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The debut edition of BE THERE!  CORFU ANIMATION FESTIVAL was the first animation festival to be held on this beautiful Greek Island.  A large audience from throughout the island enjoyed a wide array of programs and workshops as well as the opportunity to meet Greek and international artists from the world of animation.

The first two mornings were devoted to The Kids, Be There!  Special screenings and workshops were designed especially for school age children and their teachers.  Tomas Giovanis the Greek illustrator, animator, and comic book artist, better known as Tomek gave a special workshop designed specifically for young would be animators called Animation Is All Around Us.  He also designed the festival poster.


ANIMA BRUSSELS FESTIVAL TURNS 30! 4 through 13 March, 2011

This year Anima Brussels (4 through 13 March 20) pulled out all the stops to celebrate the festival’s 30th Anniversary.  In addition to the seven programs of World Shorts in competition and numerous feature films in and out of competition, there was an outstanding roster of who’s who from the world of animation.

Kari-gurashi no Arrietty (The Borrowers), directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi, was produced by the famed Japanese Studio Ghibli.  The characters were based on the beloved series of English children’s books by Mary Norton.  The first book, published in 1952, won the Carnegie Medal and in 2007 was named to the list of the ten most important children’s books of the past 70 years by the Carnegie Medal judges.


Interview with Nik Phelps, Nancy Denney-Phelps & Alexey Alexeev

Nancy, Nik, and The Animation Conversation guys - Will Ashurst, Morten Overlie, and Erlend Dal Sakshaug.  Unfortunately, Alexey had to leave to catch his plane.
While we were at the wonderful Fredrikstad Animation in Fredrikstad, Norway the Animation Conversation Pod Cast guys did a breakfast interview with Alexey Alexeev, Nik, and me.  Nik and Alexey also play some music during the interview.

The Pod Cast guys have a unique and interesting approach to interviewing - they buy their guests a bottle of their favorite alcholic beverage (or in our case a couple bottles of red wine) and the interview continues until the bottle is empty.  Pour yourself a BIG glass of your drink of choice, then sit back and enjoy three old friends talking about everything under the sun.



I am sad to announce that  the 21st Cairo International Children's  Film Festival  has been cancelled for obvious reasons.  I know all of our thoughts are with Mohamed Ghazala, President of ASIFA Egypt and one of the festival organizers and we all hope that the festival can be rescheduled soon.



Anyone who has been at animation festivals in the past year has probably seen Dustin Grella’s moving film Prayer For Peace.  His very personal animation has won numerous awards world wide culminating this past October with the 2010 Walt Disney Animation Studio award for Best Student Film at the Ottawa International Animation Festival.

Now Dustin has launched a new project called The Animation Hot Line.  During the month of  February,and perhaps even longer if the response is good, Dustin has set up a voice mail service where anyone can leave a message.  He will select messages to animate, trying to do one short strip a day.

The hot line is just not for animators, everyone  is welcome to leave a message but there are a few simple rules.  All messages must be under thirty seconds, preferably around ten or fifteen seconds long.  You can say a few  you overheard.  It can even be a secret that you don’t want anyone to know or something that bothers you.



I was not familiar with the Hungarian animator, writer, and painter Gyorgy Kovasznai until I met animation historian and curator Brigitta Ivanyi-Bitter.  We sat on the jury of Animator Animation Festival in Poznan, Poland together last year.  She gave me a copy of her beautiful book about Kovasznai’s life and work.  It is based on her three years of research that culminated in the large-scale retrospective of his work at the Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest in 2010.  Her book is a companion to the exhibition.

Born in 1934, Kovasznai lived and worked from the late 50’s until his death in 1983, one of the most politically charged periods in modern Hungary.  His films and paintings mirrored the disillusion with the People’s Republic of Hungary and its Soviet imposed policies that ultimately let to the 1956 Hungarian Revolution.


Cairo Childrens Film Festival Has Been Postponed Until Further Notice

My friend and colleague Mohamed Ghazala, President of ASIFA Egypt has sent me this call for submissions for the Cairo Childrens Film Festival.  Although I have never been to the festival, I trust Mohamed's opinion and so I recommend sending your films to the festival.


Estonian animators are always in the fore front of creativity on the International Animation scene.  New films by Priit Parn, Kasper Jancis, Rao Heidments, Mati Kutt, and Hardi Volmer frequently win top awards at animation festivals worldwide, so the competition for an award at the Estonian Asta Parim Film Awards is very stiff.  The awards honor the best of the best of the country’s film and animation each year.

