of the topic of climate change.”
Special Mention:" Multicolored and minimalistic design with a song that you won't get out of your head anymore, the great performance of earthworms is told in the complex structure of nature. At the same time, the fatal effects of industrial agriculture are simple but impressively illustrated. But there is hope: with the termination of industrial agriculture, there will be a renewing and revival of soil culture. For this stirring, humorous and also serious homage to earthworms, we award Worms of Earth with the ‘Trickstar Nature Special Mention’.”
Jury: Jalal Maghout (Animation Filmmaker/Visual Artist, Potsdam), Regina Pessoa (animation filmmaker/animator, Porto), Ralph Thoms (Festival Director NaturVision Filmfestival, Heilbronn), Regina Welker (Film director/creative director/animator, Ludwigsburg)
ANIMOVIE: Award for the best animated feature-length film
Le voyage du prince (The prince’s voyage), Director : Jean-François Laguionie, Xavier Picard / Production : Blue Spirit Productions, MÉLUSINE PRODUCTIONS (Eric Jacquot, Armelle Glorennec, Stéphan Roelants), France 2019
Special Mention: L'Extraordinaire Voyage de Marona (Marona's Fantastic Tale), Director : Anca Damian / Production : Sacrebleu Productions, Marmitafilms, Aparte Film, Minds Meet (Anca Damian, Ron Dyens, Tomas Leyers), Romania, France, Belgium 2019
Jury statement: "We had the honour as a jury from three different countries, far away from each other bit virtually connected to review 9 different movies from all over the world: France, Japan, Romania, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg and Mexico.
It was a truly inspiring time to be able to watch so many fantastic animated movies - we enjoyed it very much. Today we want to announce the winner of best animated feature film and also award a special mention.”
“The Prince's Voyage is a fantastic and philosophical fable story. It has an incredible contemporary touch, although it describes a very different time. It tells us to be without fear towards the outside or to things strange and unknown to us. It shows us that there are different ways to live a life, ways that shouldn’t be judged. It gently tells us to protect nature and our society - and last but not least to be careful with each other.
The film is beautifully executed and animation and story complement each other excellent in a simple but beautiful presentation and we are sure that it will find a huge audience amongst all ages.”
Special Mention: “Our Special mention goes to Marona’s Fantastic Tale by filmmaker and director Anca Damian from Romania. The film is produced by Anca herself, Ron Dyens and Thomas Layers from France and Belgium. The story about a dog’s life is an expressionistic, colourful and visual adventure about human life in its essence told through a dog’s point of view.”
It’s rare and daring animated originality deserves a special mention. The film is like an invitation to open doors to other dimensions. It lets us experience art in its fullest form. In its essence the film is a warm and touching story about love and belonging. It is rare to see such a daring execution in a feature film, never losing its red thread and always staying true to itself and therefore the film deserves a very special mention and conquered our hearts.
Jury: Liu Jian (animator/film director/screenwriter, Zhejiang), Lilian Klages (producer, Munich), Fermin Muguruza (musician/songwriter/film director/screenwriter, Bilbao)
DREHBUCHPREISE Award for a German screenplay with the greatest international market potential 1.500 EUR sponsored by PINK PARROT MEDIA.
Der letzte Sänger der Wale (The Last Whale Singer), Author: Reza Memari, Production: Telescope Animation GmbH, Berlin, Producer: Maite Woköck
Jury statement: “The coming-of-age story of Vincent, a teenage humpback whale on the search for his mystical song in order to save the oceans from a menacing monster, serves as a beautiful reminder for us two-legged mammals, that we too better grow up and find our own “voice” before we destroy our own environment to the point of no return. Like well-played music, The Last Whale Singer has the ability to cross-over ages and cultures. It offers us a song of hope, and one can truly hope, it will not be the last.”
German Animation Screenplay Award 2,500 EUR sponsored by the Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart (AMCRS).
Stichkopf (Stitch Head), Author: Steve Hudson, Production: Gringo Films GmbH, Cologne, Producer: Sonja Ewers, Co-production: Fabrique d’images, Studios: Lavalabs, Studio Rakete, Pixomondo
Jury statement:“At a time when people are afraid to go outside lest they are attacked by an unseen “monster”, the jury was very much taken by this family of monsters who is afraid to leave their castle lest they meet… a human. This timeless tale of a boy seeking the love and affirmation of his creator-father gets a modern capitalist-twist: Stitch-Head, the boy monster, runs off to the outside world and mistakes the enthusiasm of his captor, the owner of a wandering freak-show on the brink of bankruptcy, for love. Disillusioned, the Prodigal Son returns home to protect his family from the real monster: human greed. By doing so he wins the love and affirmation of his father, which were always there. A story about what truly matters in life, in sickness and in health.”
