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Last call for entries Holland Animation Film Festival 2010

This is an excellent festival that I whole heartedly endorse and encourage you to send your film to.
Submit your film now at!

Holland Animation Film Festival is proud to introduce 2 brand new competitions; the international competition for features and the competition for European student films.

HAFF launches the international competition for feature-length animation films.

This new competition is open for all European films produced at art and film academies, or comparable studies.

We also invite you to submit films for the following competitions:


17th INTERNATIONAL TRICKFILM FESTIVAL OF ANIMATED FILM Stuttgart, Germany May 4 through 9 2010

The 17th edition of the International Trickfilm Festival of Animated Film, May 4 through 9 in Stuttgart, Germany was definitely bigger and better than ever.  The only problem I had was that there was so much to see and do that I had to make some difficult choices.

In addition to the five short film competition screenings there were four Tricks For Kids programs, four Young Animation presentations, four Panorama screenings, feature films, and a bevy of guests.

A rare appearance by the legendary Bruce Bickford was a special treat.  Bruce, an animation veteran of 40 years, introduced two of his films, the 45 minute Cas’l and Prometheus’ Garden.  He also answered numerous questions from the sold out audience.  In a separate program Monster Road, Brett Ingram’s 2004 film about the life and work of Bickford gave an intimate glimpse into the life and work of the self taught Claymation maste who spent 6½ years working with Frank Zappa to create such films as Baby Snakes and Dub Room Special.



I know that spring is on the way each year when it is time to travel to Lisbon for the MONSTRA Animation Festival (March 11 through 21).  After the long, hard winter in Northern Europe, the prospect of Portuguese sun was doubly appealing.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the festival, Artistic Director Fernando Galrito dedicated the first four days of screenings to showcasing Portuguese animation. Opening night traced the history of Portuguese cinema, beginning with the 1923 political satire O Pesadelo de Antonio Maria (The Nightmare of Antonio Maria) directed by Joaquin Guerreiro.

Comic strip characters inspired most Portuguese animated films until the 1960s. The rise of domestic television advertisements took the work in a different direction.  Then in 1974 following the Carnation Revolution new opportunities opened up for the countries animators.



Anyone who attends Animation Festivals immediately recognizes the British gentleman with the warm smile, a twinkle in his eye, and sketchbook in hand.  Peter Parr and his lovely wife Astor have been dominant figures on the animation scene for over three decades.

At The Arts University College at Bournemouth (formerly The Arts Institute of Bournemouth) in Bournemouth, England he is a beloved Founder, Principal Lecturer, and Leader of their award winning BA Honors Animation Production Course. It is recognized on an international level and accredited by Skillset.
When I visited Peter and Astor in their lovely home in South West Hampshire on the edge of the New Forest I was fascinated to learn  about Peter's other life.  I should not have been surprised to learn that he has also had a distinguished international career as a designer for film, television, and theater in the United States and London as well as his acclaimed work in animation.
Peter has designed murals for London’s Royal Opera House and the Royal Shakespeare Company.  His murals have gone on world tours in productions of Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice’s renowned stage presentation of Evita and Harold Pinter’s The Doll's Life. His work also appeared in the Hal Prince production of Lulu on Broadway.  These are just a few of the many productions that he has worked on.
Exhibits of his work have been held in diverse locations.   Madame Tussaud’s in London and Amsterdam displayed his Trompe L’oeil Murals and Old Masters Paintings. English Heritage and Yorkshire Television have permanent  displays of figurative murals for The Book Tower at Sudbury Hall.  Figurative murals have been shown at the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv, Israel.