There is a black cloud hovering over the award however, which is the sad news that Nuku Film (Nuku means puppet in Estonian) is in a very dangerous financial state.  The prestigious Nuku Film studio is the home to many extremely talented animators and is a major force in the stop motion and puppet animation world. They have also traditionally given many young animators a chance to hone their craft working with top professionals. Now their funding has been cut by 15% in 2011 and their reserve savings are greatly reduced.   The entire team was forced to take a three week unpaid leave recently.

ANIMATOR ANIMATION FESTIVAL - Poznan, Poland; 15 – 21 July, 2011

Nik and I were fortunate enough to be invited to participate in ANIMATOR last year and it was a wonderful experience.  I was on the International Jury and Nik gave a workshop and two concerts.  I encourage you to send your film to this excellent festival.

The International Competition of Animated Films is open to artistic animated films of all techniques up to 30 min. Grand Prix of 60 000 PLN /ca. 14.000 Euros/ will be awarded by an international jury including Amy Kravitz, Piotr Dumala, Olia Lialina, Gerben Schermer and Jaroslaw Kapuscinski. Films can be submitted for selection till March 1, 2011. The entry form and regulations can be downloaded from


Festival Misunderstandings

Nik and I have a very special place in our hearts for the TRICKFILM FESTIVAL in Stuttgart. Over the years what started out as a professional relationship has developed into a warm personal friendship with many of the festival staff, so I was very disturbed when I received the following e-mail written by Paul Fierlinger and forwarded to me by a friend on 22 December.  I understand that several other people in the animation community received it:

I just entered this post into my TVPaint users group forum, from where word spreads awfully fast:

I just received this letter from the Stuttgart film festival. First, they asked us to submit Tulip and after we did so this came:


Simon's Animation Mentor Update

I first was introduced to Simon Taylor several years ago by his father.  Nik and I gave a workshop at The Young Animators Festival in Bradford, England.  After our program a man came up and introduced himself and asked if his son could e-mail me.  He was at the festival represent his son's work  because Simon was in Italy for his first year of study.I must admit that I promptly forgot about the meeting until I got an e-mail from Simon's father talking about his son's animation progress.  We corresponded for several years before I actually received an e-mail from Simon.When I did hear from Simon, he told me that he had been accepted in the Animation Mentors program.  I asked him to occasionally write about his experiences and over the past couple of years I have followed his progress.  Simon has graduated from the program and so this is the final chapter of that adventure.  He has however promised to continue to occasionally write about what he is up to.


The last call for entries in the Feature Film category for the 11th International Trickfilm Festival, Stuttgart, is 10 January 2011.  PLEASE NOTE THAT ALL OTHER CATEGORIES ARE ALREADY CLOSED.
The festival, which is from 3 - 8 May, 2011, always features top notch films in all categories with lots of guests and super opportunities to socialize in the Festival Cafe or the outdoor beer garden.  Nik and I will be there and hope to see lots of you there also.

To down load the entry form or use the interactive  form visit

Questions? Contact Ms. Andrea Bauer at



The renowned Prague Puppet Project, a precious source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone who works in the field of puppet animation, has announced the schedule for their 2011 workshops.  With 10 years experience of organizing International Puppet Workshops, Mirek Trejinar and Leah Gaffen combine their know how with special guest instructors to provide classes that are invaluable to the beginner and professional alike.

2011 Workshop topics are:

Puppets for Animated Film - 4 - 13 January and 14-23 October

Marionette Carving:  Carving 1 - 4 - 18 June     Carving 2 - 6 - 20 August
Details for a Carving Workshop in the United States will be posted on their website soon)



It's the time of the year for long, dark winter nights when lots of us are dreaming about being in the sun somewhere nice and warm.  The perfect answer is a week in Lisbon at the fabulous MONSTRA Animation Festival,  21 - 27 March 2011.  Even if you can't be there your super-short film can be if it's 2 minutes or less and you submit it before the 15 January deadline.