Special Mention: Lukas und das Paradoxi Author: Henning Ricke, Produktion: Lumatik Film GmbH, Cologne, Producer: Martin Borowski
Jury statement: “Already in its Treatment phase Lukas and the Paradoxi made the jury laugh out loud and embrace the inner chaos, which lies in each and every one of us, brilliantly brought to life in this film in the shape of the Paradoxi. This charming tale of finding the right balance between order and chaos, the adult and the child worlds, won the hearts of the jury. We look very much forward to read the completed script and see the Paradoxi in action.”
Jury: Peter Keydel (producer Mago productions, Barcelona, Düsseldorf), Tania Pinto da Cunha (Vice president/director of Int. Sales & Acquisitions, Pink Parrot Media, Madrid), Ron Segal (writer and director of animations films, Berlin), Holger Weiss (CEO/Head of Animation M.A.R.K. 13, Stuttgart), Silke Wilfinger (Manging director Silkway Films, Munich)
Trickstar Business Award recognising innovative business models in the animation industry, 7,500 EUR, sponsored by Region Stuttgart. For the first time, the Trickstar Business Award will be split this year, with half going to a project and half to a company.
Project: Good enough: Burnout Diary, Studio Pupil, Tünde Vollenbroek (Produzentin/Producer), Dario van Vree (Filmemacher/Filmmaker), Niederlande/The Netherlands
Jury statement: “Good enough: Burnout Diary addresses an issue of great social importance, affecting people from all social strata. The project by Tünde Vollenbroek and Dario van Vree started with a graphic novel, guiding readers through Maaike’s very personal story by means of her burnout diary. The jury particularly liked the 360-degree approach: In addition to a TV format, apps for persons affected by burnout are being planned as well as a social media campaign, workshops, and a special card game. The relaxed and easy narrative style and the pleasantly playful characterisation of the female protagonist are impressive. At the same time, the project conveys profundity and seriousness and provides comprehensible insight into the topic, which is helpful to those concerned too. Alongside the artistic work with its unique visual style, the jury has also been much impressed with the marketing strategies and revenue models.”
Company: E.D. Films / Owner: Archita Ghosh, Daniel Gies, Emily Paige, Canada
Jury statement: E.D. Films, a company founded in 2007 and located in Montreal, Canada, is an award-winning animation studio headed by Archita Ghosh, Emily Paige, and Daniel Gies. In addition to offering the full range of animation-related services and setting up a library of its own animation productions, E.D. Films have created a catalogue of technical IPs in the course of their own projects which is, by now, quite remarkable. These tools for digital image and sound design for, e.g., Photoshop, Maya, AfterEffects and Unreal, are offered by E.D. Films in their own online shop. With this range of products and services, the company has established a diversified market position and significantly increased chances for economic success, with a lasting effect. An exemplary business model.”
Jury: Jens Gutfleisch (Manging director Film Commission Region Stuttgart, Stuttgart), Marc König (Head of Business Development bwcon Research GmbH, Stuttgart), Dieter Krauß (Managing director Film- und Medienfestival gGmbh, Stuttgart), Solveig Langeland (Managing director Sola Media, Stuttgart), Dittmar Lumpp (Former Managing director Organistaion & Finances Film- und Medienfestival gGmbH, Stuttgart), Gabriele Walther (Founder/CEO Caligari Film- und Fernsehproduktions GmbH, Munich)
ANIMATED GAMES AWARD GERMANY: Award for an animation-based computer game from Germany with the best visual design and aesthetics 4,000 EUR, sponsored by MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Wuerttemberg mbH.
Song of Bloom, Entwickler/Developer: Philipp Stollenmayer, kamibox e.K. / Deutschland/Germany, 2019
Jury statement: “The winning game unleashes flowers in one´s mind – in the graphic presentation, which combines new forms of animation made of stop motion and clever game design. Mechanics result from a repetitive approach to a narrative, which opens up a different surprise each time like a mantra. From an artistic point of view, the work is particularly exciting in its implementation. It is an associative game with signs from everyday life. This results in new forms of animation, cleverly embedded in an exciting game flow. It skillfully uses the possibilities and conditions of mobile devices:
Gyro sensors are smartly combined with 2D and tilting into the three-dimensional. And last but not least, even the essence of the game is made tangible by spontaneously tilting into the real world (using the hardware). Thus, Song of Bloom is a game between worlds – the interface, the animation, the narration and the game experience. It’s surprising, weird and innovative!“
Jury: Margarete Jahrmann (media artist/art theorist.Zürich), Andreas Lange (Chief Operating Officer EFGAMP e.V., Berlin), Kathrin Radtke (Game Programer, Studio Fizbin GmbH, Ludwigsburg)