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ITFS Unveils 2017 Program Highlights

With an emphasis on ‘Animation without Borders,’ the 24th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film to spotlight Lebanese animation artist Chadi Aoun, Slovenia’s Spela Cadez, France’s Franck Dion, Germany’s Jochen Kuhn and Katrin Magnitz, Italy’s Bruno Bozzetto, Portland animator Joanna Priestley, Canadian director Ann Marie Fleming, and many more.

As one of the most important festivals in the animated film industry, this year the 24th Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart (ITFS) has taken a decisive step forward.

“In 2017 we have strengthened the connections to the disciplines of games, transmedia, virtual reality and music,” said ITFS artistic director Prof. Ulrich Wegenost. “We are thereby opening up ourselves and the genre to creative, productive and economic synergies.”

With the motto “Animation without Borders,” ITFS and its international program, which targets many different formats and age groups, also shows that no borders have been created for the content of animated film at the 24th ITFS. ITFS links cultures from all over the world and also creates innovative approaches to re-discover the genre of “animated film.”

“By closely connecting ITFS with the Animation Production Day and our co-operation events FMX International Conference on Animation, Effects, VR, Games and Transmedia as well as the spotlight Festival for Moving Picture Communication, we have created a platform found nowhere else in the world,” Dittmar Lumpp, ITFS Managing Director of Organization and Finance, commented. “Our close partnerships and continuous development turn Stuttgart into the global center of animation, visual effects, virtual reality, and moving picture communication at the beginning of May.”

Running May 2-7, 2017, the 24th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film will become the focus of the global animated film industry and invite professionals and film aficionados alike to discover the newest animated films and most innovative projects. Worldwide, it is one of the largest and most important festivals for animated film and the related areas of games, transmedia and VR. More than 80,000 visitors will be once again amazed at the best animated films from around the world this year. Among the approximately 2,500 expert visitors are producers, curators, contractors, buyers, representatives from television stations, media representatives and filmmakers. With more than 200 events and 1,000 films, ITFS offers a wealth of interesting and extraordinary programs. Together with its co-operation partners, ITFS provides on absolutely unique platform. At the same time, leading industry events Animation Production Day, the FMX International Conference on Animation, Effects, VR, Games and Transmedia, and spotlight Festival for Moving Picture Communication will also take place.

Check out the festival trailer in the player below:

GameZone Extended!

At the intersection of animation disciplines you can find the area “Games,” which has been further developed this year and is a special focus, providing an almost 2,000 square-meter venue for games in the Stuttgart Kunstgebaude. With its concentration this year on “Playful Art/Meaningful Games,” the GameZone, curated by Prof. Sabiha Ghellal (Stuttgart Media University) and Dr. Stephan Schwingeler, presents current trends in computer game culture and forward-looking university projects combining game aesthetics and social relevance. The GameZone shows the links between games and animation with the newest developments in virtual and augmented reality and invites visitors to play and participate on-site.

Let’s Play: Giant Interactive Video Game Installation by Feng Mengbo

A highlight in the GameZone will be the artistic installation by Feng Mengbo (Beijing) “Long March: Restart” in co­operation with the ZKMI Center for Art and Media Karslruhe. The large (16m x 4m) video game installation with wireless controllers was first exhibited in 2010/2011 at MoMA PS1. The graphics are inspired by classic games like Super Mario Bros. They invite visitors to guide the hero, a Red Army soldier, along his digital path, fighting various enemies along the way.

The “Animated Games Award Germany” will be presented for the first time in 2017. The national award, which comes with 5,000€, is funded by MFG Media and film company Baden-Württemberg mbH and Film-und Medienfestival gGmbH, with the prize going to the German computer game with the best visual design and graphics. The official opening of the GameZone, which will include a tour through the exhibition, will take place on May 3 in the Kunstgebciude. Following this, the Animated Games Award Germany will be presented. Entry to the GameZone is free for the entire duration of the Festival.

Spotlight and Animated Com Award Grow Together

For the first time, the Animated Com Award will be presented at a joint awards gala with the spotlight Festival for Moving Picture Communication. In the Alte Reithalle, Stuttgart will thereby become a new and notionally recognized hotspot, offering networking opportunities among animation artists, advertising agencies, advertising film producers and purchasers. The joint awards gala will take place on May 6 in the Alte Reithalle in Stuttgart. spotlight is a renowned creative competition and is considered the largest festival of its kind in the German-speaking region.

