By putting aside the narrow borders of general expectations the animator would have unlimited possibilities. “The conditions of free artistic work offered by the medium itself are ideal,” said Meyer Hermann. “Unfortunately there is a great need for money and time, and art cannot be sold easily in the media field. Therefore many animated film makers work in two directions: on productions for TV and advertising to make money; plus the realisation of personal ideas in their own productions.
“Our festival aims at strengthening the artistic direction. The keyword is ‘author’s film’. This means independent production, the important creative functions lying with one person or a small team, contrary to commercial productions with a strong division of labour. Authors films do not always find their way to the general public. That is why we show them.”
The festival was well publicised in the Stuttgart region. On the first night a television crew were in attendance to make a programme that was broadcast the following evening. The main shows were held in the Alte Reithalle, a large hall that used to be an indoor riding school. It was full of character with a high domed roof supported by decorative cast iron beams. This was packed out for all of the competition shows, and even the student shows held in the afternoon drew a respectable crowd of local people.
There was great emphasis on student work, with strong support coming from the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart, which has a well equipped animation department. This attention to learning promoted a feature I would like to see more of at other festivals: workshop talks given by notables in the animation field including Bob Godfrey, Paul Driessen, Raoul Servais and Ray Fields.
Films selected for competition
600 films from 26 countries were entered and among the 50 selected for the competition five were from Britain. There was a wide range of styles and abilities represented. Some had already won prizes at other international competitions and others were there to represent local work.
The first film to be shown was Hello Dad by Christoph Simon, a German who graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Stuttgart and then studied animation at the Royal College of Art in London. It is a pop video set to the music of Was (not Was). Lines wave Len Lye style as graphic men are seen in box-like compartments representing prison cells. This colourful film illustrates the song well. Christoph made the film because liked the lyrics, “Hello Dad, I’m in jail, I like it here… “ He shut himself away in his room for two weeks and immersed himself in the song while he created the film.
The Charactersby Evert de Beijer, Holland. George and Belle are chased around by letters of the alphabet. They live in a rambling castle where the furniture turns into letters and attacks them.
The Wind by Csaba Varga, Hungary. This is a remarkable film that deserved the prize it was awarded. Cycle animation is taken to the ultimate extreme. It is drawn in black pen on a white background. The camera moves around the area while new items are added to enhance the action. As the film builds the camera pulls back to reveal a very large area. Birds dive down and run across the screen, a man takes a balloon from his pocket and it floats away over and over. Some of the characters act in an earthy manner which becomes very amusing when repeated many times. The audience gave this film long and loud applause.
What Next by Susanne Fränzel, Germany. Simple graphic images of bombs etc. make a statement about the Chernobyl nuclear accident.
La vie en Rose by Gyorgy Csonka, Germany. Grace Jones appears in a number of still pictures. It has a mixture of styles, mainly cut-outs moved in time with the music and painted waving lines added to the pictures. There is also a sequence with a cute bear and a clown in full animation. It is typical of many of the German student films in the festival.
Break by G. Bardin, USSR. A clay animation of a boxing match exploiting the medium to the full. When one of the boxers is seriously damaged the first-aid man has strips of clay in his case to patch him up. This in-joke went down very well with the animators in the audience. The two contestants box in time to the music: the first round is fast; the second round slower; the third round slow jazz. The audience liked it and clapped some gags during the showing with a long ovation at the end.
Rendez-vous in Montreal by Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann and Daniel Thalmann, Canada. Animated by computer, a very realistic Humphrey Bogart meets an equally realistic Marilyn Monroe. It is a demonstration of the computer’s capabilities with excellent rendering but very stilted and limited movement.
Restaurant by Jaroslava Havettová and Boris Farkas, Czechoslovakia. Conventional cel animated film about a man who sits down in a restaurant but is ignored by the waiters. After getting more and more frustrated in his attempts to attract their attention he imagines the two ladies at his table are chickens and he is the fox that chases them.