Tomek Popakul’s ‘Acid Rain’ Wins Grand Prix at ITFS Online Fest

This year’s Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) was presented in a first-time digital edition true to the motto “Stay Animated – Go online with ITFS”, offering an entirely new and unusual Festival feeling to audiences and industry members: free live streams with new talks and film programs each day, a virtual GameZone, the VoD section OnlineFestival+ with more than 250 animated films including the almost complete competition programme 2020, and the OnlineFestival Pro section for professionals.

The demand for the programs, the personal feedback received and the exchange with viewers and the international animation community have exceeded expectations by far. The general public made intensive use of the online offers as did professional users such as distributors, world sales agencies, other festivals and filmmakers, who were given access to additional programmes during the Festival. Around 105,000 views in the live stream and in the OnlineFestival+ area have shown that the offer is well received. In addition, 4,000 votes were registered for the SWR OnlineFilm Audience Award. About 25% of the Professional Tickets OnlineFestival Pro are from abroad.

“We are overwhelmed by the great demand and the positive feedback on our received by users as well as filmmakers,” said Artistic Managing Director Ulrich Wegenast. “Despite the digital approach, a perhaps new kind of Festival flair has been created, particularly by the programs streamed live. We are particularly happy that this year people all over the world had the chance to see our great competition films and supporting programs. That was the way we could give honor to the filmmakers this year.”

“In this year of the coronavirus, we have been faced with many challenges which we have been able to overcome thanks to the support of our sponsors and partners as well as the encouragement from our fans,” noted Commercial Managing Director Dieter Krauss. “We will certainly integrate the experience and know-how gained in the planning of our upcoming Festivals, where hybrid formats will offer the opportunity to provide our fulfilment of public service with a broader perception on an even more international level, thus to reach significantly more people.”

The six-day festival culminated in the official Awards Ceremony streamed live on Sunday, May 10 across, Facebook and numerous partner websites. Winners accepted their Trickstar awards with video messages to viewers. Well-known TV host Markus Brock presented the ceremony again and welcomed studio guest Petra Olschowski (State Secretary in the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts, Baden-Württemberg). Prizes were awarded in the various competitions: the Grand Prix which qualifies winners for the Oscars; Young Animation, Tricks for Kids and AniMovie for feature films; the German Animation Screenplay Award and the award for the screenplay with the greatest international market potential, the Trickstar Nature Award, the Animated Games Award Germany, SWR OnlineFilm Audience Award and the Trickstar Business Award.

The award winners are invited to attend the opening of the 28th ITFS on May 4, 2021 and receive their golden Trickstars in person. In addition, all entries to the competitions of ITFS 2020 will be shown on the big cinema screen at ITFS 2021 so that they still have the chance to experience the Festival feeling and for direct exchange with audiences.

The next Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film will take place May 4-9, 2021.

And the winners are…

Acid Rain
Acid Rain

GRAND PRIX (State of Baden-Württemberg and City of Stuttgart Grand Award for Animated Film 15,000 EUR) Acid Rain | Tomek Popakul | Animoon Studio (Piotr Szczepanowicz, Grzegorz Wacławek) Poland 2019

Jury statement: “In coming to decide the winner of this year’s Grand Prix, the short film jury were uniquely impressed by a film whose strength of vision was matched by the boldness of its execution. Through an immersive and radically modern style, this film perfectly illustrates a subculture with specific problems and challenges. It boasts a compelling and relatable story that takes on difficult themes around social engagement, personal demons and loss of control with empathy but without romanticism.

“An uncompromising work of art and a trip into the depths of a fluorescent, psychedelic world, the power of this film lies in its synthesis of impressive sound, aspects of rave culture and socio-political issues that are rarely in the spotlight. This film forcefully pulls us into a seemingly unending trip, boasting a strong female lead and astounding storytelling that takes our attention from the very beginning to its unexpected end.”

Kujira No Yu (Bathhouse of Whales)
Kujira No Yu (Bathhouse of Whales)

Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award for Animated Film (best graduation film, 10,000 EUR, sponsored by MFG Film Funding Baden-Württemberg) Kujira No Yu (Bathhouse of Whales) | Mizuki Kiyama | Tokyo University of the Arts (Koji Yamamura) Japan 2019

Jury statement: “In picking the winner of the Lotte Reiniger Promotion Award, the jury were drawn to a film about intimacy and amazement in an adults’ world. Drawing upon Japanese print traditions in the creation of its ethereal visuals, this film evokes the sense of wonder that accompanies a child’s inclusion into the daily rituals of society. With a keen sense of animation and solid direction, the audience can feel the emotions of the film through the rhythm of the bodies, colours and sounds.

“The film’s visuals are also matched by the richness and cultural identity of its musical score. In a very brief time the director successfully conveys a special atmosphere between mother and daughter in a shared, distinctly female moment.”

