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ANNECY ANNOUNCES FEATURE FILM NOMINEES.

Congratulations to all of the nominated animators. Nik and I send a special YEAA!!! to Nina Paley because Nik created and performs the intermission music on the film.

The nine films selected for the feature film category at Annecy 2008 have been selected.

They are:

--APPLESEED: EX MACHINA (Shinji Aramaki -- Japan): Following the non-nuclear war that killed half the world's population, the city-nation ofOlympus stands as a beacon of hope in a world of chaos and conflict.

--CHASSEURS DE DRAGONS (Guillaume Ivernel, Arthur Qwak -- France, Germany, Luxembourg): Zoe is a little girl who believes in fairy tales. So in order to help her uncle Lord Arnold get rid of a terrible dragon, Zoe decides she has to find some heroes.

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THE SMURF’S CELEBRATE THEIR 50th BIRTHDAY IN GENT

Last Saturday and Sunday (March 15 and 16) the Smurfs came to my home town of Gent, Belgium to celebrate their 50th Birthday. The tiny blue figures, who live in little mushroom homes and speak their own language, first appeared as comic strip figures in cartoonist Pierre Culliford’s cartoon “Johan and Pirlouit” which was set in the middle ages.

The Smurf’s popularity increased rapidly, and by 1960 Papa Smurf and his clan had their own comic strip. Hanna-Barbera Productions brought the characters to life as an animated cartoon in 1981, and they soon became a hit around the world.

Although the Belgian born Culliford, or Peyo, as he is better know to his legion of fans, passed away 15 years ago, he lives on in he hearts of two generations of children around the world. The Smurfs are known in Spain as Pitufo, in Germany they are called Schumpf; Chinese children know them as Nam Ching Ling, and as Sumafa in Japan. Israeli children call them Dardassim. The Smurfs have teamed up with UNICEF to raise awareness of the plight of ex-child soldiers in Africa and this year they will promote children’s rights and education worldwide.

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EXPLORING THE WORLD OF CINECITTA STUDIOS AT I CASTELLI ANIMATI

It was quite a change from cold Estonia and Latvia to arrive at the sunny Rome airport. I had the honor to be invited to be a juror at the I Castelli Animati, 28 November through 2 December. This year the festival was held on the Cinecitta Campus, home to the legendary Cincecitta Studios, in honor of the 70th anniversary of the founding of this famous studio which stands as a symbol of Italian cinema. After a month where I traveled back and forth across Europe and Nik stayed in Gent working on music we were finally reunited when my driver left me at the festival hotel.

The festival encompassed many facets of the animation world from workshops, competitions for special effects, television series and web to the International Competition where I was on the jury. There were also a multitude of special guests from all over the world. The opening evening gala served as a sampling of the diversity of the festival that awaited us. Bruno Bozzetto’s new animated theme for the festival was premiered. The Pierce Sisters, winner of the 2007 Cartoon D’ Or was followed by the first four competition films. Nik performed his score for Fetch! as Nina Paley’s animation was screened and David Silverman talked about the birth of THE SIMPSONS on the Tracey Ullman Show.

Blogs

WARNING: YOUR DREAMS HAVE BEEN ANIMATED

Animated Dreams Festival – Tallinn, Estonia - November 21 through 25


I have always been intrigued by Estonian animation, so when I had the opportunity to visit Animated Dreams, Estonia’s only animation festival I was thrilled. It was held in Tallinn, the country’s beautiful capitol city on the 21st to the 25th of November. The festival, which grew out of the Black Nights Film Festival, did not disappoint my high expectations. The catalog’s introduction boldly states WARNING: Your Dreams Have Been Animated, and this was a threat not to be taken lightly.

This year’s festival coincided with the 50th anniversary of Nukufilm, the legendary stop-motion film studio that was one of the first studios to practice that art form in Eastern Europe. In terms of studio size, technical supplies and number of employees Nukufilm, an art-house type studio, is the largest of its style in Northern Europe.

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First Festival for Student Animation - Deadline soon!

