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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.



The TRICKFILM FESTIVAL in Stuttgart has become the biggest and most important animation festival in Germany.  This year it will take place May 3 through the 8th, with cash awards for the International Competition, Young  Animation, Tricks For Kids, AniMovie and Under Commission.

Their call for animation is below.

DECEMBER 1, 2010 - Closing Date For the International Competition, Young Animation , Tricks For Kids, and AniMovie.

JANUARY 15, 2011 - Closing Date for Under Commission Films.

All registration forms and preview DVD’s must be presented to Medienfestival  gGmbH by the closing date.


Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Animafest Zagreb 2011 Call for Entries

Call for Entries for the competition program of the feature edition of Animafest is now open.
Feature edition of the 21st World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb will be held from 31 May – 05 June 2011 in Zagreb, Croatia.
Animated feature films completed in 2009, 2010 or 2011 with a running time of 60 minutes or longer are eligible to apply.

For more information visit Animafest web site at

Submission deadline is 01 March 2011.


Fall and Spring Animation Festivals

If you are getting your festival schedule together for Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 here are some festivals that you might want to consider sending your film to or visiting.   They are all festivals that I have attended or will be attending and can recommend as very good.

10 to 28 September 2010 – KROK International Festival of Animation - Russia or the Ukraine on alternate years

15 – 19 September 2010 –KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival - Amsterdam, The Netherlands

8 – 17 October 2010 – Animest  Animation Festival - Bucharest, Romania


The ASIFA-Hollywood Annies

The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival is quickly approaching. This event is open to all and will be a full day of film screenings, panels and portfolio reviews, culminating with an awards ceremony and reception for the winning filmmakers. The first place winner will receive a STUDENT ANNIE AWARD, a new award to be presented at this year's Annie Awards. There are prizes for all the top filmmakers provided by our sponsors as well. The deadlines to submit your film are September 1st (soft deadline) and Oct 1st (final deadline). The ASIFA-Hollywood Animation Educators Forum Student Animation Film Festival will take place Saturday, November 6th at Cal State Long Beach.



Photos Courtesy Wojtek Wardejn, Animator Festival
When Nik and I were invited to ANIMATOR 3rd International Animated Film Festival, July 12 through 17th in Poznan, Poland, we were told that it was an animation and music festival.  The description doesn’t do justice to the emphasis that the festival organizers place on the marriage of animation and music.

Along with two competition screenings each day and a myriad of special programs, every night there were screenings of animation with live music.  There were also two screenings for young people each day and workshops for children of all ages.  Because I had the privilege and honor to be on the jury, my days were fully taken up with watching the 82 films in competition and then with jury meetings.


50 YEARS OF ANNECY 7 through 12 June 2010

The first hint of trouble came when I received my envelope with the invitations for special screenings and parties for the week.  There was no invitation to the opening night ceremony or the party.  I was looking forward to seeing the opening night film The Illusionist but was told that this year no journalists had been given tickets because they were just too many people and 150 seats had been relegated to non-industry VIP’s (which translates to money people).  Journalists were told that there was no problem, that our names had been placed on a request list and we should just keep checking back with the press office to get our passes.  To make it even worse, two hours before the ceremony we were finally told that there was no possibilities for us to get tickets.  I finally managed to get a ticket from my friend and fellow journalist Olivier Cotte, who had gotten two tickets from someone who didn’t want to see the film.  Both Olivier and I wasted a good part of Monday afternoon looking for tickets instead of seeing films.


OUT OF THE BOX July 30 and 31st Zimbabwe’s First Animation Festival

ASIFA Egypt is happy to announce Zimbabwe’s first animation festival.  The Zimbabwe Festival of African Inspired Animation (ZIMFAIA) organized by the Joint Afrikan Animation Group (JAAG) with the support from the Alliance Francaise, and the partnership of ASIFA Egypt, will take place July 30th and 31st at the Alliance Francaise in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Festival Director Soloman Maramba invites both students and professionals from around the world to submit their work.  The theme of the festival is Out Of The Box with a focus on regional African content.   Work in an array of areas fields such as advertisements and architectural visualizations as well as animation will be presented as well as digital content, motion graphics, digital videos and special effects.