La vie de château (My Life in Versailles)
La vie de château (My Life in Versailles)

Tricks for Kids (best children’s animated film: 4,000 EUR, donated by Studio 100 I m4e Media) La vie de château (My Life in Versailles) | Nathaniel H’limi, Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat | Sacrebleu Productions (Lionel Massol, Pauline Seigland) France 2019

Special Mention: Coeur Fondant (Melting Heart Cake) | Benoit Chieux | Sacrebleu Productions (Ron Dyens) France 2019

Jury statement: “The winner of the Children’s film competition is My Life in Versailles by Nathaniel H’limi and Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat. The film stood out because of its honest and child-friendly depiction of a young girl overcoming tragedy.”

“The jury would like to give a special mention to Melting Heart Cake by Benoit Chieux for its imaginative and heartwarming tale about friendship.”

Dcera (Daughter)
Dcera (Daughter)

Young Animation (best student film, 2,500 EUR, sponsored by the Landesanstalt fuer Kommunikation Baden-Wuerttemberg and MFG Film Funding Baden-Wuerttemberg) Dcera (Daughter) | Daria Kashcheeva | FAMU – Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (Ondřej šejnoha, Zuzana Roháčová, Martin Vandas) Czech Republic 2019

Jury statement: “Moments of misunderstanding and an interplay between two people, who are close to each other but yet so far. A very touching story about a father and daughter relationship, represented in a very special and creative way. Delicate and deep emotional depiction, the film displays a very high level of storytelling in a way that a few student films does. The camera work is very effective, using a unique economic labor without forgetting sensibility and emotion.”

Special Mention: Gravedad | Matisse Gonzalez | Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg – Animationsinstitut (Toufik Abdebaim, Matisse Gonzalez) Germany 2019

Jury statement: “What does it mean to reach the stars? And what, to fall into a whole deep under the earth? A very mature approach on the belief that one could accept what he or she has, no matter what. Highs and lows are good enough if you can see the good sides of it. Gravedad by Matisse Gonzalez takes us with her lovely and original style into this magic and very whimsical world.”

Uzi (Ties)
Uzi (Ties)

SWR OnlineFilm Audience Award (6,000 Euro, funded by Südwestrundfunk for the film with the best OnlineFestival+ rating) Uzi (Ties) | Dina Velikovskaya | Florian Grolig Germany, Russia 2019

Fragmente (Fragments)
Fragmente (Fragments)

The FANtastic Award (best animation talent, 1,000 EUR, donated by the ITFS “Animation Family”) Fragmente (Fragments) | Jonas Hurrle | DHBW Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg Germany 2020

Special Mention: The Fox & The Pigeon | Michelle Chua, Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, SiKyung Kevin Sung, Morgan Thompson, Chelsea van Tol, Matt Walton, Steven Wang | Sheridan College Canada 2019

Jury statement: “We would like to start with our special mention:
A little fox stole our heart,
Although the story fell apart.
A fluffy dove then joined the fun
And so a friendship soon began
Therefore we send our special mention
To send them both to a new dimension!
“Thank you Michelle Chua, Aileen Dewhurst, Sharon Gabriella, Viktor Ivanovski, Sang Lee, Tyler Pacana, SiKyung Kevin Sung, Morgan Thompson, Chelsea van Tol, Matt Walton and Steven Wang for your film The Fox and the Pigeon.

“Choosing our winner was hard. The variety and quality of all films was breathtaking, but there is one film that truly stood out…

“We are more than the sum of our belongings. But these are the things that stay behind when a beloved person dies. New, truly unique stories form between all of the memoires. The floating spines of books, the stair lift to uncertainty and a stack of ID cards telling the story of a soldier’s life are only a few elements of this stop trick film giving us a very personal view of the death of the grandfather. We can hear his voice on the answering machine, delve deep into his life and are given a musical farewell. Jonas Hurrle’s film Fragmente is lovingly made and illustrates with apparently easy techniques a long life and its end. Congratulations on winning the FANtastic Award and welcome to the Stuttgart Animation Family!”

Au pays de l'aurore boréale (Northern Lights)
Au pays de l’aurore boréale (Northern Lights)

Trickstar Nature Award (international animated short addressing climate protection, biodiversity, environment and sustainability in an informative, entertaining but also humorous way. 7,500 EUR by region Stuttgart.) Au pays de l’aurore boréale (Northern Lights) | Caroline Attia | Folimage (Reginald de Guillebon) France Switzerland 2019

Jury statement:Northern Lights is a film with clear but poetic images and a strong emotional impact. The film grasps the viewer by telling a solid story about the cautious relationship of a grandchild and her grandfather. The film doesn’t give straight answers or is convicting but raises questions about our relation to nature to think about. The short film Northern Lights receives the Trickstar Nature Award 2020 for its subtle and creative approach to the topic of climate change.”

Special Mention: Terre de vers (Worms of Earth) | Helene Ducrocq | Citron Bien, Pierre Dron France 2019

Jury statement: “Multicolored and minimalistic design with a song that you won’t get out of your head anymore, the great performance of earthworms is told in the complex structure of nature. At the same time, the fatal effects of industrial agriculture are simple but impressively illustrated. But there is hope: with the termination of industrial agriculture, there will be a renewing and revival of soil culture. For this stirring, humorous and also serious homage to earthworms, we award Worms of Earth with the Trickstar Nature Special Mention.”