Nik and I do love Portugal - so when we were invited to participate in the FIRST INTERNATIONAL STUDENT MEETING FOR ANIMATION ARTS we jumped at the chance. I was very pleased and honored to be invited to be a part of the International Jury along with renowned Ukrainian animator Evgeniy Sivokon and Portugal’s animation treasure Sepe. Nik gave a three day workshop with music students from the school during which they composed and performed in live performance two programs of music with animation.Needless to say I recommend this festival to all students and animation schools. Your work will be given serious consideration and if selected screened in the lovely theatre on the campus and on a DVD which will be shown at other festivals. HURRY THOUGH, the DEADLINE is near.Students can enter both Monstra and First.

Blogs

17th Edition of MONSTRA ANIMATION FESTIVAL IN LISBON, PORTUGAL

Two years ago Nik and I were guests of festival director Fernando Galrito at the MONSTRA ANIMATION FESTIVAL in Lisbon, Portugal where Nik performed an IDEAS IN ANIMATION program with three Portuguese musicians and gave a hands-on music workshop. I can personally attest to the high quality of the festival. This event is a meeting of animation and various mediums and art forms including workshops, exhibitions, seminars, and music. Competition films alternate yearly between short and feature length films, and this year will be devoted to films under 30 minutes with all techniques and genres accepted.

In the 2008 MONSTRA FESTIVAL there will be a student competition with a cash award of 1500.00 Euros. Students from schools all over the world are encouraged to send their films and are eligible to win the top prize.

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Two Animated Shorts Censored by iTunes at Sundance Online - IMPORTANT UPDATES!

New developments in this controversial situation are in the bold brackets below:

Teat Beat of Sex, Signe Bauman’s widely acclaimed take on sex exclusively from a woman’s point of view, and Because Washington is Hollywood for Ugly People, directed by Kenneth Ti and Kin Hung have been censored by iTunes from their Sundance Film Festival on-line shorts program. [ NOTE: This is still true, but Sundance is in discussion with iTunes to try to change this situation]

I intend to let Apple/iTunes know how I feel about this kind of censorship. You can also contact them with your feedback at http://www.apple.com/contact/feedback.html [Sundance has written Signe to tell her that in their opinion, it is "harming" their relations with iTunes and their ability to get them to change their position]

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A VISIT TO THE ARTS INSTITUTE AT BOURNEMOUTH

Whenever Nik and I travel schools to do our workshops, it’s always interesting to see how each school has set up its curriculum. Recently, we had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the workings of the animation program at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth in Bournemouth, England. I was already familiar with the high quality of the students’ work from festivals such as Annecy and by viewing the 2007 Graduation reel, and was very pleased to receive an invitation to visit the Animation Production Department from Professor Peter Parr and his charming and talented wife Astor. This gave me a chance to find out how their BA (Hons) Animation Program was structured.

Blogs

The 14th Bradford Animation Festival: English Hospitality and an Excellent Festival Are a Perfect Combination


For much of the audience the highlight was Nick Park in Conversation with Paul Wells. Paul, who is Director of the Animation Academy at Loughborough University and has published widely in the field of animation, was able to put the very shy Park at ease. They sat on stage chatting as if they were in a living room, even though the large hall was packed with fans. Nick talked about lots of things including his interest in animation that started when he was 13, making films in his parents’ attic, the birth of Wallace and Grommet and his recent work, Creature Discomforts, created to help the public see disability in a new light. The program ended with a lengthy question and answer session. He comes across as a very genuine and humorous person. Since Nick is the superstar of British animation, the festival actually had to lock the theatre doors until they could get him out to his car. Otherwise he would have been totally mobbed.

Blogs

THE FUTURE OF ANIMATION: ALEX SIQUEIRA

I like to bring promising young animators from all over the world to the attention of my readers. Alex Siqueira is definitely a young animator to watch. He is featured in the new book PURE ANIMATION: Steps to Creation with 57 Cutting Edge Animators by Spencer Drate and Judith Salavetz, with an introduction by J. J. Sedelmaier. This beautifully illustrated book spotlights the innovative, cutting-edge work of 57 established and emerging animators from around the world.





