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Stuttgart Celebrates 100 Years of German Animation

Celebrating 100 years of German animated film, the 16th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film will present a comprehensive anniversary retrospective. The changeful history of this innovative genre will be visualized in six programs. The screenings comprise artistically ambitious works, outstanding commercials and state-of-the-art 3-D animation.

Hardly any other genre within the realm of film reflects the variety and fractures of German film productions as distinctly as animation film. It was, after all, the German animation film that has brought about such internationally renowned names like Lotte Reininger and Oskar Fischinger, as well as two Oscar-winning films in the category Best Animated Short.

As part of this year's Stuttgart Festival, the retrospective with the title "Cheers! 100 Years of German Animation Film" documents the versatility of Animated Film in Germany. The topical range stretches from the first German animated film PROSIT NEUJAHR of 1909 to the works of early avant-gardists of the 1920s and 1930s such as Walter Ruttmann and Hans Richter, featuring current productions like Oscar-winning short films BALANCE (1989) by Christoph and Wolfgang Lauenstein and QUEST (1996) by Tyron Montgomery and Thomas Stellmach.

However, the genre's development during the era of National Socialism cannot be disregarded. Adolf Hitler himself was a great fan of Mickey Mouse and tried to establish a controlled iconic ideal of phased movie entertainment. Alongside, there are abstract works of art like Hans Fischinger's colorful TANZ DER FARBEN (DANCE OF COLORS) of 1938-39 and the playful STRICH-PUNKT-BALLETT (BALLET OF LINES AND DOTS) of 1943 by Herbert Seggelke, which somehow manage to get past the NS censorship.

The DEFA animation studios of the former GDR also produced films with ideological guidelines on the one hand, and on the other aesthetically innovative and -- with regards to content -- controversial films such as Lutz Dammbeck's EINMART (1981) specifically undermining these guidelines.

Since the end of the 1970s, a boom in the area of animated film has emerged as animation departments at art schools, universities and technical colleges were founded, a trend that also lead to the founding of the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film in 1982 and later on to the foundation of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Film Academy.

Other filmmakers featured in this retrospective in Stuttgart are Israeli artist Gil Alkabetz (RUBICON) who lives in Germany, Andreas Hykade (WIR LEBTEN IM GRAS), Mariolla Brillowska (MORGENROTE), Kirsten Winter (CLOCKS) and the artist duo Hanna and Fritz Steingrobe (YO LO VI).

A six-part DVD series entitled "Die Geschichte des deutschen Animationsfilms" ("The History of German Animation Film") accompanying this retrospective will be published by Absolut Medien in cooperation with Goethe Institut.

The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film (May 5-10, 2009) was founded in 1982 and is one of the biggest and most important festivals of animation film worldwide. An amount of 52,500 Euros prize money in total is awarded in seven competition categories. The Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film works in close relation with fmx/09, Europe's biggest conference on animation, effects, games and digital media.