ANIMATING MY DREAMS IN TALLINN, ESTONIA - 11TH Animated Dreams Animation Festival, November 18 through 22, 2009

Although they are only 500 miles apart, the Fredrikstad Animation Festival in Norway and Animated Dreams a week later (November 18 through 22) in Tallinn, Estonia are worlds apart.  Both are wonderful, warm, welcoming festivals, but Fredrikstad is family oriented while Animated Dreams is definitely for adults.
Opening night began with the premier of four new Estonian animations.  As a great fan of Olga and Priit Parn’s multi award winning Life Without Gabriella Ferri I was anxious to see their latest film Divers in the Rain; I was not disappointed.  The story, about a deep-sea diver who works daytime and his lover, a nighttime dentist, is patently humorous and also a bit sad since their kisses are always goodbye kisses, never helloes.  The 2D drawn film uses black and white to full advantage with the barest splashes of vivid color to punctuate this tale of ill-fated lovers.  As usual with a Parn film, one viewing is never enough to capture the full effect of what you are seeing on the screen so I look forward to seeing Divers in the Rain several more times during the 2010 festival season.


Great Russian Animator Yuri Norstein in Person in San Francisco February 7th

If you have never had a chance to meet or  see the amazing films of the Great Russian Animator Yuri Norstein do not miss this rare  opportunity.Yuri will appear in person on Feb 7 to present 3 works: Hedgehog in the Fog, Tale of Tales, and a segment of his work in progress, Nikolai Gogol's OvercoatTale of Tales has been recognized as the greatest animated film ever made.
The first two will be accompanied live by Gojogo - a Berkeley based world music quartet with guest artists who will perform a new original score for the animations. The entire duration of the screening will be about 1h20m. Doors 8pm, screening 8:30.

The show will be a benefit to raise funds for Yuri Norstein's studio in Moscow.


Don't Miss the Deadline for Entries for ANIMAFEST Zagreb 2010

I can whole-heartedly recommend that animators send their films to this world class festival -- but pay attention because the deadline is drawing near -- 31 January.  Hope to see many of you there.

Submission deadline is 31 January 2010.

For detailed information and online submission please visit Animafest official web site

20th World Festival of Animated Film - Animafest Zagreb dedicated to short animated films will be held from 01  -06 June 2010 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Animated shorts completed in 2008 or later with a running time of 30 seconds to 30 minutes may be entered into the following competition categories:
- Grand Competition
- Student Competition
- Films for Children Competition
- Commissioned Films (Educational, Commercials, Music Video)



Only a few festivals stand out in my memory as a perfect combination of excellent animation programs, superb organization and top-notch hospitality.  Fredrikstad Animation Festival, November 11 through the 15th in Fredrikstad, Norway was such an event.  Of course, how could I not love a festival where the award is named The Golden Gunnar, after my good friend Gunnar Strom, Norwegian professor and animation historian.  The statue, a moveable golden armature sculpture of Gunnar, complete with his wild long hair, designed by renowned sculpture Pjotr Sapegin.
At the heart of the festival is the Nordic-Baltic competition comprised of three competition programs and a separate screening of the top student films.  Some of the films were very familiar to me such as Kaspar Janice’s wonderful Crocodile and Signe Baumane’s Birth, however I made many new discoveries.
The biggest surprise was Anita Killi’s Sinna Mann (Angry Man), based on a popular Norwegian children’s book of the same name by Gro Dahle and Svein Nyhus.  Killi’s disturbing film is about a boy who blames himself for the repeated acts of domestic violence that he witnesses.  The story is loosely based on a true incident in a Norwegian village, where several children wrote to the King asking for his help in dealing with the violence in their families. They assumed that tbe King could do anything. The King was extremely touched and invited the children to the royal palace so that he could explain to them that their father’s behavior was not because of anything that they did.
I was told that when the King saw Anita’s film he cried.  Obviously the jury and audiences were equally moved because the film was awarded as The Best Nordic-Baltic Short Film as well as receiving the Audience Award.  The jury stated that Angry Man is a “dark theme told in a naive but very wise way.  It is an important film for all ages that really gives a positive solution to a terrible problem.
An interesting departure from most festivals was the third competition program carried a warning “This program is not suitable for children”.   It certainly did contain some strong material.  The opening film, Ralph and Jimmy, by Swedish director Jacob Stalhammar dealt with pedophilia.  The competition went on to Dildoman,set inside an unusual strip joint and Watch Alice Bleed, an 11 minute stop motion music and theater show whose title tells it all.  I didn’t think that I would ever say that Signe Bauman’s Birth was one of the tamer films in a program, but in this case it was.  I commend the festival programmers for putting together a program that was challenging to watch and sure to offend some of the audience, but with films deserving to be screened.
In addition to the Nordic-Baltic films there was a presentation of International Short Films, a special Children’s Program and a screening of the five 2009 Cartoon d’ Or finalists. The winner for 2009 was David O’ Reilly’s Please Say Something.  He received the prestigious award a few weeks before at the Cartoon Forum in Stavanger, Norway.  Several feature films such as Mary & Max and Coraline were also screened.
The Festival abounded with guests and special moments.  The Opening Night ceremony started on a very touching note when revered Norwegian animator Inni Karine Melbye was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award for her many contributions to animation.  To add to the joy of this special evening, Inni was presented her award by her old friend and collaborator Michel Ocelot.  Michel flew in from France for the one night just to honor his colleague.  He kept his arrival a secret, even eating dinner in his room that evening so that no one would see him and spoil the surprise.  The next morning, he was on his way back to France.