Nik and I first met Alex in 1991 in Porto, Portugal where we were attending a Normand Roger workshop. Whenever we are in Portugal, we try to get together with Alex and I have followed his career with a great deal of interest. His student film, Sopa Fria (Cold Soup) is still one of my favorite pieces of puppet animation.

This year at the Cinanima Animation Festival in Espinho, Portugal Alex and I spent a great deal of time together, usually over food and drink. When Alex asked if he could create an illustration for my blog I was delighted to accept. His very comic drawing of the ANNECY PLUS BAND (Nik, Rolf Bächler and Jesper Fleng) is in the style of a group of illustrations that he is working on for a group exhibit.

Blogs

HAIRY PONIES and Friends by Sandra Jones and Jamie Badminton

The Perfect Gift for All Of Your Horse Loving Friends

When I met Jamie Badminton at the Annecy International Animation Festival several years ago, the first thing that he did was to pull out his sketch book and show me the characters that he had created for a book that he planned to write and illustrate. At Annecy the following year, I was surprised and delighted when he presented me with a copy of HAIRY PONIES and FRIENDS: A Day at the Races, the first of a proposed series of stories based on the adventures of a young pony named Star and his friends on Hazel House Farm.



HAIRY PONIES is a comedy-adventure book for both boys and girls with plenty of illustrations so that tiny tots and pre-schoolers will want their parents to read it to them over and over. I myself thoroughly enjoyed reading this book about the adventures of Star and his friends.As they developed the story, Jamie and his writing partner, Sandra Jones enlisted the editorial assistance of Paloma Mills, daughter of animators Joanna Quinn and Les Mills. Paloma is an avid equestrian and horse lover, and she gave the two authors knowledgeable feedback from the younger viewpoint.
Blogs

ANIMATION AND SUN AT THE ESPINHO 2007 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION

I am back home in Gent after my odyssey across Europe that took me to festivals in Espinho, Portugal; Bradford, England; Tallinn, Estonia and Rome, Italy. I was also lucky enough to visit major animation studios in Riga, Latvia and invited to give workshops in Riga, Rome, and Bournemouth, England. I flew back and forth across my home country Belgium four times before finally landing again in Brussels.

While my stalwart husband Nik worked away composing music in cold and sleety Gent, I spent 5 through 11 November in Espinho, Portugal. Espinho is a charming fishing town located on the Atlantic Ocean, with long sandy beaches and plenty of sun. As my good friend, Russian animator Leon Estrin once told me “Sometimes it happens, several days could give you years of memories”, and this festival has certainly given me that. Evenings spent with Leon, Jimmy Murakami, and Ginger Gibbons sitting at a beachfront café drinking and talking, or basking in the sun watching the from the little fisherman’s bar at the far end of the beach the sardine boats come in. These are memories that will never fade. One very late night as Leon was walking me back to my hotel, we happened upon the young festival staff members playing football on the beach, and their sheer joy and enthusiasm was contagious as we sat on the beach wall and watched the game. All of the festival guests took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy traditional three and four hour lunches and dinners of the exquisite Portuguese cuisine and to heartily drink the delicious and inexpensive red wine.

Blogs

34th FLANDERS INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The 34th Flanders International Film Festival held in Gent, Belgium (October 9 – 20) primarily celebrates film music’s relation to the visual language of film. That said, it also includes some fine animation, including two of the thirteen short films nominated for the 2007 European Film Awards (PRIX UIP). Each of the 13 films in this competition had already won a PRIX UIP award of €2000.00 at one of the major European festivals, and the winner will be announced on 1 December in Berlin and awarded a €10,000.00 grand prize.