In the competition, contributions are evaluated by an expert jury from the areas of creation and design, teaching and research, and marketing and advertising. A selection of the competition contributions is also evaluated by an audience jury. More information can be found at

New Trickstar Business Award

Trickstar Business is the name of the new and first animated award worldwide with on explicit focus on business. The award, which comes with 7,500€, will be presented for the first time ir1 the context of the Animation Production Day 2017 by the Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart. It recognizes nationally and internationally innovative and groundbreaking business models for projects m companies in the animation industry. The award is funded by Region Stuttgart. At a joint gala with the German Animated Screenplay Award and the award for the competition Tricks for Kids Series, the new prize will be presented on May 5 in the L-Bank rotunda and offers excellent networking opportunities among producers and script writers.

Good without Borders! ITFS Program Highlights

In nine competition categories, over 70,000€ in total prize money will be awarded. The core of ITFS is the International Competition, in which the best animated short films of the last 12 months from all over the world are shown. Besides new discoveries like the Lebanese animation artist Chadi Aoun with his disquieting animated drama SAMT (Silence), we meet well-known personalities from the Festival such as Spela Cadez from Slovenia (Nighthawk), Franck Dion from France with The Head Vanishes, a touching story about Alzheimer’s, or Jochen Kuhn from Germany.

The feature-length film competition AniMovie has particularly strong contributions from Asia in 2017, including In This Corner of the World by Sunao Katabuchi, based on the Japanese manga of the same name that has already received awards and whose story plays during the Second World War. The film Big Fish & Begonia directed by Xuan Liang & Chun Zhang leads viewers into a fantastical world: inspired by classic Chinese literature, the lovingly animated feature-length film tells the story of a little girl who takes on the shape of a dolphin and goes out in search of adventures in the human world. Other films in the program include the biographical feature-length animated film Ethel & Ernest by Roger Mainwood based on a graphic novel by Raymond Briggs. The film’s soundtrack comes from no one other than Paul McCartney, among other artists. In addition, the international co­production Birds Like Us by Faruk Sabanovic and Amela Cuhara will celebrate its world premiere. Alicia Vikander and Academy Award winner Jeremy Irons contribute their voices to the first 3D feature-length animated film from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which was co-produced by Turkish Television, Fork Film (USA) and Autonomous (Great Britain). The soundtrack to Birds Like Us was composed by Peter Gabriel. Bill Plympton, independent master and long-time guest in Stuttgart, is also represented in the An iMovie competition with his newest feature-length work, Revengeance, co-directed by Jim Lujan.

Tricks for Kids: ITFS Children’s Film Festival

The children’s film festival Tricks for Kids is organized together with the curator Iris Loos (VHS Stuttgart: Treffpunkt Kinder). The imaginative program is comprised of current short films from all over the world, the most recent Film-und Medienfestival gGmbH international animated series and feature-length animated films. They lead the young and the old into fantastical worlds. Many of them are being shown in Germany for the first time!

One highlight of the Tricks for Kids program is the animated film Revolting Rhymes, based on the beloved children’s book of the same name by Roold Dahl. The two episodes were produced by the makers of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child, Magic Light Pictures in co-production with Triggerfish Animation Studios under the direction of Jakob Schuh and Jan Lachauer. The story combines the classic fairy toles of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella, and mixes the stories with playful elements and a surprise plot twist. The voices ore those of well-known actresses and actors such as Dominic West, who was recently also the voice of the character “Rudder” in the animated film Finding Dory.

The famous characters from Laura’s Star, The Little Polar Bear and Tobias Totzore introduced in homage to their inventor Thilo Graf Rothkirch. The graphics, illustrations, and hand-colored animated film sheets can be admired in the exhibition in the vhs’s Treffpunkt Rothebuhlplatz (March 15 - May 9). On May 6, his first wife and well-known film producer Maya Grafin Rothkirch will speak about his works and the exhibition. Thilo Grof Rothkirch’s films will be shown in the ITFS program as a work exhibition. Other event locations with a colorful program include the Stuttgart Zoo Wilhelma, the Gerber and the ITFS Festival Garden directly on the Schlossplotz.

New in 2017: The children’s program in co-operation with the Mercedes-Benz Museum will take place on the weekend before the Festival. Workshops and film program invite families with children to marvel, participate and experience .

Music & Animation: Preview Cat & Mouse

Theatre, animation and live music: This is the adventure Paul Barritt from the 1927 Theatre Company dares in co-operation with Village Underground in the piece Cat and Mouse. In the exclusive preview, a crazy animation experience awaits the audience. It includes on animated cat and mouse as well as bond full of dogs. The piece is inspired by George Harrimon’ s very influential cartoon strip Krazy Kat ( 1913-1944). Paul Borrit, renowned animated artist from London, is the director and creator of Cat and Mouse. Laurence Owen and Siemy Di are responsible for the music on drums and percussion together with Sam Sallon on the keyboard -- they form the Officer Pub Band. Lesly Ewen is in charge of the scenic narration, and Octavia Austin designed the costumes. The preview will take place on Saturday, May 6, in the Musikhalle Ludwigsburg. The official premiere is at the beginning of June in London.