Greetings one and all!

So as I wander into the final week of my penultimate term at Animation Mentor I thought this would be a good moment for a blog entry. I'm currently on the train on my way to work typing this on my phone though so I will do my best to quality control my mistypings and bizarre predictive text choices! Trains are brilliant places to observe people, there are certainly a few poses and character traits that I'm going to save for a future shot! Although right now there appears to be mainly varations on sleeping. The evening rush hour is great too, pleanty of variations of walks and runs! These are definitely my new favourite source of inspiration. I've also recently started accumulating footage for my own video reference library and I've discovered a brilliant source is the news as you get (most of the time) 100% natural moments from people.


UNMADE IN CHINA: The 2nd Xiamen International Animation Festival

When I received my invitation to the 2nd Xiamen International Animation Festival (October 30 to November 3, 2009) I looked forward to my second visit to Xiamen.  The first edition of the festival had been a positive experience even though the quality of the animation that I saw was sadly lacking in quality. The members of ASIFA China who organized the event showed every sign of trying to follow ASIFA festival guidelines.
The e-mail that invited me said that my formal invitation, which is necessary to get my visa to visit China, would follow.  Then I waited, and waited, and waited.  Months passed.  It finally arrived on October 13th, barely two weeks before I was due to leave for China.  I had assumed that I was being invited for the entire festival, so I was very surprised to see that I would arrive on the 1st of November and leave again on the 4th.  I would only have two full days there and be in the air or in airports for almost as many hours as I would be at the Festival.
I later found out that four other ASIFA Board Members had similar problems receiving their invitations.  It turned out that the local government had taken control of the festival away from last year’s organizers.   Although ASIFA was still listed as a co-organizer, ASIFA’s policies regarding treatment of films and filmmakers was being woefully ignored.  Apparently the new government organizers decided to “uninvite” three ASIFA Board Members to save money but we were not informed about this.  What I did not find out until later was that we were not reinvited until ASIFA made it plain that either the entire Board be invited or none of us would attend the festival.
On October 29th I was preparing to leave for China on the 31st when an e-mail arrived from Oscar winning animator Gene Deitch who had been invited to the festival as a special guest and key note speaker.  He had gone to the Chinese Embassy in Prague, where he lives, and was denied a visa. Deitch thought that they took one look at his age and decided that they didn’t want to risk having to ship a guest back home in a body bag.  Gene is 85 years young and shows no signs of slowing down either mentally or physically.  The festival staff was very apologetic and asked Gene to videotape a message to be played at the festival.  He duly did that and his controversial message can be seen on over a dozen web sites (Google “Gene Deitch, Xiamen").
That evening I also received an e-mail from my ASIFA Board colleague Mohamed Ghazala from Egypt who had received his invitation to give a presentation in Xiamen several months before.  He had been anxiously awaiting his plane ticket which had finally arrived that day.  The festival had arranged for him to fly out the next day (October 30th).  He would arrive on the 31st,  give his presentation on the 2nd and then depart for the airport 15 minutes after he finished delivering his paper.   He would be in China one full day, which was even more absurd than my two day visit.  A very frustrated Mohamed decided not to attend the festival at all.
I was beginning to ask myself “Why am I going?” but I was very curious to see for myself exactly what was going on so I forged ahead. I had a 4 hour delay in Beijing due to an unexpected heavy snow storm, which I later learned was also a great surprise to the local residents.  The government had seeded the clouds for snow as an experiment without announcing it to the public. Unfortunately I arrived too late on Sunday to visit the Animation Products and Technology Exhibition and Exchange or to see the 2 days of Cosplay Competition.
Monday dawned very early with an 8:15 meeting time to take the bus to the Forum.  After welcoming speeches from the Director of the Xiamen Municipal Information Industry and Nelson Shin from ASIFA, the General Manager of the Application and Multi-Media Center of China Mobil, Fujian Branch, delivered the keynote speech “Mobil Phone Animation, the Next Stage for Animation.”