One of the two contenders is Joanna Quinn’s delightful Dreams and Desires – Family Ties, which has already garnered the Grand Prix at several festivals such as Annecy and Zagreb. It qualified for the PRIX UIP by capturing the prize at Tampere International Film Festival in Tampere, Finland. I have written extensively about Beryl, the heroine of the film, and her whimsical screwball adventures in several previous articles, so I won’t repeat myself, except to say that the film gets better with each viewing. Nik and I did get to spend a lovely afternoon with Joanna and her scriptwriter husband Les Mills while they were here for the Festival and my next article will be an interview that I did with these two very talented and fun people. Joanna and Les also were gracious enough to take time out from their busy festival schedule to give a short Saturday morning master class at KASK School for the advanced students

Blogs

Kiev Weekly Interview with Nik and Nancy

While Nik and I were in Kiev for the KROK International Festival of Animation we were interviewed by Dmytro Ivanov for the KIEV WEEKLY. The article can be read in either English and Ukrainian at the web address listed below. The photo was taken while our boat was docked in Yalta.

http://www.weekly.ua/?art=1192627589

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“What’s Cooking?”


I am in Switzerland, as a lecturer at Art & Design branch of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (Hochschule Luzern, formerly HGK Lucerne School of Art and Design), staying in Zurich with my dear friend Rolf Bächler. This is the second time Rolf and I have taught a course together titled “What’s Cooking?” which we created last year for the newly introduced Design Management class. As the first instructors at the beginning of the studies, our task is team building while exposing the new group of students to a real-life management and design assignment.


In the process of this project, the group must define what needs to be done, break into small task groups to execute the duties and yet work as a total team to complete the task.In a morning lecture, Rolf and I outline the task, but after that we are only there to give advice when we are asked for it, and jump in if we see that anything is going terribly wrong. We want the students to set up their own structure, think and plan through the process and execute every task themselves.

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KROK 2007


The KROK 2007 International Animated Film Festival, held this year in the Ukraine, was a tribute to the brilliant Russian animator Alexander Tatarsky who died unexpectedly in July. Many of the festival attendees were still in a state of shock, so it was a bittersweet event. The opening night of the festival was highlighted by a special tribute to the great director. The second night the evening was devoted to a retrospective of his films, followed by “Recalling Sascha,” a memorial which gave friends and colleagues a chance to tell humorous and touching stories about the beloved filmmaker, and to laugh a lot, just as Tatarsky would have wanted since he loved to laugh, often pulling practical jokes and fond of playing with his beloved collection of toys and doll. The decision not to translate the events of the evening into English was completely correct because it would have broken the mood. I was lucky enough to have a translator sitting close by, filling me in, so that I did not have to miss out on the joy and sadness of the evening. On closing night the children’s film project, a film traditionally made by the young people on board the ship, was an homage to the much loved Tatarsky.

THE ADVENTURE


This year’s celebration of animation was held 25 September through 6 October aboard the cruise ship Taras Shevchenko, sailing from Odessa to Kiev on the Black Sea and the Dneiper River. Festival participants met the first evening at the KROK office in Kiev and took the night train to Odessa. As my frequent readers know, I love train travel, and so these overnight trips in Russia and the Ukraine are always a big treat for me. These train trips always involve food, plenty of drink and sometimes live music, giving us a chance to see old friends and to meet new animators in a more intimate setting than the boat, if such is possible. We held a party in our compartment and when I finally couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and succumbed to slumber, the party was still going on. When I awoke, I found the same folks sitting in the same places in our compartment. What a perfect beginning to another memorable trip!

Blogs

AWN launches my new blog

AWN has invited me a initiate a weekly blog space on their web site. I will primarily write short reviews of animations that I like, interviews with animators, my observations about the animation world and of course, my usual long articles about festivals that I attend. Any of you who have been reading my articles for the past few years know that I will also throw in whatever is on my mind when I am writing along with observations about my life in Europe. The powers that be at AWN say that it will take a little bit of time to convert my e-mail list to my blog spot so until then you will continue to receive my musings direct from me.


I will be happy to receive comments from any readers as well as question and of course I expect to get e-mails from those who don't agree with what I say. I welcome all of the above.

