Organizers of the 24th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) have revealed some of the key programming highlights attendees can expect at this year’s event, taking place May 2-7 under the banner “Animation without Borders.” More than 80,000 people — including approximately 2,500 industry gatekeepers — are expected to visit the festival’s screenings and explorations of films, games, transmedia and VR projects.
“In 2017 we have strengthened the connections to the disciplines of games, transmedia, virtual reality and music,” said ITFS artistic director Prof. Ulrich Wegenost. “We are thereby opening up ourselves and the genre to creative, productive and economic synergies.”
Leading industry events such as Animation Production Day; FMX; and spotlight Festival; and Arab Animation Forum also coincide with ITFS.
“By closely connecting ITFS with the Animation Production Day and our co-operation events FMX International Conference on Animation, Effects, VR, Games and Transmedia as well as the spotlight Festival for Moving Picture Communication, we have created a platform found nowhere else in the world,” added Dittmar Lumpp, ITFS Managing Director of Organization and Finance. “Our close partnerships and continuous development turn Stuttgart into the global center of animation, visual effects, virtual reality, and moving picture communication at the beginning of May.”
Highlights of the ITFS film program — spanning nine competition categories with over 70k EU in total prizes — include the International Competition for short film, which will introduce audiences to Lebanese animator Chadi Aoun’s SAMT (Silence) and return festival stars such as Spela Cadez (Slovenia) with Nighthawk, Franck Dion (France) with The Head Vanishes, and the prolific Jochen Kuhn (Germany).
This year’s feature competition AniMovie has some strong Asian contenders like Sunao Katabuchi’s In This Corner of the World (2017 Japan Academy Prize for Best Animation) and the ethereal Chinese fantasy Big Fish & Begonia from Xuan Liang & Chun Zhang. Attendees also mustn’t miss Roger Mainwood’s Ethel & Ernest, Bill Plympton and Jim Lujan’s recently premiered Revengeance, and the world premiere of international co-pro Birds Like Us by Faruk Sabanovic & Amela Cuhara, featuring the voices of Alicia Vikander and Jeremy Irons and soundtrack by Peter Gabriel. The latter is the first 3D feature from Bosnia-Herzegovina and is co-produced by Turkish Television, Fork Film (US) and Autonomous (UK).
Curator Iris Loos (VHS Stuttgart: Treffpunkt Kinder) has put together an imaginative mix of recent international shorts, series from Film-und Medienfestival, and feature films for the children’s festival Trick for Kids, including Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer’s Revolting Rhymes (Magic Light Pics., Triggerfish). Youngsters can also check out an art exhibition in honor of Thilo Graf Rothkirch, creator of Laura’s Star, The Little Polar Bear and Tobias Totzore at Treffpunkt Rothebuhlplatz (Mar. 15-May 9) and screening of his films during ITFS. Tick for Kids events are also set for the Stuttgart Zoo, the Gerber, Schlossplotz Festival Garden and Mercedes-Benz Museum, which will host family workshops the weekend before the festival.
Special focus will be placed on feature country Croatia, with the presentation of many co-productions, studios and workshops including Adriatic Animation, Bonobo Studio and Zagreb Film, plus a “Best of” film program curated by AnimaFest Zagreb head Daniel Suljic. The In Persona series will honor renowned animators with tributes to Italian master Bruno Bozzetto, Katrin Magnitz (Germany), Joanna Priestley (US) and Ann Marie Fleming (Canada). ITFS will also present an homage to Russian animator, director and screenwriter Fyodor Khitruk (1917-2012) in honor of what would have been his 100th birthday, May 1, with the premiere of a new documentary by Dimitry Zolotov (Studio Schor) on May 6 at 8 p.m.; a program of his short films; and Otto Alder’s 1998 documentary The Spirit of Genius: Fyodor Khitruk and His Films on May 7.
Borderless animation will be highlighted with a special preview on May 6 in Musikhalle Ludwigsburg of the musical animation/theater experience Cat and Mouse from 1927 Theatre Company and Village Underground. Inspired by George Herriman’s Krazy Kat, the piece is directed and created by London animator Paul Barritt, with music provided by the Officer Pub Band. And Opera & Animation will be presented with the Staatsoper Stuttgart company, projecting Bellini’s La Sonnambula on a giant LED screen with live actors at the Schlossplatz on May 7. Barritt, who previously animated stage images for The Magic Flute at Berlin’s Komische Oper, will hold a workshop on animation and opera.
2017 will see the debut and reinvention of industry honors. The Animated Games Award Germany will be presented at ITSF. The 5,000EU national award is funded by MFG Media, Baden-Wuerttemberg mbH and Film-und Medienfestival GmbH. The winner will be announced following the GameZone opening tour May 3. For the first time, the Animated Com Award will be presented at a joint award gala with the spotlight Festival in the Alte Reithalle on May 6, offering great networking opportunities for artists, agencies and ad pros. And the Trickstar Business Award — a first business-focused, international animation honor — will be presented by ITFS during Animation Production Day on May 5 in a joint gala with the German Animated Screenplay Award and Tricks for Kids; the 7,500EU prize is funded by Region Stuttgart.
This year features an even bigger GameZone special focus in a 2k sq.m. venue. Themed “Playful Art/Meaningful Games,” the showcase curated by Prof. Sabiha Ghellal (Stuttgart Media Univ.) and Dr. Stephan Schwingeler will present current game culture trends and forward-looking university projects which unite game aesthetics and social relevance, plus the latest in AR and VR which visitors can play on-site. This includes the 16m x 4m playable art installation “Long March: Restart” by Feng Mengbo; players guide a Red Army Soldier through this classic game-inspired experience which debuted at MoMA PS1 in 2010.