Any time that a 150 of the world’s greatest experts in the animation, comics and the gaming industry come together for a week, it is pretty amazing.  It is even more amazing when we are all flown to China to deliver papers.  That is what took place September 14 through the 17th at the 2009 International Animation, Comics, and Gaming Forum in Jilin, China.
Guests as diverse as Ed Hooks (United States), pioneer of acting training for animators and author of numerous books and articles; noted Australian independent animator Dennis Tupicoff, and Mark Osborne, director of Kung Fu Panda showed and discussed their work.  All of this took place over three days in the Animation Forum Theatre with two other rooms devoted to the Cartoon Forum and lectures from the gaming industry.



Each year there are a handful of festivals that I REALLY look forward to and MONSTRA is certainly one of the top ones on my list.  The charming host, Fernando Galrito, and his amazing staff put together a first class festival, invite a wonderful array of guests, and treat the guests with warm Portuguese hospitality.

The 10th edition of MONSTRA International Competition will be open to short films produced after March 2007 and student short films made after 1 January 2009.

Submission deadline is 30 November 2009 and is free.

For Regulations and Entry Form visit



 David Silverman is not only very talented but he is a very entertaining speaker who will keep you laughing while you learn.  My friend David is also a very hot tuba player and whenever he and Nik are in the same place they always find plenty of time to play music together.  Any time you have a chance to hear David speak don't miss it and if you're lucky he may even play a bit of tuba!


Industry professionals planning to attend the 2009 Television Animation Conference (TAC) will want to order their passes soon so not to miss this year’s keynote speaker lineup.  David Silverman, best known for directing numerous episodes of The Simpsons as well as The Simpsons Movie, and Josh Selig, founder and president of Little Airplane Productions, Inc. will headline this year’s Conference and provide their unique insight into the world of animation. 


More from Simon Taylor and the Animation Mentor Program

Here is another installment from Simon Taylor and his experiences with the Animation Mentor Program.  Congratulations to Simon on being hired by Impossible TV in London.  I have really enjoyed watching Simon's  growth from a participate in the Young Animators Festival in Bradford, England to a working animator and believe that we will hear more from Simon in the future.

Time's flying past at Animation Mentor and a lot has happened since my last blog entry. I'm now in Class 4 "Introduction to Acting" and on top of that have just started my first full-time animation job at Impossible TV in London. This is going to give me an entirely new perspective on the course as I'm really going to have to manage my time well. Luckily I'm on a bit of a roll with my current assignment which always helps although it doesn't seem to happen anywhere near as often as I'd like!

Class 3 went well over all and I learnt a lot from my mentor Dana Boadway. AM's new syllabus where they have two terms instead of one on body mechanics really helped as well. When the acting term started I thought to myself, right, I've had two terms of body mechanics so I'll do something a little physically simpler, so of course I decided to do an assignment where my character dances into shot singing, does a twirl and falls onto a sofa! Clever me! This assignment goes into next term where we'll then finish it off with facial animation. If you'd like to see my current work in progress you can see it here:

