currently researching african animation : interested in compiling a database of practitioners in various sub-saharan countries : welcome any postings from practitioners

Monday, May 15, 2006

news from Alfred in Stuttgart

13th International Trick Film Festival (Festival of
Animated Film), Stuttgart 2006 (

It’s very difficult to sum up my impressions of
Stuttgart and Berlin. I met so many people and was
exposed to so many experiences that will take me a
while to Digest. I will however try and share some of
the things that I enjoyed from the trip.

It was ice cold when I got off the Inter City Express
at Stuttgart on 28th April. And thanks to a
miscommunication on my part I had to wait for 2 hours
as the festival organizers organized my ride to the
hotel (which I later discovered was only 3 minutes
away). I had to take a short nap to get my mind
straight before leaving for the festival. My screening
was at 3 in the afternoon, so I could afford 2 hours
to catch a nap.

Making my way to the festival office I came across the
main screening area at the Gloria Theater on
KonigStrasse (King’s street) which is Stuttgart’s main
pedestrian-only shopping avenue. The organizers had
gone all out with a red carpet complete with a
lighting rig leading into the theater. The set up was
glamorous; fitting for the place that would be
animation focus of the world animation for 6 full

At the festival office I got my tag, program, and
invites for several parties; standard festival
equipment. Half an hour later I was making my way to
the Metropol Theater for the screening when I met a
whacky bespectacled character in a white suit worn on
top of a white and red polka dot cycling kit and
crowned with a garland of flowers. He knew my name and
where I was from! Later on I found out that he would
be the host (as well as participant) of the category
in which TOTO’s journey was screened (tricks for
kids). His name was Jurgen Haas.

Jurgen was a marvelous entertainer. He managed to keep
the audience (mostly kids) thoroughly entertained with
his antics in between the screenings. Apart from the
festival judges, there was a special panel of judges
consisting of kids (very tough critics) and also the
audience would vote for their favorite films after the
session. Out of the 6 films screened that day, TOTO’s
journey managed just 1 vote. We got thoroughly
white-washed by an Argentinian stop-motion maestro
that day. However, even I would concede that he
deserved all the votes. In fact out of all the movies
shown at the festival, Toto’s Journey was the shortest
at 1 minute and 57 seconds. Technique-wise I was
impressed by a Russian film maker called Julia
Aranova, who managed to make her movie (a Beetle, a
Boat and an Apricot) by shooting up to 9 layers of
glass. The movie is a dream-like account of how a kid
spent their holiday.

After the screening we had a Q and A session with the
audience where we talked about the films. The kids
asked all sorts of questions and managed to surprise
us as film-makers with some of their questions. One
kid even asked us all how we managed to make money off
animation. Good one. I’m still trying to figure that
one out.

Later that evening, I was making my way past a café at
the Gloria passage when I got stopped by a mature man
who had given me directions earlier. I joined him and
a group of animators for a drink in the passage.
Later on in the festival that the man who stopped me
was actually a famous British animator named Phil
Mulloy. He had a special screening of his first
feature film the next day called ‘The Christies.’ The
feature was made as a series of shorts each episodes
of a family in the UK. The amazing thing is he drew
just 40 frames and several backgrounds and managed to
keep the audience involved in the film with lively
dialogue, and clever directing. I never met a more
humble man at the festival. He later challenged me to
put aside all my fears and make my own feature film.

Other renowned animators in the festival included
oscar winners Chris Landreth (Ryan), Benjamin Adam
Elliot, also in attendance Pritt Parn, Konstantin
Bronzit, and Marv Newland among others.

On a sad note Mr. Landreth fell ill during the
festival and was unable to perform jury duty as he had
to be admitted. When I left, I heard that he was
recovering though.

Those few days flew by as I caught screenings and
attended parties and had deep philosophical
conversations with other PASS A category attendants
(film makers). I even got to meet one of GADO’s tutors
at the Vancouver Film School! And in another highlight
I got to tour STUDIO FILM BILDER in Stuttgart and see
the animators at work there (yes they use Moho for
some shots too.)

On the last night there was the awards ceremony. Our
category had 4,500 euro up for grabs. That went to
Johannes Weiland and Saschka Unseld for their film
Oli’s Chance, a film about how children die while
playing near Germany’s high-speed railways. At the
time I felt that the award was undeserved considering
the film’s tone and also considering that many of the
other films were funnier, but I later discovered that
the film had been commissioned by the government so
that kids can learn to stay away from the rail tracks.
It gets the message across very well.

I think that festival attendance should be part of
animation training. It’s important to learn how to
keep the energy going after days of partying and
conversing and taking in new ideas during screening!
Seriously though, I managed to thoroughly enjoy myself
and make very good friends and contacts at the
festival. But for me, ITFS was only one part of the
equation. I needed to extend my stay and attend the
11th Conference on Animation, Effects and Realtime
Content (FMX-06). That’s a whole different story.

1 comment:

mike said...

Alfred! What a legend! Nice site Paula, I'll be checking back frequently! :)