Opera & Animation: Bellini’s “La Sonnambula” (May 7]

This year, as well, the Opera & Animation co-operation will take place together with the Staatsoper Stuttgart. By projecting Bellini’s “La Sonnambula” on the giant LED screen as well as a live performance from actors at the Stootsoper Stuttgart including the singer Ana Dullovski, on Sunday, May 7 the Schlossplatz will be transformed into a very special visual and audio event. In 2012, the Stuttgart production under the musical direction of Gabriele Ferro and directed by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito was named the “Performance of the Year” by the “Opernwe lt” critic’s survey. In addition, Paul Bonitt, who is known among other things for his animated stage images for The Magic Flute at the Komische Oper in Berlin as well as productions for the Sydney Opera House and the Salzburg Festival, will hold a workshop on the topic of animated film and opera.

From A as in Animation to Z as in Zagreb: The Breadth of Croatia

ITFS shows international trends and developments in animated film with several program points, for example with the focus on the feature country Croatia. For this, the Festival presents many co-product ions, studio presentations and workshops including Adriatic Animation, Bonobo Studio and Zagreb Film. The head of the respected AnimaFest Zagreb Daniel Suljic will also curate the Best of Animation program.

Tributes to Influential Animation Artists

The series In Persona honors internationally renowned and artistically outstanding animated film and animation artists with tributes. This year’s guests include the Italian master and creator of the famous animated figure Signor Rossi (Mr. Rossi), Bruno Bozzetto (Bergamo), Katrin Magnitz (Homburg), Joanna Priestley (Portland) and Ann Marie Fleming (Toronto).

Homage to Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012)

On the occasion of his 100th birthday, which would have been on May 1, 2017, ITFS dedicates a homage to the Russian animator, director and script writer Fyodor Savelyevich Khitruk. In the original premiere of the new documentary film about Khitruk by Dimitry Zolotov of studio Schor, one of the most important Russian animation schools and studios, on May 6, at B p.m. Khitruk’s life will be shown biographically using the most important places where he worked. This also includes Stuttgart, where he studied at the “Kunstgewerbeschule” in the 1930s: an important milestone in his artistic development. Besides this, a program of his short films will also include Otto Alder’s documentary film from 1998, The Spirit of Genius: Fedor Khitruk and his Films, on May 7.

Meet the Studios!

The Festival offers excellent international networking opportunities for industry experts arid decision-makers: The world ‘s leading animation studios will give background information about their work based on selected projects and invite visitors to engage in discussion. These discussions include partners like the VR experts from Google Spotlight Stories, London studio Lupus Films, which is represented in the AniMovie competition with Ethel & Ernest and in the Tricks for Kids competition with We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, Studio AKA (London), which received the BAFTA Award multiple times and has received Oscar nominations, M.A.R.K. 13 from Stuttgart and Neuer Osterreichischer Trickfilm.

Arab Animation Forum (May 4 - 7, 2017]

The Arab Animation Forum to promote new animated fil m projects from the Arabic world was able to be realized again this year together with the Robert Bosch Foundation. It will take place during the ITFS from May 4-7, 2017. For animated filmmakers and creative minds from the Arabic world and young German animation producers, the forum offers a platform for co-productions.

Animation Production Day (May 4 - 5 2017)

The Animation Production Day (APD), the most important co-production and financing market in Germany specialized on animated projects, will take place from May 4-5. Production companies from all over the world will meet here with broadcasters, distributors, sellers, investors and co-production partners to present their projects in effective one­ on-one meetings. This format has proven very successful: More than one-third of the projects presented in the past years at the APD have acquired important financing elements through their participation and have now been successfully produced. The program is complemented by the APD Conference on May 4, freely accessible for those with accreditation, which offers focused speeches and discussions by well-known speakers on current trends and challenges in the industry. Animation Production Day is presented by ITFS and the FMX Conference on Animation, Effects, Gomes and Transmedia, which takes place at the same time. More information can be found at

FMX - Conference on Animation, Effects, Games & Transmedia (May 2-5, 2017)

FMX is Europe’s most influential expert conference f or Digital Visual Arts, Technologies and Business. The topic of this year ‘s FMX, “Beyond the Screen,” will discuss the question of how we will experience content now and in the future. FMX is organized by the Institute of Animation at the Filmakademie Baden-Wurttemberg and this year will take place at the same time as ITFS, May 2-5 in Stuttgart. More information can be found at www.fmx .de.

Source: Festival of Animated Film Stuttgart

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.