Film submission is FREE


Films must be 2 minutes or less
All genre and animation techniques accepted including advertising
Film must have been made after January 2008
Submission deadline 15 January 2011

For complete festival regulations and entry for visit


Recipes for Reconstruction

Recipes for Reconstruction: The Cookbook for the Frugal Filmmaker, by veteran independent animator and filmmaker Steven Woloshen, is the perfect introduction to the art of camera-less filmmaking.  From artistic strategies in creating fermented and decayed film footage to re-assembling damaged film prints into unique visual experiences, Steven gives us simple, detailed instructions for creating our own manipulated films.
Like any good cookbook there is a clear, concise list of materials and ingredients that are needed along with very easy to follow instructions for the processes used for all of the short films in the book.  A DVD of the films is included in the book to allow the reader to follow the creation process to the end result and lend visual inspiration for us to go to work on our own.
In the preface the Canadian animator pays tribute to two of his early inspirations, the late Stan Brakhage and Len Lye while tracing his own experimental path to manipulating exposed film footage.  Each chapter is introduced with personal antidotes about the inspiration that led to the films creation.  Zero Visibility was his attempt to recreate the harrowing experience of crossing Montreal’s Victoria Bridge in a blinding snow storm by using a fermentation process to achieve decay.  The “what you will need list” includes exposed film, water, icing sugar, yeast, and three or four clear plastic garden bags.  The step by step instructions conclude with “it is best to begin this fermentation process in the early summer months.  The best results should be achieved sometime in the end of December.” Each film description concludes with the results that he achieved and photos of the process, along with Woloshen’s original notes and diagrams.
Recipes for Reconstruction is the perfect book for the first time filmmaker who doesn’t want to invest in expensive equipment.  Building a film printer is the most technical piece of equipment you need to construct.  The printer assembly requires such everyday materials as a small dark colored shoe box, black masking tape and a flashlight or 15 watt incandescent light bulb.
The book is a wonderful way for teachers to give students of all ages an inspiring introduction to film making and should be in every school library.   For professional animators and film makers the DVD of the nine films alone is a priceless addition to any film collection and might even inspire them to get out and plant some film in their garden.
For more information or to purchase the book, contact Steven Woloshen at:



The Fredrikstad Animation Festival in Fredrikstad, Norway (10 – 14 November 2010) has an emphasis on screening Nordic animation but offers so much more. Along with Nordic short film and student competitions and screenings of animation aimed at the family audience, two days were devoted to seminars with international guest speakers from all branches of the animation world.

The “Story in Animation” seminars for professionals, co-produced with the Norwegian Film Institute, examined the process of story development from script to finished animation. Paul Dutton recently returned to his home in Calgary, Canada after two years in Edinburgh, Scotland where he worked as animation director and assistant director on Sylvain Chomet’s highly acclaimed The Illusionist. Paul talked about Chomet’s unorthodox approach to film making. He made his feature without using story boards. Chomet prefers to create as he goes along day by day and usually leaves the animators and even the animation director in the dark as to where the story is going until the last minute.


Fantoche News: Swiss Games wanted - The competition is open!

I just received this news from the folks at the Fantoche Animation Festival:

Let's play together! For once, we're not looking for the latest animated films - no, today we're opening a competition for the development of computer games. For a long time, Fantoche has been interested in the crossover between animation and game design. Now, together with our partners, we have a fantastic opportunity to promote the development of games of high artistic quality.

In collaboration with the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, the Federal Office of Culture and the SUISA Foundation for Music, Fantoche is launching the first call for proposals for Swiss computer games. The "Call for Projects: Swiss Games" is now open, and you can submit your games using the application tool at The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2011 - a playable prototype of your game must be ready by that date.



I first met the organizers of the KLIK Animation Festival at the Annecy Animation Festival a couple of years ago and they assured me that their festival is fun, fun, fun.  When they invited me to Amsterdam to be on the Short Films and Political Animation jury, I jumped at the opportunity and it did turn out to be some serious fun.  KLIK set out to show lots of fantastic animation and organize a great party four years ago.  This year they received 1100 submissions from 63 different countries.  From this field, 235 films were selected for over 30 programs.

The brief Opening Ceremony kicked off with a welcome from Festival Founder and Director Dario van Vree, the premiere of the new festival trailer and a short assortment of animation.  A party with drinks and nibbles aplenty followed.



If you are anywhere near Brugge, Belgium in the next few weeks a veritable treasure trove of Central European animators will appear in person to  introduce their films as part of a special city wide Festival titled A VISION OF CENTRAL EUROPE.