Le voyage du prince (The Prince's Voyage)
Le voyage du prince (The Prince’s Voyage)

AniMovie (best animated feature-length film) Le voyage du prince (The Prince’s Voyage) | Jean-François Laguionie, Xavier Picard | Blue Spirit Productions, Melusine Productions (Eric Jacquot, Armelle Glorennec, Stéphan Roelants) France 2019

Jury statement: “We had the honor as a jury from three different countries, far away from each other but virtually connected to review nine different movies from all over the world: France, Japan, Romania, India, Hong Kong, South Korea, Sweden, Belgium, Luxembourg and Mexico. It was a truly inspiring time to be able to watch so many fantastic animated movies – we enjoyed it very much. Today we want to announce the winner of best animated feature film and also award a special mention. And the winner is: The Prince’s Voyage, directed by Jean-François Laguionie and Xavier Picard. Produced by Eric Jacquot, Armelle Glorennec, Stéphan Roelants from France.

“It is a fantastic and philosophical fable story. It has an incredible contemporary touch, although it describes a very different time. It tells us to be without fear towards the outside or to things strange and unknown to us. It shows us that there are different ways to live a life, ways that shouldn’t be judged. It gently tells us to protect nature and our society – and last but not least to be careful with each other. The film is beautifully executed and animation and story complement each other excellent in a simple but beautiful presentation and we are sure that it will find a huge audience amongst all ages.”

Special Mention: L’Extraordinaire Voyage de Marona (Marona’s Fantastic Tale) | Anca Damian | Sacrebleu Productions, Marmitafilms, Aparte Film, Minds Meet (Anca Damian, Ron Dyens, Tomas Leyers) Romania, France, Belgium 2019

Jury statement: “Our special mention goes to Marona’s Fantastic Tale by female filmmaker and director Anca Damian from Romania. The film is produced by Anca herself, Ron Dyens and Thomas Layers from France and Belgium. The story about a dog’s life is an expressionistic, colorful and visual adventure about human life in its essence told through a dog’s point of view.

“It’s rare and daring animated originality deserves a special mention. The film is like an invitation to open doors to other dimensions. It lets us experience art in its fullest form. In its essence the film is a warm and touching story about love and belonging. It is rare to see such a daring execution in a feature film, never losing its red thread and always staying true to itself and therefore the film deserves a very special mention and conquered our hearts.”

Drehbuchpreise (German screenplay with the greatest international market potential 1.500 EUR sponsored by Pink Parrot Media) Der letzte Sänger der Wale (The Last Whale Singer) Author: Reza Memari | Telescope Animation GmbH, Berlin (Maite Woköck)

German Animation Screenplay Award (2,500 EUR sponsored by the Animation Media Cluster Region Stuttgart) Stichkopf (Stitch Head) Author: Steve Hudson | Gringo Films GmbH, Cologne (Sonja Ewers) / Fabrique d’images | Studios: Lavalabs, Studio Rakete, Pixomondo

Special Mention: Lukas und das Paradoxi | Author: Henning Ricke | Lumatik Film GmbH, Cologne (Martin Borowski)

Animated Games Award Germany (animation-based computer game from Germany with the best visual design and aesthetics, 4,000 EUR, sponsored by MFG Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Wuerttemberg mbH) Song of Bloom | Developer: Philipp Stollenmayer, kamibox e.K., Germany, 2019

Trickstar Business Award (innovative business models in the animation industry 7,500 EUR, sponsored by Region Stuttgart)

For the first time, the Trickstar Business Award is split, with half going to a project and half to a company.

Project: Good Enough: Burnout Diary | Studio Pupil, Tünde Vollenbroek (Produzentin/Producer), Dario van Vree (Filmemacher/Filmmaker), Niederlande/The Netherlands

Jury statement:Good enough: Burnout Diary addresses an issue of great social importance, affecting people from all social strata. The project by Tünde Vollenbroek and Dario van Vree started with a graphic novel, guiding readers through Maaike’s very personal story by means of her burnout diary. The jury particularly liked the 360-degree approach: In addition to a TV format, apps for persons affected by burnout are being planned as well as a social media campaign, workshops, and a special card game. The relaxed and easy narrative style and the pleasantly playful characterisation of the female protagonist are impressive. At the same time, the project conveys profundity and seriousness and provides comprehensible insight into the topic, which is helpful to those concerned too. Alongside the artistic work with its unique visual style, the jury has also been much impressed with the marketing strategies and revenue models.”

Company: E.D. Films | Owners: Archita Ghosh, Daniel Gies, Emily Paige’ Canada

Jury statement: “E.D. Films, a company founded in 2007 and located in Montreal, Canada, is an award-winning animation studio headed by Archita Ghosh, Emily Paige and Daniel Gies. In addition to offering the full range of animation-related services and setting up a library of its own animation productions, E.D. Films have created a catalogue of technical IPs in the course of their own projects which is, by now, quite remarkable. These tools for digital image and sound design for, e.g., Photoshop, Maya, After Effects and Unreal, are offered by E.D. Films in their own online shop. With this range of products and services, the company has established a diversified market position and significantly increased chances for economic success, with a lasting effect. An exemplary business model.”



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