ANIMAFEST ZAGREB 2009 - Much Sweeter The Second Time Around

When Nik and I accepted our invitation to attend the 19th edition of the World Festival of Animated Film in Zagreb, Croatia I was curious to see if they had learned from their mistakes and had returned Animafest to its former place as one of the most prestigious animation festivals in the world.  I had been very critical of the festival the year before when a new, younger, inexperienced staff replaced long time Festival Director Margit Anatauer, affectionately known as Buba.  I am very happy to report that Animafest Zagreb has regained its place of honor.
Animafest 2009 did everything right and then some.  The premiere screenings were held in the beautiful old Kino Europa with on stage interviews for all animators who were present.  Animators were given hospitality for the entire festival, not just for three day as happened last year, and there were daily interviews with animators, directors and film guests. Igor Prassel conducted them at the French Cutural Institute and they were well attended.  Igor knows how to ask the right questions  and then give the interviewee space to answer, while keeping the conversation on track.



Melodrama Pictures has announced that the award winning film Mary and Max by the Academy Award winning Australian director Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet) will be released on the Sundance Select on-demand platform of Sundance Channel.  Beginning on October 14 Mary and Max will be available on the on-demand platform of major US cable operators including Comcast, Cox and Cablevision.  The film will also have an Academy Award quilifying release in Los Angeles which will make it eligible for this years Academy Awards.

A feature-length claymation animation film, Mary and Max opened the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. With voices by Philip Seymour Hoffman, Toni Collette, Eric Bana and Barry Humphries, the film tells the story of a 20-year pen-pal friendship between two very different people: Mary Dinkle, a lonely 8-year-old girl living in the suburbs of Melbourne and Max Horowitz, a 44-year-old Jewish man living an isolated life in New York City. The film is a triumph of emotion, insight and eccentricity – a complete delight.  In May, the film shared the Grand Cristal Best Feature award at the prestigous Annecy Animation Festival with Henry Selick’s  Caroline.


3RD KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival

The 3RD KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival - back, as the organizers say "with a vengeance", will be held from the 17th to  the 20th of September in - yes, you guessed it, Amsterdam.

From a humble but spirited beginning, the festival has blossemed into an International Competition with a separate Student Competition, and will be made up of over 700 films from 50 countries this year.

Alongside the competition programs, the festival will also spotlight the power of animation as an adult art form with 2 special themes:  Political Animation and Erotic Animation.  A special award for the best politically motivated film is also new this year.

American film historian Dennis Nybeck, already familiar to many animation fans on both sides of the Atlantic, will present special programs from his vast collection of vintage films, and a compilation of Brazilian animation will put this year's featured country in the spotlight.


Another Good Reason To Come to Gent, Belgium in October

The 36th Edition of Flanders International Film Festival Gent, Belgium October 6 through 17, 2009 will feature Anime as part of it's salute to the world of Asian cinema. A highlight of the festival will be a retrospective from the renowned Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli founded in 1985 by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata . Miyazaki, the creative force behind many of Studio Ghibi's films, has been able to transcend cultural boundaries with his themes of ethics, pacifism, and the relationship between humans and nature and his films are as well loved in the West as they are in Asia. The films by Hayao Miyazaki to be screened at the festival are: Castle in the Sky (1986), Spirited Away (2001), Howl's Moving Castle (2004), and Ponyo On the Cliff By te Sea (2008). I must admit that I am sad to see that Porco Rosso, my personal favorite, won't be shown. I would love a chance to see the mighty pig fly across the big screen again.



The CYBER SOUSA ANIMATION FESTIVAL in XIAMEN, CHINA will be held October 30 through November 3,  2009

If you read my blog regularly you know that I have visited animations festivals in China twice in the past year.  I find the members of the Chinese Animation Community to be lovely people but the quality of the work leaves much to be desired.

After a great deal of thought I have decided that as members of the world wide animation family we cannot ignore an emerging nation with such a large population that is turning out a great deal of animation, even if most of it is very formulaic and industrial.

One of the best ways that we can influence young Chinese animators is by exposing them to high quality work that is being created in other parts of the world, by entering Chinese animation festivals.



Annecy 2009, June 8 through 13th, was its usual mixed bag.  On the plus side there were lots of old and new friends to see and some fantastic special screenings.  On the other hand the majority of the short films in competition were mediocre.  Since networking and doing business has become one of the major purposes of the festival, it was definitely a success in that department.