My first two entries will be my article about KROK 2007 and an interview with Joanna Quinn and Les Mills when they visit Gent this weekend.
Blogs

31st Annecy International Festival of Animation



31st ANNECY INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION by Nancy Denney-Phelps


I don't know if it's that I have finally accepted the fact that the Annecy International Festival of Animation

is about money and big business or simply that I got to spend some time with so many good friends that I don't get to see often enough, but I did have the best time I've had in years at the 31st Annecy International Festival of Animation held in Annecy, France this June 11th through the 16th. From the moment Nik and I arrived on Sunday evening until we headed home to Gent, Belgium the next Sunday afternoon, I couldn't walk down the main street, sit on the patio in front of the Leffe Bar, or walk through the Festival center at Bonlieu without running into people that I was delighted to see.

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Nik and Nancy have a new family member!

As most of you know Nik and I lost our beloved 15 year old Dalmatian Kirby earlier this year and he was soon followed to dog heaven by our equally beloved 15 year old Molly. It was very painful for us to lose both of them so close together but we are dog people and we knew that somewhere down the road there would be another dog that needed a good home and a lot of love. We had planned not to even think about a dog until after we returned from KROK in the Ukraine in early October but low but as we all know life does not always go the way we plan.

Last Sunday Nik and I saw a sign on a tree in a little park near our house for a homeless 4 year old West Highland Terrier that was free but must be taken before the next day or it would be go to the pound. It turned out that his mistress is dead, the master is in jail and their two sons put the dog out on the street. The family that took him in after a week on the streets already have 2 Skiperkeys and couldn't keep a third dog but they did take him to a vet to be checked out and an implanted chip was found. The vet tracked down the children who said that they didn't want anything to do with their father, the dog, or anything that the father had ever touched! Please do not write for more details -- we don't have any and don't really want to know what happened.

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ANNECY PLUS 3

Dear Friends:

For any of our animator friends who will be at Annecy please save Friday evening for ANNECY PLUS which I have programmed this year. The attached poster and press release gives all the details. If you are not part of our animation community you can skip this message.

Warm Regards,

Nancy



ANNECY PLUS 3

Le Venitien Bar and Lounge Square de l’ Eveche
(by the canal, less than 500 meters from the Bon Lieu)

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ANNECY PLUS

Dear Animators:

This year Bill Plympton will be attending THE PLATFORM FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION in Portland, Oregon instead of The Annecy Festival of Animation. Bill has asked Nik, Jonas Raeber and myself to carry on the ANNECY PLUS tradition that he started two years ago. If you had a piece of work rejected by Annecy please send it to us so that we can consider screening it at the ANNECY PLUS show.

We are now into day 15 of a postal strike in Gent and no one is sure how long the strike will last so it is best to send DVD's via UPS or Fed Ex to:

Nancy Denney-Phelps

Donkersteeg 31

B-9000 Gent Belgium

We will be leaving for Annecy on 8 June so please send your work right away!!!

Blogs

Nancy's article about AnimaBasauri 3 in Spain, with pictures.

Hi friends,

Here are my impressions of the third year of a wonderful festival that takes place in Basauri, Spain, near Bilbo in April.

Love to everyone,
Nancy

ANIMA BASAURI 3 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF ANIMATION
by Nancy Denney-Phelps

Like last year, a highlight was the chance to see animation from Spain, Mexico and South America, films that are rarely seen in other festivals. Of the 74 shorts that I watched, 19 were from Spain, 3 were from Brazil, and Mexico and Chile each had 1 film. I particularly enjoyed Ugly’s Night, Manuel Gonzalez Mauricio’s new take on boy meets girl, depicting two disfigured people who meet and fall in love.

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Thanks and Links from Nancy

Nik and I want to thank everyone who sent us such lovely e-mails of condolances about Kirby's passing -- they have made us feel so much better but even though we miss him terribly he did live to a ripe old Dalmation age and spent the last year touring Europe with us (he could bark very expertily in Flemish which is more than we can do).

Through the miracle of modern computers I will be reading my story about my train trip to Russia on the radio show TALES FROM THE EARTH, KUSF 90.3 FM on Wednesday, April 11 at 7:30 PM (San Francisco time -- everyone else has to do the time conversions if they want to hear it). For more information visit www.talesfromearth.com - web cast www.live365.com/stations/kusf and iTunes. The guest the week before me is poet Laurence Ferlinghetti.

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