4 November - Marcin Gizycki - Poland

18 November - Priit Parn - Estonia

25 November - Jerzy Kucia - Poland

2 December - Quay Brothers (they live in London but have done a great deal of their amazing work in Poland)

9 December - Igor Kovalyov - Ukraine

The screenings take place at 20h00 (8:00PM)  at:

Cinema Lumiere  (Blauwezaal)
Sint-Jacobsstraat 36

As part of the city wide festival the Groeninge Museum has mounted a major exhibit titled  VAN EYCK to DURER bringing together works from many major museums that have never been on view as a group before.


Holland Animation Film Festival Announcement

Silver Junkie: MARIA By  Gitte Le Bruyn                                                                                                                                                                    

Not too long ago I wrote about an interesting animation, SILVER JUNKIE:  MARIA by Maria Gitte Le Bruyn.  I have just received a press release from the prestigious Holland Animation Film Festival to be held 3 - 7 November in Utrecht, Holland that MARIA has been selected as the International Web Animation Competition.


BE THERE! Corfu Animation Festival: 7-10 April 2011 - Corfu, Greece

Winter isn’t here yet but we all know that it’s on its way so a trip to the beautiful Ionian island of Corfu, Greece in April might just be what you will need in a few months to recover from the grey dulldrums.  My friend Vassilis Kroustallis e-mailed me that the BE THERE! Animation Festival has put out a call for animation for the inaugural festival 7 -10 April, 2011.

There are two main competition sections:

Short Films that have been completed after 1/1/09 regardless of their country of origin, and

Graduation Films made as a graduation project after 1/1/09.  This category is open to all students regardless of where you went to school.

There is no entrance fee for submission.  You can read all of the regulations and download the entry form at:



Living in Europe I feel so fortunate to be able to see the best of the best of the new animations and I often wonder why these films are not shown in the United States on a regular basis.  When I looked at the San Francisco Film Society's list of films for their upcoming animation festival, November 11 through 14 at Landmark's Embarcadero Center Cinema, I was delighted to see some top notch films on the list.

Theodore Usher's films are always complex and challenging and Lipsett Diaries is certainly no exception. The short film is in the form of a private journal evoking Canadian film maker Arthur Lipsett's tormented life, from a childhood marked by loneliness to his suicide in 1986 at the age of 49.  Theodore's haunting images are complemented by the script written by Chris Robinson, author of a number of books about animators and Director of the Ottawa International Film Festival.



­­“Fantoche, It’s Fantastic” is what I saw  when I first went to the website  for the Fantoche International Festival of Animated Film, and happily the festival  certainly does live up to this claim.  The historic spa town of Baden is a perfect setting for a festival; ruins of Roman baths were just down the street from our festival hotel but the films in the multiple screening rooms were fresh and up to date.

There were four International Competition programs which screened some of the most popular films from 2010, such as Olga and Pritt Parn’s Divers in the Rain and Anita Killi’s Angry Man, both of which have already won an array of awards at festivals all over Europe as well as in Japan, at Hiroshima.



I discovered a young Belgian animator this week quite by accident via a music video that a friend sent me.  Gitte Le Bruyn graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2008.  For one of her exhibitions she worked with the music of Brussels singer/songwriter Tino Biddeloo (aka Silver Junkie).  For the new music video Maria from Biddeloo’s debut full length CD, Streets and Boulevards, Gitte’s inspiration for the animation is based on the song.

I am always fascinated by animation created by painting on glass.  For one thing the animator has to have great confidence in their vision.  Since the glass is wiped clean after each shot there is no chance to go back.  Utilizing simple black ink and glass Le Bruyn has created haunting images that compliment the song rather than detract from it.



Australian animator Darcy Prendergast’s music video Lucky has been short listed for an opportunity to screen at the world famous Guggenhein Museum in New York City as part of a new exhibition run in conjunction with YouTube.

Whittled down from 23,000 entries, Lucky is among the 125 films in the running for a spot in the new exhibition.  Already earning 380,000 on-line hits, Darcy’s animated piece was produced in collaboration with the Melbourne band “All India Radio”.

Lucky was created using a long exposure technique where Prendergast and his team drew in the sky with glow sticks or colored torches, similar to writing your name in the sky with sparklers.  One 25 second exposure gives you one image.  The process was repeated hundreds of times to form a sequence.