ANIMEX, the International Festival of Animation & Computer Games, returns to The University of Teesside in Middlesbrough, England next year and organizers are filling out the roster of international guests and programs to accompany screenings of professional and student works. The 2006 edition will take place Feb. 6-10, spilling out of the University and onto screens around the North East.
A highlight of the upcoming event is a special preview of The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, the first full-length feature from Stephen and Timothy Quay, best known as the Brothers Quay. The British filmmakers will unveil their dark, live-action/animated fairytale which is slated for release at the end of February, 2006. The film tells the story of a demonic doctor who abducts a beautiful opera singer and plans to turn her into a mechanical nightingale and imprison her on a remote fantasy island.
Other features to screen at ANIMEX include Steamboy, the latest anime pic from Akira director Katsuhro ‘tomo (the critically acclaimed film is available on home video in the U.S. but is yet to be released in the U.K.), and MirrorMask, The Jim Henson Co.’s live-action/CG adaptation of writer Neil Gaiman’s fantasy novel. Scripted by Gaiman and directed by his long-time collaborator, Dave McKean, the film was completed on a shoestring budget with a crew of 15 British animators.
Audiences will be able to vote for their favorite animated shorts in the Public Choice category for the prestigious 2006 British Animation Awards. Winners will be presented in London on Mar. 9 at the Shaw Theatre. In addition, Animation students from around the world will be competing for the highly coveted Animex International Student Animation Awards.
Video game designers will also be on and to show their stuff at Animex Game, which will focus on the art and design side of game production. Development studio Blitz will offer an inside look at some of its latest projects, while Eutechnyx discusses some of the latest art techniques its using to create games for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 platforms.
Special guests lined up to participate in discussions and other programs include U.K. artist Roger Dean, whose 1970s album covers for progressive-rock band YES have inspired the new animated film Floating Islands (to be exclusively previewed in Teesside); Mark Walsh, lead directing animator on PIXAR’s Finding Nemo; Mark Simon, an artist, writer and special effects supervisor who owns of one of the largest storyboard companies in the U.S.; Ed Hooks, author of Acting for Animators; Dave Sproxton, executive chairman and co-founder of Aardman Animations; and Stuart Sumida, professor of biology at California State University who has consulted on such films as Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, The Lion King, Shrek II, Lilo and Stitch, Tarzan and Stuart Little.
Animex is funded by Northern Film + Media, DigitalCity, ONE North East, Learning Skills Council and Seed Animation Studio. For ticket sales and more information, go to www.animex.net.