Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Stuttgart Animation Festival 2018

Once again, I returned to the International Trickfilm Festival in Stuttgart, Germany.  This time I was there with a short music video, "Tupelo", in the Panorama section, plus I was invited to be a judge, along with my friend, Jean Thoren, and German producer Fabian Driehorst in the Kids TV series section of the festivl.

I started going to this Stuttgart Festival back in 1988 with my short film "One of Those Days".  This was back when the festival was only six years old and I had just started animating.   It was a great experience - in fact, that's when I first met Joanna Quinn and Peter Lord, two of my favorite animators.  At that time, it was a very bare-bones kind of festival.  I remember taking our cinema breaks on an old WWII concrete bunker, sitting in the sun and getting drunk - oh, those were good times. 

The Stuttgart Trickfilm Festival screening my short "The Loneliest Stoplight" outdoors.
Of course, now the festival is one of the top festivals in the world, thanks to its success and wonderful sponsor support.  This time, I ran into my old friends David Silverman ("The Simpsons"), Mark Shapiro (from Laika) and of course, Andreas Hykade (a great animator and this year's head of FMX, the digital version of the festival).

Some of my favorite films there were "Sog", by Jonathan Schmenk of Germany, "Enough" by Anna Mantzaris of Great Britain, and "Hybrids" by five great computer students from France.  The best for me was an animated feature from Italy called "Cinderella and the Cat", even though it was a CGI film, the technique and story were very edgy and very adult.  I loved everything about it.  If you ever get a chance to see it, GO!

With two of the filmmakers of "Hybrid" after they won the Amazon Prime Video prize.
As you may know, Stuttgart is also the home of Mercedes Benz and Porsche.  And I've always wanted to visit their respective museums - so Sunday I had the day off (no films programmed) and that was my day to immerse myself into the car culture.  I liked the Porsche museum because of their history of making racing cars.  They had a lot of the early prototypes, that was fascinating.   But I found the Mercedes Museum much more interesting, because of the educational angle, plus it featured a lot more vehicles.

I've heard many Germans complain about how Americans think that Henry Ford invented the car.  Well, this museum has the lowdown on the invention of the automobile, separately by Gottleibe Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach and also Karl Benz.  It's interesting because both companies submitted their patents in the same year, 1886!  I loved seeing the very early transformation from a wooden buggy powered by a tiny one-cylinder engine to a sleek, powerful luxury roadster of the Roaring 1920's.  They even covered the extent of using slave labor during World War II. 

On Saturday, the Festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary, and I was invited to tell a few anecdotes in front of a crowd of VIP's.  They introduced me as "The World's Greatest Animator" (not true, by the way...) and that's why I love going to Stuttgart.

--Bill P.

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