Jonathan Ng

Animation / Art / Design

Blog · Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film

I left Berlin Wednesday morning on the train to attend the 20th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, or the Internationales Trickfilm Festival Stuttgart, as it is also known. Stuttgart was very different from the rest of the cities in Germany. When I arrived it was much hotter weather, and you could tell that the city is the home of Mercedes-Benz and Porsche. It’s definitely a made for cars type of city.

After checking into the hotel, I figured out where everything was and then caught some of the International Competition screenings. Afterwards I met up with the festival veteran Nancy Phelps who I haven’t seen in about 5 years. Last time we ran into each other at a festival was in Zagreb, Croatia at the Animafest where my film Asthma Tech was selected.

I met David Silverman of The Simpsons fame. He was on one of the juries of the festival and was playing the tuba at every festival social gathering. He also hosted a Simpsons retrospective talk where he showed really early stuff, hilarious clips over the 20 something seasons, and some never before seen bonus material :) He told stories of how Lisa came to play the saxophone and he and Nik Phelps played musical interludes whenever he was reminded of a song. Super nice guy, down to earth, he did a homer sketch for anyone who asked.

I actually did some on-demand, sketch drawings of my own. Lots of people were requesting drawings from different animators for their sketchbooks. Here’s one I was happy to do for a local German software developer and animation fan, named Sven.

I had a really packed audience in the large Gloria theatre for my first screening. The DCP looked great. The audience had a great reaction as well. But, the screenings in the Metropol cinema 1 had problems with all of the DCPs. An unknown technical problem, something related to the server connecting to the projector. My film experienced some blinking throughout, although it only happened 5 times. Other films were essentially ruined by it. A fellow filmmaker and friend Paw, from Denmark, had his 20 minute film stopped midway through because of the blinking problem becoming so unwatchable. I was having a beer with the organizer of Zagreb’s animation festival later on, and he said that “this DCP thing will kill us all” and then we had some more beers and forgot all about it.

In the foyer of the Metropol, I sold a few of my limited prints after my screening, but everyone was flocking to Bill Plympton’s booth next to me. Oh well, I took the opportunity to get his signature as well.

Also met Ron Diamond, co-founder of AWN and he expressed to me that he really liked my film, not just one of his favourites in the category but in the whole festival. I was really flattered and he will consider it for his Animation Show of Shows. Hopefully I’ll touch base with him when I am in LA next week.

There was also an animation professor from the Netherlands who I did a sketch for on the night that I arrived. He managed to come to my screening and was really impressed with the film. He bought a DVD and promised to show it to his class in the coming weeks.

Attended a special talk held by a German art museum curator, named Stefan Riekeles, who has been researching the backgrounds, layouts, architecture and urbanism in Japanese animation. It was a really great talk because he had done so much thorough research, he was able to reveal lots of interesting details and some lost secrets as to how backgrounds and layouts were produced during the golden age of Japanese anime. He focused a lot on Mamoru Oshii’s legendary work Ghost in the Shell. Stefan also published all of the images in an academic book. I was able to trade him my DVD and a print for a copy!

Some beautiful paintings by Ogura Hiromasa.

He talked about how they researched locations for Ghost in the Shell in Hong Kong, and how the camera was cold from an air conditioned interior and below you can see how the cold camera mixed with Hong Kong’s incredible humidity created some amazing, glowing lens flare reference.

After catching more film screenings, and festival parties, I decided to check out the Mercedes-Benz museum on the last day in Stuttgart.

This entrance elevator is so sci-fi.

Meanwhile, back at the festival, I attended the closing ceremonies and I was happy to know that Ernest et CĂ©lestine, a film that I admire very much, won for best animated feature film.

Although I didn’t sell that many prints during my screenings, coincidentally, I shared a ride to the airport in the morning with some filmmakers from the Middle East. They were attending for an animation co-production forum, and one of them had seen my prints a couple days earlier, but he didn’t have the opportunity to buy at the time. I was away from my table when he had been checking out the prints and he was so happy to bump into me in the car to the airport. The two filmmakers both decided to buy several prints from me on the spot and I was super stoked on that. I was able to end the festival trip on a high note.

Now I’m back in Montreal for a few days, then it’s off to LA for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival!

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