May 7, 2009




The Stuttgart International Animation Festival (better known in its native country as Internationales Trickfilmfestival Stuttgart) is now in full swing.

The weekend will feature many screenings, including the European premiere of Afro Samurai Resurrection, and the German premieres of Coraline and The Missing Lynx. Shorts are also present at the festival, both in the competition and in several retrospective screenings celebrating 100 years of German animation.

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February 29, 2008
Les Trois Brigands, the French version of German feature Die Drei Rauber, opened today in cinemas across Quebec and in Ottawa, Ontario. While Montreal stopped being a market for limited theatrical releases about ten years ago, it still has the advantage of getting French-language or translated animated features that have not yet been released widely in English.

(Ironically, Quebec is often overlooked for anticipated anime features, despite the diehard interest ingrained in a two generations of Quebecois through French programming, which made it a stronghold for anime fandom long ago, showing you just how clueless major distributors are.)

The timing is perfect, as the Spring Break begins for elementary schools tomorrow, which means it's time for FIFEM. The film is the only animated feature at this year's edition of the children's film fest, and also its opening film.



FIFEM is also screening shorts before each film. Many are animated, and almost half are Hothouse 4 shorts. Hothouser Carla Coma will be present when her stop-motion short, The Squirrel Next Door, is screened on March 4 and March 9.

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October 24, 2007
The Cinematheque Quebecoise focuses on German animation this week. Filmfest Dresden Presents New German Animation screens on Thursday, October 25 at 6:30 p.m., and repeats on Friday at 4:00 p.m.

Our Man in Nirvana Jan Koester
Mr. Schwartz, Mr. Hazen & Mr. Horlocker Stefan Müller
Delivery Till Nowak (attending)
Close Your Eyes and Do Not Breathe Vuk Jevremovic
Lovesick Speka Cadez
Bildfenster/Fensterbilder Bert Gottschalk
The Tell-Tale Heart (Der Verrückte, das Herz und das Auge) Annette Jung
Diary of a Perfect Love (Tagebuch einer perfekten Liebe) Sebastien Peterson


As part of its World Animation Day events on Sunday, October 28th, Hints of Excellence: Classics of the DEFA screens for free.

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June 17, 2007
We're now a month into Hollywood's summer movie season (although summer isn't for a few days yet), which means that with Surf''s Up and Shrek the Third in cinemas and Ratatouille and Bee Movie on their way, we're well into that time of year when animation innovation is measured in the number of hairs on characters' heads. But short films are where the real breakthroughs take place in terms of both storytelling and technique, and the latest reminder of that is in a pair of DVDs from German studio Film Bilder.

Volumes one and two of Film Bilder Box feature ten of the studio's independent shorts between them, from their very first independent film (1989's Flugbild) to their latest (2006's The Runt). Most, if not all, are festival favourites. Each disc works out to just under an hour of running time.

Normally I would mention standout pieces, but it's hard to do in this case because each short is excellent (though I'm not as keen on Great Is the Mystery of Godliness, in which a potato comes to our two protagonists and proclaims that he is God, then nonsensical chaos ensues). However, I will mention two shorts that people have asked me about in the past:

- If you watched MTV's Liquid Television in the early 1990s, then you saw two-thirds of Flugbild, in which a constantly moving camera takes us through an eerie, boldly coloured landscape of interconnected events. The events unfold once, then repeat; it's on the second fly-through that some of the connections begin to take shape. In the MTV version, Flugbild stops after the second fly-through. In the original version, there's a third identical cycle, and surprisingly it makes a difference.

Phil Mulloy's The Final Solution, the third part of the Intolerance trilogy, was co-produced by Film Bilder, hence its inclusion here. Part I (simply titled Intolerance) appears on the fourth Best of the British Animation Awards disc, but I don't know if you can get Part II (Invasion) anywhere separately. Fortunately, Film Bilder has the entire trilogy available in their store.

While it's a pleasure to see a studio that consistently produces good work show off its talents, it's a little disappointing that each disc only features five shorts, with no extras of any kind. It's also disappointing that the liner notes don't really provide much information. The studio's website has plenty of material to explore, but even there you won't find much from individual directors. That said, these are still films worth having on your shelf. The two discs are in PAL but region-free (if you don't have a multi-format DVD player, you can watch them on your computer), and are available from Amazon's German site or Film Bilder's own store.

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April 19, 2007
Germany is the host country at the international animation festival Cartoons on the Bay in Salerno, Italy / Seven German programmes announced as official selections for the Pulcinella Award / Berlin-based Cartoon Film named Studio of the Year

Berlin/Salerno, 19 April 2007 – 'Focus on Germany' – Germany is the featured country at Cartoons on the Bay, the international animation festival in Salerno, Italy which gets underway today and continues until Sunday.

The festival released the following statement: "Every year Cartoons on the Bay highlights a particular country that has shown significant growth and development in the field of animation. For this year's edition Germany was selected because of its long artistic, technological and industrial traditions. This special 'Focus on Germany' will devote particular attention to independent German producers, public institutions and other top players in German animation by means of presentations of their activities, perspectives and strategies as well as round tables discussing the potential of institutional agreements, funding and co-production possibilities. So far over 15 German production companies have registered."

'Cartoons on the Bay – il Festival Internazionale dell'Animazione Televisiva' is Italy's most distinguished international animation festival and one of the most important in the world. This year's will mark the eleventh edition of the festival. The gala will present animated television programme and film premieres and include workshops, a conference, various informational events and round table discussions. One of the festival's mainstays is the Pulcinella Awards, distinctions granted solely to international animated television shows. This year 280 programmes were submitted from 36 countries. Of these, seven German works were chosen in one of eight categories of the Pulcinella Award's official selection. "School of Vampires”, a production of Berlin's Hahn Film, received a Pulcinella Award nomination in the category TV Series for Children. In the Studio of the Year category, which was announced in advance, Berlin-based Cartoon Film and Italy's Maga Animation Studio took home Pulcinella Awards, joining previous winners, among them studios such as Aardman and Pixar.

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March 10, 2007
Sunday is your last chance to see Carte Blanche à Cartoon Club, a selection of European shorts suitable for all ages, with a heavy emphasis on Italian and German animation, compiled by Sabrina Zanetti, artistic director of Cartoon Club, the International Festival of Animated Cinema and Comics in Rimini. The programme is a part of the Festival international de films pour enfants de Montreal (FIFEM).

Selections include works from Bruno Bozzetto and an episode of La Linea by Osvaldo Cavandoli (sadly, Cartoon Brew reported